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The Everest Journal

by Li Wang August 26, 2021 2 min read

Recently the good people at Worn & Wound examined the meaning of the term “grail watch” in a podcast episode and subsequent follow-up article on their site. This prompted a very good question about what this really means and how one should consider a watch that may be the finale of the ultimate quest.

The discussion around this topic was very interesting. Is it an exit watch? Is it simply a watch that is unattainable? Or is it just an expensive watch that you covet but it is not yet affordable?

Photo by Hodinkee

Personally, if forced to name a grail watch it would probably be the Vacheron Constantine 37mm Overseas. Blue dial, no date, 150 meters of water resistance, quick-change from strap (rubber or leather) to bracelet, and it’s part of the Holy Trinity. Just shy of $20,000, it means that I would have to make significant sacrifices to comfortably attain one. I also like that to the average person on the street, this expensive watch would not stand out as being a show piece. The design is unique and it’s one of the brand’s mainstays. In my mind, the grail watch just represents something that I have to work for and fits my idea of the perfect watch. I’m not a precious metal kind of guy, so this model works well with my personal style.

Photo by Hodinkee

Since we are a Rolex-centric site, my Rolex pick would be something I already own, my 14060M Submariner. It’s the perfect sports watch and I wouldn’t change any details about it. A quick-adjust clasp would be nice, but fortunately for me my wrist size doesn’t fluctuate a lot. So in effect I have my grail. I remember when I was younger I wanted to own one and when I was further into my career I was able to afford one on the secondhand market. I wear it often and would not ever feel like I was missing out if I never was able to purchase the Overseas.

Photo by Fratello Watches

Is the challenge of finding an example of a particular watch part of the quest for a grail? This definitely could be factored into the grail quotient measurer. Early on in my watch collecting journey I was really into Seiko dive watches and the current ones just don’t have the look and feel of certain models from the 1980s and 1990s. The Seiko “Tuna” 7549-1000 can be found for around $1,000 but it’s hard to find one that is completely original or one that isn’t heavily scratched. If I found one in new old-stock condition and I snagged it, that might be an ultimate grail for me.

Photo by Fratello Watches

But it wouldn’t quell my thirst for the Vacheron.

So what’s your idea of a grail watch? I am pretty happy with my current collection, so maybe a grail watch isn’t even necessary in my mind. Tastes evolve and I am more than OK with having a grail target that changes often. That’s part of the fun, right?

Looking for storage options for your grail and non-grail watches? Check out our watch rolls.

Li Wang
Li Wang


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