Close but no cigar: Why I welcome horological deal breakers

Close but no cigar: Why I welcome horological deal breakers

Luke Benedictus

At this specific moment in my life, there’s no way I should even think about buying another watch. On the back of a series of interest rates hike and with a looming renovation for our family home, this just isn’t the right time to splash the cash. And yet… The problem with doing this job is that you’re exposed to all the latest and greatest watch releases on a daily basis. Suddenly, you discover a new watch that you can’t help but imagine peeking out from beneath your shirt cuff. The next thing you know, you’re making frantic calculations and considering hare-brained schemes to come up with the necessary cash.

This almost happened to me again last week. I’ve recently developed a growing fascination with Glashütte, particularly their retro-inspired designs. So I was predictably smitten with the latest Glashütte Original Vintage Collection release, the new Sixties Small Second. I love that distinctive typeface the brand uses for their Arabic numerals. I admire the simplicity of the highly polished case with its short, curved lugs. I’m drawn to the deep green hue of the alligator leather strap that enlivens the classic look with a jolt of character. But just before I start to fret about where on earth I could find the $24,000 to buy this watch, I spot the deal-breaker. Despite its throwback looks, the Glashütte Sixties Small Second is 42mm – too big for my personal taste.

Rather than being annoyed at this detail that’s sabotaged my window-shopping reverie, I’m palpably relieved. Now I have a get-out clause, a welcome impediment that will stop me obsessing over this watch and adding to my credit card debt. I can still appreciate the watch’s design, of course, and drink in the galvanic silver dial and the hands colour-matched to the rose-gold case. I just no longer feel the overwhelming urge to possess it. And it’s strangely liberating.

It’s a feeling I get quite often when I look at watches. I’ve got the usual grab-bag of horological design prejudices that include date windows at 4.30, cyclops date magnifiers and cases that are overly thick. Yet I’m also grateful for the way these details instantly preclude the watches from any serious consideration.

I appreciate this stance contradicts the Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”, a theory of how true beauty lies in slight imperfection. Or as Lenard Cohen put it: “Forget your perfect offering/There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” With watches, however, I embrace my biases as a welcome escape route. Sometimes it’s nice to have an easy way out from temptation.