In defence of obvious watches

In defence of obvious watches

Scott Colvin

I still get lost in the details of the Rolex Submariner that was my first serious watch. The proportions of its features seem divinely inspired, everything ideally sized and placed. Its glossy black dial is startling to look at, somehow bottled essence of the pure void. When I put it on, the oyster bracelet, in that tantalising 904L steel, seems simultaneously both lush jewellery and hardy tool watch. It has been in the ocean, on the ski slopes and in the boardroom.

It’s also an obvious watch.

You’ve seen it on the wrist of hundreds of people. Some might appreciate its place in watch history. Some may not. It’s at watch meet-ups, private airport lounges, and fakes are at every other holiday market stall. Most laypeople would recognise it before almost any other high-end timepiece.

But my message to watch lovers everywhere is simple: don’t be afraid to love obvious watches.

Seamasters, Datejusts, Monacos – these, and many others, are classics for a reason. They are aesthetically elevated above lesser watches, many of which fail as mere copies.

The Rolex Datejust

They have progressed the history of horology, created new categories of watches and remade the landscape of expectation in high-end watchmaking. Obvious watches are icons, and most icons are built on high quality, even if they become ultimately overhyped.

The TAG Heuer Monaco, Calibre 12

I’ve supported FC Barcelona since I was a teenager, when I fell in love with their beautiful, fluid style of football. That style has made them a world powerhouse of the sport, and they continue to win trophy after trophy because of their sumptuous way of play. But I don’t love them because they win; they win for the same reason I love them, the remarkable game they play.

It’s the same with watches. We can love ‘obvious’ watches because they really are classics for a reason. Don’t forget that the seminal watches of today have generally been around for significant periods in one form or another. They have stood the test of time. Their design, build, horological technology and development – these are the things that make an otherwise ordinary timepiece rise above the rest. Love the watch for its intrinsic beauty, not because it’s a ‘classic’.

Brown cordovan leather watch strap, Omega Speedmaster
The Omega Speedmaster on a Time+Tide-branded brown cordovan leather strap.

And so what if they can be found on wrists in every corner of the globe? Reproductions of famous artworks adorn dorm rooms around the world without diminishing the genius of the original. Everyone loves The Godfather without the film being any less deserving of its many Oscars.

Individuality is not defined as being different from the norm. Individuality lies in being true to your passions and desires and living a life that is consistent with them. Understanding what those things are in the first place is the most difficult part of being your true individual self.

If those things that capture your deepest passions happen to be common or well-known, no matter: who cares? The fact that the Speedmaster is one of the most owned watches in the world does nothing to change its history, its functionality, the configuration of the dial or the way it makes you feel. It’s beautiful, it’s yours, it sparks joy; nothing else matters.

So, there it is. Feel absolved of your guilt of lusting after obvious watches. There’s nothing better than giving in and indulging in the timeless, the well-known, the perfect.