The Time+Tide watch brand alignment chartBorna Bošnjak
If you spend any considerable time on watch-related internet sites and Instagram, you would’ve seen people obsessively trying to categorise watch brands. Whether that be by their idea of luxuriousness, prestige, or the ever-popular tier list (watch this space). My favourite version of this ranking system is the alignment chart. Originating from the ever-popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, it categorises characters based on their moral and ethical compasses, split into two axes – law vs chaos and good vs evil. For fear of it being glaringly obvious if not stated, I’ve never actually played D&D – but this concept will still be familiar to both D&D fans and internet meme-dwellers (that name idea is for free, Rolex). Considering this is all just a bit of fun, and that I’ve never played the game, do take my picks for the watch brand alignment chart with a considerable grain of salt.
Lawful good – Roger Smith
I’ve long debated on which brand to include here. A brand that is lawful good would be one of your classic heroes – your knights in shining armour. Described as acting with compassion, honour and a sense of duty, it meant that this spot could not be occupied by some faceless conglomerate or huge corporate entity, but it also couldn’t have the quirks that many independent brands exhibit. The choice then became clear – Roger Smith. A paladin of pure watchmaking, who honed his craft with one of the greatest, his creations follow a strict code, and do so brilliantly.
Neutral good – Citizen
A neutral good brand does exactly what it says on the tin – what you see is what you get, with a wide-ranging offering that doesn’t price anyone out. A neutral good character generally does the right thing, and Citizen seems to do just that. Now, there is the ever-present question of whether selling items for a profit is truly altruistic, but that delves into things far deeper, and no money-making business can sacrifice that – they’re ultimately a business after all. The brand’s magic seemed to entrance our own Fergus Nash and Ricardo Sime, and despite steadily rising prices, the brand’s offering has stayed competitively priced, often undercutting their main rivals, a certain Japanese brand starting with S.
Chaotic good – Swatch
I’m expecting to cop a fair amount of flack for this entry. How can Swatch be considered good in any realm, considering the clusterf**k that was the MoonSwatch release? I hear you, but hear me out. The MoonSwatch was meant to be the middle finger to all the highly coveted and increasingly unobtainable brands by tearing down what their pieces stand for at a fraction of the cost, while also being available and desirable. We all know how that turned out – but if that’s not an example of chaos, I don’t know what is. All conspiracy theories aside, I truly believe that Swatch never meant for the MoonSwatch story to turn out the way it did, and regardless of the shameful way it was handled, we’ve still got a huge, exciting and fun Swatch catalogue left. Funky designs like the modern interpretations of the Jellyfish, the fun collaborations with the likes of Dragon Ball Z and Peanuts, all affordably priced. I mean come on – even the Pope had one! How much street cred that gives Swatch I leave up to you…
Lawful neutral – NOMOS Glashütte
Lawful neturals are described as strongly believing in lawful concepts, including order and tradition, while following some sort of a personal code. The German brand fit that description to a tee, as they’ve mostly iterated on previous success, deriving new designs from previous ones, but with a fun twist in form of funky colours and design quirks like the Autobahn. NOMOS is certainly one of those IYKYK brands, sticking strongly to their design ethos, unperturbed by “it just looks like a Daniel Wellington from afar” comments. To all those people – I sympathise, not empathise.
True neutral – Casio
The true neutral was one of the harder categories to choose, and Casio was one of the harder brands to place in a category. The Japanese giant is clearly one of the good guys, liked across the board by watch enthusiasts and muggles alike. This universal agreement on Casio being cool, whether we talk about an F-91W or a multi-thousand dollar full-metal G-Shock, ultimately placed it in the true neutral category. Considering the many brands that fall under the Casio umbrella and their variety just solidified the brand’s positioning.
Chaotic neutral – F.P. Journe
The chaotic neutral is the perfect spot for a desirable independent. Many other brands could’ve fit this category – Urwerk with their space-age designs, Richard Mille with their ultra high-tech materials and MB&F with their… stuff. But there is only one persona that truly fits this archetype – monsieur Journe. Having said that he makes the watches for himself, and called grand complications “grand stupidities”, he also extensively worked with the resonance phenomenon, also being the first to name it as it is widely known today. One just needs to take a quick look at the likes of the Astronomic, Francis Ford Coppola or Vagabondage, and this rebellious nature becomes clear.
Lawful evil – Rolex
The lawful evil alignment was clear from the get-go – it could only ever be Rolex. A character with a strict code of conduct, though one that looks to exploit it rather than follow – can you describe a corporation of Rolex proportions any better? Famous for tightly controlling their supply chain, sponsoring every bougie sporting event on the planet and making folks justify silly purchasing habits, Rolex truly governs the watch market, in a way that no brands from other segments can attest to.
Neutral evil – Jacob & Co.
Jacob & Co. is a bit of an infuriating brand. Whether or not you enjoy their creations, one cannot deny the technical expertise that goes into creating something like the Opera. However, Jacob the Jeweller didn’t cut his teeth on triple-axis tourbillons and miniature W-16 engines cased in sapphire. You could not be someone in the entertainment or sports industry of the 1990s without a bejewelled creation from Jacob Arabo’s Diamond District shop. The crazy, iced-out jewellery and watches are still present in Jacob & Co.’s current catalogue, so for every Astronomia Sky and Bugatti Chiron Sapphire, there’s an Astronomia Metaverso NFT or Palatial Five Time Zone Pirate.
Chaotic evil – the “cutting out the middleman” gang
I won’t even give these guys the time of day, but will name some names. Daniel Wellington, MVMT, Vincero and Filippo Loreti are all potential contenders for this category.