These Are the 12 Best Watches of the Year According to Our Resident Watch Snob
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As the years continue to pass (which seems to happen more and more quickly these days) it becomes more and more clear to me that there are certain questions which come up from you, gentle readers, with sufficient frequency that it is perhaps best to address them overall, rather than answer the same questions piecemeal (which runs the risk of having answers that are as repetitious as the questions).
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Folks who read this column are often curious about the same general things, and while there are an infinite number of variations on the basic question, “Which watch should I buy?” there are also more specific versions of that question which bear further examination through a filter of what is actually currently available — yes, what has been recently introduced, but also the great classics to which clients for watchmaking, irrespective of budget or taste, return to again and again.
With all this in mind, let us look at the best watches of their respective classes, at this particular moment in horological history.
Best Men’s Watches Under $200
Despite what you may think, there are many watches worthy of respect at this price. Which do I endorse? Keeping on reading.
Shocking as you may find it that the Watch Snob recommends the G-Shock, but it represents in its own way horological purism as much as any Patek Grand Complication (maybe even more so). The G-Shock in its simplest version may be cheap, but is as far as possible from cheaply made — designed by its inventor, Kikuo Ibe, to withstand events that would probably kill its owner. It is quite simply one of the great classics of modern watch engineering and design, and has a blunt, no-nonsense, purpose-driven appearance that manages to be instantly reassuring and appealing at the same time.
$600 at GShock.com
Any Seiko 5
The Seiko represents in a mechanical watch some of the same attraction one finds in a G-Shock — robust, reliable, available in a bewildering plethora of designs, and sometimes unexpectedly beautiful. They are often less than $100 and I have yet to hear of one that disappointed its owner. With simple but reliable movements, and very often, quality in the dial and hands, which some so-called luxury brands seem to struggle to offer and prices several orders of magnitude higher, the Seiko 5 remains to this day one of the best ways to enjoy a mechanical watch, at an affordable price.
$82.99 at Amazon.com
The last thing, in my view, that the world needs is another social media driven startup watch company. (As a matter of fact, in my view, the last thing the world needs is social media, but I suppose that is a rant for another day). Whereas most of MVMT’s watches remain well under the $200 price point, it’s new Arc Automatic falls slightly above the $200, so consider this an average of all MVMT watches together. I was perfectly prepared to hate all watches from MVMT and regarded them for some time not only with indifference, but with active hostility.
However, that has changed. I cannot help but say that having actually seen one (rather by accident; my cousin Seamus showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep looking for yet another “long-term loan” and was wearing one) they look well on the wrist. Like the Seiko 5, they offer a way of enjoying, at an accessible price, a watch that looks so sharp that I am forced to use the term.
$300 at MVMTWatches.com
Best GMT Watches
A so-called GMT watch is a watch that can show the time in two time zones at once. Typically, this is done by having an hour hand that can be independently set, in one hour increments, and a hand that rotates once every 24 hours, which shows “home” time; you set the hour hand to local time when you arrive at a new destination. The GMT watch is probably one of the most useful, as well as generally robust, complications and some such watches are among the great classics of wristwatch design.
Rolex GMT Master II
The Rolex GMT Master single-handedly launched the category of GMT watches in 1956, and remains the defining GMT watch to this very day. It has unfortunately become all but impossible to actually buy one from Rolex, but I suppose that is a rant for another day. At least in the abstract, it remains an entirely wonderful timepiece. It’s easy to read, easy to use, and with a real history of use in aerospace service that taken on the whole, probably cannot be claimed by any other watch.