November 29, 2022

Of course, I’m a collector. This is Collector’s Week! A few of our editors claim that they are not collectors and simply have more watches than most to match their moods and outfits. Really? Newsflash: in 2022, we see fewer watches on wrists than ever before. The curve on the watch-loving graph might be pointing upwards again, but in some countries, you’ll see 70% of wrists naked. So when you have more than eight or ten watches, you’re a collector, no matter what you tell yourself (or your wife…). While not focused on one brand, I’m a collector and have been for more than 10 years, but I’ve changed my focus after a few insights. Be true to yourself and admit to your own taste, whether it be 45-46mm brutish tools, or 34mm vintage watches. You’ll feel all the better for it.

It might be my age or most likely over-exposure to new releases as an editor, but I’m becoming more focused on comfort than hyped hot drops and big wrist presence. My wrist is average-sized, though I sometimes feel it to be puny. At 17.5cm (about 6.9″, and I’d like to think it’s 7″), it must be a man thing . Perhaps this is why I have a history of too-large watches and an equally long history of flipping them. You can blame plenty of flipping on online purchasing — I’d say about 95%. Starting with vintage divers and then microbrands on preorder, the AD experience wasn’t an option. I’m also a miser, so I don’t see the point in paying full retail when I can source a pre-owned pristine example, just like with cars. But now that I know what I like, why haven’t I succeeded in consolidating my collection?

The five fun watches I don’t count

I know, all watches count in a collection, right? I do envy Nacho’s distilled selection, even if he claims that it’s an unfocused group, Believe me, it’s not. Me? To make it easier, I’ve made up two non-counting categories. They were honestly not created to fool me into believing my collection to be smaller (or were they?). In the five-watch group of wrist-fun sits my orange Casio F-91W, my big purple-red Full Metal G, and the woodsy Vero Workhorse. The other two are both Bamfords — the newly released G-Shock collab and a special one.

Goldilocks case size

The hand-painted Dial Artist × Bamford Cosmic Rainbow is one of two prototypes of the sold-out 100-piece limited run and was my idea together with Chris (The Dial Artist) and Bamford. So this black military-grade-titanium-coated quartz stealth does actually belong in the collection proper, and I’ll tell its story another day. And do you know what? None of these five fun watches have mechanical movements. And most of them are too big for me. But they’re all perfect GADA tools, and will always be my go-to travel and family-fun/BMX/beach-day choices.

Goldilocks case size

Finding my subjectively perfect watch size

I started by going all in on rattly 34-36mm vintage quirky sports watches then discovered the Seiko pre-SKX 7290s with their sweet 42mm cases. They felt modern after small vintage watches. Pivoting to microbrands, the weight and size of a 42-44mm watch was the cool norm, or so I thought. A dive watch with a 300m depth rating needed to be massive, right? A 37mm Grand Seiko and a couple of 39mm Loriers changed my perceptions for good, along with 44-46mm lug-to-lug spans making my wrist experience comfort like never before. Today, counting the pieces in my box, 45% are of a 38mm diameter, with one 38.5, and the Richeville a rectangular 36mm. So I’ve found my Goldilocks size, and simply don’t like all-brushed, all-sandblasted cases. Unless there’s a touch of a polished bevel or a glinting case side to contrast the brushed or matte metal, I’m not interested and will get bored very quickly.

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Two or three big exceptions

Yes, I still have a few big bangers in the collection, and quite fancy a Ploprof, but they are there in spite of their size. My Schofield Signalman GMT has an impressively ergonomic case for its 44×51 size, and the same can be said for my Seiko Marinemaster 300, the SLA023. But the love of these two bruisers has no bearing on the fact that I might still change after less than a day because the weight and size start to bug me. It’s all about my mood and the fit of the day, but still, they remain the odd ones out, even if the love is there. And I didn’t want to say it, but my 40mm Grand Seiko SBHG279 feels too big after my three-year love affair with the simpler 37mm SBGR053. Yes, there is some remorse there, seriously, and I can’t make up my mind about whether the Hi-Beat will stay.

Goldilocks case size

A compact dive watch that ticks all the boxes within 38mm

Coincidentally, I recently received a long-term review watch, the Maen Hudson MK4. As I have found 38mm to be my Goldilocks size, the Hudson MK4 has great value, vintage-fitting comfort, and makes an important point. Microbrands have progressed seriously in the last 10 years. This is a 38mm watch with a 10.5mm case thickness and around 12mm with the double-domed crystal. Yet without any bragging on the dial, it has a 300m depth rating. Read that, Tudor?

Collector’s Week Goldilocks case size

With brushed sides and a well-executed bevel, the case is like a compact Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Or it might be the best €500 budget alternative you can find to a Seiko SPB143. The solid steel bracelet is slightly Speedy-ish, with its 20mm tapering to a sweet 16. I know, the edges are not Rolex-smooth, and there’s no slide-lock on the clasp. Nevertheless, this still caught me by surprise. At €479 from Maen, the specs of X1 C3 lume with a sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel are simply very impressive. This is proper budget-GADA material.

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Back to consolidating

My consolidating might look like a failure, but I’m six watches lighter, including four vintage pieces. I wasn’t wearing them, as ever since changing focus from nouveau-vintage Seikos to new mechanicals, I’ve become accustomed to accuracy. Also, the never-ending cycle of servicing for a €50-100 vintage watch is a loss project. I’ve only kept my granddad’s Tissot Seastar, a 1905 Zenith pocket watch, and my dad’s gold Omega pocket watch. If I count these in with the non-counting “Five Fun” watches, I have too many. I’ve only got two wrists after all. And there is one watch that I’m waiting for, so something else has to go. It has a green dial and is my first from a Japanese independent brand starting with the letter K. No big prizes for guessing what diameter the delicious coin edge bezel has.

What about you? Did I hit any nails on the head? Or do you have 50 watches and are still pretending to not be a collector? Make it 51, and you’re a hoarder, mate. Let me know what you think of my rather subjective theories in the comments below.

Find me and follow me at @thorsvaboe.