Timekeeping Keepsakes

These Are the 14 Watches Our Staff Can’t Live Without


June 14, 2018 Watches By Photo by Hunter D. Kelley

It’s funny: for the longest time, I’ve never really noticed an explicit love for watches amongst my colleagues, at least not until recently. I’d like to think my endless barrage of timekeeping content has berated them into a state of watch-loving acceptance but I think, in the end, watches are a particularly bold embodiment of gear love. And that’s kind of our whole thing. So an appreciation for them can come naturally.

Watches, at least good ones, are meticulously engineered and lovingly crafted. They’re impeccably designed and they all have their own unique personalities. They all serve a basic purpose, yes, but they all represent something much deeper about the wearer than just a need to tell time. And if you think this is the case only with fancy, mechanical Swiss-made watches you’re dead wrong. Our staff sees these attributes in watches that cost as little as $50 or well over $5,000.

So I asked my colleagues to choose one watch that meant the most to them, and the replies encompass a wide array of wristwear: quartz watches, smartwatches, affordable mechanicals, fancy vintage pieces. Some are used for daily wear, while others are keepsakes. They were gifted by loved ones, acquired at pivotal moments in life, purchased on a whim, or acquired merely out of necessity. But no matter what they remain relentlessly endearing items to us.

The EDC Items We Can’t Live Without

Some favor flair, others prefer practical. The collection of things that gets us through the day-to-day is a mini representation of who we are and how we move through life. Here are the everyday carry items we can’t lie without. Read the Story

Hamilton Chronograph (Circa 1960s)

I don’t wear this watch often, maybe once or twice every few months, but I keep it close. It belonged to my father and when the occasion arises — there’s no rule I follow, it tends to just be a feeling — I’ll throw it on and enjoy the company. In fact, it’s rarely set to the right time, which pretty much embodies my dad since he always went about life at his own pace. There’s something charming about an old man asking for the time while wearing a decent watch.

In the 1960s, which is the era this watch comes from, Heuer was the brand to get and their chronographs were indomitable. Heuer designed these watches for several manufacturers, including Zodiac, Hamilton, Clebar and Tradition, which is how they came to be known as “Poor Man’s Carreras.” With a bit of Google-ing, I’ve come to learn that it’s powered by a Valjoux 7733, which was derived from the Venus 188. Heuer nailed the design of this watch by giving it two black registers and a creamy dial and the look has endured over the decades with an irresistible mix of tropical patina and panda dial. I can’t wait to see how it ages over the next couple of decades when I pass it on. — Eric Yang, Founder, Editor In Chief

Seiko 6139

This is the Seiko that launched a love-hate relationship with watches. I bought it four years ago and paid $130 for it on eBay. This seemed like a lot at the time but, in retrospect, now feels like a bargain. When it arrived I forgave the fact that it was shipped in a SpongeBob Squarepants pencil case because I was so excited to have a vintage sports watch, not knowing this was one of the first automatic chronographs ever made.

I’ve worn it to every US timezone as well as Switzerland, Ireland and Japan. The latter was on a trip to Seiko’s headquarters, where an executive caught a glimpse of it on my wrist; you could just see his eyes light up. It was the same kind of boyish enthusiasm I felt when I found out, by accident years after first acquiring it, the date was set by pushing in the crown, not pulling it out and twisting it. But recently the watch has stopped running unless it’s on its side. That’s the trouble with watches like these: the repair bills usually far exceed the cost to buy one. I’m not sure if I’ll fix it or not, but I know no matter what I’m never getting rid of it. — Andrew Connor, Staff Writer

Shinola Brakeman

I’ve never really been watch guy. Most are too expensive for me or either nowhere close to meeting my aesthetic standards. I stumbled upon Shinola soon after their launch and fell in love with one if their first models – the Brakeman. I purchased this model as a gift to myself after landing a big promotion at my current job – it’s been on my wrist ever since. — Andrew Haynes, Senior Art Director

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean (Ref. 2200.51.00)

With a small red box in hand, my mother hugged me at my college graduation, and handed me, what she thought was the perfect gift – an empty red box. I knew I wasn’t the best student, but I felt that an empty red box to commemorate my mediocre college career coming to an end was cruel, even for my mother’s standards. I eventually realized I was holding the box upside down, and once turned upright, I recognized the small silver circular logo. The gift was a box for the watch to come. This watch has been on my wrist for scuba dives, open water swims, and will remain there for a lifetime — thanks mom. — Michael Bailey, Account Executive

Orient Ray II

I have other watches, but not one like this. They are cheap; this is inexpensive. They are gimmicky (‘analog’ smart watches, plastic, solar-powered divers); this is mechanical, sober, classic. While I haven’t ever been a true watch guy, I’m particularly proud of my Orient. In fact, I’ve begun jonesing for my next timepiece — probably an affordable chronograph — and have already begun my search. Is this what love feels like? — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

Tudor Black Bay Black (Ref. 79220N)

There was a tiny period between October 2015 and July 2016 where Tudor made the correct version of the Black Bay. By ‘correct’ I generally mean, a perfect callback to what Tudor had been for like 90 years. It was Rolex’s slightly goofy, not quite as proud little brother and the last watch — to my mind — that this can be seen on is the Black Bay 79220N. It’s got a mildly modified ETA movement, the old school Tudor rose logo and “smiley” text on the dial. I recited those tidbits over and over in my head as I paid a bill about the size of my monthly paycheck at the time. That was all the justification I needed to make it my first real watch purchase. — Henry Phillips, Deputy Photography Editor

Seiko SNK805

This Seiko SNK805 was my second automatic watch, but the first automatic that scored as a daily wearer. It’s simple, smart, classic and affordable. I’ve since acquired some fancier, more notable watches… but every time I strap on this army green SNK805, it’s clear that this little guy is still a staple of my personal style. — Kyle Snarr, Head of Marketing

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Her hand-sketched portraits of watches, by her estimate, take anywhere between 200 to 280 hours and 30 to 50 pencils to finish. Read the Story

Apple Watch (Series 3)

Every morning I wake up, grab my Apple watch off its charger and immediately latch it on my wrist — and it’s been that way for almost three years. As a religious watch-wearer, it took me a while to get used to the digital look, but there’s nothing that brings me more joy than seeing my three achievement rings close every day. For the uninitiated (or smartwatch-averse) you’re challenged to exercise for 30 minutes, stand once an hour for 12 hours and burn a pre-set number of calories — daily. As a fitness writer, it’s just the push I need never to sit down (literally). One might say I’m addicted, but I prefer to explain myself as goal-oriented. The jury is still out. — Meg Lappe, Staff Writer

IWC Caliber 89 (Circa 1950s)

I found this IWC Cal. 89 in a shop window in Tel Aviv and put down some money each month during advanced training in the IDF Paratroopers in order to buy it. When I finished training and received my beret, I went to pick up the watch and it needed a service; I had to return several times before it was ready. When I finally received it, the shop owners, two brothers, gave me this pair of gold Israeli paratrooper wings from the 1950s as a gift and an apology for the wait. When I wear my wings and glance and down at this watch, I feel like I truly earned it. — Oren Hartov, Associate Editor

Seiko 5 Sports SRPB19K1

When I buy staple items — jackets, shoes, watches — I prefer to pick classic styles that are durable and well-made. That might sound like common sense but I feel very enlightened about the whole thing, which is why I’m proud of this automatic stainless steel watch from Seiko. It’s comfortable on the wrist, durable, accurate, it looks great with everything I wear, and it’s a phenomenal value. And that’s a formula for something very, very good. — Andy Frakes, Editorial Assistant

Timex Expedition

I’ve never been much of a watch guy, mainly because I’ve always been wary of damaging an expensive accessory, and partly because I’ve never quite got the whole watch thing (but I am beginning to understand it now). I bought this Timex on sale at my local outdoor store before taking a group of high schoolers on a 30-day trip to Ecuador. As a trip leader, I was tasked with shepherding the teenagers from meals to hikes to language classes to community service projects, so timeliness was paramount. I’ve always been drawn to hands over digital, but I knew that I also wanted an alarm, and this offered the best of both worlds. Plus, it was on sale, so I knew I wouldn’t mind if it broke. I haven’t worn it in a long time, but it still sits on my bedside table and functions as an alarm clock. — Tanner Bowden, Associate Staff Writer

TAG Heuer 4000 (Ref. 695.706KA)

I have always had an affinity for watches in large part because of my grandfather. He was a major watch collector and growing up I fondly recall marveling at his various pieces from his impressive collection. One particular piece that I was always drawn to was his TAG Heuer 4000 Series from the mid-’90s. Something about the way the steel and yellow gold bezel paired with the pearl dial looked on my Grandfather’s wrist when he’d wear it for a special occasion always caught my eye. Years later I have been fortunate to become the owner of that very watch which I look forward to passing down to my children and grandchildren one day. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the feeling of nostalgia that rushes over me when I wear this watch with pride and the fond memories that it brings me. — Alyx Effron, Account Executive

Seiko Prospex SRP779

For the loyal readers, this is the watch I was obsessing over in May. It’s my first dive watch (I’ve stuck mostly to field watches and pilots watches otherwise), and though it most likely won’t see much action 200 meters below the surface, I like its rugged good looks and Seiko dependability. The strap has already been swapped (though the Seiko rubber is the softest I’ve experienced), and I’ve put a nick or two into the bezel. But it’s building character, and will never go out of style. — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

Rolex Submariner (Ref. 16800)

My father bought this Submariner back in the ’80s on a vacation to St. Croix. The watch has stuck with him most of his life, holding up to almost anything that’s been thrown at it and is a testament to the quality of a Rolex. After 40 or so years this watch still looks brand new. Now, the torch has been passed down to me, and it is mine to create memories with. First thing I did was ditch the oyster bracelet for a NATO. Am I off to a good start? — Hunter D. Kelley, Associate Designer

Meet the King of Vintage Grand Seiko

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Years ago, Gerald Donovan sold all his Swiss watches and replaced them with Grand Seikos from the ’60s and ’70s. He’s never looked back. Read the Story

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