THE 7 STYLES WE'LL COVER
Welcome to a quick review of 7 watch styles that will never go out of style. The focus is going to be on the "type" or category of the watch because an entire encyclopedia can be written about all the possible design and style permutations. Besides, these types can rightly be considered a style given their integration of case size, shape, material, dial and hand design, and strap options to represent a specific use.
Here's the lineup:
- Plain and simple
- The chronograph
- The diver's watch
- The pilot's watch
- The day and date complication
- The not-round watch
- The blinged-out watch
STYLE 1 - PLAIN AND SIMPLE 3-HAND
This style should always have a place in any collection as it represents the original incarnation of the wristwatch; a round case with an hour, minute and second hand.
It also works well in every case size because of its simplicity. This watch makes a great first watch for children and can move into every situation and setting with ease.
An unexpected use of this simple design is as a compass. Yes, there is a way to use your watch as a compass. Truth be told, any watch can serve this purpose, it is just easier with fewer hands and plain presentation of hour markers. Here's how you can use your watch as a compass. Being a fan of efficiency, I am reprinting the directions from a very cool website, Geography Fieldwork.
"To use your watch as an approximate compass outside of the tropics in the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun.
Halfway between that point and the twelve o'clock mark on your watch points to the south. For example, if it is eight o'clock, point the 8 on the watch face at the sun and south would be at the ten o'clock position. If it is four o'clock, point the 4 on the watch face at the sun and south would be in the two o'clock position. At midday (twelve o'clock), the hour hand itself should point south.
In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the twelve o'clock mark in the direction of the sun. The north-south line is halfway between the hour hand and the twelve o'clock mark."
STYLE 2 - THE CHRONOGRAPH
Chronographs rock, baby. They are gems of horological engineering. These beauties function just like a stopwatch and can be used for timing anything that stops and starts. Truth be told, most people never use the chronograph functions; they buy the watch because they are just cool.
The chronograph functions are displayed in small subdials, sometimes called "eyes." The most common arrangement is the three-eye format with the subdials at the 3, 6 and 9-o'clock positions or at 2, 6 and 10-o'clock. Pushers at 2 and 5-o'clock are the standard and they control the timing functions of the chronograph.
However, two-eye and four-eye arrangements are available. In this case, four-eyes isn't the derogatory term once hurled at kids with glasses. In this configuration, the subdials are generally aligned in a row in the bottom half of the dial.
STYLE 3 - THE DIVER'S WATCH
These workhorses can be identified by their outer rotating bezel, beefy stainless or rubber straps, larger hands and generous use of lume. Since a square bezel doesn't make sense, these watches are most frequently round although an exception can be made for the iconic Panerai.
A diver's watch deserves a place in every collection. Like a chronograph, most owners will rarely wear their timepiece to its rated underwater depth, but the diver's watch exudes ruggedness and a sense of adventure.
STYLE 4 - THE PILOT'S WATCH
Seeing as how the first wristwatch was a pilot's watch, you owe it to yourself to have one or more in your collection. These watches can be recognized by their larger case size, oversize hands, lots of lume and straps that feature rivets securing the strap to the case.
Pilot's watches can house a simple movement or a chronograph. The purpose of this timepiece was to provide pilots an accurate and reliable means of timing the legs of a flight plan. Lots of lume is needed for visibility in low-light flight conditions. Want to display a devil-may-care attitude? A pilot's watch and white silk scarf can help you pull it off. Goggles are a bit too much.
STYLE 5 - DAY AND DATE COMPLICATION
Perhaps one of the most useful styles is a watch that displays the day of the week, the date or both. Windows cut in the dial display the calendar info clearly. Now, you can tell the day of the week and month along with the time of day. These take the elegant simplicity of the plain time-of-day model and amp it with cool calendar functions.
The display windows can be located anywhere on the dial. Saying that the 3-o'clock seems the most popular. Big dates often occupy the 6 o'clock real estate while day and date typically show up between the 3 and 12 o'clock positions.
STYLE 6 - THE "NOT ROUND" WATCH
What does "not round" encompass? The possibilities here are nearly limitless, however, machining and assembly complexity along with comfortable wear keep the madness in check. Here is a handful of the most common:
- Square - four equal sides
- Rectangular - two sets of equal length
- Pillow / cushion - square with rounded corners
- Tonneau - barrel shaped with straight sides at 12 and 6 o'clock
- Hexagonal, octagonal, other-agonal - multiple straight sides
- Oval - long axis oriented 12 to 6 o'clock
- Carage - an oval rotated 90o
- Tank - a variation on the square and rectangular cases featuring all rounded edges developed by Louis Cartier in 1914 for tank crews
- Asymmetrical - not a straight side anywhere - think Salvador Dali
Add this to your collection as you see fit.
STYLE 7 - THE BLINGED OUT WATCH
Nothing quite shouts extravagance like a totally blinged-out watch. These bad boys and girls make extensive use of gemstones and rare or precious materials to make a statement.
The technique of covering the face with gemstones creates what is called a pave dial. The possibilities are endless, and the prices are astronomical. For sure, this isn't your everyday wear watch, at least I can't imagine a case where it would be. This Graff watch is a perfect example.
If you want a watch that can be seen from low Earth orbit, one of these may be in your future. Be sure to contact Lloyd's of London for appropriate insurance. I don't think your homeowner's insurance will cover it for loss or theft.
WRAPPING IT UP
There you have it, 7 watch styles that will never go out of style. As a serious watch freak, I have samples of each in my collections, except for the pilot's watch and a bling specimen. The pilot's watch is within my means; not so a blinged-out one… unless I hit the lottery. Then it will become my everyday wear timepiece.