What your choice of watch reveals about you

More than just wrist bling, your timepiece is a personal statement in a universally understood dialect.

July 11, 2016

“A watch is the only jewelry a man should wear.”

Ever hear someone say that? I’m not sure where that leaves the wedding ring, or even a stylish set of cuff-links or a tie-pin, but let’s put those aside for the moment.

Of course in today’s more accepting cultural climate things have changed. Earrings, chains, piercings and tattoos are no longer such taboos – depending on whom you talk to.

You might even come across as a little outdated if you told someone that jewelry on a man is unacceptable. But not too long ago that’s the way the vast majority of people felt; only a timepiece would do. More than that was suspicious. 

In some social circles that sentiment still has a very strong foothold. A 20-year-old gold Rolex Day Date peeping out under a cuff at a business meeting sends a subtle message. A brand new diamond encrusted Audemars Piguet Offshore worn between chunky gold chains sends quite another. They may both say ‘money and power’, but they say it in very different languages. 

There are those, typically among the newly rich online startup boomers, who enjoy thumbing their noses at expensive watches.

Although they can now probably afford a Patek Philippe, or two APs, they choose a cheap vintage Casio digital or a Mickey Mouse watch instead – as a kind of ironic statement, perhaps. “If you want style, check out my app, not my watch.” They seem to say, or maybe: “I prefer leisure to social peacocking.”

Then there’s the bling watch. This is the other extreme. It’s a trend that was made popular by rappers like P Diddy and Jay Z, and by footballers like David Beckham. There’s nothing subtle about it. Even a timepiece as technically impressive as the Audemars Piguet Offshore Chronograph is overshadowed the glittering rocks on display.

Perhaps only one person in 1,000 will know what a chronograph is, and fewer still will know that the automatic movement contains 37 synthetic jewels and 304 individual parts. The rest will only see carats. What does such a watch reveal about the wearer? “Yes, I can afford it.” 

But a watch reveals much more than just your estimated bank balance; it says something about what you cherish too. 

Sometimes your watch reveals that you’re a sentimental family man at heart. Most often this is when you’re wearing a watch passed down from your granddad, and which you aim to pass on to your own son one day. That cherished steel IWC from 1955 only comes out on Sundays and special occasions. You’ve had it valued for insurance, but it’s definitely not for sale.

But quite rarely I will notice a watch that reveals a true connoisseur. He’s not advertising his salary on his wrist. To him it’s all about that special watch. 

A watch lover appreciates a watch for the same reason a wine connoisseur appreciates a good vintage. He respects the many hours of painstaking labour that it took to create the watch in the first place, and he loves each complication, each scratch and each unique feature.

If you happen to notice his unusual timepiece, he will keep you busy for an hour explaining what makes it tick, and why it’s so rare. So watch out!

In the end your choice of watch is almost like a secret personal relationship. You have your reasons. But there’s another side to it: your watch also reveals something about your innermost character to the outside world. It’s a statement about you in a universally understood dialect.

Tariq Malik is owner of Momentum Dubai, the UAE's first and only vintage watch boutique. Visit momentum-dubai.com.