Classic wrist watches and authentic denim are actually quite alike in many ways. Just like so many of the iconic watches, denim is timeless and not affected by fashion; timeless and ever so elegant like a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, a pair of Red Wing Moctoes or a Burberry trench coat – timeless, classic and looks great on anybody. Denim is accepted as both rugged workwear as well as leisure wear. We asked the Danish watch aficinado and expect Kristian Haagen to point out five watches that match your denim outfit.
One of the most celebrated and rugged watches. Introduced in 1953 and still looks pretty much like the original. Of course bigger an with a better bracelet and now a ceramic bezel insert, but still offered with a distinct black dial and solid steel case with matching bracelet. The Levi’s 501 of watches.
Omega Speedmaster Moon
There is probably not a single kid who had not at some point wanted to become an astronaut and the Omega Speedmaster is as close to the moon as most of us will ever come. The Speedmaster Moon is the classic Wrangler jeans with a straight fit.
Oversized, rugged and with a military back-ground. The Panerais with a diameter of 44-47 millimeter has a dedicated bunch a worldwide fans, called Paneristis. The brand origins from Italy, but is owned by a conglomerate (Richemont) and produced in Switzerland. A bit like jeans made in Japan by old American machinery.
IWC Big Pilot
When pilots let of the bombs during WWII they often wore a large 55 mm watch on the outside of their thick jackets. Today this watch is slightly smaller, called IWC Big Pilot, but still a very masculine watch of 46 mm with an impressive wartime story. Looks great fitted on a weathered leather strap. Think a well-worn pair of Lee jeans.
Hublot Big Bang Jeans
This is where it gets a little silly. Hublot recently launched a collection of watches with denim dial and strap inspired by the favourite jeans brand by their Monaco retailer, Tina Cegg of Zegg & Cerlati. Her favourite jeans brand happen to be DSquared, however the dial and straps are made of a different maker, nonetheless by denim. Completely over the top, admittedly. But a watch with a unique connection to denim. Obviously these watches are the DSquared of watches.
In addition to his five watch recommendation we asked Kristian what inexperienced first-time watch buyers should look out for when in the market.
In your personal opinion, what do you consider a quality watch?
A quality watch is a watch that has been made for assembly. Meaning a mechanical watch that can be repaired to work flawlessly again. Vintage Rolex Sports watches are a great example. They were launched as tool watches back in the 1950s and 1960s. And you can still wear them, not only because the design is so timeless but also because the movements are rugged and easy to adjust and service.
What is it with watches that appeal so much to men?
Watches appeal to men because it is a piece of jewellery that is accepted by other men. Denim is like that too. If the style is classical and the quality obviously high, then most men can wear denim from top to toe without having fingers pointed at them. This accounts for wrist watches as well. Wrist watches however also represent storytelling and men love to tell a good story. Without a good story to tell, you are just a man. With a good story to tell you are an entertaining man.
What do you love the most about watches?
I really do love the storytelling part. The provenance. A watch owned by a man I respected (or the opposite for that matter). I love to look at a watch and not be able to tell the time, but merely to suck in it’s beauty and attention to detail. For instance the blue dials of my Patek Philippe watches which change colour depending on light and weather. Fascinating craftsmanship.
Based on which criteria should inexperienced buyers evaluate a watch?
An inexperienced buyer should always consult the experienced counterpart. Go to a vintage watch seller instead of a retailer of new watches. The vintage dealer should be able to take you through periods of time (pun intended) whereas the retailer is only able to sell you a new watch. Mind you, I am not bad-mouthing the retailers. Merely suggesting to let a vintage dealer tell the tales of older models to help you choose the right watch and model.
What are you looking for when you evaluate a watch?
When estimating watches I also check for authenticity. Of course I check the brand of the watch as most older watches are emotional products. Meaning a watch of gold is much more than a watch of gold, if it is made by Patek Philippe. Emotional values are an undefinable currency that are obvious on auctions when for instance Patek Philippe and older Rolex watches are on offer.
Who do you consult when you’re in doubt about the details of a specific watch?
When in doubt I contact foreign experts. I also consult with heritage departments and museums as well as look through my massive collection on horological literature. The internet, of course, is too a great help once in a while, lots of info there, yet too much some times and too often doubtful as discussion fora often offer fierce verbal fighting between dealers and collectors. Watches are indeed very sensitive subjects and I rarely partake in any online discussions at all.
If I want to buy a vintage watch, where should I begin to look?
If you want to look into the world of vintage timepieces then you should make sure that all parts are original. But also make sure that the watch can be repaired. It is getting harder to get spare parts for certain vintage watches.
About the author:
Kristian Haagen writes about watches for several Danish and foreign media, online as well as print including Men’s Club in Japan, 0024 in Benelux, UK and Scandinavia and Berlingske Tidende, Børsen and Luxury Aficionados in Denmark and many more. Kristian also has his own blog on watches and since 2009 he has published the free monthly e-mag Timegeek. In additional he works for Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers as external estimator of wristwatches and he has four books on watches under his belt and a fifth in the pipeline.