The Preppy Man’s Guide to Grown-up Watches

My lovely bride, known to you all as The Preppy Princess, is taking a day to rejuvenate her mind and soul. She has requested, and any married male will recognize the tone, that I publish some thoughts in her stead. This is a great opportunity to discuss some things that have been percolating for some time. We’ll be focusing on time. While Stephen Hawking has some brilliant thoughts on the subject my intentions are easier to grasp. It all begins with the question: What watch should a man wear and when should he wear it?

GQ magazine has published a comprehensive article on this very subject and we thank them for many of the photos you’ll be enjoying. Let’s get started.

Photo: Davies + Starr; Bettmann/Corbis

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner – This is one of the all-time classic watches. Good enough for Che Guevera, it should be good enough for any capitalist. It’s water-resistant to 330 feet. But that raises the question of water-resistant versus waterproof. Common sense should answer that. Also, at $5,175, what would be your frame of mind when your Submariner falls overboard and is last seen dropping to the bottom of a very deep body of water?

Photo: Davies + Starr; Bettmann/Corbis

Omega Speedmaster – My thought is that if this watch is good enough for Buzz Aldrin and the crew of Apollo 11 than I can probably work with it. The Speedmaster is good-looking, durable, accurate and, at only $3,000, affordable. A rare treat in today’s marketplace. Sometimes you get more than what you pay for.

Photo: Davies + Starr; Branger/Hulton Archive/Getty Image

Cartier Santos – Oh, my. Where do I begin? In 1904 Louis Cartier himself designed this watch for a Brazilian aviator. This gold-and-steel watch pictured is a modern version of Cartier’s original vision. Self-winding, accurate, tasteful. With a $4,200 price tag it is a true statement of gentlemanly restraint.

Photo: Davies + Starr; Everett Collection

TAG Heuer Monaco – Steve McQueen has been called the King of Cool. We won’t debate that because there is no debate to be made. McQueen wore this blue-faced watch in the 1971 film Le Mans. First produced in 1969, you can capture your inner McQueen with this water-resistant classic for a mere $3,195.

Photo: Davies + Star

Movado Museum – Recognize the watch? Of course you do. The epitome of understatement and minimalism. Perfect with a suit; mandatory with a tuxedo. The next time you’re in the Museum of Modern Art’s design wing look for this watch. Since 1947 this classic, with only an hour hand, minute hand, and that discreet dot at twelve o’clock, has held a place of honor. This watch is also very accessible because of the modest $995 price point.

Photo: Traserh3watches.com

Traser P 6500 Type 6 – Enough with the dress watches. This is a watch that can take more of a beating than you’ll ever want to absorb. The type 6 is an authentic US-military watch designed and built according to government specifications. There is a whole gamut of technology inside the watch. Thousands of these watches are being worn today by the men and women of our Armed Forces. The only difference between the military version and the civilian watch is that your timepiece will have a date window. Price? There is one place to get this watch in the United States. If you have enough spine to wear this watch then you can make the call yourself.

According to GQ, here’s a quick rule for watches: With contemporary watches [those made after 1985], platinum trumps white gold, white gold trumps pink, pink trumps yellow. And all of those trump steel. Vintage watches are an entirely different story. We can get to that in another post.

Another reminder: A sports watch should be worn while participating in sports. You rarely wear a suit while playing a sport. Why would you wear a sports watch in the office?

A last thought… diamonds do not determine the value of a watch. Don’t get sucked into that sales pitch. It’s all about the attention to detail inside the watch. You can’t go too far wrong selecting a Swiss-made watch. Precise, elegant and worth every dollar you’ll pay. But always remember what you’re expecting from your watch. My father, one of the most “comfortable in his skin” men I’ve ever met, would go to the corner drugstore each year and buy a $12 Timex. It kept accurate time and he’d toss it after a year. All he wanted from a watch was a quick answer to the question “What time is it?”. There’s something to be said for that.

And with that I say thank you for your time.

15 Comments

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15 Responses to The Preppy Man’s Guide to Grown-up Watches

  1. Great post, Mr. Preppy! I love the Cartier watch-it is really beautiful. I really enjoyed this post too since I don’t have a watch now b/c I cannot decide on a style. Especially love the Timex watch philosophy of your father!!

  2. Thank you for that wonderfully informative post on beautiful watches! Henceforth, you shall now be called THE PREPPY PRINCE!

  3. It’s the Preppy Prince! What a terrific guy, letting the princess rest and rejuvenate! Love this post on watches, was just discussing this same topic with MY Mr. Prep! Have a wonderful day!!! :)

  4. Thank you, Mr. TP, aka “The Preppy Prince.” The watch is the one thing, possibly the only thing, my husband covets and dreams of buying. I love the Cartier, but I think he might be pleased with that crazy Traser. The McQueen would make us both happy.

  5. Meh, I still love my old Tag Heuer Professional 1000.

  6. One of my favorite classics is definitely the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner series, my top favorite is the IWC Portugieser (not mentioned, and too expensive anyway). Also a friend of mine has given me the ability to offer you a proposition from http://www.grayandsons.com that might be of interest to you just for this page. Contact me for more info.

    Edward James Parker
    Watch Historian

  7. I very much agree with your comments around dimonds and the often over looked issue of the movement in these types of pieces. The fact that it may have a significant amount of diamonds with the watch should not detract from the movement. After all what good is a watch that has some sparkling diamonds yet doesn’t provide you with the fundamental function required. As you suggest, Swiss movements pretty much across the board are reliable and robust and this coupled with great looks should satisfy most.

  8. Boston Brahmin

    I cannot believe that you left out the preppiest of all watches, the simple timex with grosgrain strap (always in rep colours). The strap should be purchased from J.Press, or a local haberdasher.

  9. jhn

    Agreed, there’s nothing “preppy” about these watches. The preppy watch is a the simplest possible watch, with a ribbon strap. A military watch is also acceptable.

    These are nothing but trick or gadget watches you’d expect to see on the wrist of the vulgar nouveau riche or a middle class striver.

  10. Boston Brahmin

    Thank you! these are nothing but dumb parvenu trick watches, with the exception of the submariner rolex, if one purchases a rolex, it had better be this one (i own one, but only wear it for business, never out.)

  11. Thank you, Mr. TP, aka “The Preppy Prince.” The watch is the one thing, possibly the only thing, my husband covets and dreams of buying. I love the Cartier, but I think he might be pleased with that crazy Traser. The McQueen would make us both happy.

  12. Agreed, there’s nothing “preppy” about these watches. The preppy watch is a the simplest possible watch, with a ribbon strap. A military watch is also acceptable.

    These are nothing but trick or gadget watches you’d expect to see on the wrist of the vulgar nouveau riche or a middle class striver.

  13. You just don't know

    Anyone who says these watches aren’t “preppy” or that they are “nouveau riche” probably are middle class strivers. Although I do agree that most of these watches aren’t really classy, the Rolex and Omega definitely fit into the category of being classy. There is so much history between these two brands that anyone who ignores that is simply ignorant.

  14. melissa

    these are the selections/photos from a recent GQ article.

  15. Elegant Striver

    How can anybody say that the Cartier Santos isn’t preppy? It is understated, elegant, and minimalistic. It is not showy or ostentatious, but will speak of quality and refinement to those who know what they’re looking at. It is a wonderful embodiment of preppy values.

    There is much, I think, to be legitimately criticized in the preppy mindset and way of life, and this includes snobbery and xenophobia. I do not, however, include the appreciation for art and aesthetic beauty among these faults, as many I know do. I think society has gotten away from its appreciation of “the finer things”, and would do well to re-claim it, as long as it doesn’t also descend (further) into snobbery. As someone who comes from a background despised by the stereotypically Anglo-Saxon critical mass known for its preppy lifestyle, I can tell you that there is much that is redeemable about your way of life. Such a pity that it may die because of society’s understandable reaction to it.

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