“Get a Seiko 5 (no other timepiece is worthy) and put the rest into your savings account!”
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. In all seriousness though, this is a tough question. It’s like asking a car enthusiast, “Hey buddy, I got X amount to spend on a car. What should I get?” Most people won’t even know how to begin to answer a question like that. It’s more or less the same when it comes to a timepiece (or timepieces, if you’re feeling loaded).
Perhaps the question you should ask yourself first is this, “What kind of timepiece do I want in the first place?” Are you someone who’s gonna’ be wearing said timepiece in an office environment 99% of the time? Or does your job require you to run around outdoors? Are you cameraman who works closely with marine biologists? Are you a marine biologist?
See, you gotta’ understand this. There are plenty of watches out there, each one designed, engineered and constructed for all kinds of environments (and wrists). Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t close to being in a position of such privilege where we can go out and buy several watches in one go, right? So with that said, the most important thing to consider when you’re buying a new timepiece is this…
“What are you looking for in that one new timepiece?”
Are you looking to buy a dress watch? Maybe you’re on the hunt for a hardy beater? Or do you want something that’s versatile enough to work with most of your wardrobe/lifestyle choices? More importantly, is it well within your budget? At the risk of sounding like everyone’s Mum here, never, ever go for a watch that makes you consider what you’ll have to sacrifice in order to afford it. No matter how little you have to “top up.” It begins with a timepiece, then a new phone, then a car and the next thing you know, you’ll have to pawn said timepiece, downgrade your phone and-
Oops, your car has just been repossessed.
“Wow, that got dark really quickly…”
Yeah, it did. Now, before we spiral down an even deeper well, let’s get back to watches. For the sake of this article, let’s say you’ve got around RM3,000 to spend on a new watch, okay? Next case to solve involves what kind of watch should you get. We’ve got three categories here – dress watches, tough-as-nails beaters and the do-it-all everyday timepiece.
The dress watch is the one you wear to an executive setting or even a black/white tie event depending on how “formal” said watch appears to be. Next comes the beater and as its name suggests, it’s the one you’ll see on the wrists of survival instructors or people who are almost always covered in mud. Finally, we have the do-it-all which, in my opinion, is one of the harder ones to get right. For a watch to excel in this area, it’s gotta’ walk the fine line between the previous two in terms of aesthetics.
The way I see it, the watch is not going to work with a business suit if it’s too sporty. Likewise, it’s near impossible to pull of a Calatrava-esque timepiece with a singlet, shorts and flip-flops, right? So with that said, let’s not dilly-dally any further. For those looking for a dressy piece for under RM3,000, here’s what I think would be a good choice.
Certina DS-1 Powermatic 80 (ref no. C029.807.16.081.01)
First things first, how much? It’s priced at RM2,460. Get this. For a little under RM2,500, you’re getting an automatic ‘Swiss Made‘ timepiece with 80 (!) hours of power reserve, a 40 mm 316L stainless steel case with a sapphire exhibition caseback, a sapphire crystal with AR (anti-reflective) coating, 100 m of water resistance (overkill for a dress piece if you ask me) and a leather strap with a double butterfly (deployant) clasp.
Additionally, the 20 mm lug width is perfect for those who are looking to swap straps often. On my 6-inch wrist, the 47.8 mm lug to lug width ensures that the watch sits just about right. Though I gotta say that the really thin bezel makes it look like there’s a lot of watch so don’t be surprised if people think it’s larger than the quoted 40 mm. Also, I measured the thickness at 11.8 mm so it’s not extremely thin like some higher-end dress pieces. However, I reckon it should be slender enough to slip under most cuffs.
Just so you know, the watch with its strap included weighs 77 g. As for the aesthetics, I personally love it. Yes, black, white and silver colour schemes are the safest for a dress piece but Certina has proven that a grey dial with rose gold hour markers (applied, mind you) works just as good, if not, better.
Winding the non-screw down crown was a satisfactory tactile experience on my end. It felt a lot smoother than my 6R15-equipped Seikos but it did clicked a whole lot louder, though. Oh, did I mention the crown itself it signed? It is, and nicely serrated to maximize grip.
Got a dress piece? Looking for a more all-rounded watch? Well, nothing says versatile better than a diver, methinks.
Seiko Prospex ‘Samurai’ SRPB53K1
From a left-field option that is the Certina, we now have, arguably, one of the most recognizable divers from one of the most recognized brands in horology. I present to you, the Seiko Prospex SRPB53K1, a.k.a. the ‘Samurai’. In my opinion, it’s a watch that needs very little to no introduction. Such is its popularity that I reckon it appears on the same list of evocative names like ‘Submariner’, ‘Nautilus’, ‘Speedmaster’ and what have you. Only difference this time round is that anyone with a fair bit of savings can afford one.
So, how much are we talking? The ‘Samurai’ retails for RM1,876, which (goes without saying, really) is damn good value. For the money, you get a brushed 43.9 mm stainless steel case, a water resistance rating of 200 m, LOTS of LumiBrite on the hands, hour markers and the pip at 12 o’clock on the unidirectional, 120-click bezel. Inside, beats the familiar 4R35 movement. Don’t expect anything fancy here, mind you. The 23-jeweled caliber beats at 3 Hz, has a power reserve of 40 hours (give or take) and is rated at a conservative +45/-35 sec per day.
“So it’s pretty bare bones on the inside, then?”
Yeah, but on the plus side, expect servicing costs to be low and reliability to be high. Other features include a screw-down crown, hacking and manual winding capabilities as well as a Hardlex crystal. No exhibition caseback but that’s expected from a tough-as-nails diver. With that said, I’ve discovered one flaw after a quick fling with this watch and it lies with the stock silicone strap. While it’s comfortable, it was designed for much larger wrists. Call it nitpicking but it’s quite uncomfortable to glance down and see the excess strap sticking out from way beyond the keeper.
Relevant numbers for the ‘Samurai’ are as follow. Lug width is 22 mm while the lug to lug stands at 48.3 mm. The entire watch with the silicone strap weighs 123 g and the overall thickness is 13.7 mm. How does it wear as a whole on a 6-inch wrist? Shockingly well, if I’m honest.
Before we move on to the next watch, I gotta’ say that this diver has a dial that’s way too cool to be on a tool watch but I’m so glad it’s there. Look at that Clous de Paris dial!
I couldn’t resist.
Casio G-Shock ‘Rangeman’ GW-9400-1
This is the one, then. The watch you’d go for if you couldn’t give two sh*ts about dress codes. A watch for someone who doesn’t do the whole 9-to-5-air-conditioned-office-shirt-and-trousers-gig. Or maybe you just want the watch equivalent of the Nissan GT-R – brutal, efficient, packed with tech and unapologetically in-your-face.
The Casio G-Shock ‘Rangeman’ GW-9400-1 is a watch that I want so badly but can never bring myself to get one. No, it’s not because it’s a bad watch, far from it. It’s so far ahead of the curve that I doubt I’ll ever need a watch with its capabilities. Sure, it’s nice to have a million features but what’s the point if you’re never gonna’ use them? However, if you happen to be part of Bear Grylls’ production crew, you’d be glad to know the GW-9400-1 has a…
- ‘Multiband 6 Wave Ceptor’ radio-controlled calibration system (six transmission stations – Germany, United Kingdom, China, North America and two in Japan)
- Digital compass
- Data recorder for features 3 to 5
- World time with daylight saving (31 time zones)
- Sunrise/sunset time display
- 1/100th of a second stopwatch (elapsed/split time, 1st and 2nd place lap times)
- Countdown timer
- 5 daily alarms with 1 snooze alarm
- Battery (charge) level indicator
- Power saving mode
- “Perpetual calendar” (up to year 2099)
All for a price of RM1,546. Yes, it may look like everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t fault a watch that looks so single-minded in its aesthetic approach. The solid, black resin case with red accents lends the watch a tactical appearance, a look made even more pronounced with the multiple protrusions that form the button guards. Other aesthetic cues that look pretty badas* to me are the combo of flat head and Phillips screws dotted around the case and the knurled buttons that are a joy to push.
The display is a standard digital unit with LED backlight and is divided into 3 segments. The upper right corner shows the calendar function in its default setting while a smaller cutout within it shows a “power reserve” display. Next to it is the circular seconds counter while below lies the main time display. Like most G-Shocks, a mineral crystal is to be found along with a resin band. The keeper and buckle are fashioned out of steel, as is the caseback.
Obviously, there’s no mechanical heart inside but the Module 3410 is the reason this watch is armed to the teeth with tech in the first place. It’s also the reason you never need to change the battery on this watch. Yes, this ‘Rangeman’ is a ‘Tough Solar’ model so exposing it to moderate amounts of sunlight on a regular basis should net you around 7 months worth of power.
Firstly, if you do have cash lying about and are thinking of getting a new timepiece, congratulations in advance! Fret not if you’re still stuck at a crossroad. In fact, I think it’s good that you’re pondering so hard on what to get instead of going out and impulsively buying one. Sure, it’s not as expensive as a car or a motorcycle but acquiring a new watch should always be accompanied by a fair amount of homework and self-reflection, I reckon.
A personal trick I use whenever I come across a new watch that I like is this – ask yourself is you absolutely need it. Next, do plenty of homework regarding said watch and finally, if you still have the itch for it after a month or two, you can scratch it knowing it’s not an impulse thing and you’d have read enough to know what you’re getting yourself into.
*These loaner units were provided by Timekeeper Malaysia. For a look at their entire range, check out their online store at timekeeper.store here.