One of the questions that I’m often asked as a member of the luxury watch trading fraternity, normally by the ‘bloke down the pub’ is this:
“So then, what’s the best watch in the world?“
My answer on these occasions is usually circumspect, but today I’m actually going to answer it properly.
The best watch in the world is a Casio G-Shock
Now this may not be the only use of the word “shock” appropriate to this article so in order to explain my reasoning I thought I would list a few characteristics of watch excellence and compare the G-Shock with some traditional luxury models.
So here we go:
- Timekeeping – Accuracy is clearly vital in this business and the Swiss watchmaking industry is monitored by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres – COSC for short – who ensure that in order to earn the COSC seal of approval for chronometers, all mechanical Swiss watches are accurate to between -4 and +6 seconds per day. Rolex has recently cocked a snook at COSC and publicly announced their own ‘Rolex Superlative Chronometer’ standard which is -2 to +2 seconds per day.
So with that kind of stringent standard, surely the current Rolex 116610 Submariner must be The Best Watch In The World for accuracy? Well an average G-Shock is accurate to around 1 second a MONTH, so
- Validation and history – When looking for ‘TBWITW’, we want our choice to be credible and interesting with a great back story – a watch with real history worn by people whose decisions we trust.
Ok – one word. Moonwatch. The Omega Speedmaster WENT TO THE MOON (probably). It has the best watch story EVER and was chosen by men with exacting standards for whom timekeeping was absolutely vital and literally meant the difference between life and death.
The thing is that that was 1969 and as I’m writing this, that was almost fifty years ago… So what do astronauts wear now? Yup G-Shocks. They are also issued to the US police force and soldiers including British and US Special Forces – Delta Force wore G-Shock watches during the ‘Blackhawk Down’ events in Mogadishu as did ‘Andy McNab’ and ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle. If you’re looking for validation of a watch being ‘fit for purpose’, look no further.
- Robustness – If you’re going to spend a lot of money on a watch you don’t want it to be fragile and fall apart at the first encounter with a door handle (Ouch!).
Nobody understands this more than The Bremont Watch Company whose MB range of watches are developed alongside the Martin Baker ejector seat company.
In order to ensure that their watches are tough enough to withstand the rigours of fast jet flight, Bremont strap their watches to a mannequin in a rig which in a period of a few hours simulates the equivalent of around 20 years in an aircraft cockpit. They then subject them to repeated simulated aircraft crashes and ejections to ensure that they really are “Tested beyond endurance”.
The thing is that a mechanical watch can never be as durable as a quartz watch because of the way that their movements work – To test its durability, French diver and G-Shock fan Jean Michel did the following to his Casio DW-9052 GH-Shock:
- Immersed it in continually boiling water for ten minutes
- In the course of an hour, he froze it to -40ºC and then heated it to +70ºC and he then repeated this another four times
- Put it in a vacuum chamber for 24 hours
- Pressurised it to +2 Bar
- Cryogenically froze it to -65ºC
- Ran it through a full washing machine boil wash
- Took it diving to -40 metres
- Finally he drove over it in his Range Rover
You can see a photo of Jean Michel’s G-Shock above (Obviously it works perfectly)
- Value for money – As I’ve said on this website before, while costly, I believe that a well chosen Swiss made luxury watch can represent excellent value for money (http://www.oakleighwatches.co.uk/arent-watches-expensive/).
Alongside all the usual suspects such as Rolex, Omega, Panerai, etc., Tudor is making some quite superb watches at the moment that are really well priced. The Black Bay is particularly good, and at £2,600 retail represents exceptional value for money – I really can’t recommend them highly enough.
What? My G-Shock? £65 on Amazon.
I rest my case M’Lud – The Best Watch In The World is the Casio G-Shock.
But hold on a minute – Do you actually want TBWITW or do your desires lead you elsewhere?
Fortunately, very few of our lives, or schedules for that matter, would be seriously affected if our watch lost or gained four or five seconds a day. Very few of us get ejected from fighter jets, frozen in polar ice caps or scorched in Death Valley and if you’ve read this far you already know that buying a luxury watch has everything to do with desire and nothing to do with value for money.
The decision of which watch you buy or wear should come down to your personal preference and your tastes as much as it does to anything else. This is all about ‘desire’ and ‘want’, not ‘need’ or ‘best’.
What do I wear? Well being in the business that I’m in I’m fortunate to have a choice of a lot of lovely things, but unless I’m running Tough Mudder or climbing a mountain it’s definitely not going to be The Best Watch In The World – it’s going to be something that makes me smile with pleasure every time I look at my wrist. MUCH more important than ‘Good, Better, Best’….