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Friday Watch Corner - 22 April 2022

This week, I took a look back at a few of my favorite watches I've owned. We've all had a piece or two (or more) that we've traded, sold, or otherwise loved and lost and we all know what it's like to look back and wonder why we let those watches go. Here are a few of mine that I look back on fondly:


1. Breitling Aerospace E75362


Few watches can do more than the Aerospace and look as good doing them. While the Apple watch is the king of functionality (you know it's true just as well I do and pretend it isn't doesn't negate that at all), it surely doesn't have the wrist presence this piece does. Many folks in the Breitling communities I frequent see this era of Aerospace production as the "sweet spot." Once this model had been refreshed, it took on a more jewelry appearance. Each iteration since has left it shinier and shinier, with Breitling adding more bling to each successive model. To me, it's too much and it really takes away from the utilitarian aspects this watch serves. My Air Force pilot uncle got me into these circa 2002, and it was something I've always said was the most useful watch I've ever owned. Three time zones, an alarm, a stopwatch, a countdown timer...on paper it might seem like a glorified G-Shock, but even Casio doesn't make their offerings in Titanium like this. With a heaping helping of lume and a slim case thickness that fits under any cuff, this watch is light on the wrist but heavy where it counts - functionality. They're also relatively reasonable to buy these days. If you can find one in good shape, it's an easy addition to a collection where the servicing usually is just a battery replacement. Of course, if you want to get out the daily desk-diving scratches, you'll have to send it back to Breitling for a full refresh, but that's not a very pricey endeavor as far as servicing goes. Truth be told, I sold this one and took the funds to buy a vintage Rolex Datejust. Ah, the things you could do with 2013 prices and money. Maybe it was a trade up, or maybe it was letting something more nostalgic go. Either way, any time one of these pops up for sale, I get a very strong urge to go and buy it.


2. OMEGA Seamaster 2599.80


This is one I snagged right after my second deployment to Afghanistan. I was always an OMEGA guy, ever since growing up in the Brosnan era. Too much of that time growing up was spent online looking at the various Seamaster models. One day, while perusing, I stumbled across this beauty and was fascinated by the concept of a chronograph. I remember explaining to another budding watchgeek about this watch and he distinctly asked me, "you know you mean chronometer, right?" After some back and forth about why it wasn't simply a chronometer but a chronograph, I pulled up the image of this watch on the computer in the computer lab. T1 lines were all the rage and for the time, it loaded quickly. After the years went on and I went off to war, this watch largely fell by the wayside. Fast forward to March of 2011 and I was just a week or two from flying back stateside from Bagram and I came across another service member who had one of these. I instantly remembered why I loved this watch and it stuck from that moment until I pulled the trigger on a sales ad on watchuseek.com. It arrived and I quickly found myself timing all sorts of things - cooking eggs, run times for our 2-mile runs, how long it took to drive to work, and even various flight times stated on commercial flights when I'd be off somewhere on temporary duty. It was a staple of the time home and the move to the Florida panhandle after that deployment. I ended up trading this one for a Speedy after that move to Florida was complete. Maybe I got a good deal? Who knows, the early 2010's was a weird time for even trades. Important though this stop along the journey was, this watch eventually introduced me to my next loved and lost...


3. OMEGA Seamaster 2297.80


Did I say I was a Seamaster guy? I probably mentioned it somewhere. Anyhow, this one is often confused with the model which included another metal: tantalum. Usually, when I talk about this watch, many still ask me if I mean "rose gold with that blue tantalum bezel and bracelet link inserts?" No, no I don't. I mean this one, with yellow gold and no tantalum...just titanium. This watch, from any distance, stands out among the sea of regular blue and black options. The gold is just enough to contrast with the matte titanium to bring balance to an otherwise very gray piece. The bright lettering on the dial also adds to that, as the steel and gold version had some more subdued and gilt lettering which I never cared for. Pretty though this watch is, it's surprisingly polarizing. Many folks over the years told me they didn't care much for how the gold really did stand out. Others gushed over how the gold was just the right amount that you could wear the watch without seeming too "bougie." In my mind, it was simply an upscale trim model of the classic 7750-powered Seamaster that stood apart and upmarket from the rest. I loved a good 7750 movement and titanium, so this was a logical step. Moving up from steel was not only brining more precious metal to my life but also that love and lightness of titanium. I know many folks who are very on-the-fence about anything titanium as they often tell me "It feels too light and not very solid." I think, for a chunker like this watch can be, titanium adds value in that it keeps the whole thing manageable. Whereas the steel really felt like a brick, this one offered an elegance that you could take anywhere and not feel like you'd sink wrist-first if you fall of your jet ski. This one I sold to a friend for what I paid for it. He liked it quite a bit and I was getting into a 1980's Submariner which I purchased from a different friend...truly amazing what friendships and $3800 can get you in 2017. If you haven't thought that the current market is crazy enough yet, you might start after reading that.


4. Patek Philippe White Gold Ellipse


What, you thought I'd say I missed my 80's Rolex Sub and that it would be what I saved for last? Nah. It was fun for a while, but I bought it to sell it and make a little on the side. Just like everyone else these days, right? Aside from all of that nonsense, this Patek was kind of an impulse buy. I saw it for sale on a forum, got a bunch of photos, loved that it was white gold and, in those days, it was priced lower than its 18k yellow gold brothers, and I pulled the trigger. It was a plain jane and this stuck with me more than I thought after a while, and initially I wasn't sure it was really for me. I also think the Calatrava line is pretty boring, so maybe that line of thinking influenced my outlook. This was one of those watches you wear because it's simple, understated, and it blends into the surroundings almost everywhere you could go. While in uniform, though, it did look out of place amongst the G-Shocks, Timex Ironmans, and the occasional Explorer II or GMT-Master. Most people didn't know what it was or recognize the name on the dial, but I did. That's what matters when you own one of their watches...you know it even if most people around you think it's something you bought as a fashion watch that simply has an hour and minute hand. I didn't appreciate that magical part of this watch then, and I think that lack of understanding underscores my longing for it back. Sure, the market price for these probably has doubled or tripled since the day I spent a few thousand for it, but I did get my money back when I eventually moved this piece for something else. These days, though, I think I would've appreciated this for what it is, what history it had, and how exquisite it looked out and about in Europe. What a time.


Which watches have you owned and sold for something else that you long to have back in your collection? Are there any you've come across again and jumped at the chance to own again? I often hear of folks who buy back their old watches and usually it's a true love story. These are, after all, objects which we attach a certain sentiment to. Hopefully, you have more pieces you look back on with fond memories than ones you're glad to be rid of.


 


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