Laying down significant amounts of cash on a timepiece is a milestone up there with losing your virginity and getting your first grey hair (hopefully in that order).
Granted, some may argue that your money could be better spent elsewhere, like on necessities such as food, paying bills, and maybe the odd sneaker. But what if money weren’t an issue?
What if when it came to tourbillons, sapphire crystals, unidirectional turning bezels, and other words that make up a watch nerd’s wet dream, it was a horological no-holds-barred?
According to the editors of FashionBeans, here are the models that defy the hands of time (and realistic bank balances).
When the editors of FashionBeans decided at a recent editorial meeting to play a game of ‘if money was no object’ with watches, I found myself unusually quiet. Sure, in my job I’ve handled timepieces priced the same as a deposit on a Park Lane flat, but none I could recall as my ‘dream’ watch.
So I did what any other thorough, self-respecting journalist would do… an online quiz. After answering questions about my spirit animal and which Hogwarts house I thought I belonged to, it arrived at Cartier. Chief among the reasons was that I (apparently) like to be the centre of attention, which led me to pick out the Calibre de Cartier Diver with its strikingly handsome blue dial.
In reality it’s probably the understated 9ct gold, champagne face Rotary on a black leather strap that my parents bought me for a milestone birthday. Because nothing is allowed to outshine me.
Calibre de Cartier Diver, available at Cartier, priced £21,900.
Rolex doesn’t do rubber straps. However, it does, as of this year, do Oysterflex. This is a band that looks like rubber but is in fact crafted from nickel and titanium inserts (for strength) coated in an ‘elastomer’ (an elastic polymer that’s hypoallergenic and shaped to your wrist, for perhaps the most comfortable fit you’ll find anywhere in Geneva).
This is par for Rolex’s course. It surveys the market, then does its own thing, only better. The rose gold case, for example, is not rose gold at all; it’s Everose, the Crown’s bespoke alloy, with a touch of platinum to prevent corrosion. The bidirectional bezel is built from Cerachrom, an in-house ceramic that’s scratch- and UV-proof, which Rolex PVD coats with platinum, then scratches off with a diamond everywhere bar the numerals.
Which means that while this watch looks like a gold watch with a ceramic bezel on a rubber strap, it is not. It is Rolex’s version of a sports-luxury, one powered as much by obsessive attention to detail as it is the caliber 2236 movement. Your move, everyone else.
Oyster Perpetualyacht-Master 37, available at Rolex, priced £14,750.
There was much jibing in the office when it emerged that – of all the super-spenny watches selected for this edition of Editors’ Picks – I’d picked the cheapest:
“Really?”, asked one of my colleagues incredulously, “you know this is a completely hypothetical situation, right?”
“Basic,” said another.
And my personal favourite: “Jesus, Cillian, dream bigger FFS…”
But the fact of the matter is my money-no-object watch was never going to be the most eye-wateringly expensive (relatively speaking, of course) – and that’s because I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing conspicuous precious metals. (There’s just something about the sheen of gold, silver and platinum against pale Irish skin that makes a man look like an outtake from Perry Ogden’s Pony Kids, only not as cool.)
So I’ll stick with Tag’s Carrera Heuer-02T in titanium, an indubitable black beauty and the most affordable Swiss-made tourbillon chronograph on the market. Plus, there’s slightly less chance of having it looted.
Tag Heuer Watch Carrera Heuer 02T Tourbillon, available at Jura Watches, priced £12,100.
Taste is something you acquire. And after 26 years, I feel I’ve got the basics under my belt. Apart from when it comes to watches. One glint of gold and nothing can stop my inner magpie.
This explains why (in dreamland) an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak will always take wrist place. There’s the ostentatious branding, the Swiss prestige and enough gold to rival one of the Kardashian clan. Plus, you can play the baller (and a walking robbery target – too soon?) without a velour tracksuit.
Providing you don’t ride a Range Rover Overfinch, you’re safe with a peacock watch. After all, even with the bare bones of refinement, there’s still always room for a magpie to nest.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, available at The Watch Gallery, priced £40,500.