Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Which Watch?




Richard Alan

Someone asked me a simple question the other day regarding what would be the best watch for her to purchase, seeing that the present one she owned did not survive multiple swimming sessions in her pool.

I did point out to her that it was clearly marked “Water-resistant” – not water-proof. A fact that any jeweler will tell you, regardless of the fact it also reads that the watch is good to a depth of 15 meters. This a true oxymoron, if it’s not waterproof how can it be worn to a depth of 15 meters under water? A frog’s derriere is in fact waterproof, and not up
to debate.

In recent weeks I have experienced some discontented folks who claimed their water resistant watches have performed perfectly while swimming. Good for you, but you have been lucky, very lucky. I know for a fact no jewelry store will guarantee one once the case is opened, especially if it is a snap-on back with a non-sealing stem and crown.

Watches have always been a pet peeve of mine, for more than one reason. Although I have the knowledge of what makes them tick or not, I do not physically repair watches, clocks or bell towers. I’m a designer/goldsmith/diamond setter/engraver, and that’s a full enough plate for me to handle.

Let’ face it, a watch either tells proper time or it doesn’t, and there are many reasons why a watch can malfunction or just plain go kaput. (Swimming with a water-resistant watch is one of them.) Humidity, sweat, climate and just how much you abuse your timepiece are all factors.

Let’s be clear here, the cheaper the watch, the less it is going to give back to you. I have to admit I have seen some cheap vintage Timex’s that keep on ticking even after four or five decades. The owners of these often mourn when I have to pronounce the one they owned has finally expired and is un-repairable.

I know what you are thinking…so answer the question already! That’s a loaded question. Personally, for the past 15 years I have worn a “water-proof” two tone TAG Heuer, not an inexpensive timepiece, but it’s as watertight as the bullfrog I mentioned above. It has a sealing stem and crown, waterproof case with a white sapphire crystal, and has been worn while swimming in my pool, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, Pacific, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, not to mention my hot tub. As far

Submitted Photo | Hublot Black Caviar watch, which retails for $1 million.

Submitted Photo | Hublot Black Caviar watch, which retails for $1 million.

as abuse goes, the only thing I haven’t subjected it to would be placing it on a train track. It has never lost a second, and in 15 years and I have only replaced the battery three times. What’s not to love about a TAG? They are sporty and classy at the same time, plain or with diamonds, and are available in many price ranges. And I rarely sell one, go figure.

What about a Rolex? A touchy subject, all I can say is it’s a nice piece of jewelry. Is it an accurate timepiece? Ask any Rolex owner what they have to say about that, add in the cost, accuracy, reliability and especially maintenance. I’ll leave it at that to avoid any legal ramifications. These I don’t sell.

To quote Forrest Gump…“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get.”

There are a zillion makes and models out there; some are great, good, bad and downright ugly. You see them sold on late night TV and for sale in trendy shopping outlets. My personal experiences are based on the fact that in season my son and I can change 50 or more watch batteries a day. So needless to say we see the inside (guts) of thousands of different kinds of watches, and I laugh (not out loud!) when someone brings in and brags about a trendy designer watch they paid a small fortune for, and the internal parts of the watch aren’t worth a
cup of coffee.

Their watches are fancy-schmancy on the outside and a piece of junk on the inside. Hey, all the power to the designer brands, they make millions for what comes down to putting lipstick on a pig.

All I can say is there are different strokes for different folks. Watch cases are made out of stainless steel, titanium, plastic, ceramic, platinum, gold and silver. The strap can be leather, metal, or plastic and ceramic. Bottom line…it is the integrity of the case and movement that makes a great wearing watch.

The extremes can be a $10 discount watch from Beall’s Outlet or a one-of-a-kind handcrafted Swiss timepiece for hundreds of thousands of dollars. What it comes down to is that they will both tell you whether you are late for happy hour.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or, or visit his informative website at

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