Let’s be honest, every now and again we all enjoy a little extra attention. This is certainly the case when you’re wearing a new watch on your wrist, which likely cost you a fair amount of time and money to purchase. It always feels like a bit of a disappointment if no one notices your new timepiece. But does that mean watches are purely status symbols? Of course, if a luxury watch is widely recognizable, chances are it’s a symbol for something. Depending on the situation and parties involved, different watches will earn a wearer more or less “status.” But if you weren’t already interested in luxury watches despite that fact or even because of it, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
I’ll say upfront that this article isn’t going to be about the Submariner, Royal Oak, and Navitimer.Don’t get me wrong, all of these models are classics and are some of the most sought-after watches on Chrono24 for a reason. However, in terms of design, technology, and aura, they can all be topped. I’m of the opinion that it isn’t just a look or price tag that earns you bragging rights, it can also be something more subtle or unique about a timepiece.
If you thought I was going to introduce an understated timepiece based on that last sentence, you’re wrong. The first watch on my list is a Richard Mille, a name that divides the watch community and is known as the super flashy sports car of luxury watches. But how much engineering genius do these watches really contain? According to Richard Mille designer Fabrice Namura, the development of the RM 11-03 was done in close coordination with McLaren’s head designer Rob Melville. This was arranged with the intention of creating something other than an ordinary timepiece (not that a Richard Mille could ever be considered ordinary). The McLaren lettering on the bezel is a nod to this cooperation, but also an aesthetically pleasing detail. The shape of the bezel feature is reminiscent of the iconic air intakes on the 800 PS McLaren P15, now named the “Senna.” You can tell Richard Mille meant business with this watch based on the materials alone. The flyback chronograph push-pieces are made of titanium and look like the headlights from the famous McLaren 720S. As is typical for the brand, the watch also integrates carbon components. The composite used in this timepiece is a mix of Carbon TNT and Orange Quartz TNT. Despite its 44.5-mm diameter and 16.23-mm thickness, this watch is as lightweight as it gets.
If you want to draw even more attention to the RM 11-03 watch, you could wear it on an orange rubber strap. A few prominent personalities like NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. have earned this watch some well-deserved media attention. If you know your watches, you may be aware that the RM 11-03 is limited to a run of 500 pieces. Its current list price on Chrono24 is around 300,000 USD.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI
Next is a watch that sends two distinct messages. The first is, “I know a lot about watches and the significance of the Omega Speedmaster.” The second is, “My bank account is too healthy for a steel watch.” We’re talking about the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI reference BA345.0802 and other golden Speedmasters. This reference dates back to the 1980s and would be my “show-off” watch of choice. Similar to its fairer steel sibling, this Speedy features a manually-wound caliber. Both watches have a black tachymeter scale, but the contrast is more striking against the 18-karat yellow gold case and band. The Apollo XI was introduced in 1980 in honor of the 1969 Moon landing. This chronograph was in production from 1980 to around 1987, making it a rare sighting today. I estimate that no more than 300 examples were ever created. Another aspect that makes this watch particularly enticing for viewers (if they ask to see it) is the open sapphire crystal case back that offers a clear view of the 816L movement. Priced around 28,000 USD, a vintage golden Apollo XI is available for roughly half the going price for this year’s Speedmaster edition. All said, the golden Apollo XI is a watch worth bragging about for anyone out there who appreciates a bit of history.
So, now we’ve looked at a watch that screams for attention and fits seamlessly into the colorful world of social media, and another that unites tradition and extravagance. Next, I want to look at a watch that doesn’t immediately call out for attention with its looks, but reveals its “show-off” qualities upon closer inspection.
Grand Seiko Snowflake
I’m talking about the Grand Seiko Spring Drive aka “Snowflake.” No, I haven’t lost my mind. I am well aware that this Japanese brand is best known for understatement and moderation, and is rarely considered a producer of “show-off” pieces. That said, I think this Seiko deserves more attention than it gets and is absolutely worth bragging about. The “Snowflake” ref. SBGA211 was first introduced in 2010. The watch’s simplicity leaves no question about where this brand’s strengths lie; namely, in creating pure, minimalist aesthetics with clear, smooth lines – at least that’s how I’d describe this watch.
The Grand Seiko is not as easily recognizable as a Rolex or Breitling, for example, but that is what appeals to many of its fans. The Grand Seiko shines when you look at its nuances and finer details. The dauphine hands are as sharp and smooth as a Japanese sword thanks to the Zaratsu polishing technique, but the dial is what really steals the show. The dial features both the color and texture of a snowflake, earning the watch its nickname. From a distance, this 41-mm watch looks like your “standard” stainless steel watch found in business settings the world over; however, when you take a closer look, you come to appreciate the unique dial texture. For that reason, the Grand Seiko is definitely a stylish watch that is worth showing off.