Collecting watches is a passion and like many such pursuits it usually defies reason. Some watches enter the collection because of a particular complication, a specific material used for the case, a strong design or historical significance. The collection grows irregularly with new additions that are always the result of a long-thought-out process. I draw a significant part of the pleasure of collecting from this actual method. Having said that, without further ado, here are my two choices if I had to let everything else go:
Omega Seamaster De Ville
The first watch is of modest origin but of huge sentimental value to me. It is a 1963 Omega Seamaster De Ville. A watch typical of the 1960’s in its proportions (merely 35 mm diameter), this 3-hand is lightweight, in stainless steel and with a timeless design; so timeless that many brands are now re-issuing watches referring directly to these brushed dials with applied indexes. The movement is a widely-produced self-winding Omega caliber that can go on forever with minimal care.
These were classic gifts given on occasions like an engagement and my watch is exactly that: my father received it in 1964 from his fiancée a few months before they got married and a few years before I was born. He wore it all his life with only very few exceptions and was particularly proud of its reliability and prestige of the Omega brand.
I cherish it deeply and wear it with great pride, it sits quietly hidden under the sleeve of my shirt for board meetings when the correct use of allocated time is an important element of the meeting itself. Every collector probably owns pieces that carry this type of sentimental value and the exact same model but with a different serial number simply cannot match it.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
Not too long ago I started to look for a new watch that would not be cased in steel or gold. The checklist was quite exhaustive – it had to have a timeless design, a self-winding movement outside of the (too) frequently seen movements, it would be no wider than 40 mm in diameter and should look just as great when paired with a casual outfit as it would in a more formal business environment. Further to this, the watch needed to be lightweight. I have several heavy weights such as Rolex GMT Master-II or Seiko divers and wanted to go the opposite route.
There are very few watches in current production that could meet all these requirements. However, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic ticked all the boxes and more. It only took just one visit to an authorized dealer, the unbelievably comfortable feel of the bracelet convinced me to purchase model 102713, with its record breaking Caliber BVL138. This movement is only 2.23-mm-thick and is equipped with an off-centered platinum winding rotor. The watch itself is cased in 5.25-mm meticulously sandblasted titanium.
The surprise of this watch is its ever-growing magnetic appeal. I look at it 20 times a day but can’t seem to remember what time it is. I think this design may age a bit more than a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso or a Cartier Tank but it will remain elegant for many decades to come. For me, there is no logical reason to wear a mechanical watch today, but there is a limitless pleasure in doing so and it repeats every day.
- Jean-Philippe Hussenet is a collector, formerly resident of the UAE and currently living in Moscow.