We’ve all been there, right? You’re staring at your Macbook screen or deep into the glowing interior of a display case, and you think “That’s the watch for me.” But then, you’re dragged back to reality, whether by a second thought or by trying the watch on, and realize “Oh no … that’s most certainly not going to work. Not at all.” The disappointment is real, people. Sometimes there’s a watch that you love, that ticks all the boxes for you in theory, but when it comes to sitting on your wrist, it just isn’t meant to be. Here our editors round up watches that, for each of them, represent this dilemma perfectly.
Cara Barrett – Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
I have always had a soft spot for the Bulgari Octo Finissimo, which is a surprisingly cool watch when you see it in the metal. My only qualm is that the 42mm case is way too big for my ladylike wrist. This year Bulgari topped the original Octo by released the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, breaking three records and making it the world’s thinnest automatic watch, the world’s thinnest automatic tourbillon, and the world’s thinnest tourbillon. Boom. I am not usually one to wear (or even like) a tourbillon but something about this one feels extra special and a little bit fancy while being sporty enough to actually wear. But again, the size (and price) hold me back. Alas.
Jon Bues – A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split
I’ve not owned a watch from A. Lange & Söhne, but I’ve long felt that if I were to have one, it would probably be an 1815 Chronograph or a Datograph. The design of these chronographs calibers, which draws heavily on the tradition of great manually wound chronographs from the first part of the twentieth century like the Longines 13ZN, is so much of the appeal of these watches. They’re deep and complex and, of course, finished to the nines. I think that the caliber inside the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split is the apotheosis of this kind of movement. Not only is it beautiful to behold. It’s also insanely complex, along for concurrent timing of events whose duration reaches into the hours, not just just the seconds. This is also a ton of watch, at 43.2mm in diameter and 15.6mm thick and costing nearly $150,000. This is not the kind of watch that I could see myself wearing with any regularity, but it nonetheless gives me joy.
Jack Forster – Rolex Rainbow Daytona
If you ask me, the thing that makes Rolex what it is, more than anything else, is the sheer high level of quality in fit and finish in everything they do. You may not care for a Leopard Daytona (I sure don’t) but to hold one in your hands is to understand that no matter what you may think of any given modern Rolex from a style standpoint, there is no gainsaying the flawless execution of, well, everything. Which brings me to the Rainbow Daytona. I’m not ordinarily inclined towards gem-set watches myself, although well done ones are truly admirable achievements of a very difficult craft. But when I look at the Rainbow Daytona, and handle it, and yes, try it on, the perfection it achieves in everything from setting quality to color matching in the stones is so good, I want very much, a hundred grand notwithstanding, to make it least a part-time presence in my life. Now, I think it is important, as Detective Harry Callahan once said, for a man to know his limitations and while I feel I can definitely get away with a 36mm yellow gold Day-Date, the Rainbow Daytona is for this aging watch-nerd, A Watch Too Far. I could never wear it with any conviction, but I wish I could, because it is a darned – no ma’m, a damned fine wristwatch.
James Stacey – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak In Frosted Gold
A lot of you likely wouldn’t have predicted this, and before I saw the original Royal Oak Frosted Gold at SIHH a couple years ago, I would have rolled my eyes harder than Liz Lemon at the mention of this watch. What you nerds don’t get, and the photos don’t really communicate, is that the finish is incredible and the full rose gold model is just so much fun. Even if I could afford it, I cannot pull it off – I don’t have what it takes – but the 37mm Royal Oak Frosted Gold is something special. It’s hilarious and historically incongruous, but can you imagine just kicking around in joggers with this on your wrist?
Stephen Pulvirent – Panerai Radiomir 1940s 3 Days Acciaio
I have such a fraught relationship with Panerai. I love their watches – truly. I just wish I could wear the damn things. The Radiomir 1940s 3 Days Acciaio is everything I want in a Panerai: it’s got the classic case Radiomir case with the sturdier lugs, it’s got a wide open dial in a slightly soft brown hue with the sandwich construction, and the sense of Italian design is practically dripping off the thing. But it’s 47mm in diameter. Forty. Seven. Millimeters. I have a seven inch wrist and am a hair over 5′ 7″ tall. It’s more likely that this watch would wear me than the other way around. The new Luminor Due watches have brought my Panerai dreams a little bit closer, but I still can’t help but lust after one of these bad boys.