Here we are, this is the final HODINKEE post of 2019. Enjoy this little year-end tradition. We’ll post some of our favorites in our Instagram stories over the coming days.
While I didn’t realize it at the time, there was one watch reminding me that less is, in fact, more. That watch is the Grand Seiko SBGW252, the modern limited edition of the first-ever Grand Seiko introduced in 1960. This simple-looking gold watch doesn't tell me the time on the other side of the world, nor break down the hours of the day in 30-minute increments. Instead, and in very Grand Seiko fashion, it was only designed to do one thing. And, in doing that one thing to perfection, it served as a constant reminder that I could keep things simple and understated and still get a huge amount of fulfillment along the way. Looking back at the year, this watch was on my wrist during my most memorable moments, be it driving up the PCH with some good friends or launching HODKINEE Japan. It is down to earth with jeans and a tee in the summer or easily dressed up with a suit in the winter. It is simple, clean, to the point, and uncluttered. Just what I wanted for 2019.
As someone who's obsessed with travel, I was very excited to add the "Batman” version of the Rolex GMT II to my small collection of watches in 2019. In addition to traveling to six different times zones in 2019, it also became an educational experience for my kids in teaching them what and how a GMT watch works. Through that education, exploration, and reflection, my son was able to think of and sketch the "Sprite" GMT unbeholden to me. While my Batman GMT is a really fun watch that keeps time in two different time zones and tells me the date, its real charm to me is how it unintentionally inspired my son to create new things and challenge "why not?" with design and creativity.
When the Rolex OP became part of my collection, I was intimidated by it for, like, the first two to three months. It's so simple, I felt like I didn’t get it. I didn't go through the normal purchasing decision process of researching and contemplating the watch beforehand. Instead, my wife got it this year as a memento to eventually pass on to one of our daughters. Luckily she and I share the same size wrists (yay!). It has a white dial and it's a time-only watch. Quality and superior craftsmanship aside, what's the big deal? Gradually, as it spent more time on my wrist, its secrets were revealed to me. The watch is an expression of simplicity, balance, and restraint done to the highest degree.
The Rado Captain Cook (the first limited edition, the one released at Baselworld 2017) has been my nearly daily companion since it hit stores a little over two years ago. At the time, it was the most money I had ever spent on a watch, and – being honest – I was a little worried that its compact dimensions, measuring just barely over 37mm, would gradually grow tedious to put on every day. After two years of nonstop wear, however, I'm happy to report that I was unnecessarily worried, and the Captain Cook – with its concave bezel, domed sapphire crystal, and swinging anchor logo – is just as charming today as it was the first time I strapped it on my wrist.
Well, here we are again folks, the end of 2019 and I'm still wearing the same watch I wore last year. While this might not be that exciting for you all to read about, my Audemars Piguet 15450 is, in fact, the watch I wore most this year and that makes me feel both incredibly lucky but also happy. I really do find joy in wearing a well-made watch on the reg and isn’t that kind of the point? These watches are built to last and wear down with time and, as someone who wears the same outfit almost every day (sweater jeans sneakers – whattup), the same applies to my watch. I still look down at the hand-brushed links and swoon. The hands are divine. And the best part? This watch goes with everything. Need I say more?
In the late 50s, my maternal grandparents moved from Connecticut to live in Liberia and Nigeria. While there, my grandfather, an architect, worked on projects like the first supermarket in Liberia and the Chase Manhattan Bank in Lagos, Nigeria. My mother and uncle were both born in Africa, so this marks an important era in my family’s history for many reasons. While in Liberia, my grandfather went to "the Swiss jeweler" in Monrovia, Liberia and bought this Seamaster for himself along with a smaller Omega for my grandmother. I love looking at the scratchy crystal and the patina on the dial and hands and thinking about the time it spent on my grandfather's wrist while he lived abroad with his wife and new family.
Full disclosure: I am a total sucker for a good watch story, which is 99% of the reason my Rolex Submariner received the most wrist time in 2019. As Beeler Family Legend has it, in the early 1980s my grandmother was swimming off the coast of Aruba when she dug her foot in the sand and discovered this killer no-date 5513. Wow, right? It's kind of insane. From there the watch was worn by my dad throughout college, given to my uncle at some point, returned to my dad, and eventually gifted to me in pretty bad, "can’t-even-tell-time" condition. Upon hearing my watch's tale, a savvy colleague referred me to a stellar watchmaker, who was able to get it up and running while maintaining its original integrity (scratched crystal, beat up case, and all). For obvious reasons (it’s a vintage Submariner!) I love this watch, but its history and relationship with my family really make it a piece I'll cherish forever.
I’m the kind of person always looking for a deal, and, boy oh boy, does this Merci pack a solid punch. I’ve always been fascinated by military design, and the watch I wore most in 2019 is heavily influenced by military watches from the mid-20th century. The polished bezel and brushed case are clearly a shout-out to watches like the IWC Mark Xs and the rest of the Dirty Dozen that I am also on the hunt for. The uncluttered dial, sporty look, and entry-level price tag make this watch a total no-brainer. I am sure as my collection grows, this will get less and less wrist time, but I am sure it will stay my favorite watch to toss on without having to worry too much.
This was my big watch buy for the year, maybe for the next two years. I have to confess that I wasn't entirely enamored with the idea of the Maxi-cased GMT-Master II on a Jubilee when I first saw the Pepsi version in 2018. I felt there was a disparity between the suppleness of the bracelet and the character of the case and lugs. Then I had the chance to wear a colleague's for a day. And, boy, did it grow on me. By the time the souped-up Batman, which features the cal. 3285 with Chronergy escapement and 70 hours of power reserve, appeared on a Jubilee, I was fully on-board. Ever since picking this watch up on July 4th weekend, it hasn't really left my wrist. Sometimes when you buy a watch you have the sense that it's going to be with you for the long haul, and that is how I feel about this GMT.
I didn't realize how much I wanted this watch until it was down to the last four available pieces in our Shop, so I just went for it! For me, the Slim d'Hermès For HODINKEE was one for the books in regards to preparing for fulfillment to send to our H friends, but it was one of those watches that you cannot get out of your head once you've laid your eyes on it. The deep blue dial with a light vignette and Philippe Apeloig-designed typeface is what made me say, "Whoa, this watch is HOT!" When it finally made its way to my wrist, I've got to tell you I was not expecting it to be so light and snug on my thin wrist - we were a perfect match.
This is one of the two watches I own (the other being a good ol' F91W), and it has spent countless hours on my wrist. I received it as a gift a bit more than a year ago, and despite its formal looks, I wear it literally every day and with everything — the many scratches can vouch for that. The case is gold-plated, so I’m not too concerned with keeping it pristine, and I love looking through the open heart (and caseback) to see the movement beat away. For the money, I think this is a solid timepiece with Vacheron looks without the head-spinning price tag. Sadly, this watch has only confirmed my addiction to watches, a frightening omen for my wallet.
So, this is a bit of a lie. The watch I wore most this year was FOR SURE my Omega H10 Speedmaster, but Cole beat me to the punch and Stephen said we couldn't do a duplicate. After that, I probably wore my IWC x HODINKEE in Ceratanium or my steel VC Cornes de Vache, but again, Mr. Stephen said no citing too many of our own designs on the list. So, the watch that I wore most in 2019 that I had nothing to do with the creation of is my Patek Philippe 3417 Amagnetic. This is my fourth example of the 3417 I've owned in my collecting career and certainly my favorite – it's clean and pure, a first series watch. I've been wearing it on a matching Gay Frères bracelet, and I've found it to be an interesting counterpoint to the glut of steel sport watches in everyday conversation. It's manually wound, with one of the most compelling calibers ever made by Patek Philippe, and the typeface choice for "Amagnetic" on the dial? Just perfect. This is one watch that can truly do it all.
My Datejust 41 saw a lot of wrist time this year and for good reason. It's an easy choice— the comfort of the Oyster bracelet is unmatched and the white dial has an effortless versatility. It's the first nice watch I've ever owned and I bought it with the intention of having it forever. To that end, I’m more interested in enjoying it than keeping it pristine. I should probably be more careful with it but I know it can take what I throw at it. It goes in the pool, backpacking in the mountains and on long bike rides. Last summer it suffered some pretty deep scratches to the bracelet as a result of a bike accident I was in. Our matching scars are a nice reminder of how personal an object like this is. It lives with you and it ages too. At this point, I'd be hard-pressed to notice any new scratches and there's a comfort in that. I'm certain there are more to come.
I have worn this watch on almost a daily basis for the last year, except on the not-very-rare occasions that I have had other watches on for review purposes (or on those thankfully rare occasions when I wake up, look in the mirror and feel that maybe there is such a thing as too many watches. This generally passes). I am not entirely sure why this watch, in particular, has found its way onto my wrist so frequently. It is certainly possible to analyze and speculate – it is unquestionably a very handsome watch, which has an air of being fanatically overbuilt in every dimension (in this respect it is classic Grand Seiko). It is beautifully made, beautifully finished, and I have on several occasions examined the dial and dial furniture, and the hands, under a 20x glass and found that unlike virtually every other watch which you can subject to this test, it actually improves the more closely you examine it.
The Speedmaster has been a go-to watch of mine for the last few years and this year, in particular, I wore it a lot. The watch was passed down in my family from my grandpa on my dad's side to my brother and me. We go back and forth with who gets it, and this year it was basically mine. The Speedy is so easy to wear and looks great on leather in the winter and NATOs in the summer. Every time I check the time or "time something" I get that new-watch feeling, and I don't think that is going to change anytime soon. I love how it has aged and am looking forward to watching it age through my lifetime.
Maybe to some, this might seem a boring choice, but for me, it's an honest one. After damaging a couple of the vintage watches in my modest collection while on location shooting over the past five-plus years, I had one that was way too close a call in 2018 and decided I'd had enough. All I really wanted was a tool, something that was consistently functional, never obtrusive, always working, and of course, aesthetically pleasing. So in January, with the help of Mo Ali, our Director of Product
It has been six weeks since I last had power at my flat, and just over five days since my last meal. That said, I am still alive and hugely proud as I stare down at this Lange 1 on my wrist. A recent acquisition, that, in truth, I never in my wildest dreams thought would ever come to fruition. My never-ending quest for "less, but better" has led me to the platinum Grand variation. Some may pigeonhole the Lange One as a strictly formal design, but I've found it to be the opposite. The larger size of the Grand Lange 1 is perfection, the silver dial flexes from grey to cream in different light, and the sub-dials seamlessly blend in with the dial itself. The way the applied markers catch the light is addictive. And I’m not just saying it because I know the HODINKEE Shop team will read this, but, my God, this strap takes this watch to a whole other level.
This one was special for me. My wife, Gishani, and I helped out with some of the underwater photography for the launch of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Limited Edition For HODINKEE, so I got to see the watch months before it debuted but never thought I'd own one. But then a rather large package arrived one day in August—a surprise gift from the HODINKEE crew for both my decade tenure with the site and to commemorate a milestone birthday I've got coming up (the clue is in the numbered edition I got: 50/100). Since then, it’s been on my wrist weekly and when I’m not wearing it, Gishani does, which I guess makes this the watch WE wore most in 2019.
This year marked the first time in nearly five years that I donned my yellow gold Rolex ref. 18038, a watch once worn daily by my father. You see, the watch has quite a bit of history, having been stolen from me in late 2014 and subsequently found in an exhaustive 3.5-month search. While maybe not the watch I wore most this year, it certainly hasn't left my wrist since I built up the courage to wear it again this past May. About six months later, I found myself working at HODINKEE. Some might call that coincidence, but I like to think of it as another bit of good fortune this watch has brought me throughout the years.
This time last year, this little Universal Genève entered my collection (funnily enough, the day before Ryan posted in our company Slack that he was looking for this exact model). I had never seen a UG like this, and I was totally taken with it. The clean and surprisingly three-dimensional dial with the ever-so-slightly funky Arabic numerals (just look at the 4 and 9 – *chef’s kiss*) in the perfectly sized, subtly tonneau-shaped case had me looking at my wrist constantly. The fact that it was issued to the Italian railroad and has the logo and an issue number on the caseback, only added to the charm. I put it on a HODINKEE Unlined Blue Shell Cordovan Strap, and I've hardly worn any other watches since.
Originally a gift for my husband, this has become my go-to travel watch, thanks to the 12-hour bezel, and solid steel case that's made it across a few continents. Coincidentally, I only ventured out of the timezone once this year, but I love color, and this watch uses it beautifully. The blue and orange colorway is a reference to Tudor's "Monte-Carlo" of the 1970s, but are boldly saturated compared to other legacy models which often fabricate an antiqued effect. Even the white of the dial is a more vibrant opaline up close. I rarely meet other collectors with this piece but am frequently stopped by curious enthusiasts since it's so eye-catching, yet practical.
I was taken by this watch ever since I shot it for Cole's excellent Hands-On piece from Baselworld this past March. Like many younger watch fans, I was largely unfamiliar with Zodiac until hearing of Fossil's decision to revamp the once-mighty manufacture. Since, they've captured my attention and a few of my hard-earned dollars with their tastefully updated, but historically grounded designs – this limited edition Aerospace GMT being chief among them. Where to begin with what I love about this watch?
I bought this watch three years ago in Paris for 100 euros. I always wanted an ultra-thin watch and this one reminds me of the small watches worn by Parisian gentlemen in the '60s. The gold dial is pretty cool.
I’ve long been enamored with railroad watches. They have such a niche application, which is obviously no longer relevant due to modern technology, paired with beautiful, yet utilitarian, designs. While there are some excellent choices from Longines and Hamilton, this particular watch from Universal Genève is my personal favorite due to its history, milky white enamel dial, stamped caseback, and funky (yet thin) case. I patiently waited for a good example to appear on eBay and jumped at the opportunity when one did. I highly recommend this watch to anyone looking to enter the world of vintage because they are extremely affordable and offer the opportunity for a good watch hunt.
This year the watch that spent the most time on my wrist was a Bulova Accutron Gemini Chronograph. I won the watch in April at the Horological Society of New York's 2019 Gala
It was Saturday, December 1, 2018. I don’t usually remember the day I bought a watch, but then again the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked Selfwinding isn't a usual watch. I remember wanting something inarguably special, something I could look at and see its value reflected by way of complexity of design and materials, not temporarily outsized demand. As overtly modern and hyper-designed as it is, the soul of this watch is surprisingly calm; I wore it for two concert tours, and I never once thought to swap it out. (I did change the band from blue to white.) One thing that stands out about AP's concept watches is that they somehow retain their visual punch no matter how long you wear them. There's never been a time I've glanced down at it and not been a little blown away. It's that rare supercar that’s also a daily driver.
My sartorial choices run the gamut from sophisticated to silly. For example, an all-white jelly Baby G sits next to my yellow-gold Cartier Tank on my dresser. It was a surprise to no one that I added the Casio World Time to my collection, though what did surprise me was how much I'd enjoy wearing it. I love the ultra-light bracelet, nostalgic design, and (my favorite!) amber LED backlight. (Oh, and the ability to see the time in Jakarta so I don’t inadvertently call my parents at 2 AM).
At HODINKEE, the temptation of getting a new watch is around us every day (and very dangerous to our bank accounts!). Call me boring, but this year, I'm back again to my good old AirKing Ref. 14000 which has remained as one of my go-to watches for the last several years. It is still the watch for which I receive the most compliments as well. The 34mm mid-grey dial on a stainless-steel Oyster bracelet is practical, understated, and yet makes me look and feel put together. Plus, it’s the most comfortable watch to wear – rain or shine. A trusty wrist companion is difficult to come by, and I'm very lucky to have found this one!
Until about a year ago, I had not owned a traditional Speedmaster. It’s usually one of the early stops on the collecting journey –and for many – their last. But I flew right by it and instead got into collecting Moonwatch-adjacent vintage watches, like the Speedmaster Mark II, Chronostop, and Flightmaster. I like the quirky visual details and pops of color on Omega professional watches of the late 1960s and early '70s. I’ve always loved the Moonwatch, but the monochromatic design language never captured me the way some of the funkier stuff did. Then the H10 Speedy came along. It’s based on the Speedmaster Mk40, which features a 24-hour indicator in blue and black, and that detail made it to the H10 Speedy in the form of a blue/black seconds subdial. It doesn’t serve any function other than just looking neat, but I like how it's also a subtle nod to the green and black AM/PM indicator on the Flightmaster cal. 910 as well as the Mk40.
I'm cheating a bit and picking a watch that I only acquired in October, but it hasn't really left my wrist since. I've wanted a vintage Grand Seiko for a long time, but I could never find the exact right watch. However, when I went to Tokyo for the very first time to work on the launch of HODINKEE Japan, I knew before wheels-up at Newark that I'd be coming home with something special. I got extremely lucky and was able to meet up with some top Grand Seiko collector friends in Ginza for a rainy afternoon of watch hunting, and this super clean 56GS was sitting in a case in the very first shop we visited. It was game over. This watch truly wears unlike anything else, the way that the light plays off the Grammar of Design case is truly unreal, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.
I have to admit, I have become a bit of a one-trick pony – although I suppose you could call me a one-watch pony. My Tudor is about to enter its third year on the wrist, and I still can't imagine a more perfect watch. Some may argue that at 41mm, it is a bit of a presence on the wrist, but that hunky charm bracelet kind of feel is precisely what I love most about my Black Bay. Over the course of the last year, this watch has seen black-tie galas and Pacific Northwest mountaintops, and I plan to take it everywhere in between. Here's to hoping the next three years are as great as the last.
This year I spent some time traversing New York City on crutches and a knee scooter (not by choice). As a long-time lover of watches on bracelets, I discovered a few things. First, bracelets plus aluminum crutches = too much metal-on-metal for my liking. Second, I learned that NYC streets, and sidewalks for that matter, are just plain terrible. Scooter crashes are an inevitability. So I needed a durable watch, on a strap, that I could beat up a little (but not too much). For that reason, my Tudor Heritage Ranger rarely left my wrist. What's not to love? Super legible, durable, and vintage-inspired. A great everyday watch that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Four years in and I still love this watch!
I purchased this watch earlier this year and it has rarely left my wrist ever since. I love the Canadian railroad dial with the "0" as opposed to a "12" and the fact that the only colors present on the dial are black and white. I've also found that I can wear this watch in just about any setting, whether it be a formal event or a casual get together with my friends. I really couldn't be happier with this purchase and intend on keeping this watch for the rest of my life.
I blame Stephen for this one. As soon as I saw his Week On The Wrist with the Cartier Santos, it shot to the top of my "someday" wish list. Through June my Orient Mako USA II was poised to retain the title. I was on vacation with my family, taking that watch into the ocean every day for a week straight, when the stars aligned. While my mom and sister dragged me to the local shopping district, I ventured off to see what watches were around. Spying a Cartier sign, I slipped into the store and got to try on this beauty for the first time.
Aside from perhaps my 16570 Explorer II (which made last year's edition of this list), my 2019 frequent flyer is this low-key collaboration between two friends from my spiritual home of Vancouver. Co-designed by Halios Watches and Roldorf Co (an excellent service and retail location in downtown Vancouver, they also assembled the watch on-site), the Seaforth Roldorf Edition mixes a 40mm DLC black case with a boxed crystal over a gorgeous deep green and creme take on a tuxedo dial. Aesthetically and socially it makes me think of Vancouver, of mountains, of raw oysters with friends, and as I relocated to Toronto, I gave this gorgeous little watch some extra time on my wrist. Call it sentimental value, or perhaps catharsis, but I love wearing this watch: it's a little rainy Vancouver day for my wrist.
It was a big year for the Speedy. And Speedy owners: I became one in 2018, just in time for this summer’s big blast about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. My choice is actually Wally Schirra's choice. I love its history: that he and fellow Mercury astronauts Gordon Cooper and Deke Slayton bought their own Speedmasters from a Houston jeweler more than two years before NASA named it as its official watch. And that this handsome watch, based on Schirra's Ref. 2998 – whose minutes hand and chrono-seconds hand align perfectly and oh so pleasingly with the outer edge of the minutes track – made history as the first Omega worn in space.
In 2019 I wore my Apple Watch the most. It’s a 40mm space grey dial but here’s the catch: it is paired with a HODINKEE strap. The larger dial was definitely a must when buying the Apple Watch; the large-dial version came out this year. I have a thing for larger dials and leather straps. The reason behind my wearing the Apple Watch the most this year is its functionality. Being hands-free and constantly on-the-go is why it has lived on my wrist the most. This is my first year at HODINKEE, so check in with me next year and let's see what just couldn’t leave my wrist in 2020.
While decidedly predictable, it doesn't get much better than a modern stainless-steel Rolex for everyday wear. I'm sure I said something to the same effect last year, but you just can’t beat the things. The Milgauss was always of interest to me, and this year I decided to pull the trigger on a whim. In this form, it's always struck me as one of the weirder watches to have been produced by the brand, with luminous applications in not one but two colors, and a green sapphire crystal. I'm also especially fond of the orange lightning bolt seconds hand, as it reminds me of the iconic 13 point bolt of the Grateful Dead. I'’s essentially a next-level tour watch, which is largely why it's been glued to my wrist as of late.
I always wanted to own a Zenith El Primero. My infatuation with the brand and its legendary movement started when I learned that the caliber was once used to power the Rolex Daytona, after it transitioned to automatic winding. This year, on the 50th anniversary of El Primero, I finally took the plunge and purchased one to call my own, an El Primero Chronomaster with a blue dial. The more I wear it, the more I love it. It's a watch that ticks off so many boxes for me: a 38mm case; a thickness of just 12.5mm in spite of having an automatic chronograph movement with date; and a leather strap that helps dress it up despite being, at its core, a sports watch.