As a watchfreak, I’m sure you have come across people who think you’re just being a show off with your fancy watches. Or, at the least, you must have been in situations in which you preferred to tuck your watch away under your sleeve. I know I certainly have. Of course, watches are luxury articles. Like many such articles, the modesty in most of us urges us to play it down a little in certain situations.

In my former career as a tax lawyer, I picked which watch to wear in the office and when visiting clients very carefully. In fact, I have never worn my steel Daytona even once during business hours. Not even my Explorer I. Instead, I often had a Heuer Monza around my wrist. With its black leather band and classic overall look it just seemed like a more appropriate watch to wear in the office than a Rolex, which is in my view THE show off brand in the eyes of the uninitiated.

I’m guessing you’ll appreciate my prudence in this respect. You just don’t want to wear a more expensive watch than your clients or even your boss. But also apart from the more obvious reasons for prudency in a business context, I think the most of us just don’t want to be too show-off-ish in general with our watches. So I’ve been asking myself, what makes a watch show-off-ish? Where is the line in haute horlogerie between a fine classic watch and a show off model? Is it the size? The use of precious stones? The material? The color? The price? The brand? It’s probably a combination of things.

The funny thing is we all think we recognize a show off when we see one, but we just can’t seem to point out exactly what qualifies it as such. I have compiled a short list of random watches below and took a shot in qualifying these watches as either classic or show-off-ish. You are invited to share your opinion on these watches with us in the comment section!

1. Jacob & Co. Five Automatic Chronograph

Let’s kick off with an easy one: show-off-ish. The bright colors and the excess of diamonds in the bezel (and the face of certain models) are simply too much. Another, at least equally important reason for such qualification is the people associated with this brand.

2. Zenith Academy Tourbillon Black Tie









A truly beautiful flamboyant classic watch. Yet I get the feeling there would be some occasions I wouldn’t feel too comfortable wearing it considering its distinctive looks (I must admit this is a tough call for me – it’s a thin line!!).

3. Chanel J12 Tourbillon

Regardless the discussion on fashion watches/couture watches vs. haute horlogerie, I think Chanel managed to make a beautiful and classic watch. Even though its bright color and stones don’t make it a very easy watch to wear, I’d say somehow there’s still plenty of class. 

4. Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon

Another Tourbillon in this list, but this time no question about it: CLASSIC. So high end yet so beautifully modest.

5. Rolex Daytona Steel

Although not too shiny, not too big, no crazy colors and no diamonds, it’s not an all-occassion watch to me like I mentioned above. Probably because of the brand perception with (predominantly) the uninitiated and its highly sought-after status. Or is it just me?

Again, please do share your opinion with us!


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12 Responses to “Show-off-ish?”

  1. Show off « Cliff Chan’s Weblog Says:

    […] Jump to Comments I just published a post on the watchfreaks blog addressing the line (if any) in haute horlogerie between classic watches and show-off-ish […]

  2. alonbj Says:

    @Cliff: Great article and initiative for discussion. For my work I advise people about watches and always take the “show-off”-factor into account. There are many occasion I will not wear some of the watches in my collection for sure.

    To respond on your list of watches:

    1. Jacob & Co: Jacob Arabov a.k.a. Jacob the Jeweler is the King of Bling in the US! As his website promotes, he caters the Famous & Rich (especially Rappers – who made him famous). This watch screams Show-Off and it is known that that is what they are designed for.

    2. Zenith: I agree with you, the classic brand Zenith has become flamboyant because of the excentric RockStar CEO, Thierry Nataf (who I have met personally on many occasions). The Zenith ChronoMaster is considered a classic watch (look at the lunette), but because of the size and Tourbillion it became an watch that can be considered Classic with a Twist.

    3. Chanel: I am still undesisive if I do or don’t like Chanel watches. I think the J12 Superleggera is a cool watch. But many believe Chanel is the first brand that works with ceramic, but ofcourse Rado is the uncrowned king of ceramics. The watch on the picture is def a show-off watch…

    4. Patek: No doubt about it that Patek is NOT a show-off brand! Even the newest FULL DIAMOND version I saw in Basel this year!

    5. Rolex: Daytona…. OEPF! Difficult. As a pure WatchFreak I am a great fan of Rolex, but I always get annoyed by the fact that it is not as exclusive as the brand seems (estimated annual production of 900.000 watches), the majority of people who wear it (first watch people buy to show off is 80% of the time a Rolex) and the huge quantity of fake Rolex watches. But if we go back to the core of the Daytona (history, esthetics and quality) it is NOT a show-off watch. Although, I regret the fact the watch strap/case is semi polished/satin finished. I would prefer a full satin finish!

    I prefer watches that underwrite: LESS = MORE 😀

  3. Robert-Jan Says:

    With the exception for watches with diamonds and yellow or rosé gold, I think it’s the wearer that is a show-off, not the watch. My experience with show-offs is that most of the time the wearer is being ‘loud’ and not the watch.

    Therefore, I don’t care much what I am wearing to job interviews or to meetings with clients. I am quite comfortable wearing an expensive watch, however, most of the watches in my modest collection do match the ‘less is more’ comment by Alon in the message above.

    Anyway, watch no1. and no3. in your list match the show-off criteria because of the use of precious stones. 🙂


  4. cliffchan Says:

    @ Alon: thanks for the additional detailed information and sharing your view. Seems like we’re pretty much on the same page here 😉

    @ Robert-Jan: I partly agree with you. The wearer can certainly significantly contribute to the show off factor, but I don’t think it’s the ONLY thing. Other than that, I must say I envy you: I wish I had such positive attitude and could let go of my reservations as I described in this post! Thanks for your comments!

  5. ezod Says:

    cliff, I agree with all the comments about “show-off” watches. We know that personality plays into the flamboyant character of a watch. But, if a dressed down person keeping to themselves is wearing a stands-out watch, the watch would certainly catch our eyes.
    I’d like to throw another beautiful watch into the mix. A Panerai 111. It is large(44mm) with polished steel, but it has one of the simplest dials ever designed. Would you consider this a “bling” watch?

  6. superego Says:

    superego says : I absolutely agree with this !

  7. cliffchan Says:

    @ezod: thanks for commenting and throwing another watch in. Like you said, it’s a beautiful watch, I definitely agree. Due to the history of the brand as Italian navy watches and also given that Panerai was (correct me if I’m wrong) among the first to manufacture large watches, I wouldn’t consider it a bling watch despite the fact that the mentioned model is very much an eye-catching watch. Would you agree?

    @superego: good to know that there are like-minded people out there 😉

  8. Humbler Says:

    I honestly am not sure about this one. I have a different point of view. But anyway …

    cheers, Humbler

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