Boys will be boys...
In an idle moment, waiting for the next match in Euro 2012, and in the classic schoolboy manner, I formed my watches into a football team. They line up in a 5:3:2 formation - mechanical, quartz, vintage. A little defensive on paper, but the full-backs overlap and the sweeper links with midfield.
The Casio goes in goal because it's the only one with digits. The back five are a well-oiled machine, the midfield trio are masters of metronomic precision, and the veteran forwards are elegance and craft personified - even if they do rely on selfless running elsewhere in the team.
Naturally, there's a couple of Germans in case the game goes to penalties...
Squad number: 1, Position: Goalkeeper
A G-Shock of the old school - steel on the inside, impact-absorbing resin on the outside, and no functions so complicated that you need to carry a pdf copy of the manual on your phone. The only G-Shock to have the year of its introduction as its model number. Bounces when it hits the deck - a diverting but useful attribute for a goalkeeper.
Squad number: 2, Position: Right back
Mixed parentage, but descended from noble stock in the shape of the IWC Mk11 - a watch created by the British Air Ministry, rather than a design studio concerned with shop-window razzmatazz. Supremely efficient design never dates, and in this case it acted as a progenitor for a whole class of pilot's watches. A notable transfer from Germany where this and one other were created by Crusader.
Omega Speedmaster Professional
Squad number: 3, Position: Left back
Ask watch enthusiasts to make a list of the most iconic wristwatches, and all the sensible ones will include the Speedmaster. There's the Rolex Submariner, the Omega Speedmaster, and then there's the rest. The moon history matters, but mostly because it has persuaded Omega to keep a vintage watch in the catalogue for fifty-five years, plastic crystal and all. The Speedmaster isn't great because of the moon, but because it's the most elegant and legible chronograph you could wish for. Coolest watch on the planet - or off it, and with a more persuasive brand of masculinity than (for example) the deadweight divers that threaten to pin their owners to the seabed. As you might expect, Speedmaster times its tackles to perfection.
Squad number: 4, Position: Defender
Great word, 'Zeitmeister'. And for those few who don't know, 'Wempe' is pronounced with an Anglo-Saxon 'V' at the front, and an 'uh' at the end. A touch of understated quality from Glashütte, but not so self-consciously refined that you can't wear it with jeans and a sweatshirt. Wempe's intention with the modern Zeitmeister range was to fill the vacuum created by the vaulting prices of the default luxury brands - and it succeeded. Sweeps majestically in front of the back four, but can carry the ball forward like Beckenbauer.
Breitling Colt Automatic
Squad number: 5, Position: Central defender
Maybe it's the military origins of the Colt that make it modestly assertive rather than loudly assertive. With one or two exceptions, and regardless of cost, it's the only horse in the Breitling stable that I would really want to ride. One of twins in the team, Breitling, A. is a thoroughbred at centre-half.
Squad number: 6, Position: Central defender
Modern flieger par excellence. Konrad Damasko could simply not have done better with the traditional flieger elements of a black face, eleven Arabic numerals, a triangle, and a prominent seconds hand. Except perhaps to put them in a flint-hard case forged in an alchemist's crucible - so he did that too. Perfection, near enough. Damasko is a rock at the centre of defence, a rock with a bit of flair.
Squad number: 7, Position: Midfield
A functional, fuss-free and highly affordable device of the kind that Seiko can do so well. The dull, blasted finish and OEM nylon strap give it a military air - an impression reinforced by the fact that the Ministry of Defence bought a batch for the troops in 2010. Forget the well-groomed charmers from the catwalk, this is a real tool watch. A proper twelve-hour chronograph completes the profile of an industrious utility player.
Breitling Colt Quartz
Squad number: 8, Position: Midfield
Imperturbable quartz. Accurate to a wholly unnecessary but remarkable degree. Moderately prestigious, discreetly tough, and all the watch that anybody really needs - unless they want the romantic inexactitude of a mechanical movement. Non-identical twin of Breitling, A. and a midfield dynamo.
IWC Ref. 405
Squad number: 9, Position: Forward
We haven't quite lost the ability to make watches of such simple and perfectly-proportioned elegance, but there was a time when it came more or less as standard. From the better makers, anyway. Originally purchased in 1946 by person unknown in Bratislava. Purchased by me in my second home city of Kraków. The Corinthian in the team.
Squad number: 10, Position: Forward
The first automatic wristwatch with an alarm. Of all the premier makers, JLC seems to tread a surer path than most - just decade after decade of superb watches. The solid, rubbery boing of the bumper rotor speaks of a different age, like a mechanical clock in a walnut dashboard. There's a personal element with this one, as it was first purchased by a good friend, now deceased. Currently unavailable for selection while it undergoes physical rehabilitation in Le Sentier, Switzerland.
Squad number: 11, Position: midfield
'Bauhaus modérne', to mix languages and design cultures. The Voyager takes timing instructions from Mainflingen and delivers them in a display of cool modernity. The keynote is grey, from the titanium case to the stick-straight hands, artfully angled numerals and silver-tipped seconds hand. Midfield architect.
No high-maintenance galácticos, just a solid, professional outfit with a bit of craft. Should make the quarter-finals.