I have bought a few watches here and there and I love each one. Over time, wearing these watches, reading about others, and seeing others around, I have learned that what I really appreciate in a watch boils down to three things:
A watch that is beautiful to look at and is a work of art on the wrist.
What makes a watch beautiful? Well, unlike my other categories, this one is the hardest to define as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's subjective. But to me, a beautiful watch is one of detail, impeccable finish, a liberal flash of colour (wether it be gold coloured gears, gold itself, rubies in the movement, or just a flashy bezel), and not afraid to draw the eye. Generally, to give everyone an idea of my thinking here, I do not consider Rolex to be beautiful, as they are very conservative in their design. Artistically, Rolex are the embodiment of refined function, a great looking watch, but it looks like a watch.
My one example of beauty:
Cons: I'd be scared to even wear it in the shower, and that speaks volumes.
The one true watch, the watch that is the be all and end all, needs to be worn in all conditions without worrying it'll explode into a thousand pieces. My expectations for a truly durable watch is one that can survive at least 500 metres of water, resistant to magnetisation, can withstand a good amount of shock, and resistant to extreme temperatures. I own a PO 8500 and it's great and all, but it flipped out after a few weeks of gym time where I really upped my cardio workout, gaining minutes in a day instead of the 15 seconds it gained the previous 4 months (it's back to normal now, I don't take it to the gym with me anymore and instead wear my quartz Tag Heuer).
My one example of a durable watch:
Cons: Like just about everything Sinn make, it's damn ugly.
Being able to read the time under any conditions is probably the thing I value the most. It's such a simple thing but over the years it's the one aspect that I've come to love. Wake up at 4am in pitch dark and, without having to rub my eyes, read the time. Being able to quickly glance at my wrist in the blink of an eye and read the time, invaluable. Looking at the time while you're speaking to someone is rude and tells them you're bored, when in fact 99% of the time I just want to know what time it is so I can make the next meeting. Most watches you can't even do that and have to roll your wrist around the whole way and then squint at the hands or bring your wrist closer. Unacceptable.
My one example of a legible watch:
Cons: Durability (see above), and it's certainly a great looking watch but I wouldn't call it drop dead gorgeous (though to be fair, the PO 8500 is the closest I've come to anything matching my three criteria).
So, if you've made it this far. What are your recommendations for a watch that hits all of these three criteria the most? I have to say I've searched casually for a long time on the internet, magazines and iPad apps (The Watch Enthusiast is a must for any WUS) and haven't found anything, so I'd be pleasantly surprised if anyone manages to find something. But I'm sure there are many of you who know a lot more about watches than I do and have far greater experience, so I'm putting this out there.
As an aside, feel free to describe your own top three aspects of a watch you value the most.