Hey fellow watch enthusiast, long time lurker here..
I guess I'm just really effective with the search because I've always pretty much found what I'm looking for and then some. Recently purchased a watch and thought I'd share some thoughts.Over the past few months, I've experienced a considerable increase in success so like any good WIS I thought it was time for something new.
I'm 26 and the criteria for a watch was I was looking for a versatile piece that was unique, could be an "all-in-one," that I would feel comfortable wearing all the time, etc fand under $8,000. My taste is a little different as I tend to acknowledge the emotional side of buying more with my heart and dick than my brain so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt. I am pretty knowledgeable though, for reference I drive an audi and ride a Ducati 899 panigale for fun so I wanted something robust that I could wear on my bike and all.
So I spent the day at a couple jewelry stores seeing and trying on everything I wanted to see. Strapped with a ridiculous amount of knowledge (lol even corrected sales associate when talking dimensions, specs, etc. Everyone was thoroughly impressed) I started with Rolex and looked at most of them but really just had an eye on the submariner (subc) 114060. Read a whole lot, good and bad, thought I'd see it for myself. It was a refreshing size as my wrist is 6.6" but mostly wear larger sizes. I enjoy the heft of knowing a hunk of metal on my arm. Going back to the Rolex, I can definitely understand its appeal. It's a solid all around choice but I guess I didn't feel that wow factor I thought I should feel when laying this much cash out. With that being said, I can definitely respect the quality within the piece and what it stands for. Almost felt like it'd be the lazy choice (not a bad note) just that it's so highly regarded that I almost went with it because I knew there couldn't possibly be something wrong with that choice. If that makes any sense...
Anyways, went from there to an Omega boutique. Tried on pretty much every watch in the store. Going in I thought the one's I'd like the most were the planet ocean chrono 9300 and skyfall aqua terra 41.5 but after seeing them all up close I actually favored the "traditional" 45.5 planet ocean and the aqua terra gmt chrono 9605 (pretty awesome to have it all in one!). I have to say, I think Omega sells a heck of a watch for the price. I think it can be viewed as the bargain of the day. What I mean by that is that I was thoroughly very impressed with the quality and offering at that price point. I think both were something like $6400 and $9300 respectively. My thoughts were Omega offers a lot of watch for the money. It's very high quality and details are awesome with the dials, applied indices, etc. The ceramic bezel is solid and just all around great package. I left very surprised and was quite fond of the regular planet ocean 8500. The lady helping me was wearing the skyfall aqua 38.5 and I tried the bigger one on and thought to myself I think it looked better in the pictures. It is actually a watch that photographs better. Nothing wrong with it, but just looked a little more vanilla in person than the photos would suggest..
I was a little turned off while there for 20 minutes, already 2 guys came in (one wearing an omega) asking if they had the new james bond watch. "you mean the limited edition spectre 300?" replied by "I don't know the name of it, just the newest one. Is that it?" I was a little underwhelmed by the 300 by comparison but it looks great in pictures, but for whatever reason the omega just tugged more at my headstrings than soul. I think logically it would have been a good one to pick but just didn't have the "it" factor I was looking for. Surprising that "it" factor for me is a considerable deciding factor! So anyways, left Omega, went to Torneau got lowballed on my trades, yada yada yada, looked at tudor's but couldn't consider a blackbay without the new movement on the horizon and wasn't as impressed by the heritage chrono as the dial just looked matte and flat (plain). Then I went to another local jeweler to check out Panerai.
Well I think I've finally come around to the understanding know that you either get it or you don't. For the longest time, I didn't understand it. I thought it was ridiculous and many a times google why is Panerai so expensive, etc. I tried most of them on and definitely had a preference for the sandwich dial. Beyond that, I think it's neat that it's one of those brands that the more basic/simpler you go the better. I thought adding all the complications on the dial, date, gtm, chrono, etc actually took away from what made it so great. The Pam 560 8-days with in-house P5000 struck the right balance for me. Add on the replaced original with an alligator and added another alligator to sweeten the deal I was sold.
Now to recap, my thoughts with going with the Panerai were it was a subjective choice. It was the one I saw that felt had the greatest "it" factor that can't be quantified. I think the Omega is the better watch (made, detail, brand, movement, etc) but that didn't make it feel the right fit wearing it for what I wanted. I think the Panerai is more exotic (like my ducati) and it doesn't have to make sense. It just feels awesome on the wrist. Once upon a time, I couldn't even fathom being able to have such a watch. I think part of its allure, is the shear ridiculousness of it. I mean, a $7k watch that you have to manually wind and doesn't tell you the seconds lol I guess in archieluxury talk that equates to f-off status. Something that is less recognizable to regular people but generates a unique choice among those who know their watches.
I thought the panerai kinda blends the dive, military/aviation watch, casual or dress altogether the best plus I get to change all the cool straps! Not that I see a lot of nice watches around but the Panerai felt uniquely me and matched my personality best. For what it says, I could've got a rolex but decided not to. The 44mm luminor doesn't sit ridiculously big on the wrist like the planet ocean chrono and is not extremely thick. Anyways, I did a lot of reading before hand so maybe someone else considering the same choices might find this helpful. It's not the logical choice but that's what made it the only choice for this guy. Very different watches but interested to hear what you guys have to say!
So I guess now that makes me a ducatisti and a paneristi... not a bad combination I suppose haha