The "tool" watches of 50 years ago were made to be as durable as possible using the technology available at the time. They have evolved into luxury accessories without evolving significantly in their ability to perform the tasks they were originally designed to do.
The people who wore them back then didn't give a sh*t about watches; they were too busy climbing mountains and diving to the bottom of the ocean. They wore what they were issued or what was for sale at the place that sold watches near where they were when they needed a watch. I've already spent more time writing this post, I suspect, than Edmund Hillary spent selecting a watch.
If you had to buy a new hammer, which would you choose:
1. One that drove nails, cost $10, was all but indestructible, would last for 10-20 years and require no maintenance, or:
2. One that drove nails, cost $800, might break if you dropped it from a ladder and had to be returned to the hammer manufacturer every few years to make sure the head didn't fall off?
G-Shocks are the modern tool watch. Mechanical watches may still be tools, but they are inferior tools. I still like them better, but not for practical reasons.
The Pelagos is a wonderful watch, beautifully designed and expertly manufactured, but based on late-20th century refinements of mid-20th centuriy technologies. Quartz movements are orders of magnitude more robust and durable and accurate than the 50 year old 2824 in the Pelagos. The case and the bracelet are works of art, but are far larger and heavier than they need be to provide the illusion of "tool"-ness. If you showed the Pelagos to a 1950's watchmaker, none of it would be surprising or beyond his ken (well, except for the gigantic size ). An none of its performance, both in robustness and accuracy, would be much beyond his experience.
On the other hand, show that same watchmaker an solar atomic G-Shock, throw it against the ground, stomp on it, and show him the deviation from central time and he would be gobsmacked by its durability and accuracy. Sure, the best marine chronometers were rated to .1s a day in his day, but they were expensive, large and required careful maintenance. The G-Shock is a hundred times more durable, a hundred times smaller, and (with atomic syncing) more accurate than that same chronometer.
It's as if people enamored by the gears and cams used to build Babbage's Difference Engine (and yes I can fully appreciate the elegance and beauty of an expertly made, smooth functioning machine of such close tolerances and accuracy) insisted that all calculating machines worth owning should be made with gears and cams. Now, undoubtedly such calculating machines have qualities which are not present in a $50 Casio scientific calculator, but in terms of performance, they are of a different and inferior generation.
Oh, and I might be tempted to add some Suunto and Tissot watches to the category of modern tool watch.
Last edited by enkidu; October 26th, 2013 at 13:13.
Nomos Orion Anthracite; Destro watches: Ω "Great White" GMT, MKII Blackwater, Sinn EZM1 LE, IWC 3536-001, MKII Kingston, Precista Speedbird I, Casio MR-G120, Casio GW-5000, Sinn EZM2; Former Watches: Corvus Bradley
TAG Heuer Monaco LE|Omega Speedmaster|Seamaster 300MC|Rolex Submariner|Tudor Ranger
How did it get so late so soon?
Last edited by THS; October 26th, 2013 at 16:04.
Omega Marine Chronometer cal 1516
Omega Speedmaster Professional cal 861 (ca 1970)
Kemmner Flieger type A
Citizen Nighthawk (black)
Citizen ana-digi Promaster ca 1987 (beater)
Resurrecting an old thread here... This topic has been on my mind for some time. My personal opinion is that the SKX007 is THE spiritual successor to the 5513 Submariner of the 60's. Think about it. 316 SS case and bracelets, 200m water resistance, simple, yet reliable automatic movement (and the 7s26 has a higher BPH), matte dials with printed round markers, 40hr power reserve, great lume, an attainable price tag and both are tool watches, not luxury goods. Of course you could argue that an invicta has all the same characteristics, but the Seiko has the history to back it up. This is of course all my opinion. I strongly believe that the SKX007 is the modern day equivalent of the 5513.
I think if you want to find today's equivalent to Rolex of the past, you have to look at the price point. That vintage Submariner ad clearly shows that Rolex was not a watch for Everyman. You could get an underwater watch for $40 (1964) but the Rolex cost about 5 times as much. As iam7head suggested, that's about $1500 in today's dollars. You also have to look at features and function. The concept of no compromises was probably present somewhere in the Submariner's development. I believe the lack of hand winding on the SKX007 is a compromise to reduce costs. A worthy successor should not have less features than the icon it is hoping to replace. Some of the higher-end Seiko dive watches may be better candidates.
Given the $1500 price range and the need for function and quality materials with as little compromise as possible, my vote would be for an Oris dive watch as the modern tool watch.
Resistance is futile.
~ Seiko Prospex GMT Diver's SUN023
~ Pebble Smart Watch
~ Casio G-Shock Aviation Gravity Defier GWA-1000D-1A
~ Garmin fenix GPS Watch
~ Vostok Amphibia 0394B Ministry case w/ Watchadoo
~ Omega Speedmaster Professional 3570.50
~ Casio Pro-Trek Black Titanium PRW-1300YTJ
~ Citizen Eco-Drive Chronometer BL5000-51L
~ Timex Chronograph T16561 Circa. 2000
~ Casio G-Shock Mudman DW-8400
~ Casio G-Shock DW-003
~ Swatch Irony YGS407 Black Orobka (France) Circa. 1996
~ Swatch Skin Flattention SFB106G Circa. 1999
~ Seiko Alarm Quartz 7223-6020
Anyone who needs a tool buys it with utilitarian criteria. A Damasko loses, as it is a tool that is less precise, less reliable, and by an order of magnitude more expensive than any G-Shock or Timex. Those watches are also by far not 'disposable', their life span exceeds any reasonable timeframe for amortization multiple times. As far as experience with G-Shocks it appears to be easily in the range of people's careers.
All those 'tool watches' are not more and not less than jewelry. To tools they are the equivalent of a golden knife to a cook. Very expensive and not very sharp.I think if you want to find today's equivalent to Rolex of the past, you have to look at the price point. That vintage Submariner ad clearly shows that Rolex was not a watch for Everyman. You could get an underwater watch for $40 (1964) but the Rolex cost about 5 times as much.
But such a Rolex was most likely in many aspects ahead of the $40 dollar watch, that is toughness, reliability perhaps even accuracy. No Sinn, Damasko or Oris has such an advantage over a G-Shock that costs less than $100.
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