You’ve traded in your jeans for a smart pair of trousers and your backpack for a handsome leather briefcase — life’s looking up as your career moves forward. Your wrist game ought to look the part, too.
That’s how I felt when I was given the opportunity to test-drive Hamilton’s Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO. My interest in luxury timepieces began when I was an intern at Sharp, but it wasn’t until I had made a few career advancements that I could consider splashing on the horological equivalent of a paycheque. The BeLOWZERO’s black-on-black colourway and sporty rubber strap proved an instant draw for me, as did its premium weight and feel. There’s just something about a 46-millimetre marvel of engineering that just can’t be replicated by a piece powered by a quartz movement.
The experience made me realize that perhaps I had been putting off hitting this sartorial milestone for too long. But there’s a difference between having written about the things and owning one. I learned that upgrading to a high-end, self-winding watch can be a lot like buying a suit. Every guy should consider purchasing at least one that he can be proud of, but strapping on without knowing how to maintain your investment and what to expect is a fool’s game.
Here’s what you should know before making the leap.
A personal touch As its name suggests, a self-winding watch will power itself indefinitely by harnessing your movement. However, wrist power is only a stopgap measure — the mainspring will become weak and you’ll slowly bleed seconds no matter the watch’s craftsmanship. Regularly topping up the watch via the crown will ensure consistent timekeeping. You should manually (and completely) wind a timepiece the first time you wear it.
It’s a commitment Left unworn, a timepiece will function until its power reserve is depleted (usually around 48 hours). That means you’ll have to wind your automatic if you aren’t very active or don’t wear your watch every day — 10 to 15 cranks of the crown every morning does the trick. If you have several watches, you may also want to invest in automatic watch winders to keep your collection ticking.
To complicate things Some complications may earn their name if your watch runs out of juice. For example, a date timer mechanism typically turns over between midnight and 3 a.m., so if your watch dies at night and you reset it to the correct date in the morning you’ll soon find yourself caught in a time warp. Turn it back 12 hours and reset the date again.
Don’t sweat it Older watches and some cheaper quartz movement timepieces can be fragile, but contemporary automatics are comparably robust. They can withstand reasonable amounts of shock and often cannot be over-wound. Their accessibility makes them a worthwhile investment for rookies and avid collectors alike.