Interesting grown-up watches
June 19, 2008 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Grown-up watches with nerd appeal?

I've already got a cool triple sensor digital watch that gives me altitude, predicts the weather, and hooks into my plumbing. I'm looking for a unique analog watch for around $100 with a little geek to it. I've seen slide-rule watches but they seem a little too bulky. This is one I'm looking at (James Wines Binary Code). I really like the look, but I can't find any reviews so am a little hesitant, as $100 is a lot to me right now. Another designer I really like is Watchcraft, whose watches are a little too pricey but have the coolest bands. Can anyone vouch for the Binary Code watch (made by the same folks who make the Reveal) or give me any other recommendations?
posted by monkeymadness to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (41 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The watch I recently put together is duct tape applied to a travel alarm clock. It costs $10 at most, it looks really cool, and it definitely has nerd appeal.
posted by LSK at 1:17 PM on June 19, 2008

oh, picture please, LSK.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:21 PM on June 19, 2008

Have you seen Tokyoflash?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you seen Tokyoflash?

I have, thanks. They're cool, but I don't think they carry anything analog. I'll have another look, though.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2008

I'm a nerd by about any definition, and I think that binary watch is a piece of crap. I bet it has an el-cheapo quartz movement, zero water resistance and low build quality. Gimmicky, disposable, one-joke crap (if you like that kind of stuff, though, check out Thinkgeek--they've got tons of it). If I wanted to spend a hundred bucks on a watch (and why would I? I carry a cellphone everywhere, and even if I didn't, there are clocks all over the place), it'd probably be a Japanese automatic diving watch, like (for example) a Seiko Black Monster or a Citizen Promaster.
posted by box at 1:27 PM on June 19, 2008

Oh, and the watch from this old AskMe post would also be ideal, but I'm not finding it without a few grand or something signed in my own blood.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:33 PM on June 19, 2008

I'm partial to watches from Penguin.
Cool, different, and not too pricey.
posted by doorsfan at 1:35 PM on June 19, 2008

box: That's exactly the sort of feedback I'm looking for, though actual experience with the watch or its brethren would be better. The Seiko and Citizens you mentioned are a little busy, for lack of a better term, for what I want. Diving watches have that large bezel that I don't really want or need. Thanks for the suggestions, though.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:37 PM on June 19, 2008

WiFi Detecting Watch
posted by humannaire at 1:39 PM on June 19, 2008

I carry a cellphone everywhere, and even if I didn't, there are clocks all over the place)

I don't, and there aren't. Half the classrooms I teach in on my campus are clock-free.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2008

posted by violetk at 1:43 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Go for a skeleton watch, because gears are intrinsically neato. I cannot attest to the quality or stylishness, but here's one that's sub-$100.
posted by aramaic at 1:43 PM on June 19, 2008

(Citizen and Seiko both make non-diving watches with automatic movements. Alternately,) Maybe a Skagen?
posted by box at 1:45 PM on June 19, 2008

humannaire: If it was simple and analog with a little LED for signal strength that would definitely be geeky enough. The only digital one I want is this.

Also, sorry for all the links. So many cool watches...
posted by monkeymadness at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2008

You might like Movado too, but they might be out of your price range.
posted by box at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2008

box: Skagens (and Movados) are definitely the sorts of styles I'm looking for. I'm just hoping to get some geek in there somewhere, but if I can't those are good options.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:59 PM on June 19, 2008

I got my boyfriend this binary watch, and it's pretty cool. It's held up well for the last year, and people are always trying to figure it out. However, I purchased it from the Discovery Store when it was going out of business and paid about $15. I don't know if it's $80 bucks worth of cool.
posted by kimdog at 1:59 PM on June 19, 2008

The Omega Speedmaster Professional. It's what the astronauts wore on the outsides of their spacesuits while on the Moon, for chrissakes. It doesn't get geekier or more awesome than that.
posted by zsazsa at 2:01 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

Oops, I didn't see your $100 requirement. Oh well, just think of it as something to aspire to.
posted by zsazsa at 2:01 PM on June 19, 2008

Thanks, zsazsa. You've ruined my life. There goes my next auto purchase.
Awesome thought, though. Definitely belongs here, even if it's out of my price range.
posted by monkeymadness at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2008

I second aramaic's suggestion of a skeleton watch. That would set my geek heart a-flutterin'. Even better if it has a visible self-winder.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2008

Tissot makes some touch sensitive watches, which include thermometer, barometer, compass, altimeter, that actually look normal.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:18 PM on June 19, 2008

I do love gears. Anyone else have recommendations for an automatic skeleton?
posted by monkeymadness at 2:18 PM on June 19, 2008

wongcorgi: Those are awesome but cost too much for me. Unless you've got one for $100, in which case my email is in my profile :)
posted by monkeymadness at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2008

For a slightly more subtle nerd appeal, I really like the Casio Waveceptors. They sync to the atomic clock! You can get them in a wide variety of styles, including with Casio's "tough solar" feature, which charges from a solar cell hidden in the watch face. So you have a watch that always keeps to-the-millisecond accurate time (better than any automatic) and never needs a battery replaced. There's a wide price range, too, with the upper-end models marketed under the Oceanus brand.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:44 PM on June 19, 2008

Swatch also sells a few automatic skeletons. Or they used to. Their line of watches seems a little light now. But you can always find older models on eBay.

I was also going to suggest the Skin line from Swatch. They are watches that range from 3mm to 7mm in thickness, depending on what features the watch has. There's something about really thin watches that says calls out to the nerd in me.

IMO, binary watches and everything from Tokyoflash are useless if you have to stand around and think about how to read your watch.
posted by Cog at 2:48 PM on June 19, 2008

"Personally, my watch is my most used mobile equipment. Always on, featherweight, quick to read. Every couple of years I check out what's available for watches as tools and I come back to the model I have worn 24/7 for 20 years: a classic Swatch Original. I wear it in the shower, swimming, and while I sleep. It's what a watch should be: waterproof, nearly indestructible, accurate, and radically legible. Clear, black-on-white glow-in-the-dark numbers (no hour ticks) in an analog face. Day/date optional. And best of all, at $40 the Swatch is probably the cheapest rugged watch you can buy."

I own one too. It's simple, inexpensive, easy to read and has a now classic, understated design. I bought in seven years ago, changed the strap once and the battery twice. It's not exactly unique - but I think it's a bit geeky to have a watch that is an anti-status symbol, but still is more useful than many expensive watches.
posted by iviken at 3:26 PM on June 19, 2008

I come back to the model I have worn 24/7 for 20 years: a classic Swatch Original.

All that and perfect rice - every time. :p
posted by Kloryne at 4:03 PM on June 19, 2008

iviken's intended link to "a classic Swatch Original"

I'm partial to the clean, minimalist look of Alessi watches. I have the Look No Hands.

If you want to stretch your budget a bit, Long Island Watches has a few skeleton watches starting at $180. Trias is a German brand but supposedly the movements and assembly take place in China though a few of them have Swiss movements. Comments in the forums say they're decent watches, especially given the price and complexity. Amazon has 2 better pictures of one of the skeleton watches.
posted by junesix at 6:23 PM on June 19, 2008

Long Island Watches also has other fairly interesting watches under $150. The Trias Dress Automatic in white and black are pretty classy.
posted by junesix at 6:30 PM on June 19, 2008

Those Trias watches look great, especially the white Dress Automatic. I'll keep looking for a good price. As for Swatches I'll have to look at them, especially since they can cook rice now. The last time I wore one of those it was with an "I've Been Slimed!" Ghostbusters t-shirt, and I wasn't being retro. The waveceptors definitely have geek appeal, and being solar-powered and waterproof are handy.

If I could find a full skeleton automatic I'd probably get it, and I doubt I would get any work done. Those things are hypnotizing.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:52 PM on June 19, 2008

Ack one more. A few years back Swatch made a skeleton watch at a very affordable price. It was called the Irony (collection) Body & Soul. eBay has one here for $145 ($160 buy it now). A bit unusual with the skeleton design in a modern bracelet but still quite nice. I didn't buy it at the time but looking back, I should have.
posted by junesix at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2008

not actually an answer, since it's a home-built watch, but I love the geek appeal of the pong watch... it plays pong against itself, so the score display tells the time...
posted by russm at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2008

Well as long as we are going all he-man, the Breitling Emergency watch has a built in microtransmitter broadcasting on the aircraft emergency frequency and is the official watch of the Royal Air Force's acrobatic team, the Red Arrows.
posted by shothotbot at 7:35 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Second the Waveceptors -- there's a smug sense of satisfaction knowing that you will never be late to a meeting. Some even have analog hands, also time-synced. And the hands glow in the dark, FTW.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2008

It's hard to find an automatic skeleton under $100.

Check out Time Zone. I picked up a great used Invicta manual wind skeleton on their forum for $80. The guy had put a really neat band on it, much better than the one that came on it.

Don't thank me now. Spend a few months on Time Zone, then curse me instead. (If you're creative enough, I'll email you a pic of my Blancpain.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:21 PM on June 19, 2008

While reading this I had the brainstorm that what you need is a Vernier watch — understated, geeky, yet still functional. As you can tell from the link I'm not the first person to have this idea, though. (I'm kind of surprised they weren't super-common at some point in the past, really, since they can be mechanically simpler...)
posted by hattifattener at 10:51 PM on June 19, 2008

There's a list of watches here that might meet your requirements. About halfway down is the Reveal Watch, which is an analog watch that displays the time digitally. $110.
posted by forrest at 8:04 PM on June 20, 2008

Thanks, all. Interesting stuff. Final thoughts...

hattifattener: I'd love a Vernier watch, but I don't see anyone selling them.
forrest: I've seen the Reveal. It looks nice, but not my thing.
ikkyu2: I don't think I can invest the time it would take on there to find the right watch for me, but it looks like it has lots of nice gear pr0n.
russm: If I didn't want an analog that would be at the top of the list. I've wanted one since it first showed up on Make.

Tissot t-Touch look awesome but a little too expensive, and the Swatch Skins would be great if all the ones on the site didn't look horrible. I actually found a few slide rule watches that aren't too big or expensive, so I may go with one of those. I'll see what else I can find. If anyone happens to know where I can find something like the Vernier or t-Touch affordably please let me know.
posted by monkeymadness at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2008

Here's a Seiko Automatic with a dial that looks like graph paper! Although it's not a skeleton, it has a display back. And it's only $70 + shipping. (I just recently bought a Seiko 5 ["to be a SEIKO 5, the watch has to have the following 5 (five) attributes (thus the name SEIKO 5): 1. Automatic, 2. Water resistant, 3. Shock resistant, 4. Date, 5. Day."] from Poor Man's Watch Forum Store, and had a good experience, so I'll give them a plug here, too...)
posted by alb at 7:23 PM on June 21, 2008

How 'bout a follow-up?

I got a Seiko 5 Military. It's on the medium to small end of automatics, simple face but clear back.

I appreciate all the input, everyone.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2008

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