Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into something Christian has already discussed a bit in our “Best Everyday Watch” video series on the channel: what is a good first watch?
Now, we should probably start by setting some criteria. A “good” watch is, in the style department, going to be totally subjective. Someone might love the clean aesthetic of, say, an Orient Bambino, while someone else may want something with a bit more pizzazz, something more akin to a Seiko Flightmaster (all gold, obviously, because that watch is so subtle). So what we aren’t going to do here is discuss aesthetics in the strict sense.
What really defines a “good” first watch, to me, is one that is versatile enough to cover a majority of dress codes, while also being capable enough to withstand different activities and lifestyles. The big thing, though, when it comes to a good first watch, is that it needs to be at least somewhat representative of the potential of horology. While a G-Shock may get you wearing a watch again, I don’t know if it is necessarily going to get you to step back and consider the world of mechanical timepieces with any scrutiny (especially since, y’know, it isn’t one).
So with those criteria in mind, let’s give this some thought. I’ve always held that your first “good” watch is sort of like a test run; it needs to expose you to some of the differences between actual watchmaking and the $10, no-name Walmart watches you may have been wearing before, or at the very least give you some indication of how the watch world works in terms of what you get for the money. It’s your shot to really get to know mechanical timepieces and decide if they’re for you. As much as I’d love everybody on Earth to be wearing one, I know that’s just not realistic, and for some people the Apple Watch is just a more practical choice.
With that in mind, the last thing you want out of a first watch is one that is more hassle than helpful. For that reason, I tend to recommend people hold out until they have enough to start playing ball in the $200-$400 price range, because that’s the point at which brands begin to really take some more care of their mechanical pieces. There is absolutely value to be had lower than that (hell, most of Orient’s range, for example), but you do run the risk of the cost cutting techniques turning you off lower than that (folded link bracelets, for example).
If you’re looking for a good first mechanical watch, Christian and I are both in agreement that your two best options are the Hamilton Khaki Field (or King, if you want a day-date) or the Seiko SARB033 or 35. Both of those pieces are not just well built from seriously respected brands, but offer some of the most insane value in their respective price points. If you’re looking a bit lower down the budget train, you can’t go wrong with a classic Orient Bambino or one of their diver watches. And if quartz is something you’re into, then you have a ton more options to choose from. My personal favorites are any of the Citizen Eco-Drive pieces, or some of the quartz Tissots.
Having recently acquired a Swatch Sistem51 Irony for myself, I was tempted to include it on this list, but given the short duration of my ownership, I didn’t want to speak too highly of a watch I don’t know that well that also isn’t old enough to have a history of reliability to reference. That being said, T&H founder Christian Zeron had a lot to say (in a very retro, almost comical T&H video) about just how important it is that the Sistem51 is working as a gateway drug (uhh, watch) for one of the watch worlds largest companies. You can get involved in that conversation here!
That does it for us. Remember to join in on the discussion in our Facebook group (link to the group here), and as always, follow us on Instagram @THEOANDHARRIS and keep it classy, watchfam.