In the watch sales world, I often hear the phrase “Oh no, I can’t wear this to the beach, it’s too expensive.” Feel free to change the location, or the adjectives, but it’s certainly a common thread heard often in the watch world. Look, I understand where you’re coming from, you’re spending a very significant amount of money on a luxury item, and you want to make sure you take proper care of it. That being said, most watches these days (especially sports models) can handle some serious abuse. I’ve completed a micro case study that illustrates this statement.
Royal Oak Offshore vs. Deep Sea Fishing
I recently traveled to Alaska for some pretty hardcore deep-sea fishing (12+ hour days on the water for roughly a week). Now I’m not trying to say that it wasn’t relaxing and ridiculously enjoyable, I’m just saying it was a little more intense than a pleasure cruise with cocktails and Hall & Oates playing over the loudspeaker.
I tend to lean more towards sport watches when I’m purchasing something for myself, mainly because I want to make sure I don’t have to worry about whether or not I should wear my watch to a certain event. For this expedition I wore an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver (ref: 15703ST.OO.A002CA.01). This watch certainly is not inexpensive, it’s no grand comp, but it’s not exactly entry-level either.
It took a glorious beating. Fish guts, salt-water spray, and probably more than a few bumps and bruises all adorned its crystal, case, and strap and one point or another. I made sure that once we returned to our room back on dry land that the watch received a nice, room-temperature water rinse, and dried it off with a soft t-shirt. I also made sure to triple check that the crowns were screwed down nice and tight before we left the dock.
Showing Wear On The Case
I’m sure it picked up a couple new scratches (especially on the notorious scratch magnet that is a Royal Oak bezel). But scratches, nicks, and scrapes don’t tend to bother me too much. Yes, they’re visible blemishes that mar the meticulously hand-finished components of a lovely hand-crafted timepiece. However, when I do send in my watch for its inevitable service (in hopefully 5+ years from now), it will receive an expert refinish in the hands of Audemars Piguet’s obscenely skilled craftsmen. Maybe the bezel will have to be replaced, and that is not a game changer for me.
Certainly replacing parts is a different story for a vintage Rolex, where changing as little as possible is the name of the game, and NOS is the top of the mountain. The wear and tear that my watch took reminds me of my trip every time I notice a new scratch. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m in the camp that believes that watches designed to perform under pressure, should be worn and enjoyed in exactly (or close approximations of) those circumstances.
Back in the lower 48 my watch is still keeping great time. It might look a tad worse for wear, but not dramatically so. At a casual glance only the most meticulous of watch collectors would notice its injuries.
Moral of the story: wear, enjoy, and put your watches through their paces. With minimal preparation and subsequent care most timepieces can handle a lot more than you would think. Yes you will damage them (albeit most times superficially and minimally). But they can always be brought back to life, even with pretty significant damage. And visit Alaska, that place is mind-numbingly gorgeous and enjoyable.