What is the perfect watch size? Well, there isn’t a perfect answer. While smaller-sizes are experiencing a return to fashion thanks to a boom in the vintage market that’s affecting new releases, there are still plenty of collectors who prefer a bigger diameter dial. Whether it’s the physical build of the wrist, lifestyle choices or just a sartorial statement, a case can be made for both. For Mark Cho, the co-founder of the dapper gentleman’s retail boutiques The Armoury, a more subtle, understated piece suits his personal aesthetic. On the other hand, for Robert Mason, frontman of the rock band Warrant, what works best on stage for him is a much bigger beast (not just for style, but also because he needs a bigger dial to better read the time during a live concert). We had both weigh in on what works for them.
If you want to hear more, Cho will be doing a livestream lecture on the merits of small watches tonight at the Horological Society of New York at 9 PM EST. As for Mason, you’ll have to catch him backstage at his next gig. But since it might be a while before live performances resume, you can find him (and his watches) on Instagram @robertmasonvox.
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In Favor of the Smaller Watch (36 mm and below), Mark Cho, co-founder of The Armoury and owner of Drake’s
“Do you remember before Covid-19 what it was like to go to a party with a friend? A wing person? You set out looking to talk to some interesting people, strike up some enjoyable conversation and see where the night takes you. The friend who accompanies you is an important part of how things turn out. A good friend backs you up, makes your jokes seem a little funnier, your ideas a little smarter and together, the two of you are a joy to be around. That friend would never shout over you, selfishly hog the limelight or drink the last of the wine. I think of that friend the same way I think about my favorite watches. I like watches that are discreet, subtle but endlessly entertaining to just the right people.
In the same way I don’t wear neon trucker hats, I also don’t wear things that don’t suit me both in size and in aesthetic. I like a watch that quietly and comfortably hugs my wrist. The lugs do not protrude past the edges of my wrist and the case looks in proportion with my hand. To an onlooker, the watch is a part of me. There is no sense of clumsiness or gimmickry that you might get with something oversized or overwrought.
Fine, small things are eye-catching and they command special attention. I’ve heard it said that if you want something to be read carefully, it is better to put it in a slightly paler ink so the reader is forced to focus carefully on what they are reading. A small watch piques curiosity as people can only glimpse it, sometimes hiding under a shirt cuff or revealing itself obliquely. The best are taken in bit by bit. Their design cannot be appreciated in just a glance and each subsequent viewing presents some new element. The first time might be the shape of the crown and the next is the precise shape of the applied markers. After taking it in fully you are left with a sense of wonder, like watching fireflies in the night.”
In Favor of the Larger Watch (42 mm and above), Robert Mason, lead singer of rock band Warrant:
“Allow me to introduce myself. I am a lead vocalist and songwriter, a musical journeyman of sorts over the past 35 years. I’m the frontman (mouthpiece, emcee, shiny, hard-to-ignore hood ornament…) for the rock band Warrant. I also have musical side projects, write songs for other artists, and regularly have sung on both recording sessions and live performances for a diverse group from Cirque du Soleil to Ozzy to Disney.
Long before any of that, I began a fascination with watches. I was the 8-year-old who wound, set and wore his Timex Mickey Mouse watch every day (and when I was allowed, my Mom’s 1940’s Hamilton “Mickey”). I cannot recall a time when I did not want to wear one. I would ask to see my Father’s watch, to pull out the crown and feel its mechanical resistance as I turned it, to put it on my wrist and dream of a time when a similar one would be my daily companion. Perhaps that memory is why I gravitate to what some might call “oversized“ watches; that feeling of something not merely substantial, but larger than life.
As time went on, through the ’80s and ’90s, I graduated from local, regional and national live performances to worldwide touring. I don’t want nor need subtlety onstage; I’m there to lead the band, entertain & direct the audience, and capture their attention! I’d purchase watches like Tag Heuer, Omega, Rolex and then Panerai to celebrate career milestones and achievements.
My love for purpose-built, durable, functional tool watches to wear onstage, travel with, and collect grew. I value not only movement complications, style and innovation, but also legibility. With a quick glance, a larger-size watch allows me to know how long we’ve been on stage for the live set, how long a section of a song is, how much time I have before boarding yet another flight (my commute to work is rarely by tour bus these days), and what time zone I’ll end up in. I am admittedly old-school enough to still rely on my watch, and I’m not a slave to my smartphone. To me, it’s “Gentlemen’s Jewelry.”
I am hugely fortunate to have recently discovered Parmigiani Fleurier and proudly wear my Kalpagraphe Chronometre in titanium onstage and around the world. To me, it combines all those attributes I want. At my request, they even made me a bright red matte croc strap, making mine 1 of 1! I admire the artistry, forethought and innovation it took to design and create that movement, case and overall functional aesthetic. It has amazing wrist presence, yet it’s comfortable, with all the function I require. Although its stature at just over 48 mm-long is considered large, the curved lugs and titanium case wears so comfortably I can forget it’s on my wrist during a show. If I want vintage, I own a “pre-moon” Omega Speedmaster. If I’m feeling that simple time-only tool watch vibe, I own 44 & 48 mm Panerais, vintage Seiko dive watches, Kobold, Anonimo etc. Don’t get me wrong—I still love my newer and vintage Rolexes, although they seem small by comparison. A 43 mm to 48 mm case suits my lifestyle; I’m clearly not the guy who wears a conservative suit and tie to the office. Photographers take live photos of our band all the time, and that Parmigiani on my wrist upstages the mic in my hand and, dare I say, even myself under those stage lights. In my opinion, a smaller-cased watch would get lost in all that rock n’ roll bombast, and I’d have a hard time effectively using it.”
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