Truth, beauty and quartz

A recent podcast (Scottish Watches, with Adam Craniotes) there was a nice side discussion of the nature of men’s watches. “Metal Barbie dolls,” to paraphrase, and it did inspire a thought or two.

This is the watch on my wrist now – Seiko SBGX117, a Grand Seiko quartz diver made between 2014 and 2017. 42mm, steel, titanium hands, thermocompensated quartz movement accurate to ten seconds per year. List price was about 4k USD new, I got it used in a trade for about about 2500.

Seiko SBGX117
Seiko SBGX117

If you’re curious, Ariel wrote a nice review here on ABtW.

I’ve also been enjoying this Scurfa recently too:

Scurfa Diver One DI-500

And of course my even-more-accurate 9F GMT:

Seiko SBGN001

For men in the western culture milieu, the only socially acceptable forms of jewelry are the watch and wedding band. There are few exceptions, of course; I’m speaking in generalities here for cishet.

And we’re not allowed to ever, ever call them ‘pretty.’ It has to be masculine, engineering-focused, etc. All gendered language. Yet all the while, we’re always looking for beauty, even if we call it proportion, ratio, finishing and craftwork.

We are, however, allowed to Seek Truth, and for that quartz is king. There’s a wonderful well of difficult problems, interesting physics and obsessive engineering required to make a really accurate timekeeper, and these Seiko 9F movements are among the finest ever made. For that matter, I have a lot of meetings these days, often over video with remote participants, so it is super useful to know the precise time.

9F movement, picture Seiko

So watches are how we thread the needle of societal expectations. We can enjoy manly bonding over our shiny jewelry while still performing masculinity. And hey, it really does come in handy to know what time it is with a watch that can get wet, handle rough treatment, lasts a decade or more and doesn’t require charging every day or two and setting every week.

Posted by

Computer engineer from San Diego. Obsessed with hardware, software, timekeeping and elegance.

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