Again I know I'm in the minority here about AP - truly great watches and craftsmanship. I just can't really get into them, though if I ever see one in the wild then I automatically think "damn, that guy is ballin'" (in a good way..) I actually like some of louder in your face ROOs like the Volcano, Bumblebee and End of Days. I think it just works with the case design and find them very interesting. I also like the Jules Verne Chrono (drool) but my wife would leave me if i tried to buy that now.
I'm a huge IWC fan, and I have the 5001 and 5004. I admit the IWC deployant is not the best fitting design for my wrist, but I love the dials of both.
That is a truly great watch with a, to my taste, awful dial. I would love to see Rolex tone down the design so the dial is less crowded and eliminate some of that accreted Rolex branding and nomenclature. The one thing I love are the skeletonized hands. But otherwise, most of the design features make the watch less readable and more confusing.
Some interesting pieces there. However when it comes to beauty, I only see two in the bunch that are beautiful and which I would seriously consider buying. Each is truly and iconic design and built for a different purpose. I love the Royal Oak. Some people love it, some hate it, but it created the genre of steel luxury sport watches. The octagonal bezel with white gold hex bolts is distintive and elegant while remaining sporty. Its a watch that upon close inspection you can see how much effort and care goes into creating each perfect beveled edge, each brushed surface and how they play against the polished surfaces. The 15400 also has a beautifully finished inhouse movement. If you do not have a RO it would make a great addition to your collection. I recently bought the 2012 ultrathin RO 15202 and I love this watch. Everything about it is on a level I have rarely seen with other sport watches.
The other watch I think is beautiful, is the Panerai 233. The design is iconic, it stands out from other sport watches with its cushion shaped case and lever mechanism for the crown. In addition, the 233 uses a nice in house movement. I really like its looks, but I just don't find a Panerais all the comfortable. Still its a great looking watch.
Blancpain, makes a high quality watch. However, I find them a bit boring. The 50 Fathoms is a nice watch, but I just don't love anything about it enough to buy one. To me its the sort of watch that if you put a Chopard Mille Miglia logo, Tag logo, or a logo from some other brand it could easily be from someone else.
IWC...I used to like their old pilot chronographs the 3706 and 3713 (which were simple and reasonably priced). However, there is nothing from their current line up that I find even remotely attractive. The Big Pilot is actually one of the least attractive and least comfortable watches in my eyes, but with big watches being "In", its size alone seems to have created quite a following. As for the Portugese 5001-09, I think are many watches I find more attractive and more versatile. The 5001-09 is a piece that I just find boring. It also seems to lack any true purpose. Its not really dressy, its not really sporty, its just another big watch without much use to me. I'd rather have a Portugese Chrono if I had to go with something from the Portugese line. If I were set on getting something from IWC, I'd probably go vintage.
Good luck shopping and let us know what you decide.
+1 gajillion. I landed in Singapore 9 hours ago and have already seen 3 ill-fitting Big Pilots... the look is retarded. I love the aesthetics of the Big Pilot (particularly in white gold with rhuthenium dial), but with 6.75" wrists I can't pull it off myself (not that this stops me from strapping one on every few months!)
Dino, I agree with everything you've written, and from your question a few days ago I'm absolutely still in awe of the proportions, understated presence and finishing of the 15202. Regarding the 15400, however, my own preference would be to downsize to the 15300, dozens of which are floating on the market at any given time at attractive pricing. Not only do I feel that 39" is a more timeless size for the Royal Oak, but the 15300 also has a more harmonious dial layout given that it's the same movement - but in the 39" case for which it was intended - as opposed to the 41" of the 15400. In principle and in practice, I just haven't seen very good examples of leveraging the same movement into a larger case, at least where apertures and subdials are involved. Just my $.02...
Guys, thanks for taking the time to write such interesting and detailed comments. You'll be seeing a wristshot of one of these watches in the next few days. Just a couple of my own thoughts:
Big Pilot - Very much a love it or hate it watch. I don't know if I would call it "beautiful" but there is something special about the feeling of strapping it on. Makes me want to do the Flo-rida dance from Tropic Thunder. The Blancpain and Panerai give similar impressions, but in a slightly more restrained way (and I know the Panerai has its own distinct merits). Also I know I'm in a tiny minority, but I strongly prefer the 5009/5004 to the 5002 BP. The numerals and hands have a quirkiness factor. shared with the Panerai aesthetic, that I think is crucial for this type of watch. If you're going to have a silly jumbo clock on your wrist, I think it's essential to have a sense of humor about it. Really don't understand people who insist on staying faithful to the Nazi fighter pilot aesthetic in this context.
Tropic Thunder dance:
Portuguese - When handled in real life, this one definitely seems to be a notch below in terms of finishing compared to the others on this list. The one standout feature, however, is that it's got one of the most beautiful dials that I've seen on any watch, ever. Each detail, from the traintrack hash marks to the applied numerals, to the hands and to the subdial placement, is absolutely perfect. And the glossy black dial is positively radiant. Of all the watches on the list, this one gives me the most pleasure to stare at straight-on.
Royal Oak - This one was originally not on my radar. I went to the AD to browse PAMs and IWCs, and only tried this and the Blancpain as an afterthought. Of all watches that I've ever seen, this is the one for which pictures do the least justice. The finishing detail on the case, bracelet, and tapisserie dial is seriously breathtaking. Putting it on, I forgot about my previous misgivings of the watch being a gimmicky alternative to the time-tested conventional watch format (round dial, thin bezel), and rather appreciated it entirely on its own terms. This is just a dazzling piece of wrist jewelry. On another note, I've given a lot of thought to the 15300 vs 15400 debate and though I'm inclined to defer to the WIS connoisseurs on most topics, as with the Big Pilot this time I am in the minority. I understand the point about the small movement, but the 15400 corrects 3 flaws that really sour me on the 15300 - (i) the AP logo at 12 o'clock hash mark, which to my mind is the wrong place for such graphics, (ii) the lack of a hash mark at 3 o'clock and resulting asymmetry, and (iii) the white date marker, which to me is something that really undermines the sophistication of the dial. Also, the dial/bezel width ratio on the 41mm version gives the watch a less sporty, more formal feel (don't know if that's good or bad). Edited by johanm - 12/19/12 at 9:41am
It's somewhere in this thread. I didn't post my own watch, since I never photographed it, but one identical to mine.
Which others do you have?
Take a pic
I have a manual Autavia with Siffert coloring, that is my definite favourite. Cal 72, so it's basically a vintage Daytona (no, it's not ).
And a silver dialled auto. Pretty rare, I see it much less often than the Siffert. Still usually a lot cheaper.
Autavias are what got me started collecting vintage. Awesome 70s racing aesthetics at reasonable prices