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RJman

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am55

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You mean with the occasional nice item that most people can’t afford, but mainly middle aged men with too much money arguing over nothing.

This thread is nothing like that, clearly.
You know, it's a popular feeling and I might even agree with it (sort of) now, but I think what Top Gear was is worth studying and the parallel with the thread was not entirely cynical. Back in the 1990s/2000s (especially the latter), when said men were less obviously middle-aged, Top Gear was the one program you were pretty much sure everyone in the UK at least had seen (not sure about the US, I doubt it - media was more fragmented). You could make jokes about the Stig or "...in the WORLD" and people would get it and laugh along, it was as culturally integrated as "Google" is now as an expression to search the internet. Like Friends, the show offered something intangible that made it watchable by just about everybody. And looking at things like Fifth Gear - who here knows who Tiff Needell is, aside from Thrift Vader and Dino? - or even Top Gear post-Clarkson, it wasn't because it was a car show. To some extent it is also because the cultural zeitgeist has changed and old Top Gear (just like Friends) is not really resonating with modern audiences; the show ran on momentum for years and the Grand Tour whilst entertaining has lost a lot of that "magic" that we felt back then.

Hence the joke to GR - people come back because of the trash talk, rehashing of Rolex strategy or lack thereof, grey market scum/liquidity provider white knights, etc. and not to discuss watches themselves. I like the idea of Foo as Clarkson actually. The dynamic is surprisingly similar when you think about it.
 

am55

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Good point re: IWC's gimmicky design details. I agree, now, that IWC is a worse sinner.

But I do think that Rolex have gone in a direction that crosses some lines in terms of their original design philosophy. You say: "Finishing and materials have gotten more luxurious to be sure, but not at the expense of originally-intended durability and function." But not compromising function and durability is too weak a condition. Even setting aside the added non-functional bling/polish (and why should we, really), it seems to me that for the core line of steel tool watches the design philosophy was to achieve maximal durability and functionality while keeping finishing quality at a sufficient level--indeed arguably just the level that didn't compromise function and durability. This sort of no-nonsense, almost Waspy approach is what made Rolex the choice of mid-century tastemakers. It's a very Eames-like design philosophy, if you like. My sense is that Rolex started treating finish quality as something to be maximised only after the quartz crisis, when they effectively decided to become jewellers. Basically I'm a curmudgeon but from a design perspective I just can't see the point of a modern, post-quartz crisis Rolex (and I say this without even having to get into Goldberger/Montanari's usual points about manufacturing techniques and such, about which I have mixed views). But don't let me beat that dead horse again.
You of all people probably understand why I quoted Debord. We moved from living lives (diver's watches competing on features for actual divers) to appearing to live lives (yuppies bringing the divers to work to show off that they went diving in the weekend, a la The Graduate scuba-in-the-pool scene), to a state where not having lived is a prerequisite for belonging to the spectacle (gold "divers", two tone explorers...) and those who live do not (divers and their dive computers, rarely posted here except as a joke). So the real features we should be judging Rolex on is "how well do they appear to have added the type of functionality that can be talked about as part of the show". Like "they don't even decorate the movements, because these are practical sports watches".
 

UnFacconable

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It’s not either / or. The “luxury” improvements are often also functional improvements. Better finishing and better steel improve resistance to corrosion. White gold dial markers and hands resist oxidation. Ceramic bezels are scratch and fade proof. Solid bracelet links resist stretching. Forged clasps are more secure. Refined movements are more precise, shock-resistant, and easy to maintain.
This is mostly marketing fluff. Exhibit A is that Rolex's stainless isn't meaningfully better than 316l, it polishes a bit better and it's harder to work with so perhaps it makes it harder to counterfeit but I don't believe performance really is a driver. If you cared about corrosion resistance, you would choose titanium or other materials. Ceramic bezels look nicer but they are more likely to fail where traditional aluminum inserts would merely get dings. Similarly, sapphire crystals resist scratches but are more likely to shatter. Rolex's improvements have been focused on keeping them pristine, not on performing under harsh circumstances.

Let's be honest, Rolex sport watches only cosplay as tool watches. That's okay since that's what their customers demand, but the things you are talking about don't differentiate them from other tool watches and are often worse. If I cared about performance of a dive watch qua dive watch, I would take the Pelagos over the Submariner.
 

Ambulance Chaser

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I may have put one on hold with an appointment at the local boutique to check one out on Monday. 🤪
Looking forward to the full report. Seems like the blacked-out H08 would go well with your Zenith Shadow.
 

pmeis

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Looking forward to the full report. Seems like the blacked-out H08 would go well with your Zenith Shadow.
Thaat one is cool, but I like a little bit more contrast. The saleswoman said they had two regular Ti ones on rubber straps, I’m not so sure that they are the regular Ti ones as she didn’t seem to have a full grip on the launch yet. Regardless, if I like the way it wears, I would assume they’ll be able to order one in my preferred configuration. I’ll report back.
 

mak1277

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Thaat one is cool, but I like a little bit more contrast. The saleswoman said they had two regular Ti ones on rubber straps, I’m not so sure that they are the regular Ti ones as she didn’t seem to have a full grip on the launch yet. Regardless, if I like the way it wears, I would assume they’ll be able to order one in my preferred configuration. I’ll report back.
The one on the orange strap is my favorite, but I wonder how often I’d wear a watch with an orange rubber strap...?
 

pmeis

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The one on the orange strap is my favorite, but I wonder how often I’d wear a watch with an orange rubber strap...?
Yeah, I’d need a second strap in that case for sure. I will wear an orange strap, but not full time.
 

Ambulance Chaser

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Strap changes from rubber to rubber look like a breeze because the spring bars are exposed.
 

radicaldog

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From John Mayer to Joe Biden.
A septuagenarian small-c conservative and a crooner who would be employed on cruise ships for septuagenarians if people with some music taste had any say in it. Sorry, I understand the influence market is particularly segmented these days, but these two people are not tastemakers outside of suburbia. (Yes I woke up in a bad mood today; I'll reply to the rest after my first meeting.)
 
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