Since summer this year I’ve been travelling much more than I usually do. A hectic schedule of trips for business and pleasure means that I’ve spent hours upon hours in the last few months packing, unpacking and repacking suitcases.
Now, usually I don’t think too much about the clothes I am carrying. I am a pretty good packer and have an uncanny, but heavily drilled, ability to pack a suitcase to breaking point without making an ungainly bulge. So there tends to be a lot of redundancy in my packing. Overall I tend to carry around 25% more clothes than I really need to.
But on my last trip I decided to experiment with ultra-efficient packing. I was travelling for 18 days but decided to pack exactly a week’s worth of clothes and not a single vest more. It meant running laundry loads frequently. But otherwise it worked like a charm. And I think it has changed my life forever. I can’t foresee ever needing to carry more than a week’s worth of clothing anywhere for any length of trip. As long as I don’t let mounds of worn clothes build up, I should do just fine.
This also means that I’ve been wearing my Casio AE 1000W World Time Illuminator as my sole timepiece for several months (see “One watch for four time zones”, 14 July, for my thoughts on this gem of a quartz timepiece).
But all this efficiency of packing has been making me think about the efficiency of watch ownership. How many watches does a man really need?
The correct answer, I suppose, is none. You could get by perfectly without a watch as long as you’re carrying a mobile phone (and who doesn’t?).
The next best answer is: One. One single high-quality quartz timepiece should last you a lifetime at negligible investment.
But, hey, cut me some slack. Let us assume that you are open to the idea of owning a few watches. And a few good watches at that. If so, how many watches would make for a bare minimum wardrobe?
I’ve decided you need three watches. Let me explain the types and some possible choices for each type.
First of all, you need what many call the “beater” watch. This is the workhorse timepiece you’re going to wear when you expect your watch to take a beating from the elements and from other people. The watch you wear to the basketball court, the beach, the gym and on those transcontinental flights when you’re crammed into economy.
This is the watch you are going to throw into a messy drawer when you get back home, or let your children play with. And, therefore, it most definitely has to be an indestructible quartz watch from Casio. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d recommend the AE 1000W world time watch if you’re a traveller, but a sturdy, no-frills G-Shock watch will do just fine. These watches take a lot of punishment. For instance, I like the fact that when I am in line to X-ray my bags at an airport, I can chuck my watch into a bag without worrying about damage.
And if they get damaged? Just order an identical piece online and nobody will ever know. Not even your bank account.
Next you need a high-quality, premium sports watch. A watch you’d wear to your boss’ pool party or to a nightclub. Sturdy enough to take a buffeting. But still classy.
An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore is what immediately comes to mind. But we can’t all be mining barons. So a Breitling Chronomat 44 or, my personal favourite, a Rolex Explorer II will do very nicely indeed. For those on a budget, Orient’s Mako automatic watches are unsurpassed.
And finally we come to the flagship piece in our bare bones collection: the elegant classic timepiece we’d wear with a suit or a tuxedo. The watch you probably want to get married in.
Write me a blank cheque and I’d rush to the nearest Vacheron Constantin dealer and purchase one of their mind-blowing Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon pieces. But since that seems unlikely, I’d probably sell an organ of some kind and acquire an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean on a leather strap. Yes, the Seamasters are perhaps on the sporty side of elegant. But boy do they elevate a suit cuff! But if you absolutely must live with both kidneys, look no further than an impossibly slim Titan Edge.
With these three pieces in your collection, you should always be on time and in fashion.
Also Read | Sidin’s previous Lounge columns