I’ve been receiving a lot of questions lately about my watches: what are they? how many do I own? where did i buy them? where are my straps from? and so on.
As a result of the interest, I thought it might be about time to do a dedicated watch and watch strap post. I used to collect watches. Not high-end watches, but medium-end automatic watches of both Swiss and Japanese manufacture like Fortis, Oris, Hamilton, Seiko, Orient, etc. I’ve since sold the majority of the watches that used to make up my modest collection, and have kept the ones you see in the above picture.
I frequented the major watch forums, mostly PoorMansWatchForum, but also TimeZone, SeikoCitizenWatchForum, and WatchUSeek as well. I never posted much, but bought and sold a number of watches on their classified boards. Those are great places to buy gently used watches from people who are honest, and care for their timepieces. Many of these watches can be had for a great deal.
For those of you looking to get a nice automatic watch, but don’t have the money for a high-end Swiss timepiece, I would recommend several. If you want a diver watch (with a Rolex Submariner type look), then I’d go for the sterile dialed Submariner-style watches made by Parnis that are widely available on ebay. They have ones with Chinese made Seagull movements, which are very solid and dependable, for ~$100 shipped. If you want one with a Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement they’re available as well for about ~$250. If you’re not a watch nut, I’d opt for the Chinese Seagull movement—the case, dial, and bracelet are the same, the only difference is the movement, and the Chinese ones are now, to my knowledge, fairly dependable workhorses. I have a Parnis Explorer-style watch with a Seagull movement, and it has worked perfectly since day one. For other watches inspired by Panerai, IWC, and others, just do a general ebay search for “Parnis Watch.”
Another option for an inexpensive Japanese-made diver watch is the Orient Mako which will set you back about $115. Orient still makes their movements in-house, and they’re of incredibly high quality and dependability.
Another classic is the Seiko SKX-007. These sell in the $200 range new on ebay, but are widely available used on the watch forum sales boards linked to above. Also, the Seiko SKX-007 is a frequently modded watch, as many different companies make after-market parts for them: dials, hands, bezels, etc. You can often buy ones on the forums that are already modded. The sterile-dialed diver you see in the pic above is one such modded Seiko which has an MKII dial and hands. MKII used to be the main seller of after-market Seiko parts, but it looks like they now only sell complete Swiss-made watches designed by MKII’s American team of watch nuts. I’m sure the quality on those is top-notch, and if you’ve got the dough, you’ll be the only person wearing an MKII in a room full of Rolexes, Omegas, etc.
If Swiss-made is what you want, but you don’t want to break the bank buying luxury brands, and don’t want to buy used, you can check out WestCoastTime for some solid watches by makers like Ollech&Wajs. These will set you back about $350. The case, dial, and movements on these are solid, but the bracelets feel a little cheap for the money. But if you’re going to be throwing the watch on NATO straps and/or leather straps, that shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
That leads me to straps, and the colorful NATO straps I receive many questions about. I buy most of mine on ebay, and mostly from this seller here. They’re about $9 shipped, and come in a variety of colors combos and sizes. Make sure you know the size you need for your watch. Rolex Submariners, and their less-expensive Parnis and Ollech&Wajs counterparts have 20mm lugs, so that’s the size you’d go with. The Seiko SKX-007 has 22mm lugs, and so you’d need a larger strap for that watch.
I hope this has been useful information, and wish you all luck in your watch-buying endeavors!
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