Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Next Watch Online

by Barrett

Are you searching for the perfect watch to wear to work? If so, you’re going to have to look further than the timepiece images glowing from your computer screen…

Are you searching for the perfect watch to wear to work? If so, you’re going to have to look further than the timepiece images glowing from your computer screen…

I’m overdue. Months. Maybe even years… Let me just say I’ve been wanting to buy a new watch to wear to work for quite a while. But life gets busy… right?

I’ve needed a new ticker for my wrist to share the daily burden with a silver Casio I own. I’ve relied on my trusty Casio WVQ-500 since before the financial crisis. That’s longer than any of my previous Casio watches have survived.

Usually the watchband would give out, and the replacement would never be quite as good as the Casio original. Or I’d be too lazy to drive to a jeweler and replace the battery when it gave out. (Casios weren’t that expensive back then. So I’d move on to the next model…)

But my current stainless steel-banded workhorse has benefited from its solar-recharging battery. And it’s waterproof.

And it’s still going strong…

My Casio Watch

But the charm of my Casio’s cutting-edge tech from the pre-smartphone era has worn thin. I don’t need its four alarms or timers anymore. Nor must I know what time it is in 37 cities around the world.
(I’ve got my iPhone 6 Plus for all that.)

And though the ‘Wave Ceptor’ tech that keeps it synced with the time calibration signal transmitted from Fort Collins, CO is nice, it’s not perfect…
Especially on the two days a year when our clocks spring ahead or fall behind.

I used to be a wizard at understanding every which way to use the four side buttons to enable the 84 (or so) functions. But honestly, I’ve forgotten most of them, and now, it’s more than a little frustrating to get the watch to follow my most basic directions.
(Apple’s UI design is much more user-friendly.)

I’ve been wearing Casios all my adult life. Three decades later, I was finally ready for something different…
Believe it or not, what I actually wanted was a watch to simply tell me the time. No gimmicks. It didn’t have to be made for James Bond. Nor was it going to be an Apple Watch.
(That’s a different conversation to address a different ‘need’…)

Another Online Rabbit Hole
So I began my research online. But the choices quickly became overwhelming. Every ‘expert’ has a different point of view. Plus, you can spend 100 bucks on a decent quartz watch or ten times that amount for a quality timepiece. Then double that. And the choices will keep appearing…

But I wasn’t in the market for a luxury watch. I just wanted a solid, everyday watch for the business casual environment at work. And something I wouldn’t cry over if I whacked my wrist into a doorknob.
(which I’ve done many times)

But I still wanted my timepiece to look sharp…

You Need to Try On the Watch
I finally narrowed my search down to three manufacturers:

  • Citizen
  • Seiko
  • Victorinox

Online, all watches seem beautiful. But unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, I eventually came to the conclusion that buying a watch online is a completely flawed proposition.

First off, you don’t know how the watch is going to feel on your wrist. And just as importantly… how is it going to look?

I originally figured I’d save some money by doing a deal on Amazon, but then I got a little freaked out regarding the potential for ‘fakes’ or whether I would be buying from a non-authorized dealer. That’s supposed to void the manufacturer’s warrantee.
(If it’s all a marketing scare by the manufacturers, they’re doing a good job.)

I finally came to the conclusion I needed to go old school:
Schlep to a brick and mortar store and try on a bunch of watches.

A Man Who Doesn’t Know What He’s Looking For
So I drove down to my local Macy’s and was pleased to see there was a sale going on.
(What a coincidence)
And then I rolled up my sleeve and got to work…

Granted, I didn’t have access to the full online lineup, but there was a sufficiently representative selection of the manufacturers I was interested in.
(The nice saleslady was exceptionally gracious when I admitted I was one of those men who didn’t really know what he was looking for.)

And do you know what I discovered?
I wasn’t at all excited by what I saw.

Half the watches had hands that blended in too closely with the coloring of the face. The other half had ‘complications’ I didn’t really need, which also interfered with the readability factor.
(I should acknowledge I wear reading glasses… so younger eyes might not be as challenged by the littered landscape of some of these watches.)

Finally, I realized I didn’t like ‘big’ watches. I’ve grown used to wearing a 40mm diameter face, and everything else looked huge on my wrist.
(Though I might be able to handle a timepiece with slightly more heft)

I have to admit, I was drawn to Victorinox’s ‘Night Vision’ watch, which looked super sharp and had a built-in LED min-flashlight.
(good for reading menus in a dark restaurant)
But it’s a pricey watch, ranging from $600-$700, depending on the band. And last I checked, my birthday isn’t coming up anytime soon…
Plus, I’ve got some other home tech projects to focus on that require funding.
(Can you say, ‘time for some Sonos speakers?”)

Citizen Eco-Drive
I was ready to walk out in defeat, but then I spotted a relatively simple-looking Citizen watch in the corner of the display.

It was a ‘Men’s Strap’ model AU1040-08E with a MSRP of $175.

Citizen Men's Strap Watch

It had a black leather band, and its uncluttered 40mm face was easy to read. There was little window for the date, but nothing else to obscure the time.  A big bonus with this otherwise minimalist watch is its solar-powered ‘Eco-Drive,’ with a rechargeable battery that can provide a six-month power reserve.
(If you choose to spend the next six months in a pitch-black environment)

One downside: It’s only splash resistant. So no swimming or full submersion during my four year old’s bath time.
(But you probably wouldn’t want to get a leather band wet anyway)

As I peered down at the watch, I suddenly experienced my very own “Charlie Brown Christmas” moment… By most accounts, this was the plainest watch in the display case. Who could possibly want it?!

That said, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the other watches, most of which were drizzled with bling.

No, this simple watch didn’t absolutely blow me away either. But it had this solid, clean look.

It didn’t cost a boatload. Yet, it looked great on my wrist.
I think the apt descriptor is ‘elegant.’

And it would be appropriate for either business or business-casual settings.

I said to the patient saleswoman, “I’ll take it.
She smiled, and I think I detected a small sigh.
(My lengthy selection process had taken her past her lunch break.)

There is No Perfect Watch
Yes, I’m satisfied with my simple Citizen watch, and I’m psyched it comes with nifty solar-charging tech.

But it’s not perfect… I’ve still got to manually adjust the date every month if it doesn’t have 31 days.
(I haven’t had to worry about that since way before Y2K.)

Honestly, the entire watch is a very retro experience…
But I think that’s exactly what I need in this moment of my life. A break from too many complications. I don’t want it to answer my email. I just want it to point to the correct time of day…

Eventually, I’ll probably want go back to the future…
(Hello, Apple Watch?)

The reality is I’m not done with my search. My Citizen is a solid addition to my wardrobe, but man cannot live by two watches alone.

My Casio that can't tell time anymore

(I also own a sporty weekend Casio with a rubber black band.

But this waterproof WVA-470 recently suffered some sort of circuit stroke, and now it’s off by three hours and five minutes. And I can’t figure out how to reset it.)

I’m not quite sure how I got this far in life surviving only on Casio tech.

I think I wore a couple of forgettable dress watches in my 30’s, but they’re long gone.
(the watches and my 30’s)

Now I’ve dipped my toe back into the infinite watch-verse and finally moved forward in my journey to build out a more diversified watch collection.

I’ve got two respectable work watches, but my weekend Casio is essentially useless.

Any suggestions on a replacement…?