Q: I'm so glad to see you guys back and actively posting again. You all are hilarious!
I recently got my first metal/bracelet watch, and I'm not sure how loose or tight to wear it. I generally wear my leather strap watches relatively snug, but I saw someone at work with a suit wearing their metal bracelet watch much lower. It looked pretty cool going along with the rest of the cuff game. I wanted to ask, is a low-slung watch MB, or just sloppy? —Bill
A: We hate to disappoint a longtime reader, but you asked, and we can only offer our honest opinion. Even by its name — you tellingly called it a metal bracelet — your new acquisition falls into the category of jewelry. Check out our jewelry channel to see what we think about jewelry, but the short answer is that 95 percent of what we spend on jewelry is intended for some woman's neck, ears, or nipples.
As for wearing a metal bracelet loosely, our feeling is that this just compounds the error. We grant that such calculated sloppiness might be viewed as artful dishevelment, but for us it just conjures hazy but unpleasant memories of handcuffs.
Our ultimate advice: Nip this metal bracelet phase in the bud and stick to your leather straps (organic materials principle). And while we're giving out watch-wearing advice, a reminder. Keep the watch case to 40mm or less.
If you read the Christmas edition of the New York Times — and who didn't even before opening presents? — you saw this article about the growing size of men's wristwatches. Since men can no longer drive Hummers without being subject to public ridicule (plus the fact that the company has been shut down), some are replacing large vehicles with large watches, which is why Tom Cruise wears a U-Boat watch that's 64.4 millimeters in diameter, or as the Times wryly notes, a watch that's the same size as a White Castle slider.
Don't be Tom Cruise. We've regularly repeated our ≤ 40mm rule since this site started in July 2007, and now more than ever you should either adopt or stick to it. Within months, or perhaps even weeks, wearing a 64mm watch will be even more post-peak than Jersey Shore.
A: Normally we're in favor of watches made by defunct Swiss manufacturers that require a pronunciation guide — it's pronounced mooj-awe and peek-are — but this watch is a definite pass. It's ironic that J.Crew is resurrecting a brand that was killed off by the quartz movement craze of the '70s, yet with Tourneau's help fits this watch with a quartz movement!
We've recommended the Ollech & Wajs Kartargo to the point where Westcoastime sold out of the watch, disappointing many readers looking for a simple, understated, small Swiss-made mechanical, military-style watch for under $500. Well, WCT has just received another shipment of this ETA 2824-2-powered gem and while the price has increased to $489 thanks to the strength of the Swiss franc (check the chart) it's still a timepiece well worth your money.
Q: Hello, I am just about to start college and in need of a watch. I read on the site about military-inspired watches and do love the O&W watches but they are definitely out of my price range. I diverted my attention to your other suggestion which was the J.Crew's military-inspired watch, and for $150, I think they are fairly priced. My question is, your original posts about the O&W and J.Crew watches all have black dials but I am leaning towards the white dial version of it available on J.Crew's site. Is the white dial military-inspired watch still MB-endorsed? —Sean
A: Sean, keep in mind that a watch like the longtime MB favorite, the O & W Kartargo, is built to last for decades. Over time, a reliable watch that never goes out of style becomes a treasured, faithful companion — sort of like a tiny mechanical dog that will never shed on your clothes or shit on your rug. Viewed in this light, the Kartargo's current price of $489 is not all that extravagant. But if that truly won't work for your budget, there are other far less expensive options, especially if you are OK with a quartz movement.
For a mechanical military watch on a budget, consider the Military Watch Company's GG-W-113, which follows the specifications (PDF) issued by the U.S. government for infantry watches in 1962. (We first saw these watches at Hickorees, but unfortunately, they're currently out of stock there.) The GG-W-113 is made in Germany, it's water-resistant to 30 meters, has a hack system for anal-retentive time-setters, and it only costs $125. While the Kartargo is automatic, you will have to wind the GG-W-133 by hand, every day, for several seconds. It will seem grueling at first, but then you'll come to look forward to this little daily ritual, this brief acknowledgement that life is fragile, temporary, always in danger of running down unless you make an effort to push forward.
Oh, right, your question: What do we think about white dials? Military watches invariably feature black dials because that makes them less conspicuous in combat situations. While you probably don't need to take precautions against sniper fire in everyday life, we still greatly prefer black dials for civilian use. They're more understated than white dials, and, in our opinion, more readable too.
Nothing tests the Magnificent Bastard principle of understatement more than holidays. Halloween is the worst, followed closely by the 4th of July. Red, white, and blue are great colors for Ol' Glory and beer cans, but unless you're a superhero, too much red, white, and blue in your wardrobe at any one time can make you look like you're hitting the bricks to shill your local tax return service. If you're looking for a role model, choose Founding Father Thomas Jefferson over Uncle Sam — subtlety trumps bombast every time.
Of course, on a day when bombs — or at least their Las Vegas cousins, Class 1.1G fireworks — are bursting in air, subtlety's a relative concept and some red, white and blue in your wardrobe is completely appropriate. With that mind, here are 5 ways to show your patriotism without looking like Yankee Doodle Toolbag on the 4th of July.
Block Headwear makes our favorite hats. Salute the spirit of Betsy Ross by hiring a seamstress to create a new temporary hatband for you using 67 cents worth of grosgrain ribbon from M&J Trimming. Get the 7/8" size.
It's become popular in recent years to bash the French, but while America was fighting for its independence, the French gave us the spirit of Enlightment that would later inform our Constitution, military support, and, we're guessing, some pretty good pastries. Show your gratitude with this Moncler track jacket.
FINAL WORD OF ADVICE: Choose only one of these items and leave it at that. Except for the beer koozie. That goes with everything.
We are huge fans of Aaron Rodgers. He not only wins, he looks good doing it, with a laid-back but commanding presence on the field. When it comes to passing efficiency, he's the NFL's best ever for quarterbacks with at least 1500 attempts. But when it comes to dressing efficiency, he may trail even Ben Rothleisberger, and that's not a good place to be. On Letterman last night, Rodgers went just 1 for 4. The dark denim is fundamentally sound, but the untucked woven with what looks like a suit jacket is a fumble on the opening drive, and the oversized watch overthrows good taste by at least ten yards. Get this man an offensive coordinator!
With his first Super Bowl victory under his belt, people are already comparing Rodgers to Bart Starr and Joe Montana ... but for the moment, at least, Broadway Joe's legacy as the NFL's most stylish QB ever seems extremely safe.
Earlier: Ben Roethleisberger getting gang-tackled by his ridiculously oversized jacket, shirt, and t-shirt.
Q: I met a man at a party and he was impeccably dressed in a charcoal suit and black tie. We have been seeing each other and he dresses very well; however, he has let it slip that he wears a Tommy Bahama watch and thinks that J. Crew floral shirts are acceptable "during vacations." Should I give him the benefit of the doubt, or kick him to the curb? Thanks for the help. --Katelin
A: Katelin, the Tommy Bahama watch is definitely a red flag but you could fix that problem by buying him a watch for Christmas. There are still 4 days left. Regarding the floral shirt, they're OK during vacations in Hawaii.
So he's warm. And remember, as Tom Brady clearly demonstrates, many MBs are made, not born. We say give him the benefit of the doubt. If you look at our graph of the American male below, the vast majority need work and with your help, this guy sounds like he could be on the verge of breaking through.
Q: Hey MB: I happen to be a huge fan of the Burberry brand and have not been able to decide on a bastardly dastardly watch for an up-and-coming MB like myself. Are these watches ok for me to have as an MB? What is your take? I like the fabric because I think it is ultra classic. Could this be worn for any occasion? Let me know. --Nick
A: Nick, we object to this purchase for at least two reasons. First, this watch is 44mm in diameter, which, unless you have Popeye-sized forearms, is in clear violation of the 40mm max diameter watch rule. Second, it's $380 at Amazon and has a quartz movement! Quartz vs. mechanical is the equivalent of motorboats vs. sailboats, or gas fireplaces vs. wood fireplaces, or fake breasts vs. real breasts. You can probably guess which side we come down on, but just to be clear: go real. Always. You can even save 100 bucks (at least) on a mechanical watch at westcoastime, and if you're digging the fabric strap and can accept a non-Burberry color combo, use your savings to pick up a couple of Zulu or Bond straps.
Q: So you have me sold on O&W Kartargo but I can't decide on whether to get it with the date or without. I feel like it looks so much better without, yet I hate to have to grab for my cellphone to know the date, that's something The Situation would do, actually I wouldn't be surprised if he already has a phone app that says the time in his Jersey dialect. --John
A: We own both and vote for the ND, and not just because it looks cleaner. The date turns out to be more trouble than it's worth, adjusting for 30 and 28-day months with little discernible benefit. Unless you're a notary public or frequent check writer, how often do you need to instantly know the date? Usually a ballpark like "early November" or "late October" is all you need until you're in front of your calendar.
Q: I'm shopping for watches and stumbled upon Skagen's line of titanium mesh watches. Normally that would sound like something of a gimmick to me, but they seem really sharp. The watches are super lightweight, and I think the particular model I like, the 233LTTM, meets the MB rule of understatement. More importantly, I'm told that these watches can really take a beating, and I tend to be rough on watches. What do you think? Thank you. --Shane
A: When we think of worthwhile Danish exports, we think Lego, or Carlsberg, or May
Andersen, not modernly styled titanium watches. For a few bucks more we instead recommend watches with Swiss (vs. Japanese) movements that can really take a beating like, say, war.
Not to sound like a broken record, but when in the market for a watch first see what Howard Marx has available, and if you have the dough the Kartago is an excellent choice you will be repeatedly complimented on.
Q: I'm starting a new school year on Tuesday and want to know: what does an MB teacher wear? --Eric
A: As is often the case, movies hold the answer. You want to set yourself apart from the Phys. Ed. teacher, but not go too dressy in the direction of Mr. Hand or Ben Stein's famed economics teacher; it's a slippery slope towards administration, or Looking Like Principal Richard Vernon.
While this was the least believable movie role since Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough, Bradley Cooper's artfully disheveled prep-school teacher in The Hangover strikes a fine balance: vest (one size smaller than normal), sleeve-rolled chambray work shirt, undone repp tie, accessorized with a vintage watch in a black nylon band.
What's your take on Toy Watch? I'm feeling quite tempted to buy myself one but there's a little voice of doubt inside myself telling me to stay away... --CD
A: Listen to that little voice, CD, because it's noticed that Toy Watch -- which look like a Rolex humped a Swatch -- was once sold at Barney's and Bergdorf Goodman, and is now available at Sears. These were watches of the moment, and that moment happened three years ago.
When a reader recently asked us about watches, we endorsed the gray and black stripe "Bond strap" worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger and sold at Westcoastime. This prompted several responses from our readers. Here are a couple:
Q: Saw your recent post about military inspired watches and the "Bond-band". In my follow up search, I found these folks who took spy fantasy authenticity to a new level. After studying a high-res freeze fame of MB Connery's wrist in Goldfinger, they had that strap reproduced down to the precise hue of every thread. http://corvuswatch.com/index.asp?page=watchbands
After some investigation, we've determined that it's actually the same U.K. company, Phoenix Straps, that manufactures the "Bond Strap" sold at Westcoastime and the "Real Bond Strap" sold at Corvus. To make things even more complex, Phoenix Straps sells a version of the Bond Strap itself on British eBay. There are almost as many real Bond Straps as there are James Bonds.
So why are there more than one and which one is the real one?
The way we hear it, GQ was doing a feature on Bond-inspired apparel many years ago and asked Phoenix Straps about producing a copy of the strap. TV technology being what it was in the 20th century, all involved believed the strap to be black and grey. And thus the first iteration of the Bond Strap was born. This is the version Westcoastime sells.
But you know how it goes -- time marches on, technology improves. Equipped with Blu-ray and HD, the folks at Corvus viewed Goldfinger and Thunderball and decided the true colors of the Bond Strap were not grey and black, as long believed, but rather black and olive green with thin red stripes. Corvus asked Phoenix Straps to produce a new version of the strap and began selling it on its site.
If you think that's the end of it, you don't know many Bond geeks. Some people believe the Corvus version is correct. Others insist the red stripe is a phenomenon of Blu-ray rendering technology and not an accurate representation of the original.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Straps also sells a slight variation on the new Corvus version: This third version -- the one available on British eBay -- replaces the olive green of the Corvus version with the traditional grey of the pre Blu-ray version.
So which strap to buy? We recommend that you watch the Blu-ray version of Goldfinger and follow your heart.
Q: I'm looking for an MB watch that won't break the bank (I've got about $300 to spend). Show me what you got. --Gerard
A: Browse through our watch channel and you'll notice we're partial to military/military-inspired watches. They're simple, understated, affordable, proportional to most wrist sizes, and go with just about everything.
Our all-time favorite watch in this style is the Ollech & Wajs Kartargo ($399). If you can swing the extra $99 this is a fantastic watch. If not, look at this WWII vintage O & W with the Swiss ETA-2801 movement ($248). The automatic version is sold out and production of it has stopped. This manual version is still available in limited quantities. It requires daily winding but that's part of its charm. If you like what you see, act sooner rather than later, as it will sell out eventually too. With the spare change you can buy a strap or two, perhaps the the gray and black stripe "Bond strap" worn by Connery (with a Rolex Submariner) in Goldfinger.
We've previously noted Oakley is the King Midas of contemporary design. Anything it touches instantly turns toolbaggy. In this case, however, they've added a new STD twist: the first watch line with a bad case of metallic genital warts.
Q: Hi, I inherited a vintage 1950s stainless Rolex Oyster that looks almost identical to this photo. Would you recommend the standard stainless Oyster band for this baby or perhaps a black nylon strap? --Chris
A: This watch can only be worn with the stainless bracelet. Why? Because the dial is silver. After a couple of recent watch/band questions it's time we simply and clearly state the rule: a black nylon strap is allowed only if your watch's dial is black.
Q: I've got a 1960 gold faced Omega Constellation that I just repaired. Do I understand correctly that gold faced watches are more formal than darker faced watches? If so, could you please recommend a good band to dress it down suitably? Perhaps a matte black nylon number? --Will
A: First, gold-faced is certainly dressier than dark-faced. Second, putting a nylon band on this watch would the equivalent of putting snowtires on a limosine. Finally, while we prefer silver over gold, you own a cool watch. Just put a black leather band on it and enjoy at the next wedding/funeral/church service.
Q: I have a problem. It's called small wrists. 40mm watches are too big, but 30-36mm are good. Everything you've suggested so far (Westcoastime, etc...) have watches that are way too big for me. Can you suggest something smaller for us skinnier folk? And under $400? --Alan J.
Q: I'm trying to find a casual everyday type watch to buy that I can just snap on with any outfit. I don't really know if I should go with a leather, steel, or nylon strap. I was looking for something affordable a college student in his 20s can wear. People told me to try out Nixon watches but sometimes I feel their watches are a little toolbaggy at times. Help! --Brian
The Watch: Nixon often triestoohard, so choose wisely. We're fans of vintage, so do some poking around ebay or your local antique shops; you might find something cool. For new, our favorite watch shop is Howard Marx's Westcoastime*. He just got in 50 custom pieces of the Ollech & Wajs "Kartago." This is a fantastic Swiss-made watch that definitely meets your "snap on with any outfit" criterion. It's likely a little much for a college student's budget ($429.00), but unlike anything from Nixon, you'll enjoy it through graduation, marriage, kids, and likely beyond.
Q: I stumbled upon your site about a month ago and have checked it every day since. I see that you are high on Panerai watches, but also say that you think the maximum size watch an MB should wear is 40 mm. I have a Panerai which it 44 mm and I think that is the smallest watch they make. So I'm confused do you like Panerai watches or are they too big? I think it is perfect. Thanks. --Joe
A: We like Panerai and no, they're not too big. The Luminor GMT PAM 00244 is 40MM as are several other new models. Older 40MM models like the gorgeous PAM00159 (pictured) and PAM00160 are also available on eBay and and other web shops.
If you think it's perfect, chances are you've got thick, Popeye-like forearms. In that case, 44MM is in proportion. For normal landlubbers a 44MM watch can look like you've glued a minute hand on a dinner plate.
Q: I'm in the market for a new watch. But other than following the comformity of society, I want to go my own direction. I want a time piece that will be a conversation piece. I found on the web these Eduardo Milieris Watchcraft watches. Can this be the answer I am looking for? --Nate
A: If you want to look like the most punctual Roman slave ever, we say buy one.
DETAILS' Courtney Colavita says the fat Windsor is "guaranteed to make you look like a dick," and we couldn't agree more. Just have a look at Jeremy Piven (off the set of Entourage): big tie knot, big watch ... he's clearly overcompensating for something that is quite small, other than his 5' 6" stature.
Q: I've been browsing through the site and I must say it's spot on ... great reviews with a great sense of humor... I wanted to ask what's the MB stance on Fossil Watches.... Are they over used? Are they too mainstream? Are they worthy of a Magnificent Bastard? --Luis
A: Luis, sucking up will get you nowhere. OK, well, maybe somewhere: we'll answer your question. We're not big fans of Fossil watches for the reasons you suggest, and a couple of others: 1.) most exceed the 40mm size maximum, and 2.) their quality isn't the greatest. On the other hand, the price is right, so if you're young (high school or early college) you could do worse, but once you hit the big 2-0 it's time to upgrade.
Q: Since you mention watches ... any advice on a good-looking digital watch? I can read an analog, but hate having to. --David
A: When the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 9...
If you insist on digital then why not go nerd ironic with a vintage Casio calculator? Otherwise, we recommend the Timex Ironman, worn by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and President Bill Clinton (bottom), who is at least 50% Magnificent Bastard. It's a watch that says, "Yes, of course I can afford a more expensive timepiece, but I am practical, I am a brother in arms with the common man, and I may even jog on occasion."
Q: So thanks to you guys I've taken quite a turn for the bastardly -- started tucking in sport shirts, stopped wearing a thumb ring and bracelet, etc. -- and it's made a huge difference in how I present and feel about myself. So thanks for that.
Anyway, I've got a question regarding watches, specifically how to wear them. I've always taken to wearing them upside-down on my right wrist -- I'm right-handed -- but I'm not sure if comes off as TTH. Where do you guys stand? Or does it even make much of a difference?
Also, how do you guys feel about rubber/nylon straps for watches? I've never been a fan of stainless steel 'cause it scuffs too easily and slides around too much. --Michael
A: Thanks for the kind words and we're glad we've been of assistance. Now tuck in that shirt, son! You're slippin'.
Anyhow, regarding watch placement, right wrist is OK but perhaps reconsider the upside-down part. With your positioning there's wasted motion involved in telling time, and over time could lead to repetitive stress injury.
Regarding bands, you're going to get us to add a corollary to the Principle of Organic Materials. Of course, a dress watch almost always demands a leather band, but for anything sporty we too prefer nylon to steel. The best band we've ever found is the Zulu strap, again from Westcoastime. You will be pleased with that purchase.
Q: I work for a jeweler and would like to buy my brother a watch. He will be retiring from the USMC this coming fall and will need a civilian watch. Are Tag Heuer, Tissot, or Movado MB-approved? If not, brand recommendations? --Jennifer
A: McQueen wore a Tag Heuer, but so does Tiger Woods, and that's a dealbreaker because he's a toolbag. Tissot makes some nice watches and the price is right. Movado is far too civilian-y and fragile-looking for a guy who could probably survive for a week solely on bullets and Marlboros.
We'd suggest going with something sporty and perhaps even military-inspired. He'll always be a Marine. Take a look at Westcoastime for some very affordable options. For a little more money, you could not go wrong with an Omega Seamaster. Works for Bond. If you're interested in becoming All-Time Favorite Sister of All-Time, see what kind of discount you can get on a Panerai.
Q: Hello, I've got a question about watch shape. I prefer square shape watches over round ones. Which is more MB? And which should be worn in what situation? --PK
A: JFK wore a square Omega at the Inaugural Ball on January 19, 1960 (pictured), and on a lot of other occasions, so you're in good company. However, square is definitely more formal and serious, and those kinds of wearing opportunities are few and far between. After all, how many times do you plan on taking the oath of office? A much more sensible choice for an every day wearer is round.
In spite of the Windsor knot, and in spite of his mangled pinkie finger (obviously a result of playing tackle at Dartmouth), Henry "The Hammer" Paulson looks like the kind of guy you want running a $700 billion bailout. That watch is a Timex Ironman, available at Target for $34.99.
Q: I'm looking for a new watch, and I thought I'd get the official MB opinion on leather vs. metal bands since I do respect your opinion here. Personally, I feel like the leather band is a nice throwback to the classics. Am I alone on this one? —Joe
Don't worry Joe, you're not alone. Leather is a nice throwback to the classics and we won't fault you for choosing it. However, may we recommend you consider eschewing both leather and metal in favor of nylon grosgrain? It satisfies the MB principle of understatement, and has greater versatility than either leather or metal. Grosgrain's naturally casual so it's easy to dress it down, but you can also dress it up -- way up -- as demonstrated by James Bond in Goldfinger.
Q: Wristwatch magnificence or malfeasance? Let's say that I wanted to protect my original Panerai watch from pick-pockets and drifters stealing it, would it be at all acceptable to drop $208 at exactreplica.com for my Panerai reproduction. Is that the definition of poser-wear? The reproduction looks pretty good. —Kevin
A: First of all, we can virtually guarantee that the movement in the repro is going to be a piece of shit that will leave you disappointed, and you'll end up wearing the real McCoy anyhow. In that case, consider ponying up an extra $136.95 and buying the Advanced Taser M-18 to zap any pick-pocket, drifter, or other unlucky motherfucker wanting to mess with your magnificent watch.
Only a smidge bigger and Flavor Flav is going to start wearing these watches around his neck. Yesterday on Fox's NFL Sunday, both Curt Menefee and Jimmy Johnson sported these monsters. (Big Ben looks only slightly less awful on Menefee.) Thankfully, "Terry" and "Howie" both abstained.
Q: Looking for a stainless steel bracelet analog watch but don't want to spend a fortune. Any recs? —Jim
A: By "a fortune" we're assuming you mean anything over a couple of thousand bucks. That's too bad, because it rules out the Panerai Luminor GMT (left), a 100% badass watch and probably our all-time favorite. They can be had for around 6K on ebay. Some Magnificent Bastard staffers are considering organ donation as a funding source.
Not quite as cool but a significantly more affordable option is the Omega Seamaster Professional (center). This is the watch worn by James Bond as played by Pierce Brosnan ... wait, it gets better ... and James Bond as resurrected by Dan Craig in Casino Royale. Available at Amazon for $1595.
If you're not feeling that flush and still want a very nice watch, check out this Ollech & Wajs Kartago (right) for just $335 from Westcoastime. If the Katargo doesn't suit you, take a look at the other O&W options. We can speak from experience that O&W provides superb value, and Howard Marx at Westcoastime has the deals.
2 parts Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 part sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula or Dolin Rouge)
1/4 part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Shake or swirl lightly, garnish with a lemon twist.