Unwanted Opinion: On Scratches on Luxury Watches
The scratch. The blemish, the bump, the rash; to let the patina grow.
The refinish. Kept like a garaged car, maintaining perfection, like a minty fresh watch from the showcase.
There may not be a more divisive topic in the world of watch collecting. The thought of scratches on the pristine case and bracelet of a fine Swiss watch has driven some to madness and other to an inflated pride of ownership. Which one is worse?
Let’s dig a bit deeper. Through many thought experiments and countless hours of philosophical pondering, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
A Sport Watch is a Sport Watch
Let’s not confuse a forty-year-old pickup and a Lamborghini. You can’t haul anything in your Lambo and driving an Italian sports car up a dirt road probably isn’t very smart. But then again, showing up in Monza driving a worn-out F-150 probably won’t get you the pole at the Italian Grand Prix either.
The sport watch was made to dive, fly, spelunk, and be worn while playing polo. One thing people don’t do while doing those things is worry about getting a small scratch on the left lug of their timing device. No matter if you’re competing for your pride or your life, a scratch isn’t worth it.
In their original design, most sports watches weren’t designed to be worried about. Their screw-down crowns and heavy cases were made for a purpose other than being worn with delicacy. With that said, the designers didn’t really add too many features that would keep these rugged watches scratch resistant. Large cases with flat edges don’t hide signs of wear very well. Instead, they make a movement impervious to high pressures found deep underwater.
The Versatility of the Dress Watch
The dress watch is a new invention. Having two different timekeeping devices in one’s possession was only commonplace in the last twenty to thirty years. You can thank nerds like me for that! Only serious collectors realized (or put much thought into) wearing a different watch depending on their outfit or daily schedule.
But here we are! And since we’re all interested in watches, we all understand the romance of a watch or watches that are dedicated solely for ‘dressing up’. Sure, they’re classically handsome, but remember how versatile these watches really are; specifically, their rounded cases (harder to scratch), textured bezels (easier to hide blemishes) and leather straps or multi-link bracelets, which hide wear well.
Unpopular Opinion: Wear the Watch You Want to Scratch
Let’s face it—things you use show that you use it. You’re never going to be able to wear a watch for fifty years and not have it look like you did. Scratch resistant only goes so far. Most luxury watchmakers only recommend a very small number (think around 5) of refinishing’s to be done in the entire lifetime of a watch. Think on that, especially if you’re looking to pass your watch down to the next generation.
Look, I’m a fan of new and shiny as much as the next guy. But I’m here to advocate for the scratch. Let the watch you wear show that you wore it. If you don’t want to scratch the watch you’re wearing, leave it in the box. Have some fun—wear your watch and worry less.