If you could only keep three watches, which three would they be, and why? We're posing this question to some of the world's most noted watch collectors. In this month's entry of Three-Watch Collection: Matt Scannell (@officialverticalhorizon), songwriter, guitarist, and founder of Vertical Horizon.
"My first watch was a manual-wind Hamilton field watch that my father purchased from the L.L. Bean catalog in the late 1970’s. I bought my first “proper” watch in 1996 — an Omega Seamaster 300M 2531.80 — when I signed my first music publishing deal. I wore it always and everywhere. I was obsessed with it.
With each passing year, I’ve gone deeper and deeper down the watch-lover’s wormhole. Modern watches are great in that they have modern tolerances, which can mean that they are more durable and stand up better to the abuses of daily life, but ultimately vintage watches call to me more. I love how two examples of the same model from the same year can develop completely different personalities over time. There’s a romance there for me, something that ties me into the passage of time, and ultimately helps me to be grateful for the time I’m being given. These watches have been part of peoples’ lives before me, and they will be part of other peoples’ lives when I’m gone.
If I could only keep three of my watches, they’d obviously need to be watches that give me that “buzz” every time I put them on. They’d need to be no-brainer watches — watches that don’t have any quirks that are “charming” when worn occasionally, but could become maddening if I only had three to choose from. I’d rather they not have a date function, because A) I can’t be bothered to set the date on my watch, B) my phone knows what the date is, and, most importantly, C) I think most watch designs look better without a date window throwing the symmetry of the dial in the dumpster.
I don’t want to keep only three of my watches. You’re cruel, Gear Patrol. But okay, let’s do this..."
1968 Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 ("Meters First")
"I grew up spending summers on Cape Cod, and seeing many Submariners on many badass sailors’ and divers’ wrists. The Oyster bracelet was, and in my opinion still is, the best looking steel bracelet. Period. I never dreamt that I would actually own one someday — that was almost inconceivable — but I knew they were cool. Like, really cool. I could be one of those guys who only collects vintage no-date Subs and gets lost in the subtly beautiful (and incredibly nerdy) minutiae. I know that drives a lot of other collectors crazy, but I neither want nor aspire to a highly-varied collection — I just like what I like.
There’s a simplicity and elegance to the meters-first Subs from the late 1960's that I just love. The Maxi-dial variants are a bit bolder and a bit brasher — a bit more seventies — but the late sixties watches are...well...very sixties. Very crisp, clean, and elegant. No one element is trying too hard or shouting at you — it’s just a cohesive, brilliant design that had been refined incrementally (as Rolex has continued to do with so many of its watches) since the model’s first release in 1954.
I bought this one from my dear friend Lionel — actually, more accurately, I wore him down until he gave it up. It’s in incredible condition — the tritium lume is “puffy” and has aged to a lovely golden hue, the dial is unmarred by drags or debris, the chamfers are clear, and the edges on the bottom of the case and lugs feel sharp to the touch. It’s a bit of a time machine. On some levels it’s a cliché to choose a Sub, just like it’s a bit of a cliché to drive a 911, but I think when something is right, it’s right — for myriad reasons and on myriad levels — and the 5513 Meters-first Rolex Submariner is just...right."
1967 Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 105.012-65
"This is The Moon Watch. Well, not this exact watch, but this is the model that was worn by many of the Gemini and Apollo mission astronauts. Every time I look at this watch I’m reminded of greater men and women than me doing greater things than I’ll ever do, which sucks on the one hand, but is very inspiring on the other.
If the no-date Sub is a perfect design in terms of its refinement and simplicity, then the Speedmaster is a perfect design on the other end of the spectrum. There is a lot of information on display here, yet it is easy to read at a glance. Details abound — everything from the seconds track of the chronograph seconds hand, to the various steps of the dial and subdials, to the applied Omega logo, to the narrow T’s, to the incredible angles and lyre lugs of the Huguenin Freres case — there are so many nuances to absorb.
Like a film that gets better with repeated viewings, the Speedmaster is a watch design gift that keeps on giving. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you notice another, intriguing detail. And that’s just on the outside — the fact that this watch has the legendary Omega/Lemania 321 column wheel chronograph movement beating away on the inside just adds to its allure. I bought this watch from Eric Wind (@ericmwind), who has become a trusted dealer and friend. The extract from the Omega archives, helpfully procured for me by my friend Nadav (@chronoholic), indicates it was produced in January, 1967, and sold from the US Army European Exchange System. Again, greater men and women than me… "
1968 Omega Seamaster 300 ref. 165.024
"One of the first watches I became obsessed with was the Rolex MilSub. I especially liked its sword hands and fully graduated bezel. As I did a little more research into the development of the MilSub, I found that the sword hands were originally featured (in slightly different form) on the Omega Seamaster 300, and given that a MilSub was slightly out of my budget, I waited patiently and found a “good” Seamaster.
Mine is a US model 165.024 with the 17-jewel cal. 550 movement and Centrale Boîtes case. This watch gets me every time. It has lived quite a life. The case has bumps and bruises, and the bakelite bezel has some discoloration, but the tritium lume on the dial and hands is a sight to behold. As much as the “big triangle” Seamasters from this era get a lot of attention —and deservedly so — I think the near-perfect symmetry of the 12, 3, 6, 9 dial is fantastic in its own right. I also love the pop of white on the seconds hand. This watch is not particularly elegant or refined, like the Submariner. On a Phoenix NATO it wears like a tool created for a specific task, and it is all the better for it."