Luxury Bling Watches: Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Piaget, Breitling, Tissot & More

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The phone is the primary timepiece for 60% of 18-34 year-olds, so there’s no better time to buy a new watch than now. Sure, “wrist glances” are not as necessary as they once used to, but that may explain why today’s style is big watches, really big watches.

While I have been lusting after the Tiffany Atlas for a long time now, it’s probably a safe bet that a $7,900 watch is probably not the right message to send in today’s affordable care market, where the pauperization of certain regions demands visible restraint.

The Tiffany Atlas men’s stainless steel has beautiful Art Deco over tones, reminiscent of “Atlas Shrugged.” This stainless steel model features a black rubber and gray dial. It has a 42 mm case, chronograph function, mechanical movement with automatic winding, date window, and is water resistant to 100 meters/328 feet (10 bars). Naturally, it’s Swiss-made.

Yet the latest edition of Esquire magazine showcases ads and articles that spotlight very expensive watches, like the Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime ($11,200), IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Automatic Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2013” ($13,600) and the Raymond Weil Freelancer ($2,950).

What is it about big watches? The industry calls the trend “wrist presence” — a tongue-in-cheek reference to “web presence.” In the 90s, a watch case with a diameter of 38 mm was more than enough, with most watches sized between 33 mm and 35 mm. But now size matters, with the latest models reaching 42 mm and some even boasting a 45-mm diameter.

The big watch trend accelerated over the past decade, with watchmakers like Breitling, Franck Muller, IWC, Lange & Söhne, Omega and Panerai, plus even traditionally conservative companies like Cartier offering models with ample quantities of wrist presence.

The record holder is probably the U-Boat U-1942, a limited edition of just 29 timepieces, that measures a whopping 64 mm, or 2.5 inches. The company has throttled that size back to “only” 53 mm (ref. 6157).

Behold, a 64-mm behemoth! The Uboat U-1942, of which, thankfully, only 29 pieces were made, has a 2.50-inch diameter that screams “Yo, I got your wrist presence right here!”

Piaget Altiplano

In 1957, Piaget introduced the slimmest mechanism the world had ever seen, codenamed 9P, which was just two millimeters thick. That made way for the 12P, boasting a 2.3-mm automatic mechanism.

Ever since 1988, the Piaget Altiplano has held on to the thinnest watch record. But the Altiplano’s case size has grown in both girth and thickness, now measuring 43 mm and 5.25 mm, respectively.

But back to my decision process. You have to keep in mind that what makes a watch beautiful to one observer is highly subjective.

After deciding that the Atlas was out, my continuously shopping eyes fixated on the TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAU1113.BA0858. I always thought the Japanese and Koreans were bad at product naming, now I know better. The 42-mm TAG Heuer sells for $1,100+ and as you can see from the picture below, it has a nice white watch face:

I like this 42-mm TAG Heuer because it has a relatively reasonable price, but also because of its white dial, beautiful bezel and simplicity, for a TAG Heuer that is.

I also considered the UK’s Christopher Ward, whose C3 Malvern MK2 Chronograph ($365) captured my imagination for a spell, until I discovered that it was a manually wound watch, which tempered my enthusiasm. But’s it’s a beautiful watch nonetheless:

Christopher Ward C3UK-based Christopher Ward offers the very beautiful 39-mm C3 Malvern MK2 Chronograph for the very reasonable price of $365. Notice the C3’s elegant simplicity, beautiful stainless band, plus that gorgeous watch face texture.

Another beautiful model was the 42-mm Christopher Ward C60 Trident Automatic ($635), which is a nice Rolex look-alike. But after staring at its photo for a long time, I decided that I didn’t like the design of the watch hands and position of the date window at 4p (16:00). See how subjective judging watch esthetics can be?

After trying to pour over Amazon.com’s watch store pages one by one and giving up after viewing about 200 watches out of its total inventory of 89,635, I decided to surf watch forums where I found a recommendation for a watch that had recently shown up on my radar, the Tissot PRC 200 T014.427.11.051.01:

Tissot PRCThe 42-mm Tissot PRC 200 was a pleasant surprise. I was familiar with this brand from my days of living in Aruba, which featured many Tissot stores and advertising. This is was one of the chronographs to be mentioned in a watch forum question about top chronograph recommendations. Its sub-$700 price is remarkable for such a fine Swiss automatic with substantial wrist presence.

The Tissot is available at a reasonable $640 at Amazon.com, which is a bonus. It’s also the lead image of this story, so you can get a really good look at what Mr. Ubercool likes.

I’ve focused primarily on stainless steel watchbands. A lot of people prefer leather straps but if you’re going to switch bands anyway, it’s helpful to know that it’s easier to go from a stainless steel band to a leather band than vice versa.

No go out and get some wrist presence, and give yourself some beautiful bling to look at!

Lainie Liberti
Lainie Liberti is a recovering branding expert, who’s career once focused on creating campaigns for green - eco business, non-profits and conscious business. Dazzling clients with her high-energy designs for over 18 years, Lainie lent her artistic talents to businesses that matter.  But that was then.

In 2008, after the economy took a turn, Lainie decided to be the change (instead of a victim) and began the process of “lifestyle redesign,” a joint decision between both her and her 11-year-old son, Miro. They sold or gave away all of of their possessions in 2009 and began a life of travel, service, and exploration. Lainie and her son Miro began their open-ended adventure backpacking through Central and South America. They are slow traveling around the globe allowing inspiration to be their compass. The pair is most interested in exploring different cultures, contributing by serving, and connecting with humanity as ‘global citizens.’

Today Lainie considers herself a digital nomad who is living a location independent life. She and her son write and podcast their experiences from the road at Raising Miro on the Road of Life.
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