Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
Q: Just saw on J.Crew's website that J.Crew has teamed with Tourneau to create a watch by former watch makers Mougin & Piquard. I think it would be a great watch to add to the collection. What's your opinion on how MB it is and is it worth the $425 price tag?
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 said it before, but quartz vs. a mechanical movement is the equivalent of motorboats vs. sailboats, or gas fireplaces vs. wood fireplaces, or fake breasts vs. real breasts. It's a corollary to the long-standing MB principle of organic materials. For around $300 you can get a decent Swiss-made military-inspired mechanical watch and save enough money to buy a cord of firewood.
ELSEWHERE: The "quartz crisis" that laid waste to Mougin & Picard and many other Swiss mechanical watch manufacuters.
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?
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.
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.
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 looking for an MB watch that won't break the bank (I've got about $300 to spend). Show me what you got.
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.
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!
The Watch: Nixon often tries too hard, 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.
The Strap: We've previously argued in favor of nylon, and definitely recommend it as the best choice alongside the casual wardrobe of the typical college student. Now that it's summer, mix in a stripe of color.
* We have no relationship with Westcoastime beyond being regular customers.
Q: Looking for a stainless steel bracelet analog watch but don't want to spend a fortune. Any recs?
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.