Despite the staggering variety of watches produced every year, your average London gent typically plumps for one of a few well-known models from a few well-known brands. It’s understandable – we’re not a nation known for our exotic dress sense, after all.
Perhaps the kaleidoscope of choice is altogether too baffling. In which case, allow us to open your mind to some watches you might not have considered, by comparison to a device with which no resident of our capital could claim to be unfamiliar – London’s fastest growing means of transport, in fact: the humble bicycle.
The similarities with mechanical watches are many; both are human-powered contraptions with finely tuned gears and wheels at their hearts, and both inspire a level of boyish obsessiveness that despairing spouses must learn to tolerate. But that’s only the start…
THE MOUNTAIN BIKE
Maybe you can’t wait to leave the smoke at the weekend so you cycle over rocky terrain; maybe you just tire of the pockmarked state of south London’s roads. In either case, only something resilient will do. Casio’s G-Shock GPW1000 (£750) brings the sturdy line into its fourth decade with GPS technology that can also sync with your smartphone.
THE EVERYDAY COMMUTER
A commuter bike needs to be unfussy, functional, tolerant of the daily grind and invisible to the light-fingered. Step forward the modestly brilliant Grand Seiko High-Beat 36000 GMT (£6,500). Steel-cased, with a solid-as-a-rock high-frequency movement, it goes with everything. With this year’s addition of a GMT hand, it also has more up its sleeve than you’re expecting.
THE THROWBACK BIKE
A well-observed trend has been the love shown for vintage-style bikes of the kind made by Pashley. Similarly, the pocket watch is alive and well. Panerai is one of the latest to the table – and it’s a beauty. With a twin-barrel, open worked movement, the Pocket Watch 3 Days (£49,300) boasts modern engineering underneath a rose gold case worthy of a 19th-century Venice Simplon locomotive.
THE CARBON-FRAMED RACER
Meet the Zenith El Primero Lightweight (£12,400). Just as nobody needs a Moda Stretto to make it up Ludgate Hill, one could argue that a watch like this – a carbon-fibre cased chronograph – is somewhat over-engineered for everyday use. But carbon bikes are crazily popular on London roads, and we’d be very surprised if this isn’t equally popular on city wrists. zenith-watches.com
To Hoxton we go, where something cheap but ineffably cool is called-for. Step forward fashion-forward Swatch and its Sistem51 (£111, below, with Tiger Urban Culture Fixie 56). Bright, light and eye-catching, it cements its fixie status with the genuinely clever credential of having its inner mechanics connected via a single central screw. Beard not included. shop.swatch.com, tigercycles.com
THE FOLDING BIKE
There may be pretenders to the throne, but in the world of folding bikes the Brompton is king. Similarly, you can’t look past Jaeger-LeCoultre’s art-deco Reverso polo watch, which flips over with a deft touch and a satisfying click. The nostalgic Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1948 (£7,600) has a plain caseback, to which anyone in a drawn-out meeting should flip, to avoid being caught clockwatching. jaeger-lecoultre.com