In the summer of 2012, on a family vacation in Northern California, we took a day trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a picturesque and historic town on the Monterey Peninsula. While strolling through the promenade, I stumbled upon a shop with hundreds (if not thousands) of vintage Rolexes — cases upon cases of classic Datejusts with faces in oceanic hues and pristine Submariners from the 1960s and 1970s. I was mesmerized.
Now, I’d never considered myself a “watch guy.” I’d never been exposed to the world of horology in any meaningful way beyond admiring watches on people’s wrists and in the pages of magazines. In other words, I assumed watch collecting was a hobby for experts who possessed a taste level and lived a lifestyle that intimidated me.
Sensing my intrigue, a friendly and knowledgeable salesperson encouraged me to try on pieces that caught my eye. Learning about the brand’s history and iconography in this way sparked a new-found appreciation for watches, and by the end of our session, I vowed that when I turned 25 in four years, I’d return to Carmel and buy a vintage Rolex. (The mission remains incomplete.)
A year after that trip, my parents gave me a university graduation present: my first entry-level watch, a Daniel Wellington Classic St Mawes with an eggshell white face, rose gold-tone case, and blue and red striped fabric strap. (I had seen it in a magazine and hinted pretty heavily that I wanted it.) It made me feel sophisticated and mature, armed for the thrust of adulthood. That watch has seen me through countless job interviews, dates, cities, and weddings. I still have it nine years later, but now I’m toying with the idea of doing something that I once rolled my eyes at: buying myself a new watch for my 30th birthday.
What I’m getting at is: who we think we are — or need to be — changes over time. I never saw myself as a watch guy because I didn’t see myself in the world of watches, not until that world felt accessible to me. So when I got my first watch, it felt less like an object and more like a reflection of who I was.
This issue is a testament to that idea. Take it from our cover star, Kumail Nanjiani, whose role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe breaks the mold of what a superhero can be (sort of — have you seen how shredded he is?), so others can see themselves in that world, too. Or Ralph Macchio, the comeback Karate Kid who’s breathing new life into his beloved character.
Now, as I browse the list of our favourite watches of the year, I wonder if maybe I am a watch guy after all.