Marius Masalar
June 21st, 2024

I guess I collect analog watches now

Lately, I’ve found myself captivated by analog watches.

I spent a long time admiring them from afar, mostly as intricate little capsules of human ingenuity and craftsmanship—fascinating to admire, but unobtainable. I couldn’t make sense of owning one in a world where the cheapest digital watch is more accurate than the most expensive analog.

My problem, of course, was thinking of analog watches as useful. They’re not. And I don’t mean that unkindly, but in the same way a Leica is jewelry that happens to take photographs, a high-end analog watch is jewelry that happens to tell the time.

Swapping out the lens of practicality with one of aesthetics and artistry allowed me to see the whole hobby in a new way. And it’s made it possible for me to feel ok about dipping my toes into owning and wearing analog watches.

Plus, apparently collecting them is one of the ways rich people "make their money into more money”…Gotta start somewhere, right?

What about the Apple Watch?

I’ve worn an Apple Watch since they launched.

Starting with the original Series 0, then the Series 4, and now the Ultra 2, the Apple Watch has been a core part of my daily carry. But compared to other pieces of technology in my life, that’s a pretty relaxed upgrade cadence.

And it’s at least in part because I don’t really like how it looks. That’s something I can't fix by turning notifications off or using Focus modes. 

Don't get me wrong, the Apple Watch is practical, useful, and I love mine for what it does. But I also recognize that wearing it doesn't feel particularly special. It doesn't say anything about me, or let me say much about myself. I've curated a decent set of personalized faces and strap options, but no matter how you dress it, an Apple Watch always looks like an Apple Watch. And sometimes that's just not what I'm after.

My friend recently asked how I think about wearing my Apple Watch vs. wearing the small but growing collection of analog watches I’m going to tell you about in a second.

The answer turns out to be simple: I wear my Apple Watch when I’m alone or going about daily life, where its myriad capabilities matter. I wear my analog watches when I’m spending quality time with others, looking to disconnect, or going to an event where I care about how I look. 

Or, of course, when my Apple Watch is charging.

My Apple Watch gives me easy access to everything that’s going on. It keeps me connected to the important people and events in my life. But when I’m actually with those important people out in the real world, my analog watches feel more appropriate somehow. Wearing an analog watch reduces distractions, and reminds me that I’m perfectly capable of living in the moment without the temptation to check for notifications or news from elsewhere. I can find out what the weather's like by stepping outside, or letting the raindrops splash on my face as I look at the sky.

If I’m bored, I’m bored in the company of friends—and there are worse ways to spend one’s time.

My (current) collection

I own three analog watches, bought in this order:

  • Maven MUS-1 
  • Timex Weekender
  • Timex Expedition Acadia
Three mechanical watches, a Maven MUS-01, Timex Weekender, and Timex Expedition Arcadia, are laid out on a walnut desktop. They're arranged side-by-side at a 45 degree angle so their straps look like stripes passing across the image, with the dials centered in the middle of the frame.
My modest collection, arranged side by side in the order I purchased them.

Though I suppose this story wouldn’t be complete without a fond mention of the true first watch in my collection: a Fossil model that my then-girlfriend-now-wife bought me for my birthday during university. I wore that watch for years—pretty much until the Apple Watch came about.

Speaking of priceless, I won't comment on value as that's always an individual subject. For the record, I didn't pay full retail price for any of these watches because all three of them were on sale when I bought them, often for a significant discount.

Shall we?

Maven MUS-01 Orange P 40mm: $270 CAD (MSRP)

Close-up of the Maven watch's dial, with a blue strap framing the white face and grey dial markings.
Maven MUS-01

The Maven is thin, elegant, minimal, and understated. It’s the included parachute strap’s bright orange that makes it distinctive, especially when the corresponding pop of orange at 12 o’clock on the dial catches your eye. It gets a lot of wrist time, despite not being equipped with a date complication—a feature I strongly prefer to have.

It has one tragic flaw: it’s not particularly legible. Not even during the day, let alone after dark, where the presence of “Swiss Super-LumiNova” on the hands is barely discernible. A little more contrast in the dial would go a long way. But at least the branding isn’t ostentatious.

The Maven seen from a lower angle, showing off the thinner case and minimal design.
Maven MUS-01

Otherwise, I think its slim 40mm size suits my wrist better than either of the other two, and that orange parachute band it ships with is both comfortable and cool. I love the hit of colour.

If you’re wondering why I don’t have the strap on the Maven if I like it so much, it’s because I moved that strap to the analog watch that spends the most time on my wrist: the Timex Weekender.

Timex Weekender 38mm: typically $30–50 CAD

A 38mm Timex Weekender on a walnut desktop, with a bright orange strap.
Timex Weekender

The Weekender is a delightful watch. It’s small, charming, and extremely easy to read. I think it’s a little too small for my wrist, to be honest, but it looks cheerful and unpretentious in a way that really appeals to me.

What doesn’t appeal to me is the sound. If you’re at all familiar with the hobby—which I most assuredly was not when I made the purchase—you'll know many Timex models, including the Weekender, are notorious for making a very loud ticking sound. How loud? It was the second thing I noticed (after the looks) when I put it on. Maybe I’m too used to the silence of the Apple Watch, but this thing sounds like I’m wearing a grandfather clock for ants. Like its poor case is struggling to contain some tiny hammer, slowly forging the calming passage of time into a staccato reminder of how that journey inevitably ends...

It’s a loud watch is what I’m saying.

The third thing I noticed about the Weekender was the incredible potency of Timex’s proprietary “Indiglo” backlighting technology. As a solution to being able to see your watch at night, I strongly prefer this to some dubiously-luminous paint on a watch’s hands. With Indiglo, a simple press of the crown summons a glorious bath of light that washes over the entire watch face, casting an even, bright blue-green glow over the hands and dial markings so you can read them effortlessly—even in complete darkness.

Why don’t more watchmakers do this?

The Weekender seen from a lower angle, showing off the extremely legible dial.
Timex Weekender

Incidentally, the one thing you can’t see…is the date. Because the Weekender, like my MUS-1 before it, lacks a date complication. I swear I prefer to have one, I just couldn’t resist this watch.

Here’s the thing: the Weekender is cheap, sturdy, and charismatic. It pairs well with the comfy blue strap it shipped with, giving off a summery vibe that suits my preferences…but again I slightly prefer how the orange parachute strap from the Maven feels. So the Maven gets the blue strap while I wear the orange on my Weekender. At least until I pick up a few more 20mm strap options—a lug size that all three of my current analog watches share, conveniently enough.

Which brings me, reluctantly, to the third.

Timex Expedition Acadia 40mm: $80 (MSRP)

A Timex Expedition Acadia watch sits on a walnut desktop, with a canvas & leather strap.
Timex Expedition Acadia

The Acadia was a mistake. Literally.

Timex’s Expedition family of watches is fairly extensive, it turns out, and I thought "Acadia" was just the name of this particular colour combination (which I do like). But no. It’s an entirely separate (and more affordable) model than the one I intended to buy as a camping watch. I thought I was getting a great deal, but really I was just buying a cheaper watch. I spent $15 on it and I feel ripped off. The materials are unpleasantly poor in quality, the case doesn’t sit on my wrist very well, and the watch comes with a stiff, uncomfortable strap that looks like it was fashioned from the elbow pads of your great uncle’s fishing sweater.

The worst part is that it takes the Weekender's ticking sound as a challenge. Perhaps it's because of its poor quality, thinner case, but the budget movement that powers this thing manages to be even louder than its companion, clacking along like a highschool band percussionist. Though, admittedly, it keeps better time.

Its one saving grace? The Expedition Acadia has a date complication…and Indiglo. Okay, fine, it has two redeeming qualities. So why do I still have the thing? Spite, I think.

The Expedition Acadia seen from a lower angle, showing off the bright orange seconds hand and date complication.
Timex Expedition Acadia

Look folks, I just said I’m doing the collecting thing. Not that I’m any good at it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go set a price alert for a Citizen Garrison Eco-Drive.