As if the golf wasn’t enough, I have myself another old-man hobby. Or I nearly had another old man hobby, I should say.

Back in July I saw an online ad for a watch sale at some random store. It wasn’t a store I was interested in, but I clicked through just to see what was available. The watch I had been wearing daily for nearly five years – a Citizen Eco-Drive – was starting to get beat up a little bit and I’d had my eyes open to get something new for awhile.

Scrolling through the watches for sale on that site triggered something in my brain. I started doing deep research into watches. I started following watch sites. I even listened to some watch-specific podcasts. I always knew there was a market for expensive watches. One of the most expensive things I own is a gorgeous Maurice Lacroix dress watch that belonged to my stepdad. Still I was floored as I read through reviews of “affordable” watches and got to the bottom of the article and saw they were “reasonably priced” for over $1000. That was not the market I was in.

I was really drawn to the Orient line of seriously affordable, automatic dive watches. You can grab them on Amazon for less than $150 most of the time, and they are generally considered to be the equal of Seiko dive watches that are two-to-three times their price. I had one in my cart multiple times, but each time I would go back to read through reviews one final time one particular lukewarm review would stick out. I didn’t want to spent even that modest amount of money on something that I would not be happy with. So I kept looking.

I was also attracted to watches by Jack Mason, a Texas-based company. They looked really nice and were generally in the $200–300 range I was willing to spend. The watches in that range were all quartz, so I wouldn’t be jumping into the world of mechanical watches. But, I thought, if this is going to be a hobby, you start with something affordable and then wait until you find the perfect, more expensive, mechanical watch to add later.

So I grabbed a great looking aviator watch off their clearance page for $117 in late August. Every time I wore it I got compliments. And I loved looking at it.

I continued my research about watches, building a want list for something to compliment this new, casual watch and my stepdad’s dress watch.

Then Apple released Series 5 of the Apple Watch, which featured the always-on display and I was intrigued.

I had resisted the Apple Watch for several reasons. The biggest was expense vs. life. I figured I’d rather spend $500 on a watch that could literally last forever than $300 on one that will only last a few years, between battery life and software obsolescence. Especially when I’m on a similar purchase cycle for my phone. Speaking of phones, I was just fine getting notifications on my iPhone. And I thought the whole requirement to wake the watch to see the time was dumb. I have lots of friends who have Apple Watches and love them, but I remained unconvinced.

But these new models intrigued me. I read reviews, listened to podcasts, and followed the general buzz. Still, for all my interest the whole cost/life ratio still bugged me. For about a week I thought about just getting a Series 3 at the new discounted price that was in line with my original watch budget. But the more I researched and the more I thought about it, I figured if you’re going to take the plunge, you might as well get the latest with the always-on screen.

So in early October I bought a Titanium Series 5 with a stainless steel band.

I kid, my wife would kick my ass if I came home with an $800 watch. Especially one that I would need to replace before C gets to college.

No, I got an aluminum Series 5 with the Alaskan Blue sport band. Non-cellular version.

Upon purchase, I figured I would wear the Apple Watch about half of the time. When I went to the gym or did some other kind of workout, and when I was out of the house during the day to make sure I didn’t miss messages from or about my kids while they were in school. Other times I’d switch back to the Jack Mason watch.

I misjudged my use of the Apple Watch badly. It is fantastic and I wear it all the time. I just put on my Jack Mason watch for the first time the other night for M’s cross country banquet. Other than that, I always have my Apple Watch on. I’ve found that I do sometimes miss notifications on my phone that I need to know, either because it is muted and in my pocket, or I left it somewhere else in the house. There is definitely a peace of mind factor as a parent knowing you won’t miss a message from your kids.

I use the fitness functions every day. I like seeing the weather conditions immediately instead of having to wake my phone and open a weather app. I love being able to change the watch faces and the complications they show based on the occasion or my mood.

I’m likely not using the full functions of the watch at this point. But I think I’m using enough to justify the entry-level Series 5. More importantly, it’s kept me from looking at other watches to add to my collection. So, really, it’s saving me money!

Since I bought it I’ve added a knock-off stainless steel bracelet so I can dress it up if needed. I will still bust out the Maurice Lacroix for truly dressy occasions. I also just ordered a leather band off Etsy for moments when the sports band is too casual but I still want to wear the Apple Watch.

I am still following a lot of the watch sites I first found late in the summer. I’m fascinated by the art of making real, mechanical watches; the economics of both manufacturing and collecting them; and just love looking at a nice watch. Being unexpectedly committed to the smart watch lifestyle means this will just be a casual pastime. The golf stuff will have to scratch my old man itches for now.[1]

  1. I know, that sounds grosser than I mean it to.  ↩