An Introduction: Dandy Watches
by Martin Green
There is always something special about kicking off a new series of articles. It is like unwrapping a new notebook, sitting down with your favorite pen in hand (like I do with one in My Quest For The Ultimate Fountain Pen), and beginning a new adventure.
This particular adventure will take us to a very special part of the watch world: the so-called dandy watch.
What on earth is a dandy watch?
Of course there is no official, universally accepted, or legally binding description of what a dandy watch is – which is why I’m going to coin one.
When you think about it, there are a lot of terms in Swiss watchmaking that we use all the time where we kind of know what we are talking about, but there is no general consensus about the exact definition. A great example of this is the ultra-thin watch. Does this term apply to the encased watch or only the movement? At which height does thin become ultra-thin? When does a movement go from “regular” to “thin”?
There are no set parameters that a watch must meet before it can be called ultra-thin or even thin. These make great topics to talk about with watch-minded friends over dinner and drinks.
The three meanings of the word dandy
To determine what a dandy watch is, let’s start with the word dandy itself.
According to various dictionaries, there are three meanings of the word: surprisingly, one is a nautical term for a kind of sloop, which we can disregard for our purposes. The other two terms tell us what a dandy watch could be.
Dandy refers to a man who places a particular importance on his appearance. Often, dandies prefer to wear suits, of which they are very particular about the style and cut, and then combining their flair for clothes with a flair for including accessories. Dandies cast a keen eye toward mixing colors and textures and are very detail-oriented.
In general, a dandy does not follow fashion, but rather walks to the beat of his own drum. This means that although elegant and dressed with great care, a dandy never dresses in an understated way. He will always stand out.
This already says quite a bit about what a dandy watch might look like: it should be elegant, but not like a classic dress watch; a dandy watch is a bit more extroverted than that. This can be due to shape, use of color, or adapting a style that is currently not in fashion. While dress watches generally only display hours and minutes, some with the addition of seconds and/or a date function, a dandy watch can easily have additional complications.
Like the details in dandy clothing, the details in such a watch shouldn’t be overpowering but they can be different. While practical use of these complications is key, how they are incorporated into the overall look of the watch is even more important. A dandy watch should look a bit flamboyant without taking it over the top.
Another meaning of the word dandy relates to something being very good or excellent in its class. That is another important aspect to incorporate into the definition of a dandy watch. For a dandy, it is about more than looks alone as the quality of the product matters equally as much.
Regarding watches, this means that only the best will do; dandies have a keen eye for craftsmanship and quality. They would be familiar with the requirements of the Geneva Seal, yet at the same time insist that the straps of their new watches be made of the same leather as their shoes.
A dandy dandy watch
In conclusion: a dandy watch is of exquisite quality, respects the values of traditional watchmaking, yet at the same time incorporates something of a flamboyant appearance.
The dandy watch celebrates individuality and doesn’t always respect a classic design ethos. This watch more often than not is an uncommon choice, as the dandy only has to please one person: the dandy himself.