My father once told me the only jewelry a man ought to wear is a watch and a wedding ring – an appropriate statement from a man who has been married (unhappily) and owns a proper timepiece (Omega Seamaster). So as I’ve aged, the idea of what kind of watch to wear centered around this bit of advice. It had to be significant in one way and subtle in another. Big and bold but understated at the same time. If you’ve spent any time on the watchuseek forum or Hoodinkee, you’ll know that an assortment of timepieces is essential – something you can wear to dinner, one to wear when you’re working out, your travel timepiece, something that you plan to pass down, and so on. But I’m a man of meager means (read: poor), so owning an assortment of watches is outta my budget. Would I wear a Rolex Submariner, Tag Heuer Monaco, Casio G-Shock, perhaps a Patek Philippe and a vintage Elgin tank? Duh! But can I afford all of the aforementioned? Uh, no. My watch history looks a bit like this:
When I was a child my grandmother gave me an old wind-up Mickey Mouse watch. When I was in high school, my mother bought me a Tissot PR50, what she said would be “the last watch I ever buy you.” Entering my twenties, I owned a hand-me-down G-Shock my father gave me when he upgraded to his Omega. Shortly thereafter, I decided it was time I purchased my own timepiece, albeit on the affordable end. My choice? A titanium Bertucci bought at REI for $100. That watch, as well as the Tissot, have served me ever since. That is until I went to Japan.
For whatever reason, my three month adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun inspired a newfound interested in what sort of watch I wore. Someone who stays up on things, I knew what I wanted: a Rolex GMT Master with a Pepsi bezel. But what I could afford, well, that was a different story. So I settled for a Japanese made Seiko SKX007, a watch many forum users claim they wear more than the Rolex it is fashioned after. I literally spent weeks researching watches prior to my purchase, and even ordered one for my girlfriend. But that’s not what this review is about.
The Justification of an Expense
During my seemingly endless search for a ‘proper timepiece’ one thing kept bothering me: there aren’t many watches made in America anymore. Elgin, Benrus, Hamilton and others once built watches in the States, but have since either shut their doors or sent their manufacturing overseas. Sure, there are an assortment of American watch makers available on the internet – companies building bespoke timepieces that’ll cost you an arm, leg and possibly your liver. But a brand that hand crafts something I can afford? I had almost given up hope…
Being from Seattle, Filson is as familiar to me as McDonald’s is to someone from the Midwest. Since 1897, they’ve been sewing strong garments for gold miners, building bullet-proof bags for vagabonds, and now, creating watches in collaboration with a Detroit company called Shinola. So what’s the significance of something like this? Well, let’s start with the fact that Shinola is a company dedicated to crafting quality goods in the United States. Add Filson’s heritage and history of offering high quality items to those who spend their days outdoors, in the elements, and you have a match made in Middle Earth.
Bits & Pieces
Enough with this ‘background’ business, let’s talk about the timepiece. Inspired by vintage aviation watches from the 1930’s, Filson and Shinola’s new Scout Watch series is an extension of a partnership announced earlier this year. The full product line consists of seven watches, including models with either a 3-hand date or dual-time composition. Powered by Shinola’s Argonite 715 (3-hand date) and 4220 (dual-time) quartz movement, the Scout is a simple watch by most standards. The three-hand date model featured in these photos illustrates the design language of the new line, with matte gunmetal PVD plating and anti-fingerprint coating on its brushed stainless steel 45.5mm case, as well as a large dial to ensure optimum legibility. The screw-down crown is accented with a brass insert that surrounds a black PVD-coated center. Additional features include scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that has an anti-reflective coating for glare reduction. All iterations of the watch are rated at 20 ATM (or 660 feet), and include a case back secured by six screws for protection from the elements.
The Convenience of Quartz and Other Ideals
As I mentioned earlier, a great deal of research went into my previous watch purchase (an automatic Seiko Diver’s 200mm), so the addition of another watch was destined to be yet another endless internet endeavor. This time, however, my search criteria were bit less broad. What I wanted was for it to be American made, with a quartz movement, Steve Zissou like depth rating and a simple aesthetic. Nothing fancy, no big metal bracelet and definitely not something I had to wind or worry about. And so my search turned up Shinola and their assortment of Detroit-built watches. My quest also offered me something to eagerly anticipate, an upcoming collaboration between this Bruce Springsteen style brand and the bearded salmon fishermen of Seattle. So I waited, patiently, for their first timepieces to hit the market. First came the Mackinaw Field Watch followed shortly thereafter by Journeyman GMT, both beautiful watches in all of their iterations. But still not exactly what I wanted.
When Filson announced their latest line built with the Shinola brand, the Scout series, what I saw was exactly what I had hoped for. Understated design met American made quality, classic aviation aesthetics coupled with Filson’s storied history – a perfect pairing however you played the cards. And now to explain the title of this paragraph… What I wanted was plain simplicity in every way possible, something that would be reliable and yet reasonably priced – a watch that would tell the time and tell people a bit about me. Yes, I suppose I could have purchased another digital-display, black plastic timepiece that would have told me not only the time but my altitude, the barometric pressure, kept a record of how many steps I took, what I ate, when I farted and so on, but that’s all a bunch of bullshit, isn’t it? A watch, as my father once mentioned, is but one of two pieces of jewelry a man should wear. And so it should look good and tell the time, that’s it. Save the rest of that stuff for your phone or GPS unit. Because when I look down to be sure I haven’t missed my morning yoga session (I kid!), I want to see something I can smile about, something that I’ve worked hard to attain, that’ll be there so long as I let it, and will keep me consistent.
Specs & Stuff (of the mentioned model)
- Four piece, bolt-reinforced roller buckle style closure
- Stainless steel case back with brass PVD plating and Filson logo is secured by six screws
- Shinola Argonite 715 quartz movement
- Gray dial with Swiss Super-LumiNova hands and index for increased visibility even in low light
- Three-hand with date and bi-directional rotating top ring for easy measurement of elapsed time
- Curved, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating for glare reduction
- Made with durable, vegetable-tanned leather from Horween Tannery, one of the oldest continuously-running tanneries in the U.S.
- Hand assembled in Detroit
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