The watchmakers and fans are conditioned to a very top-down visual approach of watches, that’s really a problem. The top-down dial shot consists of most of what a replica watch is about. The dial is the visual star, and a typical wrist shot at least gives you some sense of what a watch looks like on the wrist, but it doesn’t mean to tell what it’s like to wear a watch on the wrist, and this seems bleeding and obvious to state, because a fake watch is a three-dimensional object.
We’re pretty big on trying to get you as close as possible to what a watch is like IRL, which is why we spend lots of time on our video reviews, and are occasionally guilty of the odd bit of wristroll spam. Because proportion matters, and in an age when we’re purchasing watches online, sight-unseen, understanding those proportions matters more than ever. I won’t call names, but I can easily think of half a dozen watches that I like in theory and in pictures, but as soon as I strap them on my wrist, my heart goes cold. Sometimes you can understand the watchmaker’s decision — they might have a tall movement and hand stack to deal with, and be limited by what they can do case-wise. That’s a reasonable compromise. But in other examples it’s just bad design.
But it seems that thickness and profile are finally getting the focus they deserve. The luxury replica Rolex, who really understand the importance of the on-the-wrist feeling, gave their DSSD a fairly nominal upgrade this year, making the bracelet wider and tweaking the proportions a little. The result is a watch that feels exponentially better on the wrist, at least to my unscientific mind.
The same can be said about the popular replica Tudor, who pleased critics with the introduction of the Black BayFifty-Eight, and while the slightly smaller diameter is a great option, most people I know are really excited about the slimmed down, far less layered case design.
But don’t take this as an indictment against thick fake watches. I’ve got nothing against having a tall watch on the wrist. What I don’t like is a badly designed thick watch. Sometimes you can turn a chunky, barely machined slab of steel on the wrist into a deliberate design decision, but otherwise there’s a lot to be said about smartly engineered case backs and lugs that ensure the comfort matches the heft.
I guess I’ve got two main messages here. First thing first, to the consumer: wherever possible try a watch on the wrist first. The case height and profile is an important factor in that equation. My second message is to the people making replica watches: never forget that the things you make are intended to be worn. And while in some cases I’m willing to concede that watches can be ‘worn’ in the same way as haute couture is worn, that is the exception. You want people to love and order your watches and to wear them with prides? It’s not enough to pop an in-house movement in and mix it up with some new dial options and a new marketing angle, and you are required to make watches that operate perfectly on the wrist.