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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, first I would like to apologise if this is the wrong forum to post this in, I did try searching for a recommendations forum beforehand.

Brief context: as a reward for entering university, and because my birthday is approaching, my parents have offered to buy me my first luxury watch. After pooling in my part-time job savings, my total budget is around 11,000-12,000 USD.

As of current, my preferred choices are (in no particular order):

1. Hublot Big Bang Chronograph (Steel)
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.50.01 pm.png

2. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms (looking at the Bathyscaphe edition in particular, am open to the other model though)
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.50.27 pm.png

3. Breguet Type XXI (Steel)
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.50.15 pm.png

Am open to other recommendations though, primary requirements are:
1. Preferably a sports/pilot's watch/ similar to the ones above (I feel these are better suited for university life and I plan to buy a dress watch after graduation)
2. Case size around 39-43mm
3. Display back (preferred but not necessary - I'm just infatuated with seeing the movement inside)
4. Unfortunately, not a Rolex (parents feel the brand is unsuitable for me at this point in time)
5. Automatic

Sorry for the lengthy post (also sorry for the extremely large images, not sure how to size) and thanks for any help!
 

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you might be able to find a second-hand Hublot BigBang Unico at that price.
It's like the better version of the Bigbang chronograph with their inhouse movement.
 

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No worries, great post!

Of the three you chose, i would say the Blancpain. However, give Rolex a second thought. You are already surpassing it somewhat with the options you listed. That Rolex will last longer than those in terms of value.
 

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First off, I'm going to tell you that if you haven't tried on each watch, you should. More often than not, doing just that is all one needs to know which one is the one to get.

For me, among the watches pictured in the OP, the Blancpain is my hands down favorite. It's at once beautiful, sporty and "toolish." I think the styling is suitable for a person who doesn't live an especially dressy lifestyle. It's perfect for a "business casual" or more casual attire, and yet it will work with dressy outfits if need be in much the same way a Rolex Sub will. Plus, it's a "proper" dive watch, and I feel that divers are, for most folks, easily the most "fun" and practical sort of watch to wear on regular basis. They are made to take a beating and when they do, they wear their "injuries" well and without looking worse for wear. As a result, divers have been and will remain very good "go to" watches for years and years to come.

Between the two chronos, I prefer the Breguet. I think it's dial is functionally superior in that the numerals and date are large and easy to read (although the Hublot gets around part of that by just not having numerals for the hours). I have a "thing" against chronographs that chop of the hour numerals too, and that the Breguet doesn't is a big plus to my eye.

The thing about that Breguet is although it's numeric dimensions fit your requirements, you really should try on that sucker before you commit to it. The bezel on it is quite wide and slopes downward considerably more than most dive bezels do. The result is that it "wears" (looks) larger on one's wrist than its dimensions suggest. Try it on and see what you think. I wouldn't suggest going with a big feeling watch as one's first HEW since in most cases, one's first HEW tends to be the watch one'll wear all the time for a long time, at least until the next one comes along. I would think something a bit less obtrusive feeling, something more classic, might be more in order so that it'll pass the test of time. Trust me, there's little that's more annoying than an expensive watch that one must wear all the time and that one isn't 100% thrilled about.

The Hublot is a fine watch, but I really don't care for the target-style subdial. That ruins the face for me. I really like the uncomplicated Hublot Fusion models, but the chronos...not so much. I think the biggest issue with the Hublot, aside from my not liking its looks, is that there are a ton of "Hublot haters" out there. I know if I were getting my first HEW, I just wouldn't want to deal with that. Yes, I'm fine with telling the "haters" to buy me something they find suitable if it bothers them so much, but I wouldn't really want to have to take that stance, literally saying something to that effect to the "haters" or even just in my own mind. As a second HEW, sure, I'd go ahead and get the Hublot if I wanted to.

Question:
What are you unsure about re: the three watches to which you've narrowed your choices? Perhaps sharing that with us will lead to some replies that address those specific points. That would probably be more useful to you seeing as all three watches above are quite nice and anyone should be quite happy with any of them based strictly on the requirements you cited.

Sidebar:
Your parents make me chuckle. Rolex is an unsuitable brand yet the three you mentioned aren't. Whatever...I don't need or want any explanation. It's their money so if that's what they think, it just is. That's all it needs to be. It's merely that that sentiment made me chuckle inasmuch as a Rolex Oyster is a really good place to begin one's HEW collection. It's even an excellent choice as an HEW even if one isn't intending to build a collection.

All the best.
 

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Let's put the cart before the horse. What vehicle windowsill will your wrist & watch be resting on?

Are there any polls as to which watch co-eds prefer to see on a young man's wrist/night table?

Are you going to be partying or studying on the weekends? Maybe a big gaudy party watch & your preferred dress watch are in order?

There are reasons (your own) that you've narrowed it down to these 3. They're all good choices. Get thee to a dealer ... try each one on ... you'll 'know' which one is it.

If you don't get to that 'feeling' ... keep looking. Reconsider the Rolex.
 

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I disagree with all the people that are saying reconsider the rolex if your parents (who are paying for it) would rather not see you have one, why bite the hand the feeds (watches)

For a first HEW it is important to look for a classic iconic look as Tony so clearly explained so skip the hublot you wont want it after college

The Blancpain is a fine choice and you will wear it for many years to come, as for the breguet while nice I would go for the Marine big date in SS

Another few options to consider
1. Zenith el primero - many different great options check out the striking 10th tri color

2 Jaeger Lecoultre deepsea chrono

good luck and let us know what you land up with
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the helpful advice everyone!

Sorry, I'm not sure how to do multiple quotes and I don't want to spam this thread so I'll try to reply to some of the questions in this thread.

Kurai - The Unico is quite nice! However, my parents don't want to buy me something second hand for my first watch.

AbuKalb93 - Two of my original choices were the GMT Master II and Submariner but the main reason my parents don't want me to get a rolex is that they feel the brand is too ostentatious for a university student / my father has a few already so doesn't want to overlap.

Tony20009 - Thanks especially for such a detailed answer! I went to an AD a few days ago and did get to try on a similar Big Bang model and Type XXI but not the Blancpain (since they didn't stock). My main doubts associated with each are:
Hublot - Big Bang lacks an in-house movement / like you say, it might be out of place when I'm older and also the polarised reception
Blancpain - Didn't get to try it on so I don't know but not a big fan of the strap. (Is it possible to change with a legitimate Blancpain leather strap?)
Breguet - The brand, with it's cursive font logo, seems like a more mature brand. In addition, from what I read, the Type XXI isn't really what the brand is famous/iconic for.

WTSP - Thanks for the recommendation, will check it out next time I go to an AD.

aardvarkbark - Thank you!

JohnQFord - Well, I can't drive yet :( . But most of my immediate family drives a german luxury automobile of some sort. Probably a standard student life, nothing too wild. Thanks for the help! (Parents are set on not getting me a Rolex)

Sassicaia - Will keep in mind

Feller87 - Fair point, at this point after reading the repsonses, I am leaning towards the Blancpain, will definitely find an AD that stocks it this weekend. Will check out the two you recommended as well. Will update once I do get it!

Once again, thanks for all the help.
 

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Thanks for all the helpful advice everyone!

...

Tony20009 - Thanks especially for such a detailed answer! I went to an AD a few days ago and did get to try on a similar Big Bang model and Type XXI but not the Blancpain (since they didn't stock).

My main doubts associated with each are:

  • Hublot - Big Bang lacks an in-house movement / like you say, it might be out of place when I'm older and also the polarised reception
  • Blancpain - Didn't get to try it on so I don't know but not a big fan of the strap. (Is it possible to change with a legitimate Blancpain leather strap?)
  • Breguet - The brand, with it's cursive font logo, seems like a more mature brand. In addition, from what I read, the Type XXI isn't really what the brand is famous/iconic for.

...

Once again, thanks for all the help.
All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was.
― Ralph Ellison

You're welcome.

In-house:
In short, get over it.

It's hardly the most important consideration for you given that you haven't even begun to collect in earnest and that each watch you've identified is a very fine piece in its own right. Choosing a watch that best fits your current and next lustrum's lifestyle is far more important. Once you actually have a clear set of goals that drive your collecting activity, the in-house thing may become relevant, that is if you even do actually become a serious collector. (https://www.watchuseek.com/f496/sihh-vianney-halter-video-advice-novice-collector-1457498.html) For folks who just want nice watches, many a very lovely watch is missed out on as a result of demanding in-house-ness simply because that's the current mantra.

Another thing you'll want to keep in mind is that in most cases, an in house movement will cost you more to maintain. As a student who depends on his parents for support, you may want to go with a non-in house watch due to that practical concern alone. Recognize that in foru to five years, you are going to have to send the watch for service and with any in-house movement, you can expect the bill for that to be $800 - $1500 (come that time) for the uncomplicated BP, more for the chronographs because complicated watches cost more to service than do uncomplicated ones. For the ETA movement inside the Hublot (assuming you go with a non-in-house Hublot), you can expect it to be about half that or less, and you can easily take it to pretty much any local watchmaker for the servicing.

You should also consider the timelines involved in servicing. I've been told that for Breguet in Europe, one should expect 8 to 12 weeks if one sends the watch to Breguet. (It's considerably quicker in the U.S.) You could possibly take any of your manufacture watches to a local watchmaker and in the U.S., that'll save you time and money. I don't have experience with European, independent watch repairmen (watchmakers) and their fee structures and timelines.

Hublot:
Truly, but for one man, the odds are that most folks wouldn't know of Hublot, or Blancpain for that matter. (So You Want A Hublot...The Question is "Why, and Which One?" — HODINKEE - Wristwatch News, Reviews, & Original Stories , Interview with Jean-Claude Biver - TimeZone , & VIDEO: Talking Watches With Jean-Claude Biver — HODINKEE - Wristwatch News, Reviews, & Original Stories)

If you want the Hublot, but all means get it. The controversial element is just something I mentioned to make sure you know of it. When you look at who buys Hublot watches, what you'll see is folks who really don't give a tinker's damn what other folks think of their choices and who don't need to either. I wouldn't direct less strongly willed folks toward Hublot because those folks "can't stand the heat." Is there something wrong with the watch? Is it poorly made? Not at all. You're a student. I seriously doubt those issues will affect you, and as a student, they certainly shouldn't.

Blancpain:
If BP sells other watch straps that fit, yes, you can switch them. You don't really have to depend on BP for a different strap. There are plenty of 3rd party strap makers who make very fine straps. Check out Hirsch (Hirsch Straps | HirschStraps) or ABP (the watch straps, watchstraps, bands and watchbands from abp). They are just two makers; there are scores of others.

Hirsh and ABP are on the pricier side of things, but you don't have to spend that much either to get a nicely made watch strap. (Strapped For Time | Fine Quality Watch Bands and Watch Straps) Indeed, I'd strongly suggest, seeing as this is your first HEW, that you go with a modestly priced 3rd party strap before you spend large sums on prestige straps. Trust me, the differences won't be apparent to you unless you hold them side by side and wear both types daily for years on end. Also, whatever store you find selling the BP will almost certainly sell watch straps too. Pick one that suits you and fits the watch, and you should be just fine.

BTW, the cloth strap that is native to the BP is a legitimate BP strap. It's back is leather and the top is ballistic nylon.

Breguet and Iconic watches:
No, the Transatlantique isn't a "quintessential" Breguet model, but it's a very fine watch. You should be quite pleased with having one.

Let me put it this way. When one starts talking about "iconic" pieces and "what a maker is known for," one is beginning to get into the realm of serious collector concerns. Now inasmuch as you are a student, your peers aren't going to have the first idea of what's iconic and what's not. They might not even know a fine watch from any other watch; even most adults don't because, quite simply, most folks aren't "into" watches to begin with.

Also, you need to realize that you are person who is still dependent on his parents to support his indulgent desires. There's nothing wrong with that. I have three children in exactly the same situation. My youngest is quite likely the same age as you. My two oldest kids wear iconic watches, but I assure you they don't know the first thing about iconic. They just know that they liked what the watches look like, and they only knew that because of the watches in my collection.

The thing is that even though two of my kids have "iconic" watches, were they to find themselves in a group of serious collectors and bandy about "iconic" and "in house," they'd be laughed at. My kids know that is exactly what'll happen because they've "been there, and done that." They've seen and suffered the polite chuckles of my other watchie friends (self sufficient adults) who are serious collectors. The phrases that accompanied the humorous repartee were:
"My kids are droll like that too," follow by a loud cackling guffaw.
"Yep, mine too. He, he."
"Aren't all kids? Ha, ha, ha."​
I just looked apologetically at my kids, feeling their embarrassment and not wanting to drive the knife in further, but knowing that there was nothing I could say in their defense either. What could I say? I agreed with my friends because they were right.

You might wonder why any serious collector might respond as described above. Well, I'll tell you, but you won't like it. That you mention the appropriateness of the brand logo's font and in the next breath start talking about what's iconic is radically incongruous. It's like saying I'm unsure if I want a BMW because I don't think the light blue in the roundel is masculine enough. If one is seriously building a collection of iconic watches around some collecting theme or other, what the maker's logo looks like won't be a concern at all. (What strap the seller offers standard with the watch isn't going to phase a serious collector either.)

Not liking the logo design is fine as a reason for choosing a Breguet. It's very much the sort of reason a casual watch buyer might have for not selecting a Breguet, and there's nothing wrong with that. But then a casual buyer who merely wants a fine watch isn't gong to start tossing around buzz words like "iconic," worrying about "in house" movements, and so on. Instead, they'll know full and well that they are a casual consumer of a luxury watch and they'll be quite okay with that.

Conclusion:
As I said initially, among the watches you identified, I think the BP is the right watch for you, particularly at this point in your life. It's ruggedly good looking. It'll survive well whatever ridiculous adventures you pursue at university. (If you don't pursue any such adventures you are missing out on the college experience; then is the time to do that sort of stuff....have fun doing it.) It'll be a great watch to wear once your begin your career too.

Thinking of alternatives, I'd suggest any of the following:
All the best.

Stupidity is much the same all the world over. A stupid person's notions and feelings may confidently be inferred from those which prevail in the circle by which the person is surrounded. Not so with those whose opinions and feelings are an emanation from their own nature and faculties.
― John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women
 
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Welcome here.

Of your choices, I'd go for the Blancpain; the finishing is top notch, and the aesthetics just appeal more to me.

Unfortunately, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph is above your budget. If not, I would go for that for several reasons (36, 000 vph; flyback chrono complication; the dial doesn't look too bare etc).
 

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I'd go with Breguet. Breguet is more of a "true" luxury time piece in my opinion compared to the other 2. The other 2 are indeed fine time pieces but Breguet speaks more of luxury and the finer things this life has to offer.
 

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i figured all the IWC pilot watches would be bigger cases than your max 43mm...this one is 41mm, a beauty, and well below your budget (use the savings as a big down payment on your dress watch for when you graduate college)...

IWC Pilots Mark XVII Black Alligator Mens Watch


if you want to get something a little nicer and that you can grow into, these two JLC do the job:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Chronograph | Luxury watches | Jaeger-LeCoultre E-boutique

Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs | Luxury watches | Jaeger-LeCoultre E-boutique
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi everyone, thanks for all the suggestions and helpful advice, especially tony20009 for his thorough analysis.

Just a bit of an update, after thinking it through, I'm essentially settled on the Fifty Fathoms. Just one last question, is there any tangible benefit/difference between titanium and steel construction? I have read a few threads on the supposed benefits (titanium is lighter, hypoallergenic, corrosion resistant etc.) of each but I would like to know if anyone has any experience with specific regard to the Bathyscaphe model, as to how it feels on the wrist (whether it's too light/heavy etc.)? This is as the only Blancpain AD in my city only currently has the SS in stock but has offered to order the Titanium (which would take a few weeks) so I won't be able to try both when I visit them. I like both dial colours (meteor grey vs black) so that isn't really a deciding factor.

nnb203 - I do quite like the Jaeger LeCoultre DeepSea after seeing it but after a bit of research and calls, it seems that none of my local AD's actually stock it, which is sort of sad.
 

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I had tried both and I liked the Ti more than the steel. The darker case of the Ti looked better imo, made the WG markers on the dial pop out. Loved it, but too big for my skinny wrist unfortunately.

 

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I had tried both and I liked the Ti more than the steel. The darker case of the Ti looked better imo, made the WG markers on the dial pop out. Loved it, but too big for my skinny wrist unfortunately.

ck1109, did you try on the original version of the Ti watch with the "ceramised" case?

I ask because that Ti case design was scrapped in favor of the current Ti case, which looks very similar to the brushed stainless case. (I understand the original version of the Ti case turned out to be too expensive to manufacture.)

I personally opted for the steel version of the watch because I prefer the look of the meteor grey dial with the fine brushed sunburst pattern.
 

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' Titanium (which would take a few weeks)'

My A/D said 2-3 weeks for my Breitling Super Avenger II. Had it in two days. Admittedly, Breitling might be in greater supply, but maybe the 2-3 week thing is just a stock answer in case the distributor is out of stock.
 
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