DUELLING PERSPECTIVES
World of Watches|Autumn 2020
WOW Singapore and Thailand editors discuss their views and tastes in ceramic and bronze watches
RUCKDEE CHOTJINDA AND ASHOK SOMAN

Plenty of watch buyers go into stores with the aim of buying a steel sports watch, or a gold dress watch. Nothing controversial in that statement, even though we have not and are not backing it up with facts at all. It feels like it should make sense. Think of it another way: nobody goes looking for a plastic ticker, but they might go in with a very modest budget that makes the various versions of plastic viable options. Again, this is just a common sense approach that may have little to do with reality. For the purposes of this story, it does not matter.

What does matter is the divide between precious metals of all sorts, and various other types of metal and composites. This means steel and titanium, plus various sorts of exotic materials. In this very important way, watch buyers of the present age are fortunate to be presented with more choices than ever before. But, on the other hand, the numerous options out there can be overwhelming to the extent where one timepiece can come in too many tempting material iterations. Honestly, some brands have too many SKUs (you know who you are), and should take advantage of our shared current circumstances to maybe do some house cleaning.

When you descend from the lofty heights of the precious stuff, you tend to encounter a lot more than just options. One of the key things is price, and this is not that easy to explain in a rational way. For the purposes of this edition of WOW’s Editor versus Editor feature, we used that difficulty as a jumping-off point to discuss two key materials: bronze and ceramics. We have covered both extensively - high-tech ceramic most recently - and it raised some debate between the editors of WOW Singapore and WOW Thailand.

As usual, they try to play it straight but sometimes descend into silliness. For example, one of them wrote this introduction and the other one cheerfully blew it up into the oversized preamble that you are reading.

Will they keep it together throughout the conversation, or will there be blood? Read on and find out.

RUCKDEE CHOTJINDA

I can see that you are working on a big story on ceramic watches for this and the next print issues. What prompted you to do so now? Work from home blues?

ASHOK SOMAN

Thanks for noticing my efforts! I can always count on you. Actually, these extended pieces are a challenge to translate I think, so you have my sympathies there. I do try to plan these out in advance so this story began when I decided to look at bronze watches in 2019. The natural follow-up seemed to be ceramic or titanium - indeed titanium will be next year. For my current issue, we’ll be doing the final part to the 2020 ceramic story; it makes a nice accompaniment to the cover story on the Chanel J12.

Anyway, I decided to look at ceramic as a material because it makes a strong contrast with bronze - it is the opposite of bronze in terms of properties - and it fits in with the new normal of the ultra-hygienic era we are entering. If you are going to be washing your hands all the time, you want to be wearing something that can handle soap and water, and that feels relatively normal when wet. Given that steel and gold tend to be heavy, especially with bracelets, ceramic seems perfect. Along with titanium, this is the material of choice for the 2020s, in my opinion.

RC

It is interesting how you mentioned the 2020s as a period. Given that ceramic is not novel as a material, why do you think ceramic did not become sexy or appealing earlier? I mean, Rado has been using it to construct a complete watch and bracelet since 1990, no?

AS

It was 1986 to be precise, if my story is accurate! IWC also unleashed the Da Vinci that year.

RC

You are absolutely correct. It was 1986 when Rado first started using ceramic for the bracelet of the Rado Integral watch. I brought up 1990 as it was the year the full-ceramic Rado Ceramica watch came out. I can’t believe it has been 30 years exactly!

AS

So if anything, ceramic has really taken its time to gain acceptance. The big thing is that you need a powerful endorsement for a new material, and that only came when Rolex introduced bezels with a ceramic insert (2005 with the GMT-Master II) and then the Cerachrom monobloc bezel (2013 with the Daytona). This made high-tech ceramic completely mainstream, and Rolex is the king of sexy in that very wide segment.

RC

There is no arguing there. That development changed everything. Suddenly ceramic became sexy and a talk of the town. Most people in my market were in favour of or at least inclined to own a watch with a ceramic bezel insert. I’ve had maybe three myself and still own two of them. I was more into full ceramic watch cases though and by that I wanted truely black watches, not coated ones. Ceramic was an answer.

AS

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