Thursday, January 10, 2008

Watch This

Already nominated by some as the “cool compass watch,” you could have checked out the Tissot T-Touch (Reference: T33.7.8.92) in print ads featuring MotoGP World Champ Nicky Hayden.

It’s more than a titanium watch with a black carbon face, according to Tissot – not news – but it does have this analog compass feature, which Hayden points to in print and on the Tissot website, in an LED screen.

It took me back, I tell you. When I was stationed at Cecil Field Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, FL, back in the day, I used to hang with a group of guys, among whom was “Dave.”

Dave was cool when I didn’t know what cool was, or a geek of the first water prior to the arrival of “geek.” The rest of us wore wrist watches but Dave wore an olive-drab plastic wrist compass. It became not unusual (indeed, common) for us, upon exiting one of many bars in Jax, to ask him, “What direction is it, Dave?” He’d peer down at his Compass, Wrist, Liquid-Filled, made of Bakelite, and tell us. Most of these were made by the Superior Magneto Corporation of Long Island City, NY.

You could pick up your own OD wrist compass in any Army surplus store, but Dave had his from his World War paratroop daddy. I can tell you, though, that there were no full-page ads in Wired featuring rockers and motor sports stars.

Today, Swiss watch manufacturers advertise in both old- and new-fashioned ways: in print or out-of-home media with beautiful photos of their time pieces plus various movie stars; and carry them over to their up-to-the-minute websites.

If you haven’t looked into the Breitling website, take a quick, visual peek: It’s cutting-edge and fun, especially if you like go-fast airplanes. Omega, Tag Heuer, the Armitron Automatic – it’s hard to keep ‘em straight, even if you remember which movie star is flacking which timepiece. Which one is cooler than the others? Hard to say, though some brands do go on: Rolex for one; and Patek Philippe for another, currently running a very nice ad campaign called “Generations,” which you can see here under its Communications button.

So back to Hayden and the Tissot T-Touch in titanium – with compass. If you’re tempted, you can shop on line; on it’s $795 plus shipping. Or $596 on Amazon. The Breitling Navitimer Heritage, on the other hand, tips the scale at $20k. Coolness costs.

But remembering when we asked Dave what direction it was? That’s priceless.

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