Halfwatchtuesday Week 33: The Nearly Icons

Life as an icon is great, you are widely loved, people overlook your foibles and generally no matter what happens you remain hot property. No, I’m not referring to my buddy Nic, as iconic as he might be, but to those watches which forever remain at the tip of our frontal lobes.

Watches such as the Submariner and Speedy have it easy, born to be great and with a legacy that matches, if you got the green you’d be a fool not to consider them. Other watches are also rans scrambling for a slice of the cake, they can be ‘better’ in ways but will never capture the hearts and minds of the masses.

There is however, something in between; the nearly icon. Those watches which were destined to be great but had the accolade snatched away from them. The legacy they were promised weighs heavy on their lugs as they trudge forever through horological purgatory.

Take the iconic dive watch, only one name (truly) comes to mind. Read up about it and many articles will come up with the Submariner or the Fifty fathoms, both icons, but what of the other watch? History doesn’t choose to remember the Zodiac Seawolf with as much vigour, despite it being there or thereabouts in 1953. The Seawolf is a side story, a watch that could have had a glorious legacy but for timing.

Timing is that all important factor. In some ways it is more important to be first than the best when it comes to legacy. Fast forward 1969 and another horological race was up to full pace. Three contenders vied to be the first to release the self-winding chronograph. Zenith were set to win with their now legendary el-primero and cast their name into the horological lore, only to be pipped by the team of Heuer, Breitling, Buren and Dubois Depraz. Yes, Zenith can rightly claim the first inhouse self-winding chrono, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. And so, the would be king of chronographs (whilst still an icon) has to sit and watch the Speedies and Daytonas of this world take the limelight, knowing that it is just as deserving.

These are all watches which command something of a premium, but one thing we know about icons is that they can come at any price point. Such is true of one of the greatest watches of our time, the SKX. This trusty true diver with it’s characteristic good looks backed up with the functionality of 200m water resistance has a place in any collection. The thrifty piece is comfortable rocking it with much more illustrious company, don’t believe me, well check out Hodinkee’s own James Stacey’s watch of choice for his recent trip to the UK.

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The SKX is as widely owned as it is loved. News of its supposed discontinuation sent tongues wagging as to what it’s successor would be. Around the same time arose a serious contender, the Seiko Miniturtle (SRPC). Whilst not a like for like replacement, this little beauty had all the heritage of many great Seiko divers of the past. It looked like a turtle and an SKX but wasn’t either of those. It’s cyclops, tombstone indices and this ability to somehow be 42mm but sit brilliantly on a smaller wrist set it apart. Of course, it was and remains more expensive than the SKX but prices were likely to come down as production increased.

I was in the market for an SKX and actually had ordered the 013 when I got wind of the Mini Turtle. I found a pre owned one which I liked and took a chance. I must say it’s a tremendous watch, a worthy successor, a future icon; but sadly I fear it will never be neither of those things.

Not long after came reports to an updating of the Seiko 5 line, with a very SKX looking diver in a number of different configurations paying homage (in the true sense of the word) to the tradition of modding SKXs. Although some may have sniffed at the slightly higher cost of these compared to the SKX but they undercut the Mini Turtle. And so, it came to pass, new Seiko 5s have been released to much aplomb, AD display cases seeming to empty quickly with buyers in a rush to show off their new watches on instagram. It seems a new icon has been created.

But what of the Mini Turtle, it’s future snatched from it. Where is its place amongst the hall of famers? It now lingers somewhere in the Seiko lineup, playing second or third fiddle to others. Will it survive for long? There is no knowing. It is a worthy watch, probably better than the 5s, but will unlikely be loved by the masses, despite owners holding it dear, as do acclaimed reviewers such as Jody from Justonemorewatch.

Perhaps the Miniturtle is not to be an icon, but a cult hero, the 5th Beatle or a Matt Le Tissier, not loved by the many, but with its own unique following.

One thing that is both cult and icon is the legendary Halfwatch Tuesday top pick slot. So let us delve in and find out the best pics of week 33.

As seamless as night follows day, darkness follows light with the effervescent Halios Seaforth. A superb lume shot from @jbmjbm0

I’ve had many conversations about @verowatchcompany with friends and the same phrase comes up, they are true watchmakers. The time and attention that goes into their pieces really shines. They are about to drop two stunning, very limited pieces soon. Make sure you follow them to keep in the loop.

Just when I was talking about nearly icons, is there any that fits the bill more than the Smiths Everest watch? A predecessor of this piece was actually worn on the wrist of Sir Edmund Hiliary whilst scaling the Mountain, I recall he had another watch in his pocket? Superb atmospheric submission from @Ickchrmsbboy

Make a stainless steel watch, stick Rolex on it and it becomes an Icon right? Not quite, it has to be a great watch also. The 16750 Explorer II is  just that and the first watch from the crown I would buy if I had to choose. Such a crisp shot from @pockettrinkets.

@wistshots shows us he can mashup with the best of them with some double Seiko fun.

Our pal and long-time Halfwatchtuesday contributor @wildwristwatch has a full house and one of the best divers in the business, the Tudor BB 58.

Finally, the Icon we daren’t speak about. The one that nearly wiped out this thing we love, the Seiko Astron. Before we all start our pantomime booing, it’s worth remembering the Astron was considered he height of horology when it first came out. Yes, the quartz crisis wiped put many complanies but also meant the industry had to wake up. For me the Astron is a true Icon shown off in all its glory by @tito_ogami.

Shout outs

It does amaze us that every week we have had new brands join the halfwatch party. This week we have seen such friends as Horage, Isotope, Seals, Visitor and Fortis all post. We are as grateful as we are humbled.

This week we are glad to welcome @hemel_watches with a great shot of their HF Brabant which evokes thoughts of old school pilot chronos. Featuring much loved VK61 mecaquartz movement and 100m wr, so you know it will be tough and reliable when needed.

Sailcloth straps are a thing and riding the crest of that wave are @artem.straps from down under. They have no fear in giving you some fierce closeups so you can judge their quality for yourself. Thank you both for joining us this week.

This week is quite exciting as Redbar Edinburgh welcomes @new_forest_robin_young and Moritz Grossmann into our fine city. I simply cannot wait to see them in the flesh and catch up with some watch buddies. Whatever the weekend has in store have a great one and we will see you next Halfwatch Tuesday