Deciding what to pack for a trip can be stressful, requiring some hard choices. But one item that doesn't even make most packing lists because it’s usually an automatic inclusion is your watch.
Maybe you should take a few of ticks of that beautiful dial to consider the pros and cons of travelling with an expensive timepiece. It can be a little more complicated than you imagine.
The key pillar of the argument against wearing that special watch when you jet off overseas is simply that there's one more thing to lose. That's true of any watch, of course, but compounded if it cost you a lot of money or has special significance beyond price alone.
When caution counts
Here's an immutable fact: luxury watches are highly portable and easy to sell. This means they're an enticing target for the less scrupulous elements of society.
Add to this that your travels might take you to parts of the world where you don't speak the language or know the lay of the land, and you’ve a compelling argument in favour of leaving the Rolex at home.
After all, if things go south, losing your watch is pretty much a best-case scenario. Even if theft isn't a concern for you, accidents happen. And when they do, it’ll often be in the most inconvenient and/or far-flung location.
There’s one obvious solution: don't wear a watch when you travel. It also takes a lot of the enjoyment out of owning some special timepieces, more so if you like to change your wristwear to suit the occasion, such as having a daily 'work watch' and a sharper dress watch.
So if that's not an option you’d contemplate, there are things you can do to minimise your risk.
You could wear a different watch, something less precious and easily replaceable. Perhaps something rock-solid and ubiquitous like a Casio G-Shock or a Seiko diver. Or a smartwatch.
Yes, the daily recharge requirements can be frustrating, these tech-packed timepieces do offer undeniable travel advantages. One watch that neatly bridges this gap – offering some of the utility of a connected device with the robustness of a regular watch in a relatively unassuming package – is the Longines Conquest V.H.P. GMT ($2,325 on a rubber strap).
Alternately, if you do find yourself suddenly aware that a gold watch might not have been the right play, you can always be a bit more discreet. Make sure the watch is under your shirt sleeve, pop your hand in your pocket, avoid flashing it around, or leave it in the hotel safe – commonsense stuff.
Why you should wear a watch when you travel
While I've just outlined why travelling with a watch (especially an expensive one) is a Bad Idea, there are a few points in favour. First of all – watches are obviously useful. They tell the time which, if you've ever experienced the hell of truly existential jet lag, isn't something to take lightly.
And yes, you likely have a phone in your pocket, but in a world of data roaming charges and rapidly draining batteries, I tend to be a lot more judicious when it comes to whipping the phone out.
The functionality argument extends a bit further, too – if your watch does anything else, like tell the time in two places at once, it moves up the ranking from 'handy' to 'essential'.
The other pro of travelling with a watch – especially if it's a nice one that you're quite attached to – is that, well, why shouldn't you? Here's a cardinal Marie Kondo-style rule: if you like it and it makes you happy, wear it.
For lots of people, watches are emotional objects: something carried with us on life's journey. And a watch that stays tucked up safely at home won't have many stories to tell. But one that proudly bears the marks of a life well-lived (like that scratch from when you banged it into a bar in Barcelona) has a charm all of its own.
What to do about it
If you're sure that you want your watch as a travel companion, make sure it's up to the task.
Planning a beach-heavy trip? Check your watch has the water resistance to handle the waves. Even if it does, it might be worth checking that the seals and gaskets are up to scratch: any competent watch repair place should easily and painlessly be able to do this for you.
Going somewhere tropical? Leave the leather band at home (trust us when we say no one wants a mildewed watch strap).
Preparation is the key to success, so check your travel insurance. Usually standard policies have caps for watches and jewellery. Make sure your pride-and-joy is covered and if you're super prepared, take a photo of the watch and make a note of the model and/or serial number, and store it in the Cloud.
Knowing that your precious watch is well-protected will ease your mind and help you enjoy your trip. Is a watch an essential part of your travel kit? If so, what do you wear, and why? Let me know in the comments below.