121TIME Grand Central Auto

Although sometimes the search for a watch can be just as much fun as actually buying it, there’s also something to be said for getting exactly what you want, when you want it, and not paying for anything you don’t need. If you’re the type who knows exactly what he wants and is accustomed to getting it, you might consider buying a custom watch from 121TIME.

What is 121TIME all about?

121TIME allows customers to customize their own Swiss-made watches using their online Design Studio. In a little over five minutes, I built myself a very nice Challenger Automatic with a stainless steel bracelet and bezel, black dial with Arabic numerals, and sapphire crystal, all for $644. I have never owned a 121, so I can’t vouch for their quality, but assuming they are well made, that’s a fairly reasonable price for something custom built and Swiss.

Like my colleague Robert over at Fratello Watches, I recently received an email from 121TIME co-founder Daniel Morf letting me know that as of this month, 121TIME is offering ETA 2824-2 automatic movements as an option for almost all their watches (it looks like the Speedster is only available in quartz, but the Grand Central, Metropolitan, Challenger and Centurio are all available with automatic movements). Although I love high-tech digital watches, I believe a watch like the 121 is far more appealing as an automatic. Nice move, 121.

I really like the idea of customizing a watch, and I hope to see more of this type of innovation in the future. I’d love to be able to order a big dorky plastic digital with just the features I want, and have the modes ordered how I want them, as well (which technically wouldn’t be difficult — it’s just software). In fact, the Timex Ironman Data Link does just that (though you configure it through your PC rather than special ordering it — even better), and sells for all of $90 retail. And Fossil recently launched the Fossil Watch Bar where you can build your own watch, but you’re not going to find automatic Swiss movements and sapphire crystals. One of my favorite watches is my Rolex GMT Master II which I love everything about except the clasp which has these strange, cheap-looking imprints to make it look like it’s part of the bracelet. Whose idea was that? Clasps are clasps, and shouldn’t look like part of the bracelet! I would have loved to have ordered a custom Rolex with a different clap, and I would have paid for the privilege.

121TIME doesn’t let you customize everything about your watch, so if you don’t like the general look, no amount of customization is going to help. But I find the style of 121 watches to be such that a little bit of personal touch goes a surprisingly long way.

By Christian Cantrell

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