Is There a Distinctly “Vancouver” Watch?

From rough and rugged to haute horology, these three watches all channel YVR.

We may think of ourselves as the outdoor capital of Canada, but a short stroll down Alberni or West Hastings gives the impression that we’re developing a secondary, non-Gore-tex persona: we’ve quietly become a major centre for buying watches. It’s a hobby that’s been growing for the past decade and it’s been kicked into overdrive by the pandemic. We now have standalone boutiques for almost all of the heavy hitting brands—Rolex, of course, but also IWC, Hublot, Omega, Cartier and so on.

But is there a “Vancouver” watch? We’ve sussed out three watches, at three very different price points as candidates for the title.

The Rugged Local Hero

Herschel x Casio G-Shock $160

Okay, first the bad news: this collab with local luminaries Herschel is long sold out, but if you troll eBay you can still find the pop up from time to time. And there’s a lot of reason to keep sleuthing for one. For starters, it’s the first instance of an iconic watch with a connection to Vancouver. And make no mistake—Casio’s rugged G-Shock is, in its own budget way, as iconic as Rolex Submariner and it’s often the one budget watch that heavy hitting collectors will still have in their arsenal. And it’s a super-cool version with the low-key olive drab colour scheme and the words “You can surf later” engraved on the back. I don’t actually know what that means, but it sounds cool.

And if you don’t have the patience for the secondary market, this new G-Shock, the 3A, sports the same colour scheme and rugged vibes as the Herschel model. Either way, you’re starting your watch journey wisely.

Now You’re Getting Serious

Swatch x Omega Mission to Earth $320

This watch is part of the most successful partnership in the watch world since Vacheron met Constantin. The conceit was simple: two brands, owned by the same parent company, would bring their expertise that would see one of them move upmarket (that would be Swatch) and one down (that would be Omega). The result created a worldwide phenomena: massive lines at Swatch, websites crashing, profiteers running wild. And looking at the end result it’s sort of easy to see why—the watch channels a lot of the history and swagger of Omega’s Speedmaster, the first watch on the moon and definitely in the running for the most famous watch of all time. But you then have the playfulness of Swatch, with Velcro band and the high-tech bio-ceramic case.

But why Vancouver? Well, the Mission to Earth is the version that sports the green and blue colour of a beloved/beleaguered Canucks.
Unlike this year’s Canucks, these watches are still a hot commodity, so finding one at retail…is a trick. But you can either wait until they ramp up production again, or pick one up on the secondary market where they’ll be more like $500—and still a bargain.


Welcome to the Big Leagues

Parmigiani Fleurier

One’s watch education proceeds in various tranches. For many, their first interaction with high horology is the venerable Rolex, routinely recognized as one of the most powerful brands of any company throughout the world and a brand that is obsessed over by collectors. Then it’s often on to the smaller but venerable Swiss brands, the “big three” of which are Patek Phillipe, Vacheron Constantin and Audermars Piguet, but you also have IWC, the aforementioned Omega, Jaeger LeCouture and so on. And for many collectors, the hunt stops here. But then there’s the next step that some take, where fine watchmaking becomes haute horology and the handcrafted pieces come in such limited numbers that more people get struck by lightning each year than buy a Parmigiani Fleurier.

Luckily for us, local boutique Palladio has been such a longtime champion of the ultra-niche brand, that the watchmaker is paying them back with this special edition to honour Palladio’s 25th birthday (you can see the inscription on the case in the picture above). The “Palladio Edition” Tonda GT sports an ice-blue dial (the hue the watch world is going nuts for these days) and is limited to 25 pieces all available only in Vancouver — and that’s as local as you can get.