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In Good Company

5 Types Of ‘Watch People’ You’ll Spot At The Airport

By Randy Lai
19 May 2023
6 min read

This month’s installment of In Good Company, we profile a handful of the most archetypal watch lovers you’ll glimpse en route to your next boarding gate. All’s fair in love and satire…

Aeons from now, when future generations of humanity descend from their colony ships/floating megapolizes to once again brush the surface of planet Earth; any evidence of what went on in the bizarre transitory nodes we call ‘airports’ will provide most (if not all) of the insight our more evolved descendants need to glean about life in the 21st century.

Offering an atmosphere that wobbles somewhere between ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Dante’s Purgatory’, it’s little wonder why commercial airports - particularly in 2023 - have become such fodder for online meme artists. The American author Carl Hiassen once observed that good satire emanates “from a point of outrage” and, assuming that’s true, then the airport is one of the best places for would-be-comedians to gather all manner of new and effortlessly infuriating material.

Meanwhile, for most of us ordinary people (in spite of the obvious miracle of intercontinental jet travel) the experience of ‘surviving’ the airport can frequently be harrowing. To help you pass the time - and sneak in some middling horological chat for good measure - we’ve opted to dedicate this month’s installment of In Good Company to a couple of archetypal watch lovers you’ll meet prior to boarding.

Just remember: these are all caricatures we’ve exaggerated for comic effect. Well, mostly.

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A traveler who will feel familiar to the Wristcheck audience - perhaps even you yourself qualify, dear reader! - the ‘Jetsetter’ is the physical manifestation of all we associate with the rarefied world of elite air travel (short of flying private) in 2023.

Often clothed, in the words of one eminent style publication, like the world’s most “expensively dressed teenager” - think ‘Bezos at Coachella meets Kendall Roy of Succession’ - you’ll likely spot this individual being fawned over whilst stood in line at the priority check-in counter; or in the dining room of a sparsely populated first class lounge. In other words: their natural habitat.

In keeping with the universe of the 1% (both real and imagined), the watches in this neck of the woods are likely to be the priciest per capita: ranging from standard tech mogul fare - salut Richard Mille! - to pieces like this openworked Vacheron Constantin Overseas QP - quite possibly the last thing any sane individual sitting in coach (who actually needs to tell the time) would wear.

Of course, the typical Jetsetter couldn’t care less that everybody else is incredulous about their total lack of in-flight predicaments. After all: between the vintage Dom Pérignon they’re not drinking before take-off and the faint disdain with which they regard their ‘vibranium tier’ frequent flier status, the only thing the Jetsetter wants you to know for sure is how boring they find this whole flying situation. So relatable.  

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Commonly mistaken - at least in temperament - for their younger, trendier jetsetter cousins, the ‘Executive’ traveller is easily distinguished from the former set by (what passes for) their own immediately recognizable airport style.

Clad in some combination or another of a two-piece suit; aluminium carry-on; and the disquieting aura of a background Zoom call (they’ve been listening, on mute, for the past two hours) these polished corporate types glide silently between business class and the fast track lane at Arrivals - akin to how mega sharks might navigate the Marianas Trench.

Sure: the Executive’s impressive in-sky mileage has conferred upon them a lifetime of benefits, yet one of the very few instances in which you’re likely to observe them expressing actual human joy is when they’re looking at their wrists - Patek Philippe worldtimer peeking from beneath a (possibly monogrammed) shirt cuff.

Muster up the courage to ask these dead-eyed corporate raiders why they love a world time complication and the answer you’ll receive probably has something to do with the fact that “money never sleeps”. Charming.

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Easily identifiable by the huge, galaxy-swallowing backpacks worn on the shoulders - and the fact that their ‘airport’ uniform generally consists of dozens of overshirts, layered over each other - the Rover is the YouTube generation’s answer to globetrotting adventurers of yore.

Whenever they’re not torpedoing the efficiency of the (already agonizingly slow) airport security line - likely by removing their boots, climbing harness, and assorted CamelPak waterbottles - Rovers also enjoy turning the reassuringly mundane experience of navigating the duty free into an ‘epic moment’ - complete with GoPro, selfie stick and the fixed lens Leica that costs as much as your flight.

Given the ‘dynamism’ of these incorrigible individuals, you can probably expect the median Rover to be sporting some sort of Submariner-type situation whilst flying. For a more thoughtful take (ergo, from the sort of adventurer who doesn’t wear their wetsuit onto the plane) we quite like the ‘50th Anniversary’ edition of the Polaris Memovox.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s signature underwater alarm is certified to a depth of 200m and besides all of the functional bells & whistles that the Rover will most definitely tell you they can’t go without, it boasts some unusually fine aesthetic details - look out for the sector-inspired dial, which JLC has decorated using three textural finishes.

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Powered by their 200K followership and whatever the latest (most incongrous) TikTok fashion trend is, the Content Creator perceives all the airport as their stage - and the rest of us as unfortunate bits of fleshy set dressing.

From the salad bar in the lounge to the Thomson Aero business class seat (that they most definitely didn’t pay for) seemingly no moment in the neverending saga that is modern air travel is too small or trivial for the Content Creator to refrain from documenting.

For just such an individual - the kind who borrows 90% of their ‘cute airport fit’ from a ‘stylist friend’ indefinitely - something in the tenor of Rolex’s (admittedly very robust) Oyster Perpetual 41 is probably on the cards. Likely rubbing up and down a stack of Van Cleef & Arpels [XXX] bracelets, they just can’t stop exalting how “fun” the OP’s yellow dial is. What’s next in their collection, you might ask? Whatever teeny-tiny Cartier Timmy T is wearing, probably.

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An archetype who everybody has been unfortunate enough to meet - or perhaps even become - at least once in their lifetime, the Late Arrival (a.k.a. the ‘Tardy Traveller’) is most commonly spotted hurtling down the jet-bridge twenty minutes after boarding closes: a tornado of huffing, puffing, loose power packs and half-opened hand carries.

Considering the pace at which this specimen runs from gate to gate - attempting to embody the frenetic pace of the Daytona Speedway - they’d certainly benefit from a tough, performance-led sports watch such as TAG Heuer’s iconic Monaco chronograph.

Equipped with a self-winding in-house movement and ultra-legible white-on-blue dial (an important detail given Heuer’s pioneering role in motorsport timekeeping), we only wish the  Late Arrival had bothered to use the chronograph as nature intended - to help them keep track of check-in lead times!

Related Watches

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