Left Handed aka Destro Watches: A Personal Intro
So, someone mentioned that they wanted to learn about left handed watches. For me this means the crown being on the left hand side of the watch. Such watches are often called destro, Italian for right because it was meant to be worn on the right wrist. I've been a destro watch enthusiast for pretty much as long as I've been watch enthusiast. I do a lot of typing for my job in software and I hate the crown digging into my hand. The crown digging into my hand is hundreds of times a day, the manipulation of the crown is once a week (if that); as a good software engineer, I optimize for the common case. With my right hand being used for my trackpad/mouse, I like to keep my right wrist free. This means I like my watch on my left hand and the crown away from the traditional 3 o'clock position.
Now, although the market for destro watches has grown a bit in the last few years, they are still a largely outnumbered minority in the watch world. A few watch manufacturers make dedicated destro watches because sane people like their crowns on the correct side of the watch. Sinn is one of the manufacturers with the most models of this kind. Here are a couple of examples:
In my opinion, this first is one of the great watch designs, the incomparable EZM1, four hand chronograph (long discontinued):
This is a close relative of the EZM1, the EZM3, still made by Sinn:
Panerai has a couple of standard destro watches in their stable in addition to their "special editions", U-Boat (being practically u-boat sized) has many, Bell & Ross has made a few. I know I've seen an Oris special edition recently. I have seen a couple of vintage destro Omega SHOM's and of course they make the incomparable PloProf. There supposedly exists a couple destro COMEX Sea Dwellers out there, but now you're talking six figure watches.
Fortunately, the most common mechanical movement family the ETA 2824, 2836, and 2892 all have their dial pins (pins which stick out the back of the dial to hold the dial in place on the movement) positioned symmetrically around the center post. What does that mean? It means that you can rotate the dial on any ETA 28XX based watch 180 degrees, realign the hands, and Bob's your uncle, you have a destro watch. Hurray! Most small manufacturers have been open to doing this conversion for me out of the factory.
This is a boutique watch made by MKII Watches, called the Kingston. It is a homage to the Submariner worn by Sean Connery in the early James Bond movies. It was assembled in the destro configuration by MKII Watches at my request:
So we're all done, right? Well, except for that pesky date wheel. Because date wheels have 31 days, when you do this rotation, your dates will not line up with your date window. Gahr! Unfortunately, destro date wheels are not that common and most manufacturers do not keep them in stock. This means the easy conversion is only for date-free watches.
I was lucky enough to source a couple of watch dials made for the ETA 28XX movements (they all share the same date wheel, fortunately) with 9 o'clock crown and 3 o'clock date window. I've had a couple watches converted to use these date wheels.
IWC 3536 Ti. Truly a watch ahead of its time: titanium, 2000m (yes that's 2km) depth rating, large size (for its time, although it practically looks svelt compared to the monsters which are popular nowadays), all-metal captive bezel:
Omega 2538.20 aka. the Great White
Unfortunately, as far as I've been able to research, the increasingly popular Miyota 9015 movements' dial feet are not symmetrical. Boo! This means that to do a destro conversion you will need to either move the existing dial feet or have a destro dial made up, in addition to the bother of finding a destro date wheel. Actually, if you are making a destro dial from scratch, you could shift the date window over and use a slightly offset date window. I believe that Sinn uses this date window shifting method for their 28XX based destro watches.
The somewhat more expensive but also popular Soprod A10 movement, being a clone of the 2892 movement, does have symmetrical dial feet allowing for relatively easier destro conversion.
I haven't done much research on quartz movements, but given the paucity of boutique quartz watches to begin with, I suspect that you'd have to get both a modified dial and/or date wheel to do any destro conversion.
Hmm, parting thoughts: How difficult would it be to commission a run of black on white and white on black destro date wheels for either the ETA 28XX movement or the Miyota 9015 through Massdrop? I'm assuming it would be quite an endeavor, but if there is enough demand I can't think of a better vendor to organize such a venture.