Oct 3, 2016

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.
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I love destro watches and like them all the more because of the name (has a GI Joe vs Cobra ring to it for me). Always on the left wrist for me and I just like it for being different. I never adjust a watch while on my wrist anyway so I enjoy having crown (and pushers if applicable) on the forearm side as opposed to wrist side.
Tudor Pelagos LHD is out there now and very cool.
https://www.tudorwatch.com/watches/pelagos/m25610tnl-0001
Yeah, with crowns and buttons getting bigger and bigger, a lot of watches by default have crowns on the left just so they don't dig into your hand. This is a parallel development to the trend to wear watches looser on the wrist joint, rather than a couple of centimeters higher up where the position of the crown wouldn't matter. You can kind of tell the age of people in wrist shots from where the watch sits. It's kind of like the age-specificity of the rise in jeans. Or at least it was until the recent revival of high-waisted women's jeans.
My right pinky toe always rubs on the inside of my shoe and, since I have to walk in order to go places, it's always bothers me. That's why I wear two left shoes, this way i have a bit more space for my pinky toe.
That was a JOKE! I don't want to take it away from the people that wear Destro watches on their left wrists due to the issues described here but, nevertheless, it does look out of place -obviously, since it was made to be worn on the right wrist- to me.
Great news guys! Sinn has announced the EZM1.1 Limited Edition watch.
- Slightly larger and thicker (no surprise there)
- 22mm lugs vs 20mm of the original
- Tegimented surface vs untreated of the original
- steel vs Ti
- Sinn custom caliber SZ-01 (7750 mod) vs the Lemania 5100 of the original
enkidu
Heres the purchase info for one of the 500 pieces Sinn will produce. $5k

http://www.watchbuys.com/store/pc/Sinn-EZM-1-1-Limited-Edition-Non-Refundable-Deposit-23p3539.htm

Nice post Enkidu
I really love my C60 Pro 600, but it's always caused me pain. The crown is extremely sharp. I never considered that the watch could be modded potentially, going to contact them and see, but in this case for the design, I would much rather have the crown on the other side. I can never adjust screw down crowns on my wrist anyway, and really never need to adjust any watch on my wrist. This one is usually +-0.5s per day on average, seems to funny enough go for 1-2 months losing half a second, then will switch to gaining half a second a day. Either way it's been so accurate and nice that the wrist irritation has been worth it.

Filing and sanding down the crown edges has helped keep it from being an open wound, but to really keep the crown away from my wrist totally I'd have to wear it un-comfortable high up my arm. Maybe my typing posture isn't great too.
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It's evenly spaced, but there's an odd number of digits. Which means 180 degrees opposite a number is the gap between two numbers. If you turn a pentagon over, it is going to be point down, not flat down. Same thing here.
enkidu
Ah ha, makes sense now. Visually it doesn't look that way on pictures I've seen, but I get it now.

Or I guess some kind of overlay could be done with the original date-wheel. Since I'm not sure what movement my watch has (could be SW-200 or ETA 2824), it may depend on that, or likely they use the same wheel.

Have you ever had the conversion done with a watchmaker? If so what was the cost?
enkidu: we have similar interests! may i ask if there's a way to message you privately or email you? i don't know massdrop well and don't see any such options. if you are able to provide a way for me to message you, i'll gladly do so. Thanks!
eieioshop
eieioshop, sure! I'm on watchuseek forums and you can pm me on their platform. Or you can email me at my username at mm dot st.
Thanks for the kind words guys! Sorry to get your hopes up! And no, the EZM1 is not available, go find your own (mine took me three+ years). I think a Sinn-Massdrop buy would be tremendous. Perhaps a run of 556 watches in standard or destro configuration?
Even as someone who is right handed and normally wears their watch on the left wrist, I see the brilliance of wearing a watch with a crown on the left side... it means I no longer get a crown pressed against the back of my hand! :D
I got excited when I saw the photo of a Sinn EZM in the email and then got sad when I clicked through and it wasn't a Massdrop for a Sinn watch. :(
SemperFudge
Agreed!!!! Although, I would be excited if #massdrop does go through with something from Sinn.
Citizen NY0040 - 8 o'clock crown...great for sports

As a left hander myself, and full time desk jockey, I can't see the point in a watch like this. If a watch crown digs into your wrist using a keyboard - the watch is too big. No surprise here, as they've been getting bigger for years. 40mm is now considered small. If people prefer to wear a watch on their right wrist, that's one thing, but to buy one of these and wear it on their left, that's just an exercise in masochism if trying to use a chronograph style watch.
Drubbing
Well the crown irritating me happens even with much smaller watches. It's probably because I have bad wrist posture or something. As for the chrono, I find using the chronograph is better in the destro configuration. Pushing with the thumb has more control and feels more natural. Having the buttons on the inside also reduces snags when reaching into bags and stuff.

As for having a point for owning destro watches, I agree with you. A nice square Casio g-shock would do the exact same job as these watches (actually better since it'd be more accurate, durable etc.), but when was watches ever about practicality?
Curious, do you still wear these watches on your left arm, like you are in the pictures?

Isn't the point of having a crown on the left side is to wear it on our non-dominant hand, the right, and still be able to adjust the watch?
georgewang
There are times when us right handers like wearing destro watches on their left. For instance when you do not want the crown digging into their hand at times like doing pushups or bench presses.
This can be a problem even when the watch is not oversized. I eschew large watches. I find using the crown while wearing more of a PITA than removing the watch to set the time etc.... so having a destro on my left hand would be a major plus. Also, visually I think I'd like the crown facing me since it is often an attractive feature of the watches I like.
I too got excited when I saw the lead picture in my email massdrop announcement that a Sinn EZM was dropping.
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