The top 10 stores for watches in Toronto
The top stores for watches in Toronto offer everything from inexpensive fashion-focused watches to obscure mid-priced brands to the kind of high-end timepieces Bay Street bankers dream about. Though a certain segment of watch nerds may disagree, there's no rule that you need to spring for the latter option in order to make that piece of wrist flash worth your while.
In the advent of smartphones, many predicted watches would fall by the wayside as a fashion item, remaining only on the wrists of the aforementioned boardroom dwellers, or leisure-class high rollers who see their Swiss tourbillons as signifiers of status and wealth. But, as in so many other areas of fashion, nostalgia prevails: A new wave of sleek, retro, reasonably inexpensive designs has appeared right alongside the Barbour jackets and Pendleton flannels in men's boutiques across the city.
This list omits stores that focus entirely on high-end timepieces. Check these spots out if you're looking to stock up on a couple of stylish budget-friendly watches, or just grab something to wear while you save up for the Panerai or Baume & Mercier you've been lusting after. Either way, you'll be fashionably on time.
Here are the top stores for watches in Toronto.
Located at Yonge and Finch, Classic Creations is primarily a jeweler, with the dizzying array of prestige watch brands to prove it. Watch geeks on a budget, take note: Classic Creations has all the mid-century-style Shinolas you could possibly handle, with most of the Detroit watchmaker's watch collection on offer ($550-$900). On the lower end of the price spectrum, there's also department-store mainstays like Coach, Tissot and Victorinox.
Sure, it's part of a Canada-wide chain, but the Yonge-Dundas store is a popular destination. That's for a good reason: They stock everything from the outlandish (Karl Lagerfeld) to the serious (Tissot, 88 Rue du Rhone), the sporty to the military to the classy, with plenty of inexpensive, fashion-y brands represented.
Yorkville's Uncle Otis carries killer fashion watches to complement their lineup of casual menswear - some, like their vintage-styled Timexes, have downright un-Yorkville prices (they start at around $50). But for the discerning and higher-budgeted, there's Uniform Wares and Tsovet's stylishly spare timepieces, rounded out with a couple of ribbon-strap Daniel Wellingtons.
The Accessory Bar
The former Bang-On store near Yonge and Dundas is now stocked high with backpacks and caps, and lined with rows of glass cases packed with a huge range of Nixon watches (ranging from the spare to the out-there), mega-clean designs from Belgian brand Komono, and a few G-Shocks. Service is friendly and knowledgeable.
On your next stroll through the Eaton Centre, you'll be able to spot the horology geeks from a mile away: They're the people breaking their nose cartilage on the glass cases outside European Jewellery, ogling the J12s and Planet Oceans. That's not to say that everything at European will cost you as much as a reasonably nice car - Hamilton, for example, has a rep for making some of the finest stuff in the high-three-figure-range. (If you're looking for a cheap thrill, though, this may not be your spot.)
Piled high with unusual, high-design gifts, this oddball Yorkville shop (the name stands for Realm of Ludicrous Objects) sells watches by companies you didn't even know made watches - think Alessi and Braun - and some sculptural, sci-fi inspired novelty watches from 01 The One.
Lost & Found
Ossington's favourite menswear store/coffee shop features a handful of watches from Shinola, real-deal dive watches from Military Watch Co. and retro models from Miansai. Though the selection's small, they're planning to expand their Shinola collection; the store's staff add they'll also do special orders for buyers looking for a certain model.
In addition to being a mainstay on our lists of best optical stores, Minh Chau also operates a jewelry and watch boutique in Chinatown. It's a favourite source among fans of certain brands (Omega and Tissot come to mind) for the selection and discounts.
So Hip It Hurts
At the moment, the legendary Queen West skate shop appears to stock two watch brands, Nixon and Vestal. But with several cases liberally interspersed around the store, the selection's pretty respectable, and the designs are cool enough that you don't need to be a skater to wear 'em.
The selection has shrunk since La Swiss moved to Bloor from its long-ago home in the Eaton Centre. Now, it's quite the mixed bag - TW Steel, ESQ Movado, and Victorinox alongside a number of high-end Swiss brands and their own house line. The real treasures are to be found in their vintage case, which features pieces from stratospherically expensive brands like Piaget and Blancpain for a fraction of the cost. (Granted, that's still in the thousands.)
What did I miss? Add your picks for watch stores in the comments.
Photo of So Hip It Hurts by Jesse Milns.