A Watch For All Seasons [Stuff Guide]
Think your smartphone tells the time? Nope, your smartphone tells the world that you’re not stylish enough to wear a watch. The humble wristwatch, you see, is not just a means to avoid being late. It’s an incredible piece of wrist-mounted engineering that somehow manages to keep time accurately to within just a few milliseconds a day. That’s why we’ve selected some of the best watches on the market (ie. our favourites) suitable for every style and budget. Go on, it’s time for a change….
Serious times call for seriously smart dressing – and nothing pulls a look together like one of these elegant watch choices
Bell & Ross WW1 Grande Date
Known for its oversized watches, Bell & Ross chose subtle elegance over wrist cramps when it put together the WW1 Grande Date. It’s understated charm is a subtle nod toward the first wrist watches of old, back when soldiers in the First World War were issued small timepieces to coordinate missions/make sure trains didn’t collide. This one pairs quality materials and craftsmanship with a subtle dial in B&R’s signature style.
Longines Conquest Classic
With ‘long’ in the title, you might think this Swiss watchmaker’s moniker refers to the length of time it’s been in business (going strong since 1832). Nope, it’s named after the Es Longines factory, the same one that produced Longines’ first movement almost 150 years ago. And with that much horological history behind it, it’s no wonder that understated designs like this Conquest Classic tend to look good forever.
Raymond Weil Maestro
Raymond Weil might not be the first name in dress watches, but everything in its Maestro lineup is pretty much spot on. This one keeps things understated with a sleek stainless steel case (with nothing as tawdry as gold) simple roman numerals and blue moonphase disc breaks. The automatic movement ticks away at 28,800 beats per hour and it has a power reserve of 38 hours, which should see you through even the longest of dinner parties.
West End Watch Co. Sowar 1916
The West End Watch Company isn’t the best-known brand in luxury watchmaking, but that doesn’t make its timepieces any less sought after. In fact, having had its roots firmly planet in Swiss watch making history since 1886, these classic watches are both rare and highly coveted. The Sowar 1916 is the modern version of the classic military watch (in fact, ‘Sowar’ means ‘warrior’ in Hindustani – we don’t get the connection either) complete with automatic movement and antique winding crown.
Hugo Boss Driver
Boss’ watch collection has a good reputation for style at an excellent price, and its reinvention of the driving watch is no different. It sports a Day-Date quartz movement, for higher precision and reliability, a solid 46mm stainless steel case and a sleek back dial. There’s also a distinctive white date function that gives you the name and date. A crocodile-pattern embossed leather strap will secure the Driver to your wrist, although we’d prefer a proper leather one to be honest.
The Time Keeper
Worn by fighter pilots and racing drivers alike for decades, these watches combine style with precision-perfect accuracy
Raymond Weil Freelancer Urban Black
This matt black stealth bomber of a watch is made via particle vapor deposition or PVD for short. It creates an incredibly thin hard-wearing alloy layer (a combination of aluminium, titanium and nitride for you chemistry nuts) that gives it an incredibly unique feel and colour that’ll never fade. It also won’t stop telling the correct time either, what with its automatic chronograph movement inside. Comes in silver (but minus the cool-sounding chemistry).
Seiko Astron GPS
The Astron is a clever bit of watch kit, able to give you the correct time wherever you are in the world. It can automagically tell which of the world’s 39 time zones you’re currently sat in via GPS signal, then update its time and date settings all by itself. It’s one of kind, which explains why Seiko submitted over 100 patent applications before flaunting it. It’s even solar-powered, making it on of the most low-maintenance watches the world has ever seen.
Certina’s well-built watches can hold their own against competitors five times the price, proving you don’t need to spend a tonne of cash for a classic, dependable chronograph. This chunky Podium series gives you a straightforward dial and metal bracelet, with enough dials to make use of its precise quartz movement inside. While its lack of automatic movement might put off some watch snobs, you still get an established watch house (Certina has been going for over 124 years) and rock solid build quality without breaking the bank.
When it comes to trendy watches, the king of the catwalk reigns supreme. And while the quartz movement inside won’t raise any eyebrows in Switzerland, you’re far more likely to impress the stylish people you meet with a Calvin Klein on your wrist (most people don’t know anything about watches – let’s be honest). This new timepiece gives you the classic stainless steel style and rubber bracelet of dive watches, and looks just as good with a suit as it does with blue jeans and T-shirt (both from Calvin Klein, natch).
Zenith Pilot Big Date
This is a very big watch in the world of horology, and not just because it’s a whopping 58mm across (that’s the same size as the iPhone you keep in your pocket). First, it’s powered by Zenith’s El Primero calibre, which is the most celebrated chronograph movement ever produced. Second, Zenith is the only watchmaker allowed to use the word ‘pilot’ on the dial, thanks to a cheeky copyright filed decades ago. Throw in a timeless design and this is arguably the best chronograph on the planet.
Big, bold and distinctive, diving watches are equally at home thousands of meters under the water or simply sat on your wrist by the beach
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
Having first engineered a watch to travel to the moon, Omega has set its sights on conquering the ocean floor. The results? The granddaddy of diving watches and personal choice of certified aqua man Michael Phelps. You get one of the most precise mechanical movements in the world – the famous Omega co-axial – and a titanium case that can withstand the crushing depths of 600m. And having been going since 1962 (when Omega introduced the Seamaster 300) it’s guaranteed to stay in style for another 50 years at least.
Oris Carlos Coste Limited Edition
Oris claims it makes ‘real watches for real people’ but we’d have to disagree, what with it naming a limited edition dive watch after famed free-diving champion Carlos Coste. It sports a massive 47mm case, the domed sapphire glass alone is 4.8mm thick, and for good reason – the watch is certified to withstand a depth of 1,000m. Suddenly, naming it after a man who can go down past 140m on a single breath makes a lot of sense.
Victorinox Dive Master 500
A bit like the Swiss Army knife of dive watches, Victorinox has launched a rugged, go-anywhere, do-anything dive watch that’s got everything you could want. Hardy stainless steel casing, tough sapphire crystal face and the ability to dive down to 500m without bother. It looks good too, and thanks to a Swiss engineered automatic movement it will more than hold its own against the more flashy brands currently setting sites on the ocean floor.
Timex E-Tide Compass
Cheap, cheerful and very clever – this Timex is an affordable but stylish dive watch that gives you some handy features when you’re under the sea. It has a fourth hand that can, at the push of a button, display compass direction, tide status or temperature. It also has Timex’s Indiglo night-light tech for diving after dark. The athletic black textured strap has been designed to match the watch face exactly, and the rubberized grip should keep it glued to your wrist in even the roughest of seas.
Luminox Colourmark 3080
Luminox has been making dive watches for the US Navy SEALS for more than 15 years now, and if its dive watches can survive secret missions and taking down pirates off the coast of Somalia, chances are it’ll brush off anything you can throw at it. It boasts some of the brightest glowing markers on any watch (via borosilicate glass capsules) that don’t need to be exposed to any light sources to glow. It’s also bombproof and worn by some of the toughest hard asses in the world, ’nuff said.
Not too big and not too small, everyday watches are some of the most useful and stylish timepieces in the world
TAG Heuer Formula 1
Way back in the 80s Techniques d’Avant Garde, a manufacturer of incredibly high-tech kit (like the ceramic turbochargers that go in Formula One cars) bought a venerable little watch house called Heuer. The Formula 1 was one of the first models the newly joined TAG Heuer ever produced, and reflected a new focus on modern design, quartz precision and value. Today it’s still one of the most unique timepieces available, with an unmistakable design and rugged style that’s equally suited to the boardroom or the racetrack.
Mondaine Simply Elegent Gent
Mondaine was originally tasked with creating the official clock for always-on-time Swiss Rail in the 30s, but has since turned into a rather good maker of iconic consumer watches, too. The Simply Elegant Gent is just that, a very simple watch with a whiter than white face, chunky black digits and lollypop second hand. Whether original the design is down to Mondaine’s tasteful designers or the ability to read a clock from far away is still a matter of horological debate.
Seiko Sportura Alarm Chronograph
Despite some of the biggest names in horology spending billions on advertising campaigns and multi-million dollar brand ambassadors, the timepiece you’ll see worn by most watch lovers is a humble Seiko. Why? Because Seiko has been churning out durable and affordable watches since the 60s, and its (dare we say cheap?) quartz watches can be found in all around the world. But that’s not a bad thing – Seiko’s history of making watches is almost unmatched, and as you can see from its latest Sportura Alarm Chronograph, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better-looking chrono.
This Guess Chaser Chrono may look like it costs thousands of dollars, but it’s actually one of the best timepieces in the sub-US$300 range. Why? Because its quartz movement is one of the most accurate available (only losing a minute max per year of use), its brushed black monochrome face looks amazing, and it boasts date and 24-hour time functions. There’s also a chunky bezel and rubber strap (although we’d probably trade that in for a brushed black metal band for added Batman-factor).
Kenneth Cole New York
If your goal in life is to own a classy, silver watch – it doesn’t get much better than this by Kenneth Cole. Sure, it’s not going to win any horological awards (it packs a pretty uncelebratory quartz movement, basic crystal and that’s stainless steel, not silver) but it’s enough to set off a blue pinstripe suit and it’s styled in an attractive circa-80s design. And let’s not forget, it also tells the time.
These watches are built to impress and brag about, with complicated movements, exotic materials and interesting looks
It’s no wonder that Guess’ luxury offshoot Gc would create a watch that not only ticks the ‘Swiss Made’ box that proper collectors demand, but also looks as good as this. A proper piece of haute horology (high-class watchmaking that’s as much about celebrating the mechanical insides as the delectable design) this one was put together to celebrate Gc’s 15th anniversary, and sports a matt-black PVC coating and see-through face that lets you peek at the exquisite mechanical movement powering it.
Don’t be fooled by this watch’s dapper exterior – Rado’s Hyperchrome collection sports a revolutionary ceramic case – the latest innovation from Rado’s watch boffs. The new material gives the Hyperchrome an unmatched profile, making this chronograph’s push-down buttons almost invisible on the side of its case. The ceramic material also remains perfectly neutral to your skin temperature, meaning you’ll hardly notice it sat on your wrist making it very comfortable to wear.
Pull out your smartphone or glance at the bottom right of your desktop’s screen and you’ll see the time – self-correcting and always right to the very second. But watches are no more about telling accurate time, and these days it’s more about wearing a well-designed piece of machinery than knowing when your five o’clock meeting starts. That’s why we’re fond of Guess’ Visionary range. Not only does it look spectacular, what with its rose gold oval bezel and antique crown, but mainly because you can see the automatic movement through its face.
Tissot T-Touch Classic
Tissot’s excellent T-Touch technology borders on the magical. Even in our world of capacitive touchscreens and motion-controlled consoles, you’ll be hard pressed to find something more impressive this. Just tap the clear glass dial of a T-Touch watch, then stare in disbelief as the minute and hour hands transform themselves from time-telling tools to an altimeter, thermometer or compass, where the minute and hour hands align and pivot northwards. This Classic version ditches the bright colours in favour of a more laid-back look.
The G-Shock brand has been known for toughness since it started wrapping its watches in shock-resistant rubber and plastic back in the 80s. And this Aviator range is no different. It combines analogue clock hands, extreme durability, world alarms and a chronograph with an auto LED backlight. It’s also been gravitational tested, to ensure that the time stays true even at 12Gs – the same acceleration and speed attained by a fighter jet. Not bad.