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It’s a nostalgic notion, wearing the same watch. Every damn day. Maybe you saw one of your grandparents wearing the same timepiece every day. It becomes a part of them, a part of their identity. There are no real requirements for an everyday watch besides general durability and comfort. We’re talking about watches that can be dressed up or dressed down. Watches that look as good with a suit as they do alongside a t-shirt and jeans. Lume and water resistance are nice, but not necessary. An everyday wearer can come on a bracelet or strap, as long as it sits comfortably on the wrist. And while we’re willing to pay good money for a watch we’re going to be wearing every day, we can’t spend so much that we feel we have to baby it through every door jamb. Here are our favorite everyday watches of 2018. Note: We featured some of these watches in our Brand Entry Point Guide.
Are you a one-watch person — someone who wears the same timepiece to a cocktail party or to the beach?
Sure, the Timex Weekender is quintessential weekend wear. But for a watch that can be dressed up a little more seamlessly, take a look at Timex’s Waterbury collection. Of course, purists will turn their noses up at the quartz-powered movement, but for a $100 watch, what do you expect? There are time-only and chronograph watches in the collection, leaving a little something for everyone. Some may point to the new Marlin line as an everyday mechanical option from Timex, but these are a tad on the dressier side compared to the cheaper, quartz Waterbury.
Seiko SARB 033/035
The Seiko SARB 033 (black dial) and SARB 035 (white dial) are often endearingly referred to as the Baby Grand Seikos, referring to the fact that they look so similar to their much more expensive siblings. These 38mm timepieces are perfect everyday watches, with Seiko’s 6R15 automatic movement, sapphire crystal, and 100mm of water resistance. While Seiko ended production on the SARB series (these two watches, plus the SARB 017, the “Alpinist”) in early 2018, they can still be readily had on pre-owned marketplaces such as Chrono24 or eBay (and even Amazon, sometimes). They’re fairly priced around $400, a nice sweet spot for a respectable everyday watch that you won’t feel guilt beating around.
Omega Aqua Terra
Of course Omega was always going to be on this list, but which one? Some of its most well known models do well dressed up or down: we’re talking Speedmasters, Railmasters, and of course, Seamasters. But we think the best every day watch is the Aqua Terra Seamaster. Since Omega first released the Aqua Terra in 2002, the model has seen a variety of dial and color combinations, most of which are very well executed. Yes, Omega overdoes the whole “limited edition” thing, but sometimes it works. For example, the all-black Aqua Terra Golf, with a green seconds hand, is a playful incorporation of color. Since 2008, the Aqua Terra has contained an in-house movement — which for Omega, of course, means a co-axial escapement — lending the collection a new sense of legitimacy. The trademark “teak” dial, meant to evoke the deck of a yacht, also adds a bit of texture to the dial that keeps the eyes intrigued. And for around $4,500, a legitimate Omega sports watch that fits every occasion can be yours. That’s not something to be scoffed at.
Not unlike Omega, Nomos makes so many great and relatively affordable mechanical watches that could be considered “everyday watches.” But we’ve decided to focus on its entry-level Club collection, which they market as its “most robust" timepiece, looking good in “meetings, while free running, or cutting a rug on the dance floor.” Putting aside the fact that no one “cuts a rug” anymore, the Club is as good an entry-level timepiece as you’ll find from a luxury watch brand. It’s got Nomos’ in-house manual-winding Alpha caliber powering it, a robust, legitimately in-house movement that you probably won’t find anywhere else for $1,500. at 36mm and just 8mm thick, it’s smaller than many other watches on this list. The size means it’s extremely wearable and flies under the radar in most situations. They also offer a 38mm option for the thick wrists among us.
Tudor Black Bay 32, 36, and 41
The Tudor Black Bay 58 tends to get all the love in watch enthusiast circles, and rightly so. It’s a tremendously built, durable dive watch. But for something that slides just as easily under a shirt cuff as it slides into the ocean, look a bit further in the Black Bay collection. Tudor offers the Black Bay 32, 36, and 41 (named for the case diameter). these watches have dials similar to the Black Bay 58, but their case lacks the rotating bezel found on the 58 that really gives it that vintage Submariner look. The result is a more subdued watch that looks just as comfortable desk diving as it does deep-sea diving. At under $3,000, it’s hard to find a timepiece that evokes the vintage dive watch look while still carrying a distinctively modern edge. And sure, it doesn’t have an in-house movement like the Black Bay 58 — all three models are powered by the ETA 2824-2 — but it’s got the cheaper price tag to show for it.
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Farer Three-Hand Automatics
This was a tough spot to fill. We could’ve highlighted watches from any number of our favoirte microbrands (read our in-depth microbrand guide), but we’ve decided to focus on Farer’s collection of three-hand automatics. They go by a few different names, but all have interesting dial designs and pops of color that make them really stand out. They’re packed with the workhorse ETA 2824 movement, a cornerstone for so many microbrands. At 39.5mm in diameter and 10mm thick, they’re extremely wearable, and the colorful designs make a modern statement without being ostentatious.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic
The Clifton Baumatic may sit on the dressier side of everyday options, but with a price just under $3,000, it’s still affordable enough that some may consider buying it as an everyday wearer. And at 40mm in diameter and 10mm in thickness, it’s got a nice presence on the wrist that not all dress watches have. The cross hairs at the center of the dial and Arabic numerals at the five-minute markers make the watch extremely readable, while also giving it just a bit of casual flair.
IWC Mark XVIII
The classic Big Pilot probably makes too much of a statement to be truly considered an everyday watch. That’s why we’ve turned to the more subdued 40mm Mark XVIII as the best everyday wearer from IWC. the black dial is understated without being dull, and the watch itself is an ode to the historic Mark XI of the post-WWII years. IWC even makes a pilot’s watch in 36mm now, for the slendered-wristed among us. While all these choices may make purists angry, they give the casual collector a plethora of options to get into IWC, at a price point under $4,000.
In 2017, Longines released the Record collection, a selection of steel watches that come in a number of sizes and dial varieties. In fact, one watch was even nominated in the GPHG this year. What’s so special about these watches is that they’re all COSC certified, meaning they satisfy minimum requirements for timekeeping accuracy when tested under a number of grueling conditions. Additionally, the watches come in 26mm, 30mm, 38.5m and 40mm, leaving every wrist size satisfied. Below is the dial variation that was a GPHG finalist this year in the Petite Aiguille category. The category is for watches under CHF 6,500, and most Record collection watches come in under $6,000. It’s nice to see a legendary Swiss brand putting so much time and energy into manufacturing a well-made piece for under $6,000.
Panerai Luminor Base Logo 3 Day
If your goal is to fly under the radar with your everyday watch, you can probably skip the next few sentences. But there’s no denying that Panerai’s durable cases and clean dials make for great everyday wear. The Luminor Base 3 Day may be the best daily wearer option from Panerai. You’ll get the classic crown guard look, but at 44mm, it’s “small” and more wearable for a Panerai. While the case makes a statement, the dial is simple and understated, creating a nice balance for the watch as a whole. The Base version sits at under $5,000, so we’re not playing with peanuts, but we’re still not in Rolex Submariner territory.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
Like Richemont’s other offering on this list (from Baume & Mercier), the Master Control Date with sector dial sits on the dressier end of the everyday spectrum. At $5,700, it’s also on the more expensive side. But the sector dial on this watch is a nice vintage homage in a piece that still looks thoroughly modern. And while this watch may be more comfortable in a boardroom than road biking, it’s casual enough that it won’t feel uncomfortable in any situation.
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date
Swiss brand Oris does mid-range luxury, everyday watches as well as anyone in the industry. Its Big Crown Pointer Date is perhaps the most iconic watch, first developed in 1938. Now, it’s offered in a 40mm and 36mm size, in stainless steel or bronze. The stainless steel version starts at $1,600, giving many an opportunity to own a real piece of Swiss watchmaking for under $2,000. For something a little different, check out the Oris Big Pointer Date in bronze. The bronze case will patina quickly, giving the appearance of a fine vintage watch.
Grand Seiko SBGX 259G/261G
Grand Seiko’s collection has so many watches that work for every occassion that it’s hard — if not downright impossible — to choose. So, we decided to choose the SBGX 259G/261G as its best “everyday” watch. It’s a quartz-powered timepiece, but don’t think that means Seiko isn’t taking the movement seriously. It’s a fully integrated process, with Seiko literally choosing the best quartz for the movements. Some will turn their noses up at a $2,000 battery-powered watch, but that’s not the kind of pretentiousness RESCAPEMENT is about. This watch has all the beautiful finishing Grand Seiko is known for, and with a superior quartz movement you don’t have to worry about any fragile mechanical pieces inside, and service costs will be minimal. In other words, everything you’d want from an everyday watch.
We were close to highlighting the Grand Seiko SBGA 211 “Snowflake”. This watch’s case and bracelet is made of titanium, meaning its light and durable in a way steel watches on this list are not. The Snowflake dial may be a bit “dressier,” but when you’ve got one of the best dials in the game, don’t be afraid to show it off.
Finally. Perhaps the quintessential everyday watch. Not as bold as the Submariner, but sportier than a Datejust or Oyster Perpetual. The Rolex Explorer’s iconic 3-6-9 dial, chronometer-certified movement and durable Oystersteel case and bracelet make it the perfect everyday watch. The most recent version has a 39mm diameter, a modern departure from the classic 36mm, but it still sits comfortable and discretely on the wrist. For more, read our History of the Rolex Explorer.