Watches are meant to be worn and enjoyed, but this does not mean that every one of them can successfully withstand all the challenges presented during everyday use. This is even more evident in the warm summer months. For some, summer holidays present the best opportunity to sit back and relax while others decide to blow off steam by engaging in a number of intense activities.
Consider one of the simplest cases; someone relaxing on a chaise lounge during a 35 degrees celsius sunny day. What happens to their watch when they decide that they would like to pick up the pace a bit and go for a swim, play racket ball or even build a sand castle? Activities like these seem quite normal during vacation time but can prove quite harmful for a watch. How does a sudden drop of temperature affect the functionality or the timekeeping of a watch? Have you ever seen how easily acrylic crystals or polished surfaces can pick up scratches from sand grains? Have you ever considered what might be the effect of the vibrations transferred to the movement while playing golf, tennis or racquetball? All these are just a fraction of the considerations one should explore when deciding on which watch should accompany them during their days off!
Such is the appeal of a nice looking timepiece under bright natural light that giants of the industry have taken advantage of this during their commercial campaigns. Just have a look at this clip from Tudor. Nice, isn't it?
I have to admit that I am a huge fun of Tudor and their Heritage Chrono Blue is a great piece to look at while offering all the functionality anyone would ever need!
Modern watches tend to behave much better under diverse conditions since they employee different methods of shock resistance, sapphire crystals and slightly better seals. However, specifications of each specimen should be taken into consideration and interpreted accordingly. 3 ATM or 30 meters water resistance might seem fine for a swim but watches with such rating are actually NOT suitable for swimming or snorkeling and are only considered as splash proof and rainproof! The table below gives a very good indication of what kind of usage watches with different depth ratings can withstand.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a 200m depth rating on a 10-year-old watch does not guarantee any protection against water ingress unless it has been water tested. This is because the rubber seals tend to dry out and get damaged as years go by. Most manufacturers suggest having the seals checked over or replaced every couple of years.
For the reasons mentioned above, and quite understandably so, most collectors tend to leave the pride and joy of their stables locked inside the safebox when going away. Instead, they opt to call on the services of some affordable, quality pieces. The term commonly used for these little comrades is Summer Watch.
What are some applicable criteria when choosing a holiday watch?
Water resistant rating: at least 100m
Screw down crown
Decent, accurate movement
Colour Scheme. Because let’s face it its summer!
Had you asked me two years ago these two would be my ideal choices for a summer watch. The Tudor submariner was hovering around the £2k mark, which might seem a bit high, but you get all the advantages of the legendary oyster case and Rolex build quality. The Lorenz is a gorgeous, Lemania 5100 based chronograph with an amazing reverse panda dial and could be found for around £700-£800. Both these examples were also produced with gorgeous blue dials and bezels, which look absolutely amazing under bright summer light! As with everything vintage and neo-vintage prices have now increased for both watches with the some of the Tudor fast approaching the £4k mark and with the Lorenz examples already commanding £1500. That is if you can actually find them for sale with the black dialed versions popping up from time to time and with the blue ones being rarer than hen’s teeth.
A friend recently purchased a gorgeous Omega Seamester 300 built by service parts. In the past, Omega did not have a very restrictive policy regarding spares so companies like WatchCo would purchase new dials, hands, bezels, crystals and cases and would pair them with a vintage movement. The result being a vintage Seamaster 300 from the 60’s with modern functionality. Again, these were around £1200 a few years back but are now commanding more than £3000.
Thankfully, some modern alternatives seem to fit the bill perfectly.
The SEIKO PADI diver is a great watch! A timeless steel case, a reliable automatic movement, a nice bracelet, hard mineral crystal, screw down crown and 200m water resistance guarantee that the watch will survive most situations. The amazing blue dial and a pepsi bezel make it an ideal summer watch.
For a few pounds more someone could opt for a Squale 1521 Satinato. Squale has a long heritage as a case manufacturer for glorious models of the past such as the Blancpain Bund, one of the first diving watches offered to armed forces. The 50 atmos, utilizes the same case shape and employees a beautiful blue bezel and dial. Coupled with a reliable ETA 2824 Swiss movement and 500m of water resistance is a great beach companion.