The 10 best everyday watchesD.C. Hannay
As monstrous and unnatural as it sounds, there are people who only want one watch in their lives. In days past, this wasn’t such an unusual thing. People from my parents’ generation often wore the same watch for a lifetime, or at least until it was well beyond repair. One watch to rule them all, if you will. I am not that one-watch person, however, and if you’re a regular reader, I’m betting you’re not either. But I certainly appreciate a watch that nails the refined versatility thing. One that can take a bit of hard use? Even better. These timepieces are now known as go-anywhere, do-anything watches. And for a watch to actually go anywhere and do anything, they need to meet certain criteria. First of all, it can’t lean too hard into dress watch or tool watch territory. I’m not going for a dip wearing a Tank, nor will I be trying to stuff a 47mm Luminor under a French cuff. There needs to be balance. Boxes to tick include decent water resistance (preferably 100 metres), a nice mid-range size, an automatic movement, and at least a couple of dial options. Now that I’ve established my own personal ground rules, here are my picks for 10 of the best everyday watches for someone looking for a versatile, go-to timepiece, or God forbid, a one-watch collection. As if that even exists.
Tudor Black Bay 36
The non-diver Tudor Black Bay has always felt like an also-ran when compared to the hyped-up dive models (and the fuss surrounding them), but don’t sleep on the newest version. Available in a range of sizes, it now features Tudor’s 70-hour, in-house COSC and chronometer-certified movement, a refined case design, and a Jubilee-style five-link bracelet with the near-perfect T-fit quick adjust clasp. My choice is the 36mm size, with the lovely anthracite and gilt no-date dial. It’s a versatile, well-sized timepiece with a subtle vintage flair, yet it’s robust enough for everyday use.
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
What can be said about the PRX that hasn’t been said already? It’s got a classy integrated design that remains as scorchingly hot as any in the category, an 80-hour Powermatic movement, 100 metres of water resistance, and an ever-expanding selection of dial options. My choice, while not the most versatile, is the chilly ice blue that recalls the hue of the platinum Daytona. Fit and finish on the PRX is way better than it has any right to be at the asking price, and you can find yours right here in the Time+Tide shop.
Here’s one that looks like it was discovered in your grandfather’s dresser drawer: the midcentury perfection that is the Lorier Astra. This one from the microbrand powerhouse pushes all my buttons, with its 36mm case, 100 metre rating, big crown, refined 5-link bracelet, and to my delight, a domed Hesalite acrylic crystal. My dial pick is the retro-tastic, two-tone Cosmic Blue, whose design recalls classic Polerouters. A high-beat Miyota movement keeps things trim, as does the solid caseback. I never understood why anyone would put a display caseback over a bog-standard movement, and thankfully, Lorier focuses on the important things. Like not including a giant ornate wooden box that’s just going to get shoved in a closet, but instead opting for a travel pouch, a screwdriver for sizing the bracelet, a polishing cloth, and a tube of Polywatch for buffing the acrylic crystal. Smart. The Astra is the perfect choice for anyone lusting after that Mad Men-era look, and at an astonishing US$499, you’re not paying vintage prices for vintage cool.
Omega Aqua Terra 150M 38mm
The 38mm Aqua Terra is criminally overlooked in my book, given the fact that it does nearly everything so damn well. It’s got an ideal size, those classic Omega lugs, 150 metres of water resistance, and the METAS-certified Master Chronometer Co-Axial 8800 movement. The horizontally striped textured black dial goes with everything, and the entire package is just supremely confident, with no fussy excess. If it’s good enough for Lashana Lynch’s wrist in No Time To Die, trust me, you’re covered.
Doxa Sub 200
Yes, the Sub 200 is technically a diver, but the retro look and trim-for-the-category dimensions make it a versatile pick. Naturally, this 200 metre diver comes in Doxa’s wide range of brilliant dial hues. I’ve opted for the silver Searambler for the purposes of this list, as it’s less blatantly tool watch-adjacent, and easily pairs with a broad range of looks. This is a timepiece that can hang almost anywhere, and that divine beads-of-rice bracelet makes anywhere a comfortable place to be. Check out all of the options in T+T’s Shop for yourself.
Speaking of elegant, vintage-leaning watches, I’m smitten with Serica’s 5303, which looks as if it came straight from a time capsule. The dial on this French microbrand stunner has a graphic energy that reminds me of a Blue Note jazz album cover, and the dual-scale steel and ceramic bezel is both unique and useful. The graceful demeanor of the whole affair is down to its svelte dimensions, the sweep of its lyre lugs, and the unabashedly sexy mesh bracelet. Dial choices are classic black, wintry white, or a cool midnight blue, and the movement is now COSC-certified. Everything is just a bit more nuanced and less shouty than on most modern tool watches, and the fact that you can track a second time zone with the bezel means the Serica really can go anywhere.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five
Yep, another throwback diver, but can you blame me when it looks this good? Vintage divers always seem more well-proportioned to me than their contemporary counterparts, so when a modern iteration gets it right, I gotta give credit. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five comes in several flavours, with a host of dial variants and sizes that range from 38 to 42mm. I chose to split the difference at 40mm, and the green-dialled version with its bronze bezel, hands, and markers is only going to get better with age. Not just great-looking, it’s a great value, too, at US$2,400 for a truly Swiss-made timepiece that holds its own among more expensive options.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Performer 38mm
Speaking of solid value, Hamilton’s Jazzmaster Performer series offers a wide-ranging selection of size and dial options at attractive price points. I’ve gone with the 38mm in a deep sunray blue dial, which looks properly retro without the accompanying retro headaches. I love the fixed steel bezel, its blue numerals giving an understated vintage feel to a modern watch. How modern? The H-10 movement offers a stellar 80-hour power reserve, something you’re unlikely to find in a 60-year-old timepiece. And if this blue-on-leather version isn’t quite your speed, you have options from 34 to 42mm in the T+T shop.
The Tsuyosa has been a sleeper hit ever since it tiptoed its way into Citizen’s lineup. Enthusiasts have praised its Rolex Oyster Perpetual/Oysterquartz looks at ramen prices, and I’m inclined to agree. It offers a well-proportioned stainless-steel 40mm case with that angled Oysterquartz look, a range of dial choices, an integrated bracelet that riffs on the Rolex President, and a reliable Miyota 8210 automatic movement. Me? I’m going with the yellow dial, for those budget baller OP feels.
Breitling Chronomat Automatic 36
At the other end of the price tag spectrum, we have the unmistakable Breitling Chronomat in full red gold. Attention grabbing? Sure, but hear me out. In fact, I’d argue that the Chronomat (especially in gold) is a real under-the-radar move. The 36mm version’s size mitigates the visual fireworks of the ammo belt-evoking Rouleaux bracelet, and what you’re left with is a handsome timepiece that has a profile closer to Vacheron’s 222 than AP’s Royal Oak Offshore. The rounded links of the bracelet are certainly unconventional, but damn, is it comfortable. The Chronomat has a COSC-certified chronometer movement and 100 metres of water resistance, so it can certainly go most places with no problem. And although you can specify a stainless version with a blue or mint green dial, given its 36mm case, I’d have no problem rocking this beauty in all its golden glory.