Rated For Stage Diving: Why A Mechanical Watch Is Actually A Festival Essential

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Rated For Stage Diving: Why A Mechanical Watch Is Actually A Festival Essential

Words by Mr Alex Doak

17 June 2022

Glasto is back. It’s been three unintentionally fallow years (just imagine how lush that grass beneath your groundsheet will be), but much to the Worthy Farm cows’ chagrin, it’s finally time to reunite with 202,999 other delirious revellers and churn up a mud pit to the merry sounds of Ms Billie Eilish, Mr Kendrick Lamar and Fontaines DC.

Which means digging out that crumpled packing list from your beloved Eastpak and reminding yourself of the unlikely essentials. “Wet wipes” are the obvious item topping your correspondent’s own list from 2011, followed by the far wilier “wine (box of)” – concentrated alcohol storage, plus the bag can be reinflated as a pillow – then “Dioralyte and Berocca” (your morning pick-me-up). Then last on the list: “Oris”.

Yes, Oris: as in Hölstein, Switzerland’s revered, historic watchmaker. You may baulk at the idea of strapping on what’s essentially a luxury item for four or five days of wild abandon, especially when that list probably itemises “ripped jeans” and “scuffed sneakers” as the balance of your stylistic get-up.

But bear with us. The Aquis diving watch in question survived and indeed excelled throughout four consecutive Glastonbury Festivals (2009 to 2012). What follows is our irrefutable case for making a premium, water-resistant automatic wristwatch your new music-festival essential.


It can beat the elements

You needn’t be a Padi-certified scuba nut – even those fostering an abject fear of open water can rightly justify wearing a diving watch. Glasto-wise, a 100-metre rating (as dictated by the international standard for dive watches) more than guarantees deluge-proofness, actual-shower-proofness (if you can be bothered to queue at Greenpeace) and in the case of Bremont’s Royal Navy-endorsed Argonaut, mud-proofness. No matter how much you wallow in the mosh pit, the internally housed rotating bezel won’t be jammed with fine grit once you’ve dried out.


It will go the distance

Unless you enjoy squandering valuable party time at the phone-charging tent, it’s the same reason you should always pack your old burner. Like that brick of a Nokia, an automatic watch packs a hefty power reserve – infinite, in fact, since it’s powered by your flailing arms. Even if your treasured heirloom has been hiding motionless in your sleeping bag for three panic-ridden days, fear not: something like Oris’ new Aquis Date will still be ticking when you finally find it, and keep you on track to meet your mates by the cider bus while your smartphone has long since died. Its Calibre 400 movement packs five days of rocksteady ticking.


It’s a night owl

Come the wee, sweaty hours of Shangri-La, you hardly want to be fumbling your fragile iPhone 12 into a writhing crowd just to check whether the sun’s up yet. A flick of a wrist and your diving watch’s dial luminescence (clearly readable at 25cm in total darkness) will beam the ungodly reality of your reverie in all manner of vivid shades. Stylish practitioner of horological utility, Bell & Ross has form here – in particular the BR 03-92 Nightlum, whose critical indices and hands serve as miniature glow sticks. More specifically, an orange shade of SuperLumiNova phosphorescent paint, made of strontium aluminate.


It will add to your style

A well-engineered mechanical watch isn’t just a practical substitute for your dainty smartwatch or failsafe time check for when all the devices run dry. We’re currently enjoying a purple patch of… well, purple watches, yellow watches, a veritable rainbow of prestige timepieces in unashamedly bold proportions that can only add a pop of discerning cool to your festival garb. One venerable Swiss marque hitting the mark style wise is TAG Heuer, whose Aquaracer 300 line features an appropriately field-green colourway.


It’s solid as a rock (star)

A decent diving watch is inherently robust. And in some cases almost completely scratchproof thanks to the addition of a ceramic-clad bezel sitting proud of the sapphire-crystal “glass” it circles (see aforementioned TAG Heuer, for example). But for those prone to especially “high-spirited” failures of co-ordination in the presence of hard surfaces – yes, that can only be you up there, Mr Rock Star – an all-encompassing toughness is called for. Machining high-tech case components to water-resistant tolerances has always been excruciating, even with titanium, but trust Panerai to remain stoically at the cutting edge. To wit, the Luminor Marina Carbotech, milled precisely from a solid block of carbon fibre. Perfect for any late-night or early-morning slip-ups.