Six Luxury Watches You Can Wear To The Beach
Strap yourself in with our pick of Nato, rubber and webbing watches to pack for your vacation
Summer is here and, with it, a chance to roll out the holiday wardrobe, which should extend to your wrist as well. You have shoes and suits for every season, after all, and every man should own a watch that’s well suited to sun, sea and sand. But what exactly are the qualities of good holiday watch? Additional functionality always helps – we love a chronograph or a diving watch. Bright colours, and bold watch faces can also shout “summer”. But there is one thing that unites all seasonal watches: a durable, element-resistant strap.
The usual go-to materials of leather and steel are out; straps made from rubber and textiles are in. There’s more to this than pure style: leather does not do well in warm weather, it can be a sticky, uncomfortable choice. Stainless steel might strike you as pretty all-purpose, but sand and pebbles will scratch those links, not to mention get stuck deep in every possible crevice. Swap your steel watch strap for a titanium one, however, and you’ll find it will not reach arm-searing heat when exposed to the sun (whereas steel will), thanks to the metal’s low thermal conductivity.
So there you have it: several very good reasons to have a beach-ready watch in rotation. Here are six more reasons in the shape of our favourite watches for your summer holiday.
TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 range came into being in the mid-1980s (it was, in fact, the first model launched under the name “TAG Heuer”, following Heuer’s merger with Techniques d’Avant Garde). It was conceived as the affordable, bright and bold member of the family, and still hits that brief today. This 43mm blue-and-orange number comes on a striped Nato-style fabric strap. Nylon straps in this style are referred to as “Nato” because they follow a design template laid down by the British Ministry of Defence in 1973, which had a Nato Stock Number of G10. (All standard-issue military items produced by Nato member states are labelled with their own unique code.)
Despite the fact that its name is a portmanteau of “chronograph” and “Oris”, this Chronoris isn’t actually a chronograph. Well, the original watch was, but the range has since expanded to include time-only pieces, such as this. It’s a sporty model, nevertheless, firmly rooted in the 1970s, thanks to that “tonneau”-shaped case and the retro typography on the dial, not to mention the orange highlights across the hour markers and second hand. Functionally, it’s actually closer in concept to a classic dive watch – instead of a chunky bezel, the four o’clock crown controls a rotating ring inside the dial (where the orange triangle is), which does the same thing while keeping the watch’s lines svelte. The pale-grey Nato strap is a tonal complement to the silvery frame and face.
The titanium-cased Bremont Endurance GMT – a limited edition made for polar explorer Mr Ben Saunders – might seem a little over-prepped for Santorini sunshine, but take it from us, it’s a solid holiday choice. For one thing, that “emergency orange” strap is the definition of a beach-ready look (it will fit right in at the lifeguard station). And if you do decide to do something more adventurous, the 500m water resistance and compass-point bezel might come in handy. Or at least, allow you to pretend you know what you’re doing before you admit that taking the long route back to the hotel was a mistake.
Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato was a product of the 1970s, a design intended to rival the Royal Oak, Nautilus and Overseas. Brought back to life over the past three years, it now boasts a more varied range than its contemporaries. At the sportier end of the spectrum is this black PVD-coated titanium and rubber piece, the Laureato Absolute. It’s rated to 300m water resistance, and it’s the first watch on our list to run on an in-house calibre, the 46-hour GP03300-1060 automatic movement. Being a ruggedised version, of course, there’s no sapphire caseback through which to admire it, but you’ll know it’s there.
Another watch that might suggest itself to the more intrepid holidaymaker, this special bronze-cased edition of IWC Schaffhausen’s Aquatimer commemorates Mr Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle voyage to the Galápagos Islands. A bronze case will patinate over time, especially when exposed to seawater, giving the watch a lived-in character that’s totally unique. So, whether in the crashing waves of the Pacific or the softly lapping shallows of the Seychelles, give it a dip. The watch includes a chronograph, laid out in IWC’s signature style at 12 and six, and for serious divers there are both internal and external rotating bezels for keeping track of how long you’ve been under.
You’ll know Panerai for its dive watches already – they are the foundation upon which the entire brand was built. While this watch will function admirably as a diver (it is good to 100m and the rubber strap is specially designed to expand when worn around a wetsuit), it was intended for life above the waves. Specifically, timing yacht races – hence the five-minute countdown section marked on the dial, designed to help sailors hit the start line perfectly. As with many of Panerai’s best watches, it’s on the large side at 47mm width, but its titanium construction means it’s no heavier than your average sports watch.