Review: The Perfect Summer Beater Watch

A great summer watch should be more than just cheap and tough.

My internal buying logic usually dictates that I buy something visually reserved, ideally small and likely expensive. But the “summer beater” concept lets me throw that out the window: pick up something cheap and tough enough to survive a swim and stay in one piece after being bounced off a boulder, but that also has fun warm-weather vibes. For all this, the Orient M-Force Bravo is perfect.

Orient — like that other Japanese watch brand we love — specializes in affordable mechanical watches (which are in-house, by the way). The brand’s M-Force line of dive watches, originally launched in 1997, is akin to Seiko’s Prospex series: chunky, sub-$1,000 tool watches engineered to take a licking. Each watch in the M-Force line features an automatic movement and is certified waterproof and shockproof. As an added bonus, the Bravo model is antimagnetic as well. How’s that for tough?

Wearing the Bravo, which is 45mm in diameter and 13.5mm thick, feels like using a single aerobic wrist weight, even though it’s one of the smallest watches in the M-Force lineup. Such is the price you pay for a big, brash watch. At least Orient used their big canvas to its fullest. Part of what makes that work for the M-Force Bravo is its colorful character; that’s what initially attracted me to it in the first place. The power reserve is a mix of bright blue, yellow and red (a throwback to the original line of M-Forces from ’97) and the yellow count-up scale pops against the PVD-black rotating bezel. Its minute hand is a big, cartoonish arrow. For what is, at least on paper, a very burly watch, there’s an undoubted sense of humor and affability. If the Orient M-Force Bravo were an actual person, it’d be The Rock. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t enjoy spending your summer hanging out with The Rock.

So yes, a good summer beater should be tough and cheap so you can, you know, actually beat on it (like a Cherokee drum?). But there should be more to it than that. Even as adults, we see the summer as an opportunity to go out and take ourselves less seriously — that’s why it’s the time of year we go to festivals and watch popcorn flicks. Extend that logic to your wrist, and every time you check the time, you’ll smirk a little.

Buy Now: $369

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