Editor’s Note: With a new year comes new watches. We’ve updated our list of the best summer watches with this year’s picks. Go to the following page to see last year’s watches.
With summer comes a desire to take life a little less seriously. You wear fewer socks, drink more beer and leave work early on Fridays to cram as much adventure into your weekends as possible. It’s also the time of year when you park the Patek on the winder until September and slip on a rough-and-ready summer watch. What makes the perfect summer watch? Water resistance, colorful and casual style and a rugged build that can stand up to cannonballs off the dock, mountain bike crashes and full-contact lawn bowling. It also doesn’t hurt if it’s affordable. Here are twelve watches that you can strap on now and not take off until September. Just don’t call them timepieces.
Best For: The Precise Grillmaster The Quickster is a classically-styled Swiss chronograph that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Available in a suite of summer-ready colorways, all priced at less than $500, this is the watch you’ll use to time steaks on the grill. An available stainless steel bracelet is comfortable even on the sweltering dog days.
Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter
Best For: The Diver After a few years’ hiatus, the Aqualand name is back in Citizen’s lineup and this legendary dive watch is perfect if your summer adventures involve going underwater. The automatic depth gauge tracks your depth to a crushing 70 meters and when you’re back on the boat, you can recall your maximum depth for your logbook and bragging rights. Even if you never leave the beach, the burly steel case, colorful dial and thick rubber strap go as well with board shorts as a wetsuit.
Suunto Essential Slate
Best For: The Refined Mountaineer Suunto’s new Essential collection adds a level of refinement to the company’s proven functionality in the mountains. Combining an altimeter, barometer and compass with a sculpted steel case, sapphire crystal and textile strap, the Slate is one Suunto that can go from trailhead to office with equal aplomb.
Seiko Prospex SSC017 Solar Chronograph Diver
Best For: The Beach Bum Is there really a more perfect summer watch than a dive chronograph? How about one that’s charged by that ample sunshine? Water resistant to 200 meters, with a 60-minute quartz chronograph and a colorful bezel, the SSC017 is your go-to watersports watch from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Fully charged, the battery holds power for six months in total darkness, meaning even if you put it away for winter, it will be ready to go again next summer.
Victorinox Swiss Army INOX
Best For: The Guy Who’s Hard on Watches The INOX is possibly the most durable watch you can buy. Before its release, Victorinox ran prototypes through a battery of tests that included extended UV exposure, water pressure, temperature extremes — even running it over with a tank. In other words, it’s ideal for any summer shenanigans you can cook up. The new red version pays tribute to Swiss Army‘s signature color and true to form, its dial and strap were tested against fading when exposed to a summer’s worth of sunshine.
Casio G-Shock Ga100Cm-8A
Best For: The Urban Guerilla The merits of the legendary G-Shock are well known to Special Forces soldiers and rap stars alike; it’s indestructible, functional and lightweight, with a healthy dash of urban style. The awkwardly named Ga100Cm-8A introduces a camouflage case, strap and even dial that crosses over from urban jungle to the more leafy kind, where it won’t give away your position during an intense paintball shootout.
Best For: The Driver If your summer plans include top-down motoring, this is the watch for you. With styling ripped from the gauges of midcentury Italian sports cars, a sturdy Japanese automatic movement and a padded leather strap, the Stradale perfectly complements any summer driving ensemble, even if your ride is a 1980s Chrysler LeBaron.
Casio G-Shock GDX6900CM-8 Camo
Summer is all about rough-and-tumble activities, whether it’s running a Tough Mudder or just cutting the grass. In other words, a G-Shock may be just about the perfect summer watch. You don’t have to fear dings and damage, because it’ll survive far more of a beating than you can. And if you do happen to break it (let us know if you do) or lose it, you’re only out $150. The cryptically named GDX6900CM-8 ($150) has the added bonus of a cool camouflage case and strap that will fit right in on your maneuvers and even match your favorite shorts, if that’s your style.
For all the high-end timepieces at BaselWorld 2014, the watch most people came away wanting was the new Tudor Ranger, a simple, rugged, time-only piece whose casual style just begs to be taken hiking in the White Mountains. Like other watches in Tudor’s Heritage line, this one is modeled after a vintage piece of the same name. The self-winding Ranger is available on either a thick cuff-style leather strap ($2,825) or a retro-inspired steel bracelet ($2,950) that stays true to vintage form without fitted end links. But the way to wear this one, in our opinion, is on the supplied camouflage nylon NATO. It’s pure summer adventure on your wrist.
NOMOS Ahoi Atlantik
Dive watches are great for summer, but 1,000 meters of water resistance and a ratcheting bezel are overkill for dips in the pool. The 200-meter-rated NOMOS Ahoi is the perfect summer watch. The Glashutte-based torch-bearer for Bauhaus design has managed to keep its clean Teutonic styling while not taking itself too seriously; hell, even the woven strap was modeled after the locker key fobs given out at European pools. While 2013’s white-dialed Ahoi is a good choice, the new Atlantik version ($4,060), with its navy dial and rose gold hands, is a smidge dressier, so once you towel off you can throw on a linen sport coat and walk right to dinner without swapping it out.
Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar
Summer is all about soaking up the sun, and that shouldn’t stop with your skin. The new T-Touch Expert Solar ($1,150) from Tissot is the world’s first solar-powered watch that has a touch-sensitive multifunctional dial. The T-Touch has always been a favorite adventure watch of ours because it’s geeky while still maintaining a bit of Swiss refinement. The Expert Solar has enough functions to get you through most summer adventures — barometer, altimeter, compass, alarms and timers — is water-resistant to 100 meters, and has looks that don’t peg you as a weenie whose bike costs more than his car (you know who you are).
Hublot Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono Ceramic Carbon
Even if Junior’s free kicks are a bit cringe-worthy, you can be the soccer dad on the sidelines with the coolest watch this season. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono Ceramic Carbon ($26,300) was created in honor of Hublot’s new role as official timekeeper of the FIFA World Cup. But more than just a clever color scheme and a logo, this one has a new in-house movement specifically designed for soccer timing. Timekeeping is moved to a small dial at 6:00 while the big double retrograde chronograph is designed specifically to time the two halves of a soccer match plus extra time.