Every watch manufacturer has a number of arrows in their quiver – a variety of models to suit different tastes and different situations. Some are intended as out-and-out dress watches, others are built solely to withstand challenging environments and never meant to complement a finely tailored suit. And then there are the multitaskers, the luxury watches that can effortlessly slip between a dinner party or boardroom, while still looking at home during whatever weekend activity is thrown at them.
For designers, these are easily the most challenging timepieces to get right. Below, we will take a look at a few of the best everyday watches that are truly go-anywhere-do-anything luxury watch companions.
In truth, there are several models in the Rolex canon that could fit the bill; pieces that never look out of place regardless of location or outfit. The Submariner would be a legitimate choice, as it is really the first design to cross the divide between work and play – and if it’s good enough for 007 whether he’s donning wetsuits or white tuxedos, it’s good enough for me.
However for sheer versatility, the Datejust pretty much clinches it. Debuting way back in 1945, and staying in continuous production ever since, the different combinations of metals, dial colors, hour indexes, handsets, and bracelets have resulted in variations too numerous to count. This means that this all-time classic design can be either the unassuming introvert, the extravagant showman, or anything in-between.
Although its humble feature-set might seem rather quaint today by today’s standards, upon its release, the Rolex Datejust ushered in a major step forward in wristwatch development. As the very first automatic winding, waterproof watch to display the date, it revolutionized the entire industry and ultimately set Rolex on a path towards domination of the high-end timepiece market.
To their credit, Rolex has never messed with a winning formula, and the Datejust of yesteryear is very clearly of the same breed as the most contemporary examples that are sold today. Although its classic and iconic lines may not have changed much, the technology working away inside has always stayed on the cutting edge of mechanical watchmaking.
The Datejust has been through a number of different calibers during the last 70-plus years, with each upgrade adding more and more resilience, accuracy and convenience to Rolex’s core collection. However, perhaps the biggest changes to the Datejust have come within the last few years. Finally caving to audience pressure, Rolex relented and released a larger top-end model to run alongside the traditional 36mm size – first with the poorly-received Datejust II in 2009, and then with the similarly-sized but more characteristically svelte, Datejust 41 from 2016.
With its arrival came the fifth size option for Rolex’s Datejust watches. Along with the 41mm variant, the collection now consists of 28mm and 31mm models that are aimed at a predominantly female audience, and the standard 36mm version. With its all-things-to-all-men (and women) demeanor, is there anyone who can call a Rolex collection complete without at least one Datejust?
Let’s circle back to the Rolex Submariner, the original James Bond Watch. The one that looks debonair tucked under the cuff of a tuxedo yet is still durable enough for underwater adventures. Like the Datejust, the Submariner recently received a contemporary upgrade in the form of a larger 41mm case option and integration to a brand-new generation of movements, the caliber 3235.
The Submariner has roots as a professional diver’s watch, originally featuring only a stainless steel finish and a dateless dial. Today, the options have expanded considerably to include two-tone, all-gold, or steel finishes, a handful of dial and bezel color options, and a date or no date on the dial. It’s an incredibly versatile tool watch that can easily take on a more luxurious aesthetic or one that is more functional and sensible, depending on the metal finish.
The Submariner also isn’t the most water-resistant model in the Rolex lineup. However, it offers more than enough waterproofness for the average wearer, especially if the most action your watch will ever see is a quick dip in the pool or ocean. Still, the resilience of the case ensures a lifetime of precise readings and is easy for collectors of all levels to appreciate.
With the 41mm Submariner release in 2020, Rolex retired the staple 40mm Submariner entirely. However, many avid Rolex enthusiasts will argue that the 1mm difference is hard to notice when the watch is actually on your wrist. The current collection is available in Oystersteel, two-tone Yellow Rolesor, yellow gold, or white gold. From there, you have your choice of Rolex’s lustrous Cerachrom ceramic bezel in either black, blue, or green and either a black or blue dial, depending on the specific reference number. Each iteration of the modern Rolex Submariner is outfitted with a three-piece Oyster bracelet, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a Triplock waterproof screw-down crown.
Omega Speedmaster Professional
About as fundamental to Omega as the Datejust is to Rolex, the Speedy is possibly the most universally recognized chronograph in existence. Many consider it the ideal mechanical sports watch; however its real party piece lies in its ability to also look perfectly at home on more dignified occasions, making it a great all-rounder, and one of the best everyday watches that money can buy.
Launched as part of a trio in 1957 (along with the Railmaster and Seamaster), the CK2915 Speedmaster rounded out Omega’s Professional Collection. The debut model, a 39mm piece designed by Claude Baillod, was the first watch to free up real estate on the dial by moving the tachymeter scale onto the bezel. Its arrangement of three sub-dials and, more importantly, the legibility of that much information on one dial, acted as inspiration for just about every other competing brand, with perhaps the Rolex Daytona coming closest to matching its stylistic brilliance.
But not even that legendary piece could compete with the legacy of the Speedmaster when it accompanied Buzz Aldrin as he took his lunar stroll in 1969. As it was the only timepiece to survive the brutal tests of NASA’s punishing selection process, the Omega Speedmaster became qualified for spaceflight, and got launched into the history books when it became the first watch worn on the surface of the moon.
So, if it matches so well with sportswear and space suits, how could it possibly be adaptable enough to pair with business attire too? It is the understated nature of the Speedmaster’s design, with its more-or-less monochrome palette, that plays a major role in its versatility. For the most part, and particularly with the earliest pieces, Omega stuck with the formality of black across all elements, with not even the three counters being picked out in a contrasting color. This lends the watch a more sober air, striking a perfect balance between casual and formal, especially when fitted with a leather strap.
However, unlike the Rolex Datejust, which has stayed looking exactly like a Datejust since day one, the Speedmaster has lent its name to a number of broadly diverse models over the course of its six decades in the game. Some have remained very much in-line with the original, others have splintered off into the wildly experimental. Fortunately however, there has always been a well-populated collection of vintage-inspired models – pieces that draw from those revolutionary creations that laid the foundations for every chronograph that came after.
The contemporary Speedmaster family contains the Moonwatch series, based on the NASA standard-issue which has accompanied all six lunar missions. Additionally there is the ‘1957’ range, released in 2017 on the Speedy’s 60th anniversary, which pays tribute to the one that started it all. An almost faultless amalgamation of tool watch and luxury timepiece, the Omega Speedmaster is an all-time great.
You might not immediately think of Panerai as an everyday watch. They can be quite polarizing, after all, with their large, cushion-shaped cases and oversized guards. However, there are many really classy options within the brand’s catalog that toe the line between a tool watch and a nice dress watch that are perfectly suitable for daily wear. One that comes to mind is the Luminor, distinguished by the brand’s signature lever-activated crown guard, cushion case, and luminous baton and Arabic hour markers.
The design set options are vast, including those in stainless steel, Goldtech, titanium, and black ceramic, just to name a few. You can also choose a metal bracelet to match the case, classy leather, or other fabric options. Additionally, there seems to be a dial color within the current collection to suit nearly anyone’s wrist, such as military green, vibrant blue, classy white, sleek anthracite, and traditional black.
Case sizes tip the scales at 47mm for the largest offerings within the current lineup, and as small as 42mm on the opposite end. However, not every Luminor is equally robust. Interestingly, the collection also has a parallel collection called the Luminor Due that houses much slimmer cases by approx. 40% when compared to the original Panerai Luminor.
Breitling Superocean Heritage
Breitling, the purveyors of all things macho and testosterone-drenched, might seem an odd place to go looking for a watch that could be worn anywhere other than in a fighter plane cockpit. And choosing the SuperOcean line over the Premier Collection might seem stranger still.
It is true that the brand first made their name supplying professional aviators with groundbreaking functionality in the likes of the Navitimer, before turning their attention to the world of scuba diving. The original SuperOcean line actually debuted the same year as Omega’s ‘Master’ trilogy in 1957. It was a series that introduced the first chronograph to have a reverse panda dial, and a unique indicator at the six o’clock to show if the unusual single-hand minute counter was running.
In 2017, on the 60th anniversary of the SuperOcean’s first appearance, the Heritage II line launched, with plenty of nods to its ancestors, along with some fascinating new technology. The family, which now contains several case sizes, with a mix of simple three-hand models and chronographs, is available in either all steel, red gold, or with steel and red gold cases. Dial colors come in blue, black, white, or green, and there are a few panda dials on the stopwatches thrown in too, just for old time’s sake.
Of the extensive range, the stainless steel time and date model, with its ‘Volcano Black’ dial is possibly the version best suited to our brief, although ample options exist, including a blue dial variant and even a chronograph model. Particularly versatile on its mesh-like bracelet, it is hardy enough for a day of wearing a t-shirt and jeans, yet scrubs up well for a sophisticated evening.
The dial is certainly one of the more legible Breitling faces, with a handset borrowed directly off the originator – all broad swords and arrows. Additionally, the period correct brand logo and cursive “SuperOcean” font add a pleasing retro nostalgia. However, there is plenty of the modern mixed in with the traditional. The beautiful matte black bezel is now forged from ceramic, rather than metal like those used on the first SuperOcean watches.
Inside, the in-house caliber B20 movement is Breitling’s take on the MT5612 from Tudor’s Black Bay and Pelagos ranges. In a reciprocal move, Tudor got to re-work Breitling’s own B01 caliber for their Black Bay Chronograph, in a ‘movement exchange program’ worked out between the two houses. The B20 is a highly praised and sturdy workhorse of a mechanism, beating at 28,800vph and providing up to a 70-hour power reserve, which is a significant improvement over the bought-in ETA movements of past Breitling watches.
Overall, although it may not be the most obvious first port of call when looking for a multifaceted timepiece for both business and pleasure, the SuperOcean Heritage II manages to cover all the bases. Stylish and understated, it will never be over or underdressed.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five
When it comes to Swiss luxury watches, Oris falls within the entry-level range. The respected watchmaker has been a fixture of the industry for well over a century with such innovations to their name as the Worldtimer that allows the wearer to adjust the local time in one-hour “jumps.” Their catalog includes all the usual watch types, such as robust divers, dual-time pilot’s watches, and classically-styled dress watches. With neo-vintage watches taking the industry by storm, you can’t go wrong with the perfectly retro Oris Divers Sixty-Five.
It follows the design queues from a successful Oris dive watch produced in the 1960s, featuring similar hour markers and even a vintage-inspired rivet link bracelet and Super-LumiNova in a faux patina. It’s an attractive watch that will undoubtedly look great anywhere your day takes you. Still, it’s a dive watch with all the standard underwater amenities, such as water-resistance up to 100 meters, a unidirectional bezel topped with a 60-minute diving scale, and large, luminous hour markers that are easy to read in the dark.
Oris has released countless iterations of the Divers Sixty-Five since it came to market just a few years ago, including bronze or stainless steel, a handful of unique dial colors, several case size options, and your choice of either a leather, textile, or metal bracelet. The current collection even features a Divers Sixty-Five with a chronograph movement.