The three essential watches you need

The dress, the diver and the daily are three watch styles that cover all the bases.

By Felix Scholz, February 6 2020
The three essential watches you need

There’s a chance you’re reading this and wondering why on earth you need three watches. After all, you’ve only got two wrists, and anyone with more than one watch is never truly sure of the time. All valid points, but hear us out.

Having a selection of watches is less about collecting than it is about having the right tool for the job. In our experience, most people can easily make do with three distinct types of watch, each performing a different function (beyond telling the time). For the sake of pleasing alliteration, we’ve dubbed these three watches dress, diver and daily.

The dress watch

In the traditional world of well-heeled style, a dress watch is a small, uncluttered timepiece (preferably in precious metal) worn on formal occasions, with suits and the like (though to be ultra-formal, apparently one should never wear a watch with black tie).

While for many this level of sartorial orthodoxy isn’t relevant, there’s something to be said for having a smart or dressy watch. It’s the sort of thing you wear on special occasions – weddings and the like.

And again, while the traditional dictums around precious metal and proportions often don’t apply, the adage about keeping it simple is worth remembering. Not only will a slender time-only piece sit better with a suit than a chunky chronograph, it’s also a subtle (and almost psychological) way of marking a special occasion.

The Montblanc Heritage Automatic is the epitome of a casual yet eye-catching dress watch.
The Montblanc Heritage Automatic is the epitome of a casual yet eye-catching dress watch.

Our suggestion: An heirloom watch is an excellent option, but in case you don’t have granddad’s old Omega handy, this refined Montblanc Heritage Automatic ($3,410) is a great choice. With its old-world charms and textured, coppery dial, it’s the epitome of a casual dress watch. The automatic movement and 40mm steel case ensure its style is far from dated.

The dive watch

Strictly speaking, a dive watch is a watch designed for, well, diving. Decent water resistance, strong legibility and reliability are all hallmarks of this essential underwater tool. And while the number of dive watches sold that are actually worn at depth is low, it’s still one of the most popular types of watch on the market today.

Now, we’ve called our second category the ‘diver’ mostly for convenience (and alliteration), because it typifies a purposeful sort of watch. Because even if you don’t go near the water, there are times you want to wear a watch that you don’t have to stress about. Going to the gym, gardening, hitting the beach. These are all activities that warrant something more hard-wearing in the wrist department.

Our suggestion: Here’s where the likes of a Casio G-Shock or Apple Watch shine – tough and practical tools. At higher price points, it’s this sort of role that now-luxury staples like the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster were designed for (and are still up to the task). Wherever you land, we suggest something with decent water resistance (more than 100m), and a non-leather band.

The Seiko 5 Sports line offers tremendous value and a good range of styles.
The Seiko 5 Sports line offers tremendous value and a good range of styles.

We’d also suggest something that can handle a few scrapes without too much stress. We like the recently revamped Seiko 5 Sports line (from $499) because of its a rock-solid design offering tremendous value and a good range of styles.

The daily watch

This category is far more amorphous than the rest. If the dress and dive watches cover off those occasions where you’re dressing up or dressing down, a daily watch is for everything in between.

It’s your default watch – the one you grab as you head out the door. And because its purpose is the broadest so, too, is its style. But, generally speaking, it should be a watch that can go with anything and handle a bit of everything. A chameleon on the wrist, if you will.

The Rolex Datejust 41 is the archetypal daily watch.
The Rolex Datejust 41 is the archetypal daily watch.

Our suggestion: Perhaps the archetypal example of the daily watch is the Rolex Datejust ($9750). The Datejust was born in 1945, but the key elements of Oyster case and timeless design language were in existence well before then.

Over the years it’s been offered in numerous styles, metals and sizes, and is still a core collection for Rolex. It’s an incredibly versatile watch. If you like a timepiece of more modern proportions, it would be hard to go wrong with the Rolex Datejust 41, in Oystersteel with an Oyster bracelet.

Felix Scholz

Felix Scholz is Executive Traveller’s watch editor, and one of Australia’s most respected authorities on the subject. As you might expect, he travels to Switzerland quite a lot.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 32

There is one more I would add to the list (especially on a website like Executive Traveller) - a travel watch. Something with either a dual time or GMT function and which works in an office setting or at the beach/pool. Rolex pretty much nailed it with their GMT.

Totally. For a traveller, a diver or a daily with a GMT is hard to beat.

31 May 2016

Total posts 1

I clicked on this link excited and ready for a recommendation but left disappointed ... could we have some recommendations for womens watches too? It's not just men that wear watches and read this newsletter ...

Point taken Laurie and Kerbub. I would say that all these categories (and several of these watches) work well on women's and men's wrists, but I'll get cracking on something female focused. Stay tuned!

06 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

I agree where are the Women's watches ?

For travel I use a Citizen Promaster Skyhawk A-T. Not the most expensive around but has atomic time, eco-drive, UTC display and dual timezones with the ability to pick every timezone by city. It is not a diver's watch but does look good. As I work across all of Asia's timezones it is an easy to use option. Now, for work, I need to find one that I can see 3 timezones!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 475

What about sports watches? I meet a lot of executives wearing high-end Garmin and the like

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Jul 2017

Total posts 2

I love my Longines Classique, Longines Masters - with diamonds - for most days and the g shock for rough stuff - all ladies - of course!

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