Aside from weddings and other formal endeavors, summer is meant for adventure, and every adventure needs a robust and reliable watch. Whether you’re hiking, camping, or having an “urban adventure” exploring a string of neighborhood patios, these more casually-designed watches are perfectly suited to your comfortable summer attire too.
Finding the Perfect Watch for a Summer Adventure
Our selections here are simple–tool watches with personality, and at least enough water resistance that if an impromptu dip in the water comes to be, your beloved watch won’t need to come off your wrist.
The IWC Aquatimer is designed as a diver, though as its evolved there have always been distinct details that separate it from other conventional dive watches on the market. Often seen with a unique lug design, and more often than not with an internal rotating bezel rather than an external one, the Aquatimer is a quirky piece that won’t appeal to everyone (though that’s what I love about it). For fans of more bold colors, keep an eye out for the Cousteau limited edition models that occasionally hit the market.
I mean, adventure and exploration go hand in hand, and few watches are as closely linked to global exploration as the iconic Rolex Explorer. While testing prototypes had been floating around for a good while beforehand, a predecessor to the Explorer did scale Everest with Tenzig Norgay, and even though it wasn’t purpose-built for that expedition, that still makes for a mighty cool bit of history. The modern version is a simple no-frills design as originally intended, much akin to that of a modern field watch. As with all things Rolex, these models are very reliable, and thanks to a screw-down crown can easily survive your summer adventures (wet, dirty, or otherwise).
While the collection was once again refreshed for 2019, the Breitling Superocean has long held its own amongst the many tool watches in the brand’s repertoire. Significant water resistance (at times up to 1000m), ceramic timing bezels, and extremely bright lume on its indices and hands are all part of the equation, and being a broad collection your options will range from punchy shades of orange and yellow, though to stealthy black dials and DLC cases to match.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
What can we say. It’s real hard to go wrong with the ultimate beach watch from one of the watch industry’s greatest makers. You can find the Royal Oak Offshore in carbon, in steel, in titanium, with bright dials or understated ones (albeit with colorful accents). Personally I’d side with a rubber strap 3-hand version, but depending on your preference there are also ample chronographs abound on leather if that’s more your speed.
Oris Pro Diver
Looking for a proper tank of a watch? Be warned, the Oris Pro Diver is not for those of us in the room with little slender wrists. The Pro Diver is a beast of a watch, available in a number of configurations (3-hand, chronographs, and others). Available on rubber strap or bracelet, these things measure as much as 51mm across, though given the short integrated lug design they aren’t quite as big on the wrist as that number suggests. Often cased in Titanium to help offset their heft, the Pro Diver (as its name suggests) was actually designed in collaboration with professional divers, which is what led to the creation of the special locking bezel mechanism on these pieces.
Until this past year, the Submersible was an obscure offshoot of the Luminor line, but now the brand has committed to a full Submersible collection. Effectively a Luminor with a diving bezel, you can find everything from the more compact steel version measuring 42mm across, up to the big bad (and rare) Bronzo models. Their aesthetics are distinct, but similarly to the aforementioned Oris, they’re a beast on the wrist. In chronograph guise, they’re also one of the few options out there using a central minute hand for timing, which is a feature you’ll love if you’ve gotten sick of squinting at subdials.
If water resistance is less of a concern, the ultra-reliable Speedmaster is another no-brainer for your summer adventures. The watch that remains good enough to issue to NASA can easily handle anything your day-to-day exploration will throw at it. Understated enough to match with anything, and its 3-register chronograph will handle the timing of your treks, should you be curious to know how long it takes to reach your destination (or how long your steaks have been on the grill.
Bell & Ross BRV2-94
There are a lot of offerings from Bell & Ross that could handle your summer adventures, but there’s something about the BR V2-94. It’s design just ticks too many boxes to ignore; its comfortable case size, its screw-down pushers and crown, and its domed sapphire crystal make it a fantastic daily-wear candidate on a budget. It’s the perfect “poor man’s Daytona”, and trust me when I say this is a compliment. If you’re lucky, you can try snagging the new Bronze version that launched this year.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor Diver
These gems are EASILY the most underappreciated watches JLC has ever made. Clever quick releasing screw-down crowns, unique designs, and that same impeccable fit and finish we’ve come to expect from the brand? What’s not to love. Depending on the model in question they can range from roughly 42 to 46mm in diameter, so there are models to suit just about any wrist size too.
I’m pretty sure the entire watch community at large would shun me if the Pelagos didn’t make this list. Sure, many offerings from Tudor qualify as “Adventure Ready”, but the titanium cased diver with some of the brightest lume out there, and a sleek micro-adjusting bracelet clasp? Yep, it’s an obvious choice if there ever was one. Both the ETA-powered example and the more recent version fitted with Tudor’s in-house manufacture caliber are worthy of consideration.