Every Day Favorite Steel Watches

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While grande complications, precious metals, and other delicate niceties are always coveted by watch collectors, even the least practical of us still have a soft-spot for a good “everyday watch”. To be fair, some of us (myself included) cycle through our collection on the regular, however we all have favorites that are an easy grab-and-go; watches that can be thrown on without thinking about the day’s activities, matching attire, or any potential risks of wear-and-tear.

Call it a “beater watch”, tool watch, or just your daily wearer, but regardless of title there’s something comforting about strapping that special watch on your wrist—almost like catching up with an old friend. The decision of which special watch becomes your go-to is an immensely personal one, however we’ve compiled a brief list of options we think are perfectly suited to the task.

Tudor Black Bay 41

Offered this year with a semi-gloss royal blue dial, the Black Bay 41 is a sleek no-frills piece from Tudor that can pass equally well casually as it can under a shirt cuff. Unlike its siblings, the brand opted to equip the fixed bezel models with ETA-supplied 2824 self-winding calibers instead of the Tudor MT__ in-house movement. While those still obsessed with the whole “in-house or nothing” school of watchmaking may complain, the fact of the matter is a 2824 is the industry-standard workhorse for a reason, and it allows Tudor to keep the entry point of the Black Bay 41 more approachable. Its smooth polished bezel gives the piece hints of a Rolex Datejust aesthetic, in strong juxtaposition to its more utilitarian dial, indices, and hands.

Piaget Polo S Chronograph

Sticking with the theme of versatility, Piaget continues to position the Polo S as its ultimate dress-meets-casual creation. Simple understated design (yes, its design continues to be a point of debate to this day) is just the beginning of the reasons we love the Polo S. In this grey-dialed chronograph guise, is a true “sleeper” of high horology.

One of the few two-register and date chronographs on the market with separate hour and minute subdials, Piaget created the new 1160P caliber for the reboot of the Polo S, and pulled no punches with its finishing even though the target was for the brand to reach a new “entry level” market. Measuring 42mm across and only 11.2mm thick, the Polo S lands in the perfect sweet spot—large without being cumbersome, and compact without being dainty.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio

Depending on what your daily grind looks like, a daily-wear candidate may well take on a slightly more rugged and casual aesthetic—enter the newest Panerai Submersible. We’ve had a soft spot for the PAM Submersible for ages, however its hefty proportions made the piece a bit of a tough sell for many (previously only available in 44mm and 47mm cases). Last year at SIHH, the brand rolled out a steel Submersible in a more compact 42mm case, fitted with a rubber strap and rated to 300m of water resistance.

As with most of Panerai’s collection of late, the new release was fitted with an in-house manufacture caliber, this time the P.9010. The usual Panerai Luminor goodies are all present, including its clever crown lock system and running sub-seconds at 9 o’clock, but most notably the twin-barrel caliber gives the diver a 3-day power reserve. That way if it does come off your wrist from time to time you’re less likely to be stuck winding it back up after a couple of days.

Rolex Explorer II

To be fair, there were ample offerings in the Rolex archives that completely fit the bill for this category, but when the idea of throwing a GMT complication into the mix the Explorer II was a no-brainer. Well, technically we could have brought up the new GMT-Master II Pepsi Bezel that’s been the talk of the town since Baselworld this year, but frankly if you haven’t already thrown your name down on a waitlist and made a deposit, that new gem is going to be tricky to come by.

Meanwhile the Explorer II remains as much of an icon as ever—a crisp white dial, brushed steel case, engraved 24h-scale bezel, and oversized bright orange GMT hand give the Explorer II a distinct visual appeal, all while being built to survive the pending apocalypse. If your “everyday” doesn’t involve a suit, but does involve the occasional contact with people outside your timezone, the Explorer II could be just what you need.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167A

This may sound surprising to some, but there are countless collectors out there that turn to the mighty Patek Philippe to source their favorite watch for all occasions. While some would pursue the now-impossible to source 5711A Nautilus, the fact that the Aquanaut can be had both on rubber strap and on bracelet give it an additional upper hand for wear in any situation. The simple self-winding Patek first launched in 1997, and to this day its more sporting aesthetic makes it a surprise favorite from the brand—not to mention its beautiful 324 S C self winding caliber visible via its sapphire display caseback.

Author: Justin Mastine-Frost