For the last 21 years, since 1999 my “everyday watch” has been my old Quartz Titanium Breitling Aerospace, basically as it has the features I use most. Very easy to read, owing to it’s overhung minute hand and dial layout, plus it’s remarkable luminous quality (especially with narrow hands), a very clear digital Day and Date display, extreme comfort, good water resistance and excellent time keeping with Auto calendar function. It’s neat size is another bonus (unlike current models) and just 9mm thick. So what’s not to like? Plus it has other hidden functions, which I really never use and I’m very happy with it. Battery life around 5 or 6 years.
But I thought just for fun, I’d have a look again at what constitutes a true everyday watch , this time with a bias towards the ubiquitous “recreational” or “diver like” models, because these mostly provide features I’d consider what an everyday watch should have, often as standard.
Most are tough built, easy to read and with a decent water resistance to a bit more than a few splashes from the kitchen sink. Plus you can see the time at night – so good luminosity is a definite. A model you can confidently strap on your wrist, whatever you’re doing and don’t look out of place even at dinner and know it will be just fine, whatever is thrown at it – and still look good. A jack of all trades, if you will!
Now, from a personal viewpoint, I’m avoiding those larger and sometimes over-macho models, as I have a small to medium wrist and if it’s too big, then it can look silly, which makes me look the same. Some of the recreational styles can be over-sized in the misconception that more features is good. And for everyday wear, it really isn’t. Think more of what you actually need and be honest.
Looking through my own collection of over 140 watches now, I didn’t have to look far as my “other” everyday model is one of my favourites – the very affordable Apeks 200m Diver Pro (at UNDER £100). This was and still is offered by the Apeks Diving Company, known for their diving breathing apparatus mostly, but as a watch choice, have got it just about right.
This is a Quartz model. It is also very easy to read and the dial diameter and layout is good – giving the right separation of luminous markers on a matt background, which makes night reading really good, coupled with excellent luminous features. It also has a Date AND Day, which is a useful everyday feature. The watch is a neat size too, only 10.5mm thick, smooth stainless case, 44mm diameter incl’ crown, screw down protected crown and a superb polyurethane strap – flat on the inside against the wrist, so it VERY comfortable. The watch back is also very flat. The uni-directional bezel has good knurl definition, so very easy to use.
In fact this is one of the few watches I’ve ever come across, that for me has no faults at all – nothing!
I found another “diver” style watch, an old favourite at the time – the very neat Citizen BN0000.04 Eco-Drive Promaster 300m Divers’ Watch, which I have owned for more years than I care to mention. It differs from the Apeks, as it’s Eco-Drive, 300m Water Resistance, but it’s not in the same league for clarity – in that the solar sensor face is glossy, the hands and markers slightly too close for quick glance reading, especially at night (even though luminosity is good). The Date window is a little small, the bezel ( an aluminium insert) is not as knurled as I would like and slopes away from the dial, so is not that easy to use (possibly gloves may give a better grip).
And, of course it’s Eco-Drive, so relies on solar energy (and why it resides near the window), which for me, to some extent is a drawback. After all – I live in Scotland, where sun is in short supply and it’s always cold, which means the watch is almost exclusively UNDER my sleeve. Now whilst Citizen say that once fully charged the watch should perform for 6 months, I’ve never chanced it. But and I kid you not, it’s easy to forget how long it has NOT been in good light under normal wear, bearing in mind mostly under my sleeve. But Hey! It’s still a good everyday watch, though I’m sure there are better today.
So I’ve come to the conclusion, for me, that battery Quartz (3 to 6 years), is OK as long as you accept if the battery dies, it’s bound to do it when you least expect it! But my personal preference, has to be the tried and tested mechanical Self-Winding Automatic, as it’s always ready and if worn, keeps going as long as you do! 😉
NEWS FLASH – I found in another display box, hidden under another etc. etc. a very smart blue Citizen Pro-Master NY0040-17E which does actually sport a mechanical Automatic movement and I intend to feature it very soon. I thought? I had one of these, but unable to find it before this Post, was written . . . . So, more later . . . . .
Now I know someone will mention “kinetic”, but suffice to say, these are just not for me. (another story).
But, back to my quest. Let’s look at what else is around today in that “recreational or Diver Style” that might fit as my everyday watch.
The first one I like the look of, for no other reason, that it has a very clean look, is the Szanto HLI Dive Watch. A model I confess to never having heard of before.
Like the Apeks, it’s Quartz, also 200m Water Resistance, Date only (personally I prefer day and date), but a nice readable size. Slightly larger case 43mm diameter (crown extra) and I believe a little thicker, so I’d really have to see one in the flesh as it were, as for me, size is very important (yes, I know, I’ve heard the jokes!!!) It also has a uni-directional bezel, with K1 hardened Mineral Crystal and a tough stainless case.
But I like the look of it’s uncluttered face, should mean it’s an easy reader with it’s large markers. I like the second hand lume DOT, which is always a nice touch. The strap looks substantial without any over macho look.
However, in comparison with the Apeks it’s over double the price at around the £195 mark.
The next I’ve seen is the Orient FAA02003B9, again described as a Diver, though to me recreational is more acceptable and it is also 200m described. This is the black version with a 22mm deployment bracelet. The stainless steel case of 43mm diameter (ex crown) by 13mm thickness, so quite chunky.
This watch, however is not quartz, but a self wind mechanical Automatic Japan F699 22 jewel movement and for me this is quite a good thing and perhaps even a plus. It’s always ready for action (no battery requirement) and as long as you wear it, it runs.
I have heard reports that whilst it can be manually wound, some say it’s as good as it should be, but without first hand knowledge I can’t comment. All I can say is that I have many automatic models with manual winding if required and I’ve never had any issues, ever.
It also has Day and Date, which I like, the window big enough to make reading easy and the dial is uncluttered too, again a good feature. Big luminous hands and markers, so easy read. Whether a bracelet is your thing or not, being a standard fit, an alternative strap or a Nato job is easy to source and fit.
I also note that, as with a number of Orient watches, whilst the movement is Japan made, the case is Chinese. This seems to be an issue for some, though I’m perfectly fine with that and Orient themselves are quite open about it. But let’s not get into the Chinese made component argument – find the completed product without an Asian reference is a tall order indeed, today. (I even have an expensive vintage IWC watch and it’s case was made in Hungary!)
Anyway, the Orient is a nice watch and it can be purchased for around £180 on the Web and it just about fits the everyday watch requirement pretty well.
So, just two or three recreational Diver style models available at reasonable prices – that might meet the everyday description and there are plenty more.
The trick is to get one that’s not too big, it’s easy to read, day or night, has no gimmicky functions, can be used for the odd swim, tells you the time at a glance and for me, the date AND the Day is very useful and looks good (when you’re retired you never remember what darned day it is). 😉
Personally I like the Apeks, as it provides me personally with all I need and at a really good price. It also has original replacement straps available, should I ever need one, but it’s nice to see.
What does seem amazing to me though, is that the two watches I wear most, may indeed be “chalk & Cheese”, but both provide my everyday requirements fully and yet are poles apart, price-wise! But as always, it’s rarely price that determines your wrist companion, but whether it meets your personal requirement – and in this case, both manage exactly that function.
Differently, yes, but perfectly too.
I also reckon I’m pretty fortunate to have my old 1999 Aerospace, as today Breitling models are too big, too brash, and too expensive. And the Apeks is it’s perfect companion and that suits me. I don’t think that how much I trawl current offerings, I’ll not be changing any time soon!