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Feature: The 10 best everyday watches

What makes a great everyday watch? Ask around, and you’ll hear collectors mention legibility and robustness. While I agree with those qualities, I would also add that the watch shouldn’t be overly complicated—there’s nothing worse than getting your watch out of the safe, noticing it's run out of power, and having to bust out the instruction booklet, or worse, listen to some guy on the internet. Watches that you can set and forget are the way to go, and here are ten I think are worth considering.

Seiko Alpinist SPB121J1

Who would have thought it? A Seiko kicking off a list of the best everyday watches? This Alpinist is considered by many as the perfect affordable watch at just £690. Alongside the 39.5mm stainless steel case is a green sunburst dial, screw-down crown, 200m of water resistance, an internal compass bezel—controlled by an additional crown—and the calibre 6R35, an automatic movement with 70 hours of power, hacking seconds and date. Whether you love or hate the design, there’s no denying this watch gives you a lot for your money.

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer H76419931

Heading west, we find ourselves at the heart of watchmaking: Switzerland, with this £790 Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer. Hamilton is a brand rich with history, and this watch pays homage to that. The overall design of this Pilot Pioneer isn’t too dissimilar to the original version given to the British Royal Air Force in 1973. However, while its looks and overall spec—like the stainless steel case and 33 by 36mm sizing—hail from the 70s, the hand-wound calibre inside has been updated to the H-50, which has a very respectable 80-hour power reserve. The Pilot Pioneer is like wearing a piece of history on your wrist, and, well, if it was good enough for British Royal Air Force pilots, it’s more than capable of handling anything the average Joe can throw at it.

Longines Heritage Legend Diver L3.674.4.56.3

Longines doesn’t get nearly enough credit for creating some of the best-looking, budget-friendly Swiss luxury watches. One of the best examples of this is the Heritage Legend Diver at just over £2,000. Here, in a 42mm stainless steel case—although other sizes and case materials are available—the Legend Diver features a dual crown super compressor case design with an internal 60-minute dive bezel, 300m of water resistance, and the calibre L633. The L633—based on the ETA 2824-2—might not have the largest power reserve—at just 38 hours—but the movement's automatic winding means that it's more than capable of getting you through the week, provided you wear the watch. If you’re looking for a dive watch that’s a little different, this is the watch for you.

Tudor Black Bay 58 M79030B

The Tudor Black Bay 58—here in Blue at £3,450—is one of the best value watches you can buy. Without mentioning its relation to the five-pointed crown, the Black Bay 58 is the perfect size at 39mm—you can fight me in the comments on that one—has an incredibly sturdy stainless steel build and is overall a great-looking watch. But the icing on the cake comes in the form of the COSC-certified calibre MT5402, a movement with 70 hours of power and automatic winding.

If you like your watches to be as accurate as possible, fear not; Tudor has a version of the 41mm Black Bay that’s METAS-certified with a burgundy bezel for £3,910. If you’re wondering about the difference between the accuracy of COSC and METAS watches, a watch needs to have passed COSC before it can even qualify for METAS. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a METAS movement hit the Black Bay 58 line in 2024? If it does, you heard it here first.

Omega Seamaster Railmaster

In 1957, Omega released three tool watches: the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300 and Railmaster. While the first two found immense popularity, the Railmaster never received quite the same level of love. For those that aren’t familiar with the Railmaster, it served as an engineer’s watch thanks to its high resistance to magnetism—similar to Rolex’s Milgauss. The watch achieved this by utilising a soft iron inner case to protect the movement from the invisible forces of magnetism. Advancements in watchmaking—like the silicon-based escapement—silicon being anti-magnetic—mean that watches like the Railmaster aren’t needed from a practical perspective. But amongst a sea of Seamasters, the Railmaster’s design stands out, especially with this fetching £4,600, vertically brushed “blue jeans” dial option.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 124300 “Tiffany dial”

It’s the brand that everyone wants, so it’s a given that Rolex would make it on the list. The Oyster Perpetual can be dressed up or dressed down, and it comes in a variety of sizes and colours. Aside from its aesthetic appearance, the watch gets a stainless steel build—with one of the watch industry's comfiest bracelets—100m of water resistance and a chronometer-certified movement, the automatic calibre 3230. I’ll let you decide if Rolex’s entry-level watch is worth the price it commands on the pre-owned market, but one thing’s for sure: its retail price—of around £5,500—is a little more justified.

Grand Seiko SBGA211 Snowflake

The Grand Seiko SBGA211 “Snowflake”—at £5,800—is considered by a lot of people to be the perfect watch. It’s got a versatile design that can pass as both dressy and sporty, a level of finishing way above its price point, the famed Spring Drive calibre 9R65—which gives the watch its hypnotic gliding seconds hand and incredible accuracy—and, of course, the textured Snowflake dial—one that converted many a die-hard Swiss watch fan. The Snowflake really is one of the best-looking watches you can get away with wearing all the time, and if the titanium case and power reserve indicator on the dial bothers you, well, you can always go for a “White Birch”.

Rolex Submariner No Date 114060

We’ve covered the entry-level Oyster Perpetual, but there’s a more obvious choice for the best everyday Rolex, and that’s the Submariner, with its tough, non-nonsense Oystersteel build, highly legible dial, ceramic 60-minute unidirectional dive bezel, and 300m of water resistance. Specifically, I’ve chosen one without a date, which, when paired with the automatic chronometer-rated calibre inside, makes this £8,050 Rolex the ultimate set-and-forget watch.

Omega Constellation Globemaster

This £8,700 Omega Constellation Globemaster isn’t just a pretty face. In addition to the silver opaline pie-pan dial, 41mm stainless steel case, and fluted bezel, this Globemaster features an annual calendar, read via a date window at 6 o’clock and an additional hand which points to the current month. For those who aren’t familiar with the annual calendar, it accounts for the differing number of days in each month, so if you keep the watch wound, it will only need setting once a year at the end of February. But wait, it gets better. The automatic calibre 8922 that beats away at the heart of this watch is METAS-certified—with a 55-hour power reserve—making this not just a complicated watch but an incredibly accurate one too.

Vacheron Constantin Fifty Six 4600E/000A-B442

Okay … hear me out. This Vacheron Constantin FiftySix might lend itself to the dressier side of watchmaking—making it a little less versatile than others on this list—but it’s the cheapest watch you can get from the top three watchmakers in the world. While the movement isn’t submitted for the Geneva Seal or even produced by Vacheron Constantin—sourced from ValFleurier and then finished in-house to save on production costs—it's still one of the best views at its price point of just over £12,000. Pair that with the watch’s vintage-inspired good looks, and you have the ultimate if-you-know-you-know watch—a top three watch that doesn’t scream so, one you can wear every day without worry.

So, there you have it. Ten watches that you can wear every day with ease and never get bored of. What would be your ultimate everyday watch?

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