Every watch manufacturer has a number of arrows in their quiver – a variety of models to suit different tastes and different situations. Some are intended as out-and-out dress watches, others are built solely to withstand challenging environments and never meant to complement a finely tailored suit. And then there are the multitaskers, the ones that can effortlessly slip between a dinner party or boardroom, while still looking at home during whatever weekend activity is thrown at them.
For designers, these are easily the most challenging timepieces to get right. Below, we will take a look at three of the best everyday watches that are truly go-anywhere-do-anything companions.
There is a reason that for over half a century, the Omega Speedmaster has been considered one of the best everyday watches that money can buy.
The Rolex Datejust
Available in a vast array of different sizes and materials, the Rolex Datejust is a go-anywhere-do-anything timekeeping companion, and one of the best everyday watches available.
In truth, there are several models in the Rolex canon that could fit the bill; pieces that never look out of place regardless of location or outfit. The Submariner would be a legitimate choice, as it is really the first design to cross the divide between work and play – and if it’s good enough for 007 whether he’s donning wetsuits or white tuxedos, it’s good enough me.
However for sheer versatility, the Datejust pretty much clinches it. Debuting way back in 1945, and staying in continuous production ever since, the different combinations of metals, dial colors, hour indexes, handsets, and bracelets have resulted in variations too numerous to count. This means that this all-time classic design can be either the unassuming introvert, the extravagant showman, or anything in-between.
Although its humble feature-set might seem rather quaint today by today’s standards, upon its release, the Rolex Datejust ushered in a major step forward in wristwatch development. As the very first automatic winding, waterproof watch to display the date, it revolutionized the entire industry and ultimately set Rolex on a path towards domination of the high-end timepiece market.
Even when it uses gold for its construction, the Rolex Datejust is great all-around timepiece that can stand up to everyday use.
To their credit, Rolex has never messed with a winning formula, and the Datejust of yesteryear is very clearly of the same breed as the most contemporary examples that are sold today. Although its classic and iconic lines may not have changed much, the technology working away inside has always stayed on the cutting edge of mechanical watchmaking.
The Datejust has been through a number of different calibers during the last 70-plus years, with each upgrade adding more and more resilience, accuracy and convenience to Rolex’s core collection. However, perhaps the biggest changes to the Datejust have come within the last few years. Finally caving to audience pressure, Rolex relented and released a larger top-end model to run alongside the traditional 36mm size – first with the poorly-received Datejust II in 2009, and then with the similarly-sized but more characteristically svelte, Datejust 41 from 2016.
With its arrival came the fifth size option for Rolex’s Datejust watches. Along with the 41mm variant, the collection now consists of 28mm and 31mm models that are aimed at a predominantly female audience, the standard 36mm version, and a mid-size 34mm option, known simply as the Date. With its all-things-to-all-men (and women) demeanor, is there anyone who can call a Rolex collection complete without at least one Datejust?
The Omega Speedmaster Professional
The Omega Speedmaster was the only watch that passed NASA’s rigorous testing process, and no list of the best everyday watches would be complete without one.
About as fundamental to Omega as the Datejust is to Rolex, the Speedy is possibly the most universally recognized chronograph in existence. Many consider it the ideal mechanical sports watch; however its real party piece lies in its ability to also look perfectly at home on more dignified occasions, making it a great all-rounder, and one of the best everyday watches that money can buy.
Launched as part of a trio in 1957 (along with the Railmaster and Seamaster), the CK2915 Speedmaster rounded out Omega’s Professional Collection. The debut model, a 39mm piece designed by Claude Baillod, was the first watch to free up real estate on the dial by moving the tachymeter scale onto the bezel. Its arrangement of three sub-dials and, more importantly, the legibility of that much information on one dial, acted as inspiration for just about every other competing brand, with perhaps the Rolex Daytona coming closest to matching its stylistic brilliance.
But not even that legendary piece could compete with the legacy of the Speedmaster when it accompanied Buzz Aldrin as he took his lunar stroll in 1969. As it was the only timepiece to survive the brutal tests of NASA’s punishing selection process, the Omega Speedmaster became qualified for spaceflight, and got launched into the history books when it became the first watch worn on the surface of the moon.
So, if it matches so well with sportswear and space suits, how could it possibly be adaptable enough to pair with business attire too?
It is the understated nature of the Speedmaster’s design, with its more-or-less monochrome palette, that plays a major role in its versatility. For the most part, and particularly with the earliest pieces, Omega stuck with the formality of black across all elements, with not even the three counters being picked out in a contrasting color. This lends the watch a more sober air, striking a perfect balance between casual and formal, especially when fitted with a leather strap.
As some of the best everyday watches ever manufactured, even vintage Omega Speedmasters are still able to stand up to daily use.
However, unlike the Rolex Datejust, which has stayed looking exactly like a Datejust since day one, the Speedmaster has lent its name to a number of broadly diverse models over the course of its six decades in the game. Some have remained very much in-line with the original, others have splintered off into the wildly experimental.
Fortunately however, there has always been a well-populated collection of vintage-inspired models – pieces that draw from those revolutionary creations that laid the foundations for every chronograph that came after.
The contemporary Speedmaster family contains the Moonwatch series, based on the NASA standard-issue which has accompanied all six lunar missions. Additionally there is the ‘1957’ range, released in 2017 on the Speedy’s 60th anniversary, which pays tribute to the one that started it all. An almost faultless amalgamation of tool watch and luxury timepiece, the Omega Speedmaster is an all-time great.
The Breitling SuperOcean Héritage II
With vintage styling and modern build-quality, the Breitling SuperOcean Héritage II earns a spot on our list of the best everyday watches.
Breitling, the purveyors of all things macho and testosterone-drenched, might seem an odd place to go looking for a watch that could be worn anywhere other than in a fighter plane cockpit. And choosing the SuperOcean line over the Premier Collection might seem stranger still.
It is true that the brand first made their name supplying professional aviators with groundbreaking functionality in the likes of the Navitimer, before turning their attention to the world of scuba diving. The original SuperOcean line actually debuted the same year as Omega’s ‘Master’ trilogy in 1957. It was a series that introduced the first chronograph to have a reverse panda dial, and a unique indicator at the six o’clock to show if the unusual single-hand minute counter was running.
In 2017, on the 60th anniversary of the SuperOcean’s first appearance, the Héritage II line launched, with plenty of nods to its ancestors, along with some fascinating new technology. The family, which now contains 42mm, 44mm, and 46mm pieces, with a mix of simple three-hand models and chronographs, is available in either all steel or with steel and red gold cases. Dial colors come in blue, black, silver, or bronze, and there are a few panda dials on the stopwatches thrown in too, just for old time’s sake.
Of the extensive range, the stainless steel 42mm time and date model, with its ‘Volcano Black’ dial is possibly the version best suited to our brief. Particularly versatile on its mesh-like bracelet, it is hardy enough for a day of wearing a t-shirt and jeans, yet scrubs up well for a sophisticated evening.
Since it was first introduced in 1957, the Breitling SuperOcean has been a great looking timepiece and one of the best everyday watches available.
The dial is certainly one of the more legible Breitling faces, with a handset borrowed directly off the originator – all broad swords and arrows. Additionally, the period correct brand logo and cursive “SuperOcean” font add a pleasing retro nostalgia. However, there is plenty of the modern mixed in with the traditional. The beautiful matte black bezel is now forged from ceramic, rather than metal like those used on the first SuperOcean watches.
Inside, the in-house manufacture caliber B20 movement is Breitling’s take on the MT5612 from Tudor’s Black Bay and Pelagos ranges. In a reciprocal move, Tudor got to re-work Breitling’s own B01 caliber for their Black Bay Chronograph, in a ‘movement exchange program’ worked out between the two houses. The B20 is a highly praised and sturdy workhorse of a mechanism, beating at 28,800vph and providing up to a 70-hour power reserve, which is a significant improvement over the bought-in ETA movements of past Breitling watches.
Overall, although it may not be the most obvious first port of call when looking for a multifaceted timepiece for both business and pleasure, the SuperOcean Héritage II manages to cover all the bases. Stylish and understated, it will never be over or underdressed.