Nautical watches come into their own warm weather. At their best, strapping one on has the power to conjure dreamy Amalfi Coast-esque visions of super yachts drifting through the Med, and pale beaches littered with tanned bodies in breezy linen shirts and Breton stripe tees.
In reality, both diver’s watches and sailing watches, though ostensibly practical, aren’t generally worn by the sea these days, let alone beneath the waves. It’s important then to treat yours as a versatile weekend watch – a part of your watch collection (if you’re lucky enough to have one) that’s just as wearable as a chronograph, a day-date.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of sleek ocean-going watches out there that balance function with form. These three designs that have stood the test of time – wearing one around town is the next best thing to jetting off to Capri for the weekend.
Breitling Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42
The Superocean Heritage II pays tribute to Breitling’s original 1957 diver’s watch. In fact, the Superocean collection was revamped last year under the auspices of the brand’s new CEO, Georges Kern. Kern also reintroduced some striking 44mm models at this year’s Baselworld, alongside the dual red gold and steel number you see before you. This boasts a 42mm case, which is that little bit easier to wear for those (like me) with wrists on the small side. The rubber strap’s practical, and adds a utilitarian touch to an otherwise dressy design. This is also a piece that’ll wear comfortably into the cooler months, too; thanks to its elegant red gold and steel pairing, which looks mean against the polished black ceramic bezel. The case is water-resistant to 200m (660ft), and houses a chronometer-certified self-winding Manufacture caliber – Breitling’s ever-reliable B20.
Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44
If, on the other hand, you’re into chunky nautical watches, Panerai’s sailing heritage is the natural place to go looking. The Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Accaiaio sounds like a mouthful, but the name tells a story. The Marina first appeared in (guess when) the late 1950s, as Panerai embraced its now iconic cushion shaped case, and began experimenting with the patented locking lever that sits on the left hand side of this watch to prevent water getting into the casing. The watch is water resistant to 30 bar (300m), and in this reinvigorated form houses Panerai’s P.9010 movement, an automatic with a whopping three day power reserve – ideal should you be stranded on a desert island. It comes in a 42mm version, too, but this watch’s confident proportions benefit from the larger case size.
Tudor Pelagos LHD
Although Tudor was relaunched in the UK only four years ago, the Pelagos needs no introduction. It’s become the thinking man’s go-to diver’s watch; known for its rugged looks, bullet-proof practicality and the sensible price-tag, too. Another 42mm design, it’s available in handsome mid-blue or matte black with a right handed crown, but the newer left-hander steals our vote. For starters, it’s another diver’s watch with intriguing looks; the black dial with red touches, brushed steel and titanium case, plus the beige luminescent hands and hour markers make for a watch that’s both distinctive and laced with attitude. What’s more, the movement’s a gem. Tudor’s in-house MT5612-LHD (COSC) is a self-winding mechanical, with a 70 hour power reserve. Moreover, the watch is waterproof to an impressive 500m, (1,640ft). If you’re looking to make your first foray into the world of nautical watches, or for a diver’s watch that you can wear around town, too, this is an ideal place to start.