Buyer’s Guide: Make a splash with 7 of our favourite summertime watches

Dial up the heat — and we’re not just talking outdoor temperature — with some of our favourite timepieces this summer.
By Randy Lai

Welcome back to ‘Buyer’s Guide’: a regular round-up of watches we love, as selected by our editors, Team Wristcheck and the broader #WatchFam community. In this instalment, we’re heading out for some fun in the sun, now that summer is well and truly here, with a handful of our favourite hot weather watches. In the interest of balance, we’ve selected an array of timepieces (from our website and the wider marketplace) which speak to our pretty varied tastes here in the office. Expect pops of colour; a high degree of versatility; and bracelets aplenty. 

 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time

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(Photo: Vacheron Constantin)

So, summer is fast approaching — with its long days, longer nights, holidays, and fun aplenty. Naturally, in our neck of the woods, that begs the question: what is the ‘best’ watch to wear this summer? There are plenty of viable options (many of which I’m sure you’ll read about in this very guide) but my pick would have to be Vacheron’s Overseas Dual Time. (Editor’s Note: the exact reference is 7900V/110A-B334.) 

Arguably Vacheron’s best ever sports watch, the Overseas collection is the brand’s answer to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the infamous Patek Nautilus. Based on the discontinued 222, the Overseas features some of its predecessor’s design motifs, but with a modern twist that sets it apart and imbues it with its own stunning personality. 

In my eyes at least, summer is best spent at the beach during the day then dining out with friends in the evening. Really, it’s the perfect season for livin’ it up, as it were. For all that, you need a watch that’s up to the task — not a one-trick pony. That’s why I’ve picked the Overseas Dual Time: the secondary timezone (my favourite complication) is useful when you’re travelling during your summer holidays — a particularly relishing thought as we begin our tenuous exit from the era of COVID-19, and as international travel slowly becomes a thing again. Further still, the Overseas’ 120m depth rating has all of your aquatic activities covered: more than water-resistant enough to go swimming, snorkelling, and even diving, when you’re exploring the corals or lapping up the sun’s rays.

With its quick-change strap system (and the fact it comes with both dial-matching rubber and alligator straps) the Overseas is a jack-of-all-trades. It rocks on rubber at the beach, makes a handsome companion on a steel bracelet when shopping; and you can wear it on leather for a dressier dinnertime look. In short, it’s the one watch that can do it all this summer. What more could you ask for?

- Aaron Voyles, Contributing Editor

 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Double Balance Wheel in Black Ceramic 

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This summer, in a move that probably won’t feel too surprising, I’ll be wearing a ceramic Royal Oak on a bracelet while making the most of Hong Kong’s scorching weather. But rather than seasonally appropriate, heat-dispersing white ceramic, I’ve opted for AP’s signature black variation; and if you’ve ever owned or handled one in person, I suspect you’ll understand why. AP has long had a way with black ceramic: there’s an otherworldly sheen that accompanies all of its watches made from this material. Directly illuminated, the case exudes a bright, almost silvered aura; and thanks to the brand’s highly distinctive juxtaposition of satin-finishing and mirror-polishing — applied at intervals throughout the case and bracelet — this ref. 15416 plays with sunlight in ways that are downright otherworldly. 

On the performance front, this is a watch that’s scratchproof in the extreme. As a case material, ceramic is about 7 times more resilient to abrasion than stainless steel, and because this Royal Oak is equipped with a screwdown crown — essentially making it waterproof — it’s an absolute favourite whenever I’m hitting the beach. There are few conventional tool watches I can think of — the Nautiluses and Rolex professional series of this world — you can wear carefree at the beach for an entire day, and then make the journey home looking basically unblemished. What’s more, it’s light, versatile, and on all the occasions I’ve taken it into the water, oddly low-key: for the vast majority of people who aren’t into watch collecting, this just appears as a muted black timepiece on a bracelet. 

Although technically classified as an ‘uncomplicated’ watch (i.e. only the time is displayed) this Royal Oak is outfitted with a double balancier. To simplify, this is a regulator composed of two balance wheels — the theory being that they double the amount of the movement’s inertia, thus making it more resistant to shocks and sudden shifts of position. All that engineering makes for a watch that’s even more ‘summer-worthy’, unaffected by classic water-based activities like wakeboarding or sailing. Of course, the double balancier in this piece is rendered with an aesthetic that embodies AP’s cutting-edge persona perfectly: openworked so that it’s plainly visible to the naked eye, all the details of the movement you can see on the dial are absolutely sublime. Between the bevelling, internal angles, black-polished countersinks and pearlage, is it any wonder that openworking has been an AP house specialty since 1930?

- Austen Chu, Founder & CEO

 

Bulgari Octo Finissimo S (silvered dial)

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When Mark Ronson wrote the opening lyric to the now multi-platinum single Uptown Funk (“this hit, that ice cold/Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold”) I like to think there’s a chance, however preposterous, that he had the Octo Finissimo in mind. After all, the eponymous slimmed down version of the original Octo was released in 2014 — the same year Ronson and erstwhile collaborator Bruno Mars were topping the charts with their funkadelic Minneapolis-inspired sound. That I hear that track’s horns and eminently replayable bassline, when looking at the newest iteration of the Finissimo lineup 7 years later, is certainly no accident. 

Lean, mean and ultra-clean, the Octo Finissimo S is exactly the sort of watch I’d envision on the wrist of an icy cocaine baroness during the height of summer. Not so much a dark horse as a contrarian’s answer to the Nautiluses of the world, the new Finissimo S is a refined, tonal evocation of the integrated bracelet sports watch — made to go anywhere and do (just about) anything with 100 metres of water resistance and its stainless steel construction. 

The brand’s ultra-thin BVL 138 makes a welcome return (at just under 3mm-thickness, it’s among the slimmest automatic movements in the game) but really, with this Finissimo, it’s all about the look. The dial’s vertically brushed finish really amps up the textural element of the Finissimo S form language and feels pointedly vivid against a backdrop of radial brushing and satin-polishing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the decision by Bulgari’s watchmakers to colour everything monochrome (hands, indices, text) amounts to a net gain: encouraging both wearer and passersby to devote energy to better appreciating the nuances of the unusual proportions, elegant thinness and clear sense of aesthetic harmony.

- Randy Lai, Digital Content Specialist

 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41mm (turquoise)

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My choice this summer’s got to be the 41mm version of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Now hear me out: initially I thought this would wear too large — some women tend to steer clear of, opting for the 36mm model instead — however the 41, surprisingly, fits perfectly on my smaller wrist without coming across bulky. Take note, ladies!

Light, practical, and effortlessly stylish, the OP41 hits all the right notes for me. Its turquoise dial is the perfect shade of pastel blue that just screams summer. Evoking a holiday in the tropics — crystal-clear water, ice-cold cocktails and the like (something I’m desperately craving) — the cleanness of the dial exudes a certain charm that’s simply irresistible. On top of that, it fits right in with my holiday wardrobe, a part of the closet where I tend to depart from my usual black-on-black ensemble and (attempt to) experiment with a brighter colour palette. 

As legible as it is bold, the OP41 is also reminiscent of Rolex’s historic Stella lacquer-dial Day-Dates, which I love. And if you’re a fan of the lore but want a more contemporary expression of the Stella lineage, this piece strikes the perfect balance between vintage and modern; a classic silhouette for any summer scenario, be it poolside antics or a fancy dinner. 

Beneath its chic exterior lies Rolex’s latest self-winding movement, boasting precision and quality as expected. Almost three days of power reserve make it convenient to wear intermittently as well. The Oyster case and bracelet possess a comfort factor on the level of everything we’ve come to expect from Rolex, sitting snugly and securely on the wrist. It’s also waterproof to 100m — an added bonus for any water sports fanatics out there.

Simply put, this turquoise OP ticks all the boxes — in my opinion, a perfect daily wearer for the summer.

- Jasmine Bastable, Marketing Manager

 

H.Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds ‘Mega Cool’

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Moser’s latest expression of its tentpole Pioneer collection, christened — deservingly in my opinion — the ‘Mega Cool’, is as close as you can get to the perfect summertime beater. A sports watch in the purest sense of that phrase, it’s a comfortable water-resistant design that comes alive in large bodies of pristine oceanic H2O. Moser’s watchmakers were very much inspired by imagery of a tropical getaway while working on the gradient of the ‘lagoon’ blue dial, and the IRL effect is so convincing I’m transported (somewhat wistfully) to previous getaways in Bali and Phuket, down to the fresh coconut, each time I strap this on my wrist. 

As Aaron previously alluded to, versatility is an important quality for any summer watch; and this is yet another area in which the Mega Cool excels. The steel case/blue dial combo looks fantastic whether it’s on leather or rubber, though the tone-matched kevlar strap that the watch comes with is in a league of its own. Certain nuances in the overall design also drive home the watch’s sporty chic persona: such as the hands and hour markers, both taking inspiration from the Streamliner (Moser’s signature integrated bracelet model). The latter are a textbook lesson in how tiny tweaks, when well-executed, can make a huge impact: with each marker’s sword-like facets and curved lower edge enriching the interaction between light and dial. 

For a final touch of whimsy, Moser has applied its logo to the Mega Cool using a lacquering process that’s clever and very much in line with the team’s reputation for not taking itself too seriously. Appearing almost transparent under certain lighting, this method of applying the Moser signature will probably also appear in future releases. The effect is subtly perceptible, but never detracts from the star of the show — the smoked dial. What’s not to love?

- Austen Chu

 

Tudor ‘PCG’ gilt Submariner ref. 7928

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In the grand tradition of its elder sibling Rolex, Tudor has had a lengthy and varied tradition of crafting Submariners in multiple, subtly different variations. What has remained consistent throughout however is their decades-long robustness: a living testament to that oft-cited adage, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”. (Well, unless “they” happens to be Rolex. But where was I?) Here, we have a later example of the Tudor Submariner 7900 lineage, marked by many idiosyncrasies of the 1960s such as the ‘exclamation dot’ dial, a visual code of sorts to indicate the presence of safe levels of radium; and the pointed crown guards (hence the nickname ‘PCG’), one of four styles manufactured across the ref. 7928’s lifespan. 

From the get-go, there’s nothing dramatic about this particular Tudor Sub — it’s clearly an ancestor in the (ongoing) lineage of the most iconic sports watch to ever issue forth from Switzerland — but I suppose, if anything, that’s part of its charm. The warm, gilt indexes and historic Rose logo convey a lot of the so-called ‘romance’ vintage collectors whisper of when discussing old-school Tudor, wed to a case diameter (39mm) that’s widely considered to be the acme of wearability regardless of whether you’re in the pool or tucked behind an omakase counter. Given how Hong Kong’s summer heat hits you like a lick to the face from a particularly excitable dog, you’ll probably find me at the latter.

- Randy Lai

 

Chopard Happy Ocean 

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(Photo: Chopard)

One of the big watchmaking trends right now is that versatile ‘beach to black tie’ piece: bringing together two pursuits that I’m particularly excited about following 18 dreary months of lockdown in London. Chopard’s latest Happy Ocean diver stylishly fits that bill. I love its cool blue tones and sporty-luxe feel: the ‘luxe’ coming from the Happy Sport’s signature sprinkling of loose diamonds that dance across the dial. (In and of itself, these ‘dancing diamonds’ are quite a feat of engineering, sitting between two layers of sapphire glass so they can shake and move uninhibited.) Fun, whimsical, spontaneous — this watch embodies all the things that I crave post-pandemic, capturing the energy I want accompanying me all through summer 2021.

- Ming Liu, Contributing Editor
 

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