Looking to buy a watch? Shop Now

Best Vacay Destinations And The Watches To Bring Along
In Good Company

Best Vacay Destinations And The Watches To Bring Along

By Randy Lai
27 Nov 2023
8 min read

For the final installment of ‘In Good Company’, we ditch the office, pack our bags, and head for the world’s superlative vacation spots. Luckily, even the most relaxing getaway benefits from some serious wrist candy - tailored for whichever way you prefer to play

As 2023 comes to a close, and the holidays begin to hover enticingly into view, let’s take a moment to bid farewell to In Good Company: our deep dive into the intersection between watches and other similarly vibey lifestyle pursuits.

One of Wristcheck’s earliest original columns—bound to live on, albeit in a less regular, less serialized form—In Good Company has been the prism through which we’ve curated a wealth of coolly complementary crossovers—from whisky to art objects and everything in between.

Fittingly, and to put a capstone on the year that was, we’ve opted to make this edition all about kickass holiday destinations around the globe. Some will be intimately familiar to our readers, others (hopefully) a breath of fresh air.

Just remember: regardless of which appeals to your vacay sensibilities, the only thing better than experiencing these unforgettable getaways in person, is to do so with one of our favorite holiday watches on your wrist.

“Out of office” mode on in 3, 2, 1…

Courchevel, France

Part of the world’s largest interlinked ski region, known as Les Trois Vallées, Courchevel is unique among Europe’s more legendary alpine resorts for being a from-scratch endeavor.

Conceived in the post-war period by the architect Laurent Chappis, it was - for many decades - a well-kept secret among European cognoscenti: once described by Tatler editor Harriet Kean as a “small-town resort, very family orientated with a relaxed vibe”. How times have changed.

Since the 2010s, the resort town (now technically marketed as “Courchevel 1850”) has become a hotbed for well-heeled travelers from all corners of the globe. Its popularity amongst a certain strand of eye-wateringly wealthy Moscovite has given it the controversial nickname, “Courchevelski” - in spite of record-low Russian holiday bookings, since the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

That historic popularity among the Eastern elite - and increasingly, Indian and Arab rainmakers—is echoed in Courchevel’s luxurious trappings. The town is home to well over a dozen high-end hotels, of which three hold France’s coveted ‘Palace’ (i.e. 6-star) rating. The see-and-be-seen crowd tend towards Les Airelles, at the village center; while lovers of black runs - Courchevel has 12 to choose from—favor the ski-in, ski-out premises of Cheval Blanc.

One imagines it’s no trouble for your archetypal Courchevel guest to travel with an assortment of wristwear (Cartier bracelets and Bulgari bangles abound here), but if you were to desire something ‘essential’: a steel sports watch - incorporating a suitably expensive and niche complication - ought to do the trick.

What To Wear, While There: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Worldtimer 

Best Vacay Destinations And The Watches To Bring Along

Kyoto, Japan

Revered far and wide as one of the most popular, culturally significant cities in Japan; Kyoto - like many legendary tourist destinations - is a place of dualities.

On the one hand, it boasts an illustrious heritage: having been the capital city of feudal Japan since 794; and home to such UNESCO World Heritage Sites as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) and Shimogamo Shrine.

By contrast, it is also deeply sleek and cosmopolitan—a place of pilgrimage for world-class chefs and hoteliers, who pour their energies into destinations like an Aman or the hippest new incarnation of Noma.

Few places in Kyoto better express the accord between the city’s twinned personas than the gallery of Robert Yellin. Situated at the onset of a famed pedestrian pathway known as ‘The Philosopher’s Walk’ (Tetsugaku No Michi), this gallery offers a wide selection of traditional and contemporary Japanese ceramics curated by the man himself.

It should be noted that Yellin is a long-time resident of Kyoto, who arrived in Japan - with the sole intent of studying the country’s aesthetical traditions and philosophies - in the mid-1980s. A consummate outsider-turned-authority, he’s prone to explaining the tenets of raku pottery as passionately as he does modern Japanese sculpture, and a visit to his doorstep is always worth your time.

In a city teeming with traditional craftspeople (shoukunin) and many of Japan’s most artistically and spiritually rich landmarks; whatever you choose to put on your wrist had better be up to the task. That said, when one considers just how much there is to see and do in Kyoto, it’s a pretty safe bet you won’t spend much time glancing at your wrist.

What To Wear, While There: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Double Balancier’ 

Best Vacay Destinations And The Watches To Bring Along

Phuket, Thailand

Whereas the two other Asian holiday destinations we’ve earmarked for this edition of In Good Company qualify as urban hotspots, Phuket is a tropical getaway through and through.

Having shed its reputation as a rowdy party town heaving with European backpackers almost a decade ago, the southern Thai province or island has reemerged as a popular getaway destination - particularly for residents in Hong Kong and Singapore (who are able to decamp over the course of a weekend).

The island’s location, bounded on all sides by the Andaman Sea, makes it an excellent option for large group getaways: no matter whether your vibe is wakeboarding with the kids, or partying it up at any of the EDM festivals that are so de rigueur in this region. More than all that though, Phuket’s status as an up-and-coming holiday destination means you can still ''escape'—should you so choose—into the great beyond.

Natai, just north of Phuket (so much so that it’s technically part of neighboring Phang-Nga province) provides an antidote to the heavily touristed beachfronts of the island’s west. It’s also home to Baba Beach Club - a younger, Ibiza-accented sister property to the iconic Sri Panwa. Meanwhile, those who’d prefer a more serene ambience ought to make for the local chapter of Rosewood: hidden from prying eyes, on a hilltop overlooking Emerald Bay.

Unsurprisingly, as holidays like these so often unfurl across a range of sandy, sunkissed vistas, we recommend you embrace Phuket whilst wearing a go-anywhere, do-anything timepiece. Water resistance and a comfortable strap well-suited to hot weather are both essential.

What To Wear, While There: Tudor Black Bay ‘Harrods Edition’

Lake Como, Italy

Variously regarded as one of the most “conspicuously beautiful” holiday destinations of the 21st century, Lake Como is unique in both its history and geography - serving as one Italy’s three famed Grandi laghi prealpini (“great pre-alpine lakes”).

The earthly playground of household names such as Clooney and Versace—and before them, Shelley, Verdi, and Napoleon—it's small wonder why Lake Como has enjoyed a charmed reputation, among old aristos and ambitious new money types alike, for centuries.

The sinuous Y-shaped lake - speckled with immaculate waterfront villas and handsome vaporinas - is home to dozens of villages. Even to overseas visitors, these comunes—Moltrasio, Blevio, Bellagio—ring out familiarly. Home, as they are, to a litany of the world’s finest hotels.

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo and local Mandarin Oriental outpost are both well-regarded options, though they’ve come to be overshadowed in 2023 by Passalacqua - newly proclaimed as the “World’s Best Hotel”. The property from the famed De Santis clan - who spent $21 million over the course of 3-and-a-half years sweating the proverbial details - is sublime: a place where the warmth of effortless, intimate service enmeshes with neoclassical grandeur.

In such an idyllic setting, where even at its worst, the weather is balmy and subtropical, a beautiful dress watch will never go amiss. Caught up in the elegance of a Murano candelabra or hallways hewn in Verona marble, our advice would be to reach for watchmaking that is similarly enamored of craftsmanship. Leave all the quartz and ceramic gadgetry at home.

What To Wear, While There: Patek Philippe Calatrava ‘Volutes & Arabesques’

Chengdu, China

Slowly but surely, the mainstream Asian tourism industry is realizing what veteran China hands have long known - Chengdu rocks. The Sichaunese capital may be renowned, among less illuminated folk, as the home of spicy mala hotpot and giant pandas; yet, to borrow a lyric from Bob Dylan, it is a landscape that contains many many more multitudes.

A major provincial capital with a certain historical remoteness from Beijing, Chengdu has emerged over the last 20 years as the epicenter of contemporary Chinese culture. By relative standards, the LGBTQ community in Chengdu is proudly visible; and the city has been instrumental in paving the way for China’s burgeoning local hip-hop scene.

As in Shanghai and Guangzhou, the dichotomy between ‘new’ and ‘old’ is palpable at every step. In the heart of Chengdu’s CBD, an old Qing-era courtyard (Bitieshi) beckons guests into the Temple House - a hypermodern hotel with expertly individualized service, that portends the future of luxury hospitality “with Chinese characteristics”.

In such an environment, where rich historical landmarks seem capable of intertwining with a soaring Blade Runner-esque skyline, we feel it best to run with metaphor when deciding what to wear. Today, the watch industry has its own fair share of cultural anachronisms to contend with - but as innovations like the digi-display Zeitwerk go to show - the wisdom of the past is a means to seize the future.

What To Wear, While There: A. Lange & Sӧhne Zeitwerk Date