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With labor day in the books, and our finest white linen pants stashed away, summer 2020 draws to a close. With it, our editorial team has taken the time to reflect on some of the watches we found ourselves enjoying the most this summer, which was an unusual one for all of us. No beach parties, no parades or neighborhood grill outs. Just enjoying our space, and maybe a beer or two. At a distance, of course. Even without many places to go, we took full advantage of summer watches, and here are the results.
I tend to rotate my watches quite a lot, so having one stick out for a season is difficult, but this year I know which watch I wore the most. Early in May I picked up a Speedmaster Automatic 3520.50, a watch I’ve always had my eye on. One of the “reduced” family, it is part of a series (including the more famous “mark 40”) that stand out from the crowd of speedies thanks to their Valjoux-based triple-calendar calibers. An interesting movement for a speedy for a few reasons, the first being that it has a 6,9,12 sub-dial layout, which when combined with the pointer date and twisted lug case, makes the watch look a bit like a mini-holy-grail. The second reason is that it’s an integrated automatic chronograph, where other automatic speedies of the era were modular.
Combined with the oh-so-elegant 38.5mm take on the iconic speedy case, it’s easily one of the best wearing chronographs I’ve ever put on. The bezel is actually only 37.6mm, and while over 14mm tall, wears thin thanks to a slender mid-case and a domed sapphire crystal. And then you have the dial, which is delightfully chaotic. I like chronographs in general for their increased visual complexity, but with an eight-handed triple-calendar chrono with two date windows (hours, minutes, chrono-seconds, pointer date, chrono-minutes, chrono-hours, 24-hour, and active seconds, day and month windows), there is a lot going on.
And, I dare say, it’s not really balanced, though it is very legible. The top left quadrant of the dial is vastly more dense than the rest, with a stacked 24-hr and active seconds sub-dial, as well as half of the minute-counter, the day window, and 23-31 numerals all fully printed for the date. Yet, it works, looks great, has tons of personality, and like other watches of eras past (this is just from the 90’s, but still) has a quirkiness that consumers might not accept from a new watch. Needless to say, it’s spent a lot of time on my wrist the last few months, and I don’t expect that to change through the Fall or Winter.
While I love my vintage watches, I find that for everyday use I tend to go with a modern watch, especially in the summer. This year I think I’ve worn my Tudor Black Bay blue ETA more than anything (man, I love that watch!), however the last several months (summer coincidentally…), I’ve switched up to my Seiko SBDX001 MM300. At the beginning of summer I put the OEM bracelet back on it and I’ve been wearing it almost exclusively since then. One of the best things about the MM300 is its versatility: It looks and wears great on leather, canvas or a rubber strap, but also on the bracelet. For the longest time this has been my go-to watch for traveling, so it also reminds me of several summer trips I’ve taken while wearing it (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Vegas)…good times!
I wouldn’t be a card carrying ‘vintage guy’ if I didn’t mention my most worn vintage watch this summer too! This year it turns out to be my vintage Croton Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver (gotta love that name!). This is a true classic, and super easy to wear with the manual wind Valjoux 23 movement and no date to set, just wind, set and go. It’s a great size and my
example is definitely not a minty fresh safe-queen. It has seen use and as such I don’t hesitate to wear regularly. This one has found it’s way onto my wrist more often than not this summer for sure.
My most worn watch this summer was a recently acquired Tudor Pelagos LHD. After publicly discussing my regret associated with selling this very watch on a May episode of the Worn & Wound podcast, it was only a matter of time before I located a gently used one to, once again, call my own (thank you, listeners, for your tacit encouragement through the sending of “for sale” listings after the episode dropped).
As a fan of watches that range from “just a little offbeat” to “completely bonkers,” the LHD is clearly the Pelagos for me, with just the right amount of weirdness present in the left hand crown, roulette date wheel, and that pop of red text on the dial (a rare specific acknowledgment of Rolex’s dive watch history in a Tudor branded watch) to suit my taste, but not be overly unusual for a daily wearer. Ultimately, it’s the ease of that wearing experience that led to the Pelagos becoming a summer staple. The lightweight titanium case and bracelet (with the all important micro-adjustable clasp) are the watch’s best features, and are particularly critical in warm weather. While the drab color scheme of the Pelagos doesn’t scream “summer,” its ready-for-anything build quality and impressive specs do, and I found myself reaching for the Pelagos over everything else well beyond the typical honeymoon period of a new watch purchase.
This summer I’ve found myself reaching for my Damasko DS30 WindUp more than anything else. Paired with a perfectly matching perlon strap it’s light and comfortable, and handles the English summer rain just fine too.
Damasko have always been a brand I’ve admired, but never grew to love the day-date that appears on most models. The simple dial of the DS30, improved further with the 6 o’clock date placement here, coupled with the unusual olive dial colour pushed me over the edge.
I think I might be the most surprised that my most worn watch of the summer is a 47.8mm quartz powered Seiko. A month or so back, I parted ways with my trusty Seiko x TicTAC SZSB006. It just wasn’t giving me that warm and fuzzy feeling anymore and I found myself reaching for it less and less. I like to give my watches on the chopping block a chance to redeem themselves, but after a few days in a row of wearing it with no strong feelings to keep the watch, I decided to let it go. To replace the svelte 40mm, vintage-inspired watch, I went in a completely different direction with the khaki-accented ana-digi Seiko SNJ031 “SafArnie”. Since receiving the watch, it’s spent a ton of time on my wrist, and for good reason.
For those unfamiliar with the watch, the SNJ029 is a reissue of the iconic watch worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger in both “Predator” and “Commando”. It’s a tuna style seiko with a plastic shroud surrounding the case. Integrated into the dial, there’s a small backlit digital screen that adds stop watch, alarms, date display, and a second timezone — all features that have come in handy while wearing the watch. For me, the Arnie is just plain fun. It’s unapologetically large, yet manages to remain wearable on my 6.75″ wrist. The khaki and gunmetal color way is handsome and outdoorsy, and paired with that pliable rubber strap, it’s comfortable too. To me, a summer watch should be fun and the SNJ029 fits the bill. I’ve spent a lot of time fishing this summer, and it’s been great to have a quartz in my collection that I know will be set to the right time and ready to go when I am. I’m curious to see how much wear it gets when the seasons change, and shirt cuffs start to make an appearance, as opposed to my trusty pair of Patagonia Baggies and a tee that have been my uniform for this work-from-home summer. Until then, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find the Arnie on my wrist. For a more in depth look, you can check out my most recent review right here.
Grill outs, fishing, lake swimming and dock diving all dominated my summer, and I have the watch shaped tan line on my wrist to prove it. This kind of intense leisure activity demanded a watch that could remain comfortable, put up with some water as well as some grease, and still look good for wrist shots at the end of the day. My 114060 took a lot of wrist time, but after receiving the Sinn U50, it rarely came off the wrist.
I’ve written about this watch at length right here, but over the summer this watch took on a lot of character and looked damn good doing it while sitting on whatever NATO straps I dared put on it. From cleaning fish to mixing negronis, the U50 proved a solid wrist mate though all manner of summer activity and it solidified its place in my collection as a result.