Watches, like cameras, have largely seen their functionality absorbed by smartphones. And yet, many of us still want one on the wrist day and night, perhaps for the sheer comfort we find in the wrist circumference and the downward gaze that brings us back to the here and now. And moreover, every year, watchmakers continue to offer great new products, at more affordable prices, and even, as you will see in this year’s choices, completely original ideas.
Nixon light wave ($ 150)
The Light-Wave is a clean watch crafted from reclaimed ocean plastic. Transparent hour and minute hands allow sunlight to reach an integrated solar panel that keeps the quartz movement in its injection molded case. The second hand stretches to the edge in both directions – for no other reason than that, it looks cool. This lightweight device has a modest size of 36 millimeters, and it is water resistant up to 100 meters.
Momentum M20 DSS diver ($ 265)
The M20 Diver has a luxury look and quality, but at a great price. It is water resistant to 200 meters, with a Swiss quartz movement, a shiny dial after dark and a sturdy stainless steel case. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is double-domed for easy readability. And we love the Bahama yellow version, which borrows a color from the classic Porsche 911s.
MeisterSinger Unomat ($ 2,395)
Two heads are better than one, but it’s two hands? MeisterSinger says no. Its designers traveled back in time to before the Industrial Revolution, when the minute hand was introduced, to settle on something more timeless (think sundials and old clock towers). The hour hand tells you approximately where you are in the hour by means of five-minute markers. We have found that relying on the lone hand eases the psychic pressure of all those rotating arms, making life seem like it has slowed down. This model was designed as a more robust addition to the line, with a water resistance of 300 meters and an anti-magnetic iron cage around the movement.
Tutima M2 Seven Seas ($ 1,900 and over)
From its extra-hard sapphire crystal to its titanium case, the M2 Seven Seas exudes tenacity. With a water resistance of 500 meters and clear markings, it is a capable diver’s watch, but it is equally at home on land, in part thanks to its elegant rubber strap and Kevlar. Super-LumiNova hands are readable in the twilight zone of the sea.
Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Diver ($ 1,350)
It is the first light-powered watch with GPS and 200 meter water resistance. Its capabilities are immediately evident with a single glance at the intricate (some might say busy) dial. Hold a button to activate satellite mode and the arms will automatically adjust. Dive mode only displays the time so you know how much time you have been under. Around the outer ring are the main cities and dive destinations, so you’ll always know what time it is on the Great Barrier Reef.
Tissot Seastar 2000 Professional Powermatic 80 ($ 1,025)
The figure in the name of this watch is its nominal depth – a whopping 2,000 feet – backed by a helium exhaust valve and ISO 6425 certification (which tests for impact resistance, underwater visibility and durability in salt water). The self-winding automatic movement runs for 80 hours and the large steel case is topped with sapphire crystal. Look closely at the dial and you will see a subtle etched wave pattern that, paired with the bewitching aqua blue, could lull you to sleep like a lazy day adrift on the high seas.