Watch Movements Guide
It's what's on the inside that really counts. Here's what you need to know.
If we're being honest, no man needs a watch these days. With the ubiquity of cell phones, accurate timekeeping is now just an awkward fumble in your pocket away. But, of course, telling the time is merely one function of a watch. A proper timepiece, like a good suit, can make a man feel instinctively more confident because it instantly communicates an image he's trying to project. After all, you can tell a lot about a man from the watch on his wrist. Perhaps that's why some men strap on various timepieces—to switch up what they want to say about themselves. But you don't need half a dozen different watches. Invest in a quality timepiece with provenance and substance and it will go with you anywhere. We asked our friends at Crown & Caliber, the number one online marketplace for luxury pre-owned watches, this question: If you could only own one watch, what's the best option for a budding collector, or someone looking to wear one watch—and one watch only? Here are their top five.
When it comes time to issuing a hat-tip to style, capability or just historical provenance in the world of watches, it just wouldn't be a proper roundup without some mention of a Rolex Submariner. Sure, it was created in the 1950s for man's race to the bottom of the sea, and changed only subtly in over fifty years in existence, but Rolex's adherence to its own traditions by making only incremental improvements has yielded an absolute masterpiece of a modern watch. Perfectly sized at 40mm and dressed to kill in ceramic and 904L stainless steel, today's Sub is more relevant, more capable and still more wearable than ever—singlehandedly writing the book on versatility when it comes to an everyday watch. Now, though there are entire lists dedicated to the greatest Rolex Submariners of all time (spoiler alert: McQueen's 5512 takes that cake), we'd recommend starting with a modern no-date variant, for the final word in a watch that has already proven worthy of withstanding mankind's most arduous test: time.
From $5,000 at Crown & Caliber
If it's good enough for the world's most famous agent in Her Majesty's Secret Service, you can rest assured the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is more than up to the task—whether you're dressed to the nines in bespoke Tom Ford, or dispatching baddies whilst racing a motorcycle across terra cotta rooftops in Istanbul. Don't let the good looks or lithe silhouette fool you though, the SMPO (as it is affectionally referred to) is the quintessential modern tool watch. It's ridiculously capable, and unafraid of the deep end of the pool, as the helium valve-equipped case (professional saturation divers, that feature's for you) is rated to 600 crushing meters of water resistance-far deeper than any mere mortal might dive. And unlike many of its peers, the SMPO is also available in both 42mm and 45mm (XL) diameter variants, ensuring there's a perfect fit even for wrists that have never once skipped arm day.
From $2,750 at Crown & Caliber
As the saying goes, "You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely take care of it for the next generation." It's not the wrong sentiment by any means. Especially if you're looking for one—and only one—watch for you, and your lucky next-of-kin to enjoy. Think of it like the Mercedes Benz GL63; at the apex of sport luxury, where lines begin to comfortably blur between embellishment and capability. Stuff like applied white gold markers, and over ten times the water resistance of a typical dress watch of this stature, come to mind. Besides sharing a namesake with Jules Verne's famous submarine, the Nautilus also owes its seafaring proclivities to that unique porthole-shaped bezel—an iconic signature inspired by yacht architecture and originally conceived on a paper napkin by famed designer Gerald Genta in 1974. Together with its unmistakeable textured 'shutter' dial, the design endures today, as a category-defining hallmark for those seeking a beautiful, heirloom-quality watch built to withstand the rigors of multiple lifetimes of wear.
From $16,640 at Crown & Caliber
Die-hard collectors and those looking for their first "nice watch" barely ever agree on anything, but the Black Bay by Tudor is that rare exception. Hearkening to an era in the 1970s when a good watch was a diver's lifeline—the Black Bay is legible, easy to operate and unfailing under pressure. Oh, and versatile above the waterline, though it's unlikely that the French National Navy divers that once relied upon its source of inspiration would have cared as much about the broad-shouldered stainless steel case, colorful anodized bezel and neatly contrasting gilt dial-classic details that easily transitions between the workplace, the beach and damn-near anywhere between. It's not difficult to see how the Black Bay fortifies Tudor's position as one of the most compelling propositions in watchmaking, because here we have a sport watch that's not only handsome and historically significant, but one that's also markedly accessible, making it an easy choice for just about anyone.
From $2,500 at Crown & Caliber
In a way, the Santos is to the dress watch as the Submariner is to the dive watch. Which is to say, the highest evolved species of a purpose-built vintage classic. Except where the Submariner's history started more recently around the middle of the century, the Santos took flight at the height of the industrial revolution—born out of necessity for pioneering aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who requested a durable and legible watch to be custom-built for him by Louis Cartier. A century later, the Santos still exhibits the bold opaline white dial beset with thick roman numerals, contrasting blued handset and strong art deco lines of the original-all signatures that go from business to casual as effortlessly as putting the top down on a Citroen DS convertible. Wearing one is joining the ranks of guys like Cary Grant, Warren Beatty and Sammy Davis Jr., who all understood that there are some rarefied periods in history that just got it right the first time.
From $2,090 at Crown & Caliber