Watches I recommend for anyone to own? That sounds a bit presumptuous, right? Well, it is, but hear me out. In what might end up being a new series of articles here on aBlogtoWatch, I’d like to share with our audience the timepieces that we as individual watch lovers and experts would recommend to any new or veteran collector. In fact, I would go so far as to say that no watch collection is truly complete without including most or all of these models. But let’s face it, is any collection of anything ever really complete? Let’s hope not.
People ask me all the time what watches they should buy at all types of price points. This list of watches is meant to offer something for everyone, but at the same time, there is no watch on here – no matter how inexpensive or luxurious – that one collector cannot enjoy at the same time in the same collection. This list is also subjective and reflects my personal opinions. If you disagree, that’s cool – it only means we have different tastes. All I can offer people is the accumulation of my experience and education in watches to help recommend what I think are some of the most important types of watches around. You might even see some of these same groupings in other watch lists here on aBlogtoWatch. The “Top 10 Living Legend Watches To Own” article is one that comes to mind.
With that said, while you might have your own list of watches that are “must haves” for anyone, you really can’t disagree with my list of 10 watches because I am presenting my personal opinion (and I’m not lying), and this is what I recommend. I do, however, really want to hear about your own list in the comments below and am curious to see what watches show up on list after list. By the way, there are plenty of amazing watches that I love and would easily recommend that aren’t on this list. Timepieces that don’t make the list are simply ones that I wouldn’t recommend as universally.
I’ve become really attached to the ubiquitous Omega Speedmaster in so many of its forms. The Omega Speedmaster is a timepiece with so much variety, and yet so many of them are incredibly worth owning because of how well they totally incorporate what is “right” with high-end sports watches. What was originally a racing chronograph completely changed its personality when Omega had some luck with the US Government and NASA, and Speedmaster timepieces were sent into space and worn by astronauts to the moon. Since then, the Omega Speedmaster has seen countless variations and forms – the best of which demonstrate the Speedmaster’s ability to be beautiful, useful, and versatile. There are few watches with so much lasting value for such a variety of owners. I don’t care what Omega Speedmaster you get, or if you have a bunch of them – everyone who loves watches needs some Speedmaster in their life.
The amount of content written about the Rolex Submariner over the years could easily fill up a small library. This is probably the most copied watch design in the world, yet people still flock to the original. Rolex has essentially been making the same design since the 1950s, which is at its core a professional diving watch that was so well designed, it ends up looking good even with a tuxedo. It would be easy to say that the Rolex Submariner is just a good looking watch with a good name on the dial – but it is more than that. Rolex more or less created he casual luxury sport watch craze with the Submariner. Always fantastically produced, the Rolex Submariner is perhaps the first do anything, go anywhere, superhero watch that became a pop culture icon because all it was trying hard at was being the best of breed. Rolex continues to improve the Submariner each few years, and the collection continues to get better and better. Even so, with each new iteration, previous generations don’t go out of style, and the Rolex Submariner will likely never lose its soul. You just really need to own at least one to understand what so many before you have understood.
I don’t love all Reversos, but I have to hand it to Jaeger-LeCoultre that they cracked the code on making one of the most interesting and beautiful square watches of all time. Seriously, square and rectangular watches are very difficult to design with lasting impact – and pretty soon, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso will be an icon with 100 years of history. Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to not only produce the movements for each mechanical Reverso watch, but also the cases and other components. This makes the watch a very personally JLC product, and for the money, you get a lot of watch. The basic idea of the Reverso is that the case flips around to reveal another side which is either another dial or an area that can be engraved or painted on (services which cost extra that Jaeger-LeCoultre is happy to provide). What makes the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso so universally appealing isn’t just that it happens to be a successful rectangular watch, but that it demonstrates how important an iconic design is today that does indeed look like something out of art deco history. Jaeger-LeCoultre makes a lot of Reverso models, and I encourage people to find one with the size, movement, and colors they prefer. It is one casual to dressy timepiece I’ve never seen anyone regret.
When Casio originally debuted the G-Shock in the 1980s, it was a timepiece that instantly struck a chord with consumers. Here was a super durable, super useful, and super affordable timepiece that not only made wearing a digital quartz watch cool, but also summed up everything that was right with the Japanese electronics industry. In over 30 years of history, the G-Shock collection has spawned countless variations, models, styles, and special editions. The world simply cannot get enough of G-Shock, and even the most well-funded watch collectors can get a kick out of the ultimate fun watch. Even the emerging smartwatch industry today has an uphill battle trying to compete with the utter physical resilience of the G-Shock as well as its global popularity. It isn’t possible to recommend one Casio G-Shock model or another, but you won’t get better value out there for just a few hundreds bucks (or less).
You really need to be at least somewhat of a seasoned watch enthusiast to appreciate the merits of a Grand Seiko. Near the top of Seiko’s product catalog is the Grand Seiko collection – a sub-brand that has existed for well over 50 years and only recently made its official global debut with sales all over the world. It actually took that long before Seiko decided that its immaculate Grand Seiko collection “might” be appreciated outside of the Japanese domestic market. Those with a good eye will appreciate the intensely refined level of dial and case finishing on each Grand Seiko watch, as well as their obvious “good value” over European luxury watches. Grand Seiko doesn’t live in a vacuum, though, as the many Grand Seiko watches are most all inspired by popular watch designs and concepts. With that said, Seiko almost always brings something new to the table when it comes to materials, functionality, or sheer refinement. The Spring Drive movement is a good example of that innovation as it is a truly remarkable mechanism that combines the best of mechanical movements with the accuracy of quartz regulation – all powered by a traditional mainspring. There are sporty or dress Grand Seiko watches with a Spring Drive movement – and most of them are a solid choice.
This is one of the more niche suggestions on this list because MB&F watches are inherently designed for the few, not the many. For that reason, I don’t want to recommend a specific MB&F Horological Machine watch model because that will be up to someone’s specific taste. Also, most of them are limited editions and just not that easy to get. On top of all that, MB&F watches are priced in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. So why recommend them here? Clearly, this is a choice for a well-to-do watch collection but one that is a perfect exemplar of the powerful and compelling appeal of the modern independent watch maker. These are the small companies who are blending modern art with watchmaking and the result is collectible and cool. To truly appreciate where the watch industry has come from and where it is going, you can’t go wrong with a modern high-end independent watch maker, and their unofficial leader is MB&F.
First, earn or gather at least $100,000. Next, call Mr. Kari Voutilainen – the Finnish watchmaker who works in Switzerland – and ask him to make you something special and one-of-a-kind. Voutilainen does produce some “series watches,” but at this level, what you really want is something unique made exclusively for you – just prepare to wait a few years for it. If you want a classy looking timepiece with a design other people have then you don’t need to go to a small operation like Voutilainen. However, if you want a hand-made watch produced the “old way,” that will be an heirloom you can treasure and pass down, then this is a good guy to call. There are a few others like him (such as Roger Smith), but the world of independent watch makers who will make unique hand-made watches for individual clients is rare. People like Kari Voutilainen offer timepieces which combine a range of artistic techniques (such as decorative engraving) in addition to pure mechanical watch making. Voutilainen watches are also universal enough in their design that they could work for almost any collector and also be something comfortable to wear on a daily basis.
You don’t necessarily need to go with a Datograph Up/Down, but A. Lange & Sohne is easily one of the world’s best “big company” traditional watch makers when it comes to timeless style, a bit of conservatism, and jaw-droppingly sexy movement decoration that fully realizes what a Germanic sense of movement making OCD can accomplish. The A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down is a favorite because it has one of the most easy to love designs, daily wear appeal, and a seriously good looking movement. It also helps that the power reserve indicator and other features make it convenient to wear and enjoy on a regular basis. Of course, it isn’t cheap, but a “Lange” can be appreciated by all.
It is entirely possible that the Breguet Type XX and later Type XXI are among the most beautiful pilot watches in the world, if not the most beautiful. That is actually saying a lot because there is certainly no lack of good-looking pilot-style or aviation-themed watches. The Breguet Type XXI design is directly inspired by an aesthetic code for military pilot watches, only with some really nice “luxury refinement.” There is a universal appeal to the Breguet Type XXI design even though each version has its own look. Breguet doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about its important 20th Century watches, given that it has so much more history to cover, but their pilot watches are not only among the most affordable watches they produce, but some of the most beautiful for daily wear.
Germany-based Sinn is an interesting brand for truly living in the past. While Sinn watches do not neglect modern style or technology, Sinn seems to choose to selectively exist in a parallel reality where the quartz crisis never existed. Sinn offers some of the most dependable and good looking serious professional or sports watches around – and there are few if any brands that can offer the same quality for the money. While tastes vary, there are some easy-to-recommend watches within the Sinn catalog – one such watch being the Sinn 757 S, which takes the brand’s signature cockpit instrument-style pilot watch and adds a symmetrically designed chronograph with a black-colored steel case. Its a professionally-themed classic, and sums up why I love sport watches so much. I really can’t think of any watch lover who wouldn’t really enjoy a Sinn in their life.