Andrew Casino, Author at Exquisite Timepieces
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best investment watches

No matter your stance on watches as “investments”, or a new alternative “asset class”, it can’t be denied that the secondary market values of these objects traditionally worn on the wrist have jumped in recent years.

Indeed, when Aurel Bacs hit the proverbial hammer on October 26, 2017, at the Phillips auction house in New York with the record-setting $17.8-million dollar sale of the “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, a new era of watch collecting was ushered in. 

To be clear, particularly rare vintage watches have commanded high secondary market prices on the auction block for years. But, with the advent of new technologies such as social media and popular internet blogs, the attention on the watch space has never been greater, impacting the scene from vintage all the way down to modern, new watches as well.

And while not every watch will garner the attention and multi-million dollar valuation of the “Paul Newman” Daytona, it’s clear that collectors are now acutely aware of the residual values when purchasing a watch.

Oftentimes, it may be the deciding factor when deciding to buy or not. Whether secondary market values are the lowest rung on your ladder of watch purchase decision-making or the top factor in building your watch “portfolio”, let’s explore the idea further.

Why Do People Invest in Watches?

Beanie Babies, baseball cards, comic books, and more. No matter the hobby, collectors will always seek to differentiate themselves from their peers by seeking out the rarest or most special items. If you’re looking for an error-tag Snort/Tabasco Beanie Baby, look no further than my childhood closet. And with rarity comes value (the old “supply and demand” adage); It’s no different in the watch hobby. 

But when spending upwards of thousands of dollars on a single item, it’s arguably more responsible to understand both the inherent value (the “why” of a particular watch; what draws you to it, what sparks your joy, why to hold on to it), and the secondary market value (if you had to sell it, how much would it go for, does it lose, gain or hold its value, how fast would it sell, would anyone even want to buy). 

And when we’re talking thousands of dollars, to even hundreds of thousands and millions, we enter into the realm of true asset classes. Indeed, watches have become a way to diversify and spread wealth, similar to how automobiles and fine art have in recent decades. On the one hand, we have profit-seeking, and on the other, the mere comfort of knowing your money is generally “safe”. 

How to Choose the Best Investment Watches?

None of us have a crystal ball. And we certainly can’t predict the future or offer any financial advice to propose what is or will be, the next big watch hit in which you can safely place your money. But we can make our best-educated guess based on historical market trends and the factors that led to high valuations of specific watches to better understand where we may see these patterns again in the future. So what makes a good investment watch? Consider the following factors:

  • Rarity. We’ve said it before, and it bears worth repeating. Low supply generally yields high demand. The rarer a watch may be, whether from low production numbers, limited edition makeups, age, and so on, the higher the secondary market price may go. In a hobby as personal as watches (these are goods of self-expression, after all), collectors will continue to seek ways to differentiate themselves from the masses. The more different or expressive a watch can be, the more they’re willing to pay.  
  • Condition. And yet, not all watches are the same, even if they are within the same make. We have to factor in the condition of a timepiece when determining its value, and the better a watch’s relative condition is, the higher its price can command. For example, a vintage 1680 Rolex “Red” Submariner with a cracked crystal should generally be less valuable than the same 1680 Red Sub with its crystal intact.
  • Authenticity. Hand in hand with the condition is authenticity. Is the watch true to its original makeup when it left the factory? Are there any replacement parts, and have the replacements been disclosed to the public? Has the watch been serviced, and does it include official documentation or papers from the manufacturer and all original accouterments (good old “box and papers”)? All factors here will impact the added value.
  • Heritage. Does the watch come from a particularly popular brand or has a storied history with documented use in research, development, and beyond? (Insert your favorite Moonwatch story here).
  • X-Factor. The hardest to determine, and oftentimes overlapping with rarity and condition, is the “X-Factor”. This can be thought of as something that makes a watch particularly special outside the normal attributes. Think “Khanjar” or Tiffany stamped dial Rolex or your favorite celebrity wearing a timepiece courtside. Indeed, the “Paul Newman” Daytona wouldn’t have reached its record-breaking heights without relation to the actor. Even the Domino’s Pizza Rolex Air King is seeing its heyday.

Which Are the Best Watch Brands to Invest In?

The easy answer: Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and popular independents such as F.P. Journe and Akrivia. 

The vaguer answer: Watches of good investment value can be found across the full spectrum, from Swatch and Seiko to the upper echelons of masters like Philippe Dufour and Roger W. Smith, model dependent. 

The truth: Any brand worth investing in will have some mix of the factors listed above, namely rarity, condition, heritage, and some shade of “X-Factor”.

These brands will be harder to get (ex: the Rolex “waitlist”), have documented histories of greatness or contributions to the watch craft and industry, and will find their own organic popularity through the movers and shakers of the hobby, ultimately garnering more interest from the community at large (ie, more demand).

The 20 Best Investment Watches of 2024 (for your consideration):

1. Rolex GMT Master II (ref. 16710)

Rolex GMT Master II (ref. 16710)

As a premier flagship steel sports Rolex model, arguably any iteration of the Rolex GMT Master can be considered an investment piece due to the iconic status the watch holds in Rolex’s lineup and pop culture. However, particularly in the 16710 produced from 1989 through 2007, we see an “end of an era” in true tool watch form before Rolex makes the switch to upgraded materials decidedly more luxury leaning such as a ceramic bezel, updated bracelet and maxi dial and case size.

Available with the iconic red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert, the black and red “Coke” insert, or the all-black bezel variation, the 16710 is heralded by collectors for its iconic looks and tool watch practicality. And with its 40mm case diameter, 12.4mm thickness, 47.5mm lug-to-lug, and 20mm lug width, we have classic case size proportions suitable for various wrists for those who find the modern variant a bit too large.

Of note, a collector will find a few iterations within the 16710 model line: the “SWISS T25” dial with tritium hour markers and hands pre-1999; the transitional “Swiss Only” dial dated to 1999, and the “SWISS MADE” dial featuring SuperLuminova hour markers and hands from 2000 onwards.

2. Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711

Another darling of the watch-collecting zeitgeist (perhaps THE darling), the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, discontinued in 2021, is perhaps a surefire addition to any watch investment portfolio. Originally debuting in 2006 with several references among its ilk in steel, gold, platinum, and gem set beauties over the years, the 5711 was not actually all that popular upon its initial release. 

With its 40mm diameter case, svelte 8.3mm thickness, and that iconic Gerald Genta case design (call them “ears”, and you’ll never unsee it again), the stellar casework and finishing combined with a top-of-the-line comfort on the wrist meant that what was once under the radar and eclipsed by its kin such as the reference 5712, would soon see eventual success with the more recent craze of steel sports integrated bracelet watches (which I dub the “Genta Wave”). 

Another case of an overlooked watch becoming a hit under all the right conditions: The brand heritage of Patek, the storytelling X-Factor of Genta design, and the rarity of steel sports Patek watches all almost guaranteed the success of the 5711 which would eventually see auction results more than six times its MSRP.

3. Rolex Submariner (ref. 114060)

Rolex Submariner (ref. 114060)

Quick exercise: Picture a watch in your head. Any watch. What did you see? Chances are, you saw a dive watch with a black rotating bezel, a black dial with white hands and indices on the archetypal oyster bracelet. Its name? The Rolex Submariner.

Originally launched in 1953, the Rolex Submariner and its Date counterpart (there is truly only the “Submariner” and “Submariner Date” in official Rolex terms) are definitive icons not only in the watch community but in the broader world community as well. If Rolex is the most famous luxury watch brand, the Submariner is, by default, its most iconic watch.

And you don’t have to take (pre-Brosnan era) James Bond’s word for it, or everyone who decided to mark a milestone in their lives by purchasing a Submariner in the decades since. Among its evolutionary line, the 114060 is a particularly interesting watch from an investment standpoint. Being the last of the 40mm case size Submariners (replaced by the 41mm 124060 in 2020), the 114060 actually came out a year after its date steel counterpart (116610LN).

With a shorter run than the 116610LN and its relatively smaller overall production numbers (with the Date version eclipsing the Submariner with an estimated 2:1 ratio), the 114060 occupies a unique slot within the Submariner lineup as a safe investment given the overall popularity of the Submariner line, and the relative rarity the 114060 presents within it.

4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202 “Jumbo”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202 “Jumbo”

An icon, and one of the most popular watches on the planet, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202 “Jumbo” was discontinued in 2021. Discontinue any watch of the 15202’s iconic stature and status, and you’ll almost always find a safe placeholder in your watch collection.

After all, if an uber-popular watch isn’t being made anymore and fewer and fewer can be found, rarity and price sensitivity ensue. Acting as a clear call back to the original steel Royal Oak as designed by Gerald Genta, the contemporary 15202 was announced in 2012 as part of the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak.

In the years since, we’ve seen various stunning interpretations of the 15202 in White Gold (15202BC), Titanium and Platinum (15202IP), and even full Yellow Gold (15202BA). But, it’s arguably the original steel reference (15202ST) that is the definitive luxury sports watch.

After all, the Royal Oak is the original luxury sports watch. With a 39mm size case, 8.1mm thickness, powered by the calibre 2121, and finished to perfection, anyone lucky enough to have the 15202 on their wrist has already made it; investment potential be damned.

5. Omega Speedmaster First Omega In Space (ref. 311.

Omega Speedmaster First Omega In Space (ref. 311.

When speaking of brand icons, the Omega Speedmaster is a genuine archetype. Nearly synonymous with the achievements of NASA in the space age for watch geeks, it was the Speedmaster CK2998 worn on the wrist of astronaut Wally Schirra (his own, purchased privately) that holds the title of the first Omega watch in space, dating back to October 3rd, 1962 on the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission.

It was in commemoration of Schirra’s achievement (orbiting the Earth six times onboard the Sigma 7 spacecraft) that Omega decided to launch the 60th-anniversary reference to the original in the “First Omega In Space” Speedmaster (FOIS) in 2012.

Now discontinued in 2020, the FOIS took inspiration from the original CK2998 with its 39.7mm diameter case size and symmetrical straight lugs (as opposed to the now emblematic twisted lugs of the “Professional” Speedmaster) worn on a leather strap, anticipating an era of vintage leaning aesthetics in a contemporary watch design that continues to this day.

From an investment standpoint, we have here in the FOIS a variant of an all-out watch archetype with a limited eight-year production run (an estimated 15,000-16,000 made based on numbered edition marked watches listed on the secondary market), with a vintage fit and appeal no longer available in the Speedmaster line.

6. Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968G-010

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968G-010

The heavy hitters continue. It was John Mayer who once described the Patek Philippe Aquanaut as “the Chuck Taylor version of Patek Philippe”. If you can afford one, or even afford the opportunity to buy one, count yourself among the lucky. For when even a watch’s composite rubber strap is highly collectible, you know the timepiece it’s attached to is even more special.

Often thought of as the more affordable alternative to the Nautilus and supposedly geared towards a younger demographic, aside from the flex and literal buy-in required to purchase the watch, at its core, Mayer’s assertion is correct.

Available in Khaki Green (Electric Blue and Bright Orange variants exist, among others), with a modern 42.2mm diameter and 11.9mm thickness, the grenade-like dial and vibrance of the Aquanaut imbue the wearer with the ultimate sense of high-low in watch wear.

The best of old-world watchmaking and finishing with the Patek name and brand values (cue in the precious metal white gold case material), with the modern and punchy design to take a kicking and keep on ticking. These characteristics make the Aquanaut a highly in-demand model to this day.

7. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (ref. 26470OR.OO.1000OR.01)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (ref. 26470OR.OO.1000OR.01)

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (26470OR) was first introduced in 2014. Featuring a pink gold case, bracelet, and dial, encased in a 42mm diameter and 14.6mm thickness water resistant to 100m, the Offshore Chronograph is an unabashed luxury sports watch.

With the Offshore line being traditionally a testing ground for Audemars Piguet in materials, limited edition models, and endorsements, this particularly robust (read “massive”) Offshore is a thick chunk of pink rose gold material, accentuated with an integrated bracelet recalling the original Royal Oak beauty of yore, while coupled with ceramic crown surrounds and chronograph pushers, a remarkably modern addition, along with a sapphire display case back.

AP is truly at the top of the game with their level of finishing and refinement, and it’s no wonder that the dichotomy of the Offshore’s seemingly uncharacteristic bold and rough sportiness coupled with a sense of ultra sophistication has created one of the more popular watches for collectors of the brand to date. In terms of investment, sometimes you need to spend money to make money, and the Offshore is indeed one fun way to do it.

8. Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V Brown Dial

Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V Brown Dial

At Vacheron Constantin’s 2016 showing at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the third generation of the Overseas (4500V) was released to much fanfare. In blue and silver dial variations, the updates over the previous generation Overseas models (all the way back to 1996) showed us that the Overseas was a line that again deserved to be in the conversation alongside outside brand rivals in the Royal Oak and Nautilus integrated bracelet, steel sports range.

Featuring a 41mm stainless steel case in tonneau style, the 4500V is 11mm thick and water resistant to 150 meters. The movement is protected against magnetic fields up to 25,000 A/m with its soft iron casing ring and is available on a steel bracelet, rubber, or leather strap.

And while the blue and silver dial variants are drool-worthy in their own right with their refinement and build quality, it was the brown dial 4500V/110A-B146 variant released in May 2016, a few months after SIHH, that’s a particularly good investment for the discerning collector as it was discontinued only one year later.

Again, we fall back to rarity and X-Factor; A holy trinity grade watch, representative of a steel sports/integrated bracelet line, limited to a one-year production, with arguably the loveliest shade of brown on a luxury watch yet (Seriously; Why aren’t there more?).

9. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (ref. 116500LN)

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (ref. 116500LN)

No surprises here; The Rolex “Panda” Daytona (116500LN) makes the list. With a history going as far back as 1963, the first Cosmograph chronograph was decidedly not a hit. Despite its associations with the Daytona Speedway 24-Hour endurance race (of which Rolex became the official timekeeper for in the 60s), it was a watch famously sold off at a heavy discount and often coupled with the purchase of full gold Datejusts in the 70s and 80s (anecdotal, but you catch my drift) which were the best sellers at the time.

In other words, it was the unwanted outcast of the bunch. But where unpopularity ends, rarity and scarcity take hold. Throw in the celebrity factor (insert Paul Newman), and keen heads began to take note. Ultimately, we know the modern ceramic Daytona as one of the most unattainable watches at retail in current times, with supposed waitlists in the double-digit years.

And yet, regardless of the hype and phenomenon that accompanies the Daytona legend, we have a watch that at its core has evolved on a technical level with the calibre 4130 (quiet progress; Rolex’s way) in a 904L Oystersteel case and bracelet, measuring 40mm in diameter (officially; on the wrist, it’s closer to a 39mm) and 12.2mm thick. All of which to say, a watch that wears perfectly. Whether you purchase it for the hype or investment purposes or to simply enjoy it on your wrist, you won’t find disappointment here.

10. Omega Speedmaster “Alaska Project” (ref.311.

Omega Speedmaster “Alaska Project” (ref.311.

Timeline: the early 1970’s. NASA is considering exploration of the dark side of the moon; Omega develops an outer case for the Speedmaster watch to help withstand the harsh and extreme temperatures of Outer Space. Its name: “Alaska Project”. Fast forward to 2008, when Omega decides to release a limited and numbered edition of the “Alaska Project’ to the public, in 1970 pieces available world wide in commemoration of its historic exploits.

With it’s stark white dial, contrasted against the now iconic sub dial “Apollo Hands”, the Alaska Project Speedmaster is an otherwise standard Speedmaster Professional case and calibre 1861 movement that also features a large red-anodized aluminum outer case (57mm diameter x 23mm thick) which when coupled to the watch, enables it to withstand temperatures between -148 degrees celsius, to +250 degrees celsius. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s rare.

11. Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

The second Daytona on our list, everything we said prior still rings true for the “John Mayer”, reference 116508. In fact, the “John Mayer” name came only from its association with the famous singer-songwriter after he revealed the watch as part of his collection.

He regarded it as an obvious hit that was being overlooked, and just like that, the solid yellow gold watch with its stunning Rolex green dial became an overnight sensation. Consequent rumors of its eventual discontinuation year after year since have only added to increased speculative values. John was right; this one’s a hit.

12. Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre (ref.

Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre (ref.

Omega’s ties to the James Bond cinematic empire date back to the Pierce Brosnan era of the 1990s. With the traditional wave dial Bond Seamaster now being an icon in its own right, we propose looking at what could be that model’s antithesis; The straight lug, broad arrow Seamaster 300 Spectre edition based on the CK2913 of the late 1950s.

The Spectre is an attractive watch that leans into the design cues and aesthetics of the 50s and 60s, coupled with the modern innovations of Omega technology such as the Co-Axial and calibre 8400 movement. In total, 7007 pieces were made.

13. Richard Mille RM055 “Bubba Watson”

Richard Mille RM055 “Bubba Watson”

Bubba Watson, the famous American professional golf player, has partnered with Richard Mille since 2011. Though many models have been built for Watson (for example: the RM038, a direct inspiration for the RM055), the RM055, in particular, is a highly technical and innovative sports watch hand-finished to high watchmaking tradition standards.

Richard Mille, renowned for their unique case and baseplate materials and research, combines rubber, titanium, carbon fiber, sapphire, and ceramic in a highly skeletonized tonneau case with the “Bubba Watson”. Built to handle extreme sports and high impact, truly any Richard Mille watch is an investment in both price to acquire and expressive (yet functional) design.

14. Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980/1R

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980/1R

A 45-hour power reserve, fly-back sports chronograph in 18k rose gold, the 5980/1R simply oozes class with its 40.5 mm diameter x 12.2mm thick case, all the while water resistant up to 120 meters. With a 21k gold central rotor powering its manufacture CH 28-520 C movement, what truly sets the 5980/1R apart is its solid rose gold bracelet (and that finishing), formerly available in rose gold only on a leather strap before 2013. This is a bold watch for the boldest of collectors only, and at over 253 grams unsized, it’s a true investment piece that could be the center of any watch portfolio (if not said portfolio’s center of gravity). 

15. Richard Mille RM27-04 “Rafael Nadal”

Richard Mille RM27-04 “Rafael Nadal”

Surely, any watch with a million-dollar price tag should be considered an “investment”. But what makes the RM27-04 “Rafael Nadal” special? Why the price tag? Limited to 50 pieces, we have a watch with a suspended tourbillon and movement within a micro-blasted, stainless steel mesh joined to two PVD-treated gold tensioners.

Anchored at the 1 and 5 o’clock positions, its forward-thinking design allows the watch to withstand upwards of 12,000 G’s, which sure sounds a heck of a lot more than anything Nadal (or you and I, for that matter) could swing a tennis racket at.

16. IWC Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” Ref. 1832

IWC Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” Ref. 1832

Stainless steel sports watch: Check. Integrated bracelet: Check. Actual honest Gerald Genta (not derived) design: Checkmate. While we often think of the Royal Oak and Nautilus as the two main pillars of Genta design, for true nerds, the Ingenieur is right up there as the third pillar in the designer’s achievements (you weren’t thinking of his Mickey Mouse watches, were you?).

A 40mm tonneau-shaped case, 12.5mm thickness, with a five-drilled hole round bezel and graph paper like guilloché, we have all the hallmarks of a Genta classic, and as an investment piece, you could do much worse.

17. Tudor Submariner 7928

Tudor Submariner 7928

Originally conceived by Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, to be the affordable alternative to the Rolex brand, Tudor watches have earned their place in history as much more than just the “little sibling to big brother”. With ties to historic expeditions of their own to partnerships with militaries the world over, vintage Tudor watches, in particular, have seen a massive spike in interest in recent years as collectors become outpriced or disinterested in the evergreen Rolex model equivalents.

Introduced in 1959, the Tudor Submariner, reference 7928 in particular, saw production for nearly 10 years. It had two notable firsts: the introduction of crown guards and a larger case size (up from 37mm of the reference 7924 prior to 39mm in the 7928). Over its ten-year production span, upwards of at least six documented variants were produced. However, the MK1 “square crown guards” variant is among the rarest, with only an estimated 100 known in existence.

18. Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42 Infinity Edition

Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42 Infinity Edition

Continuing the theme of steel sports, integrated bracelet watches dominating the collectors market, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42 Infinity Edition was released in limited production (188 units) in partnership with watch retailer Wempe, sold exclusively through Wempe locations in London, Germany, and New York after its debut in 2020.

As the name implies, the watch is 42mm in diameter, matched with a thickness of only 10.7mm, featuring an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and display caseback whilst providing 100m of water resistance and 54 hours of power reserve. But perhaps the true star of the show is that black onyx dial contrasted with pink gold markers. To infinity and beyond.

19. F.P. Journe Elegante 48

F.P. Journe Elegante 48

Independent darling brand (and living watchmaker) F.P. Journe has seen a meteoric rise in the watch-collecting market in the past decade. With its unique and unrivaled sense of design and innovation respecting the tradition of watchmaking, it was no coincidence, given the level of watchmaking and scarcity of its product.

Among such achievements, in the Elegante 48, we see the Calibre 1210, 8 years in development. A largely hand-finished quartz movement that can put itself to sleep after 35 minutes of inactivity, a microprocessor then remembers the time so that when reactivated from physical movement, the hands jump back to the correct time.

Impressively, with regular use, the battery can provide upwards of 8-10 years of life, whereas its theoretical maximum is an unthinkable 18 years of life if left in a dormant state. Embrace the quartz revolution with the Journe Elegante 48.

20. Tudor Prince Day Date

Tudor Prince Day Date

Debuting in 1952, the Tudor Prince line was the foundation of Tudor watches, occupying the space equivalent to the Datejust and Day-Dates of the Rolex world. Classically styled, the Prince Day Date, in particular, features an oyster style case with a jubilee bracelet and the unmistakable day wheel at 12 o’clock, with a traditional style date and date magnifier at 3 o’clock a la the Rolex “President”.

Though now discontinued, the 76200 reference available since the 1990s can still be found in good condition as an alternative daily wearer to more expensive options from Rolex and even the current Tudor catalog. As collectors look back to uncover neo-vintage gems from the 1990s and early 2000s, Tudor’s brand popularity today almost guarantees that models like the Prince Day Date won’t be overlooked for much longer.


“Investment” has become almost a dirty word in the watch hobby. But the factors that make a good investment watch are also the things that make a watch worth collecting: Rarity, personality, differentiation, and time-proven design.

Furthermore, understanding investment value and thinking of watches as an asset doesn’t need to negate the joy we get from owning them. It’s merely one part of the spectrum in our collective watch journeys and ultimately helps us understand our tastes and preferences in a new light.

best IWC pilot watches for the aviation enthusiasts

IWC Schaffhausen, also known as International Watch Company, is a Swiss luxury watch brand that has been a present force in the industry since 1868. With over 150 years of history, the brand has established itself as a leader in the watch industry, known for its precision engineering and timeless designs. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the history of IWC watches, specifically IWC Pilot watches.

Founding of IWC

IWC was founded by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones, who saw an opportunity to combine skilled Swiss craftsmanship with modern American technology. In 1868, he established the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Jones’ goal was to create high-quality watches that could compete with the best Swiss brands, using the latest technology and machinery from the United States for the American market. He was also one of the first watchmakers to use the newly developed system of interchangeable parts, which made it easier and more efficient to produce watches.

Early Years

In the early years, IWC produced pocket watches for both men and women. These watches were known for their precision and accuracy and quickly gained a reputation for quality. In 1899, IWC introduced one of its first known wristwatches utilizing the small 64 caliber ladies’ pocket watch movement fitted with lugs, a watch which was designed specifically for women.

The watch was a commercial success and marked the beginning of IWC’s focus on wristwatches. In the late-19th and into the early-20th century, IWC continued to innovate with the introduction of the first watch with a digital display in 1885 (Pallweber system) and the Reference IW436 launched in 1936 for specific use by pilots with an oversized crown and rotating bezel aiding navigation.

History of IWC Pilot Watches 

With the introduction of the “Special Pilot’s Watch” (ref IW436) in 1936, IWC’s trajectory in supplying watches to pilots was set in stone. Indeed, IWC’s history is closely intertwined with the history of aviation. In these early days of aviation, pilots needed watches that were accurate, reliable, robust, and easy to read. 

IWC was one of the first watchmakers to recognize the need for such watches, and the high legibility and tech within the IW436 illustrate this well with its antimagnetic escapement (important due to the equipment within the cockpit) and large hands and numerals.

This was shortly followed by the “Big Pilot” in 1940 supplied to the German Air Force, a 55mm diameter goliath utilizing the pocket watch caliber 52 T.S.C. The Big Pilot would go on to influence the design language of German-style pilot watches in the following years, with its characteristic military triangle at 12 o’clock, sans serif numerals, and leaf-shaped hands present even in modern-day designs.

In 1948, we saw the arrival of the Pilot’s Watch Mark XI, powered by the (legendary) manually wound 89 caliber movement, a watch infamous for its use by the British Military. A soft-iron inner case is applied, further advancing IWC’s penchant for reliable tech into the mid-twentieth century. Built to British Ministry of Defense specifications, vintage examples are highly coveted today.

The Mark XI was produced as late as 1984, yet after a hiatus, it wasn’t until 1993 that the next Mark series watch, XII, was released as a near replica of its predecessor but with a self-winding automatic movement.  In 1999, the Mark XV was released at a larger size of 38mm and is widely considered the transition from a military watch to civilian use.

Now into the 2000s, the Mark XVI (2006-2012), XVII (2012-2016), and XVIII (2017-2022) are all released with various sizes and stylistic changes – yet all staying true to the heritage and inspiration of the classic Mark line as far back as the Special Pilot’s Watch.

IWC Pilot Watches Today

The IWC Pilot Watches of today can be broken into three distinct sub-collections: Classic (Big Pilot, Pilot, and Mark series), Performance Materials (Big Pilot and Pilot watches made with advanced materials), and Antoine De Saint Exupery (Big Pilot and Pilot special edition watches commemorating the famous author/pilot). Let’s explore further.

The Best IWC Pilot Watches

1. IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX (ref. IW328201)

 IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX (ref. IW328201)

When IWC quietly updated its brand icon in the Mark series in the late summer of 2022, a few notable changes were made from the prior Mark XIII (just don’t ask us what happened to the Mark XIX). 

Notably, the watch was trimmed down in both lug-to-lug length and thickness (40mm Diameter, 10.8mm thickness, 49.2mm lug-to-lug), the dial was rebalanced with a tweaked hour and minute markings along the outer track, a white date disc was added to aid in legibility (and repositioned, most popularly), but perhaps most impressively, the Mark XX is now powered by the caliber 32111 ValFleurier movement, increasing power reserve from the base 42 hours on the Mark XVIII to a dramatic 120 hours (5-day) in the Mark XX.

Retail Price: $5,250

2. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 46 (ref. IW501001)

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 46 (ref. IW501001)

They don’t call it the “Big Pilot” for no reason. Clocking in at 46.2mm in diameter, 15.5mm in thickness, and 57mm lug-to-lug, IWC’s classic Big Pilot of the 1940s is revived again in a technically smaller size than the original (originally 55mm in diameter and 17.5mm thick).

In aesthetic design, the modern Big Pilot is quite faithful to the original, with its iconic flared onion-shaped crown and altogether Germanic Pilot’s watch dial design (and power reserve sub-dial indicator at 3 o’clock). 

A robust and smooth leather strap is attached at both sides, with the eye-catching rivets echoing the original design. Powering the watch is the in-house caliber 52110, providing an automatic self-winding 7 days of power reserve. Though large in overall size, it’s hard to think of another definitive flieger-style watch with the historic chops and design to boot. 

Retail Price: $13,200

3. IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (ref. IW326801)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (ref. IW326801)

IWC’s 39mm Automatic Spitfire is a bit of a value proposition within the brand’s Pilot watch lineup. Measuring in at 39mm in diameter, 10.8mm in thickness, and about 50mm lug-to-lug, it’s also a modestly-sized watch suitable and comfortable for most wrists.

Powered by the in-house automatic movement, caliber 32110, the Spitfire also receives a 72-hour power reserve (with a silicon escape wheel and lever for increased anti-magnetism). 

Aside from the technical specs, visually, the Spitfire features designs that call back to IWC’s military heritage, with faux-patina colored markers along the outer track at 12, 3, 6, and 9 (as well as the Flieger style triangle and dots up top), and broadsword-styled alpha hands, encased in a stainless steel brushed case. 

Retail Price: $4,900

4. IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW327010)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW327010)

Continuing along the line of Mark series watches, the Mark XVIII utilizes a soft iron dial and inner case for increased magnetic resistance, much like its predecessors. Sizing is not far off either, at 40mm in diameter, 11mm in thickness, and 51.1mm lug-to-lug.

However, where the reference IW327010 really shines is in its sunray brushed blue dial against white text and dial markings, a striking look paying homage to the eponymous book (Le Petit Prince, in case you missed it). 

The case back also features an illustrated engraving in the same vein, and the “spitfire” style alpha hands offer striking visibility against the dial. Paired with the ever-solid Santoni-produced calfskin leather strap, the watch is an overall handsome look for pilots and non-pilots alike.

Retail Price: $4,500

5. IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium® (ref. IW371815)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium® (ref. IW371815)

As a leader in advancing innovative materials into standard watch production, along with a history of producing pilot watch chronographs, IWC’s forward-thinking Double Chronograph “Top Gun” Ceratanium watch continues that trend. 

The brand, the first to introduce a ceramic case back on a wristwatch in 1986, and having developed the reference 3711 DoppelChronograph (an industrialized split-seconds chronograph, traditionally a delicate and high-end complication), brings both ideas into the modern day with a new material, ceratanium, which combines ceramic and titanium to provide the advantages of both.

Corrosion and scratch resistance, lightweight and durable, in an all-black case, the Top Gun Ceratanium represents IWC’s strengths at its finest.

Retail Price: $16,100

6. IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 (ref. IW324008)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 (ref. IW324008)

For a pilot’s watch, visibility and legibility are of primary importance. For this reason, the genre is typically occupied by larger watches; look no further than the 46mm Big Pilot within IWC’s own lineup, and you’ll catch my drift. But what of options for the smaller wristed or those who simply prefer a smaller, more compact wearing watch? Enter the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 (reference IW324008). 

Measuring 36mm in diameter, 10.6mm thick, and 46mm lug-to-lug, the Automatic 36 wears like a mid-size dream without the loss of that iconic styling present on its larger Mark series brothers. As the market continues its downward size trend in recent years, the Automatic 36 will continue to provide a smaller “safe haven”.

Retail Price: $4,350

7. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire (ref. IW329701)

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire (ref. IW329701)

Despite the polarizing “downsizing” of the Big Pilot from 46mm to 43mm diameter (14.4mm thickness, 52mm lug-to-lug), make no mistake that the 43 Spitfire is still a larger wearing experience relative to its modestly sized Mark series brethren.

In line with a reduced size, the 43 Spitfire is encased in a lightweight Grade 5 titanium, matte gray in appearance, achieved through polishing and sandblasting. 

The dial provides enhanced legibility with the minutes and seconds track in white on the outer ring, with an inside ring in gray containing the hour markings, 1 through 12. Powered by the in-house caliber 82100, the 60-hour power reserve movement is additionally reinforced with ceramic components, and the watch is further protected with a soft-iron case (for anti-magnetism).

The 43 Spitfire is a perfect option for collectors looking for a more wearable Big Pilot experience with traditional styling.

Retail Price: $9,500

8. IWC Pilot’s Chronograph “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW377717)

 IWC Pilot’s Chronograph “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW377717)

As the chronograph representative within the “Le Petit Prince” line, the reference IW377717 is a bold watch at 43mm in diameter, 15mm in thickness, and 53.5mm lug-to-lug. 

Made of entirely stainless steel and set on a five-link bracelet, the use of sunray blue is particularly showcased and accented by the three contrasting blue subdials of the chronograph registers (60-second, 30-minute, and 12-hour counters), balanced against the sharp white markers, Arabic numerals, and Spitfire alpha styled hands. The in-house caliber 79320 also provides day-and-date functionality, along with an estimated 44 hours of power reserve.

Retail Price: $6,850

9. IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph (ref. IW395001)

 IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph (ref. IW395001)

The IWC Timezoner Chronograph packs a punch, not only in sizing (46mm diameter, 17mm thickness, 55mm lug-to-lug) and visual weight (all of the complications and features!) but in functionality as well. 

First, we should mention it’s a chronograph, with sub-counters at 6 and 12 o’clock providing running seconds and hours, respectively. Secondly, it’s a flyback chronograph, meaning the chronograph can be quickly reset by actuating the pusher at 4 o’clock, which is useful for pilots in timing exercises. 

And finally (and perhaps most impressively), the Timezoner offers a timezone complication (did the name give it away?), operated by pushing the bezel down and rotating to the desired timezone, in effect setting the time zone with the date and 24-hour hand without needing to actuate the crown and jumping hour hand as with common “flyer” GMTs.

Retail Price: $12,300

10. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 “Mr Porter” (ref. IW329703)

 IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 “Mr Porter” (ref. IW329703)

For the uninitiated, Mr. Porter is a luxury fashion online outlet retailing hundreds of top designer brands in menswear. Owned by the same Richemont group as IWC, it makes sense that the two should collaborate on several watches, of which the Big Pilot 43 (reference IW329703) is part. 

Measuring the typical Big Pilot 43 sizing (43mm diameter, 14.4mm thickness, 52mm lug-to-lug), Mr. Porter’s take on the watch is a bit more modern leaning in aesthetic than the 43 Spitfire Bronze, for example, despite utilizing a similar bronze case.

Uniquely, the watch features contrasting gold hands and beige markers against a matte black dial (with the “1” Arabic numeral set with luminous material commemorating the first in a series of collaborations between the two brands). 

A titanium case back encloses the in-house caliber 82100 with 60 hours of power reserve with the usual soft-iron cage for anti-magnetism and an impressive 100m of water resistance overall.

Retail Price: $10,900

11. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun “Lake Tahoe” (ref. IW389105)

An all-white, modern, and punchy ceramic Pilot Chronograph from IWC? Sign me up! When the “Lake Tahoe” reference IW389105 first debuted at Watches & Wonders 2022, it quickly became a favorite by watch media, industry, and IWC fans alike. It’s not hard to see why.

The all-white ceramic case with white markers and dial printing, coupled with a white rubber strap, is an immediately fun and stylistic look that’s sure to brighten your day (literally). 

Named after the snow-filled mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, visible by Top Gun fighter jet pilots circling nearby base Reno, Nevada, the Lake Tahoe watch is otherwise a robust IWC Pilot’s Chronograph, powered by the caliber 69380 featuring a 12-hour chronograph, day-date complication and time display with a 46-hour power reserve. On the caseback, the Top Gun US Navy Fighter Weapons school logo is emblazoned; it just doesn’t get cooler than that.

Retail Price: $11,700

12. IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW395503)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW395503)

With the signature sunray blue of the “Le Petit Prince” series of Pilot Watches, the Timezoner (reference IW395503) is handsome not only in its use of color but overall design and functionality execution. Getting the hard specs out of the way, it measures 46mm in diameter, 15mm in thickness, and 55mm lug-to-lug.

But take one look at the Timezoner, and you’ll likely not recall a more striking yet balanced design with a timezone function. We mentioned a Timezoner earlier in the reference IW395001. The cleverness of the function is replicated here. Simply press down and rotate the bezel to actuate a change in a timezone on the watch (locales listed along the bezel).

Release and the hour hand for local time will be set to the correct time. No need to jump the hour hand via the crown; it’s entirely effortless. And whereas the Timezoner Chronograph added visual complexity overall, stripped down of all that, the Timezoner IW395503 is pure beauty in simplification.

Retail Price: $14,200

13. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (ref. IW387902)

 IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (ref. IW387902)

Debuting at the former SIHH trade show in 2019, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire in bronze (reference IW387902) is, at its core, a well-proportioned, vintage-cued, practical bronze-cased chronograph with an upgraded in-house movement.

With IWC’s historical penchant for no-nonsense tool watches, the use of bronze in the Chronograph Spitfire is a stylistic turn, which will provide a user-specific patina over time (caseback in Titanium for safety and health reasons). 

At 41mm in diameter, 15.3mm thick, and 51.5mm lug-to-lug, the watch wears more compact than its larger brothers (for example, the 43mm IW377709 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph). The smaller case also helps balance out the dial with its various subdials tightened up, given the smaller surface area. 

The olive green dial itself is a handsome look not often found on watch dial furniture but paired perfectly with the bronze against the gold-plated Spitfire-style hands. In sum, the IW387902 is a great option for those looking for a moderately sized IWC Pilot Chronograph with the potential for a unique patina over time.

Retail Price: $8,000

14. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun “Woodland” (ref. IW389106)

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun “Woodland” (ref. IW389106)

As a “Woodland Green” variation to the all-white “Lake Tahoe” Pilot’s Watch Chronograph earlier on our list, the Woodland (reference IW389106) features the same specs and dimensions as the aforementioned model (44.5mm diameter, 15mm thickness, 54mm lug-to-lug), but with a dark green ceramic case and dial.

Both debuting at Watches and Wonders 2022, the Woodland is perhaps a soberer, yet still very much modern, take on the colored ceramic case theme. 

Taking inspiration from the flight suits of the naval aviators of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (better known as “Top Gun”), the deep green case is contrasted with the light green hue of the dial markers and hands, along with a matching green rubber strap (textile inlay) for an altogether militaristic look.

Retail Price: $11,700

15. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar (ref. IW503605)

 IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar (ref. IW503605)

As the flagship IWC model, the Big Pilot was paired with a perpetual calendar compilation for the first time in 2006, showcasing the high-complication production capabilities of the brand. Many variations have been produced since that initial limited edition run.

However, in 2021, IWC re-introduced a Big Pilot Watch Perpetual Calendar in steel as part of the permanent collection. The striking sunray blue dialed reference IW503605 is a large watch, much in the same vein as the original Big Pilot, which historically utilized a pocket watch movement.

The new Perpetual Calendar measures 46mm in diameter, 15.8mm thick, and 58.8mm lug-to-lug, but again places legibility and visibility at the forefront despite the added complication and subdials, and does so handsomely. All functions are accessed via the oversized onion-shaped crown: moon phase, month, date, day, and year. 

Retail Price: $33,000

16. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 “Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team” (ref. IW388108)

The first official team watch developed between Mercedes-AMG Petronas and IWC, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 (reference IW388108) is special in that it was produced not only as part of the ongoing IWC x AMG collaboration (many Formula One-inspired watches have been produced so far), but that it was also made to be worn by staff as well: race engineers, mechanics, and star pilots alike. 

The watch packs an immediate punch visually, owing to the application of Petronas Green (the signature color for the F1 team) for all dial printing and furniture set starkly against a matte black dial.

Size-wise, the IW388108 retains the familiar case size of the standard Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41, at 41mm in diameter, 14.6mm in thickness, and 51.5mm lug-to-lug. Beneath the sapphire exhibition case back, the in-house caliber 69385 provides column wheel chronograph functionality and 46 hours of power reserve.

Retail Price: $8,350

17. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar (ref. IW502706)

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Annual Calendar (ref. IW502706)

Often placing high-end complications within the heritage-driven Big Pilot line, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar (reference IW502706) is no exception to the rule, extending a sense of high-end luxury further with its 18k rose gold case construction.

What is an Annual Calendar? Annual Calendar complications showcase the day, date, and month. However, they are different from Perpetual Calendar complications in that they require manual winding and date adjustment at the end of each February. 

Because of this, the Annual Calendar complication is oftentimes preferred by collectors who enjoy a closer relationship with their watch through manual operation. The watch is as large as the Big Pilot moniker intended: 46.2mm in diameter and 15.3mm thick.

In dial design, the 9 o’clock subdial provides running seconds, opposite the 3 o’clock subdial notating power reserve (approximately 168 hours, or seven days total), with the calendar set just under the 12 o’clock, presenting month, date, and day accordingly.

Retail Price: $32,400

18. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun “Mojave Desert” (ref. IW503004)

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun “Mojave Desert” (ref. IW503004)

Retaining the same case proportions and functionality of the standard Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar, reference IW503605, the Top Gun “Mojave Desert” edition (reference IW503004) comes in a familiarly large case measuring 46.5mm in diameter, 15.4mm thick, and 58.8mm lug-to-lug.

Where the Mojave Desert differs, however, is in aesthetic and case material. Encased entirely in a sand-colored ceramic material, the watch coloration and aesthetic were inspired by the Mojave Desert, in particular, that of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake land area owned by the US Navy.

All dial printing and furniture are set with that same sand coloration, contrasted with a matte brown dial to increase legibility. The Mojave Desert is a welcome addition to the Perpetual Calendar range as a unique color variant for complication, which is often more conservative in design approach.

Retail Price: $40,900

19. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL (ref. IW357201)

How can one describe the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL (reference IW357201), a watch so experimental and “out there” in both concept and design? A bit Star Trek and concept car in personality, the true hero of the Absorber XPL is its resistance to extreme shock: 30,000G’s, to be exact. 

The 44mm diameter Ceratanium case (combining the durability of ceramic and the light weight of titanium into a new compound) is 12mm thick, a thickness that belies the advanced technology contained within. 

Suspended inside the case is the movement, held by a bulk metallic glass spring, providing increased elasticity than typical metals such as steel. Talk about shock absorption…The Absorber XPL was limited to 10 pieces a year beginning in 2021, with 30 pieces total planned.

Retail Price: $86,100

20. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW504803)

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW504803)

Taking the Le Petit Prince line of watches to the highest tier (and perhaps the most romantic representation of the book itself) is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Le Petit Prince (reference IW504803). Measuring 46.2mm in diameter and 16mm thick, the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon is encased in 18K Armor Gold (a new alloy developed by IWC to be harder than regular 18K rose gold). 

Perpetual Calendar functionality is presented via subdials at 3 (date and power reserve), 6 (month and moon phase), and 9 o’clock (date; the year window is placed just underneath 8 o’clock), but most impressively sits the mesmerizing tourbillon at 12 o’clock with its constant rotation of the balance wheel, balance spring, and escapement to negate the effects of Earth’s gravity in any position. 

The tourbillon is certainly a high-end complication, and prices for such watches are typically in the six figures. The IW504803 in question is no exception, with a retail price of $120,000.

Retail Price: $120,000


Over the past 150 years, IWC has established itself as a leader in the watch industry, known for its precision engineering and timeless design. From its early years of producing pocket watches to its modern-day sports watches and complications, IWC has consistently innovated and pushed the boundaries of what is possible in watchmaking. 

With a rich history and a commitment to quality, IWC watches are a true investment in both style and function. No matter which watch you choose from their Pilot range, should you choose one, take pride and comfort in your decision knowing this.

Best Rolex Submariner Models

Timeless and iconic design. Rugged reliability and comfort on the wrist. The pursuit of timekeeping excellence and a marketing machine spanning fields as varied as scientific research, film, and sport. These are the hallmarks of the Rolex brand and the foundation for which its product remains the premier Swiss luxury watchmaker.

In its over 100 years of history since its founding by Hans Wilsdorf in the early 20th century (comparatively young by watchmaker standards), Rolex as a brand has become the market-leading powerhouse with many innovations, historic firsts, and iconic model lines under its belt. 

From the first water and dustproof “oyster” case in 1926 to the “perpetual” self-winding rotor patented in 1931, the focus on rugged timepieces which could withstand the rigor of everyday life set them on course to standardizing what would eventually become today’s “sport watch” genre. In 1953, the “Oyster Perpetual Submariner” is revealed.

About the Rolex Submariner

2024 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Rolex Submariner. Debuting in 1953, though not the first of its kind (Blancpain released their Fifty Fathoms diver watch nearly 10 months prior), the reference 6204 “Submariner” was a true tool watch intended for a specific purpose: scuba diving. 

In the Post World War II era of the early 1950s, thanks to technological advancements made in the years during the war, recreational diving was experiencing a boom. Yet divers needed a way to time their dives to ensure a safe ascent. Ascend too fast, and you face the risk of decompression sickness (which could result in death).

Stay down too long, and you might not have enough air to ensure a timely ascent. However, technology was limited at the time, and the recreational diver relied on simple tools such as depth gauges and decompression tables. The dive watch was then the perfect solution for measuring time. 

Rolex Submariner Characteristics

So what makes a Rolex Submariner? As a dive watch, there are three important factors for utility (Note: we won’t touch ISO 6425 dive watch standards here): Water resistance, a rotating bezel, and legibility.

Water resistance is self-explanatory (you don’t want water to flood your watch when diving), and even the ref. 6204 featured 100m of water resistance back in 1953 (300m being the standard for modern Submariners today).

A rotating bezel, operated by aligning the bezel pip to the minute hand upon the start of your timing interval, allows for accurate timing of your dive. The Submariner’s bezel displays 60 minutes along the full circumference, with hashed-out individual minute marks from 0 to 15, post-1957 (ref. 6536/1).

And finally, legibility, through luminous dial markers, hands, and lume pip, ensures the user can clearly see the watch underwater in various lighting conditions. 

The Submariner’s now iconic lume plots (rectangular indices at 3, 6, and 9; inverted triangle at 12, and circular indices at each remaining hour mark), along with the emblematic Mercedes hands (beginning 1954, ref. 6205), have become the defining characteristics of not only the Submariner line but arguably the design traits and personality of the brand’s sports models overall.

Through The Years

In the decades since, the design language and function of the Submariner line have evolved in accordance with the new technologies and materials of the day. And yet, from a design standpoint, the Submariner remains evergreen: rotating bezel, luminous indices, Mercedes hands, etc.

For example, an owner of an original Submariner from the 1950s would still recognize a modern Submariner to be the same watch, much in the way that the Porsche 911 has evolved over the years while maintaining its core DNA. 

Crown guards were added in 1959; depth ratings got deeper (from 100 and 200m to the current 300m); dials went matte to glossy; indices got bigger (“maxi” dials of the ref. 5512 and modern); corrosion-resistant 904L steel was introduced (1985); and even a date wheel version was added (ref. 1680 in 1969, along with the iconic “cyclops” window), among countless other advancements.

Today, while the many vintage variants now command their own literary dictionaries and secondary market values (“Bart Simpson”, “Swiss Exclamation Point”, “Double Swiss Underline”, “Meters first”; try explaining that to your non-watch friends), the latest generation of the Submariner maintains similar design identity.

In a newly upsized 41mm diameter case (40.6mm in actual measurement), in what was the most significant change to the model line since the jump to the “Super Case” in 2008, with “Cerachrom” ceramic bezel, maxi dial, and updated bracelet with new Glidelock clasp. 

Modern Submariners are beefy, solid, and bold in the most luxurious sense. While arguably still “tool” watches capable of true diving and built to diving spec, there is a definite sense of luxury and bling factor not attributable to pre-ceramic iterations of the past (18k Yellow Gold ref. 1680, etc. notwithstanding). 

No matter how you decide to wear them, there are eight current models available today, varying from 904L Oystersteel (with and without date) to two-tone Oystersteel and yellow gold (black and blue variants available), to full-on solid white gold (with blue bezel) or yellow gold (with black bezel).

All models now feature the 3235 base movements using the patented Chronergy escapement, combining high energy efficiency and dependability with a 70-hour power reserve. Let’s jump into it! 

1. Rolex Submariner 126610LN

Rolex Submariner 126610LN

The icon itself. Though the Submariner didn’t gain a date window until the ref. 1680 in 1969, it’s truly the Submariner Date that has defined the dive watch genre in the years since. In fact, its date and cyclops window has become synonymous with the Rolex brand itself.

With the introduction of the 126610LN in 2020, we have a return to form despite a jump to 41mm. Compared to the previous generation’s use of controversially thick lugs on the Super Case, we’re now presented with slimmer lugs producing a more balanced case shape down to the bracelet, achieved by widening the lug width to 21mm.

In all other dimensions, the 126610LN wears nearly identical to the last generation (importantly, 48mm lug to lug; 12.3mm thickness). However, the wider bracelet is noticeable on the wrist to the astute or those with experience wearing the 116610LN.

The clasp is now a bit larger and longer and provides 20mm of Glide Lock adjustment in 2mm increments, useful for aiding comfort throughout the day as one’s wrist swells and contracts. Finally, Anti-Reflective coating is now applied to the underside of the sapphire crystal, providing increased legibility at various angles. Available in a standard black bezel and dial configuration, the Submariner Date currently retails for $10,250.

2. Rolex Submariner 124060 “No Date”

Rolex Submariner 124060 “No Date”

Colloquially known as the “No Date” Submariner, the current generation 124060, which also debuted in 2020 alongside its “Submariner Date” brethren, is the true “Submariner”. Though receiving the same upgrades as the 126610LN mentioned prior, the No Date offers collectors a few important traits that make it a favorite for the truly initiated (Read: “watch nerds”).

Heritage: The No Date is a direct descendant of the very first Submariners of the 1950s, with its lack of date and hyper specificity. After all, who needs to know the date underwater?
Aesthetic Balance: The date and cyclops window is “love or hate”. If you prefer a balanced look, the No Date is your only option. Arguably, without the cyclops, the no date is also a bit more under the radar.

Rarity: Though production numbers are not made publicly known by Rolex, we can infer from available models on the secondary market that the No Date is rarer, in a near 2:1 ratio in favor of the No Date. Current retail price: $9,100

3. Rolex Submariner 126613 Two-Tone Models

Rolex debuted the first two-tone Submariner in 1984 (ref. 16803) in both black and blue variants featuring a combination of steel and yellow gold. That line continues through to the latest generation, via the blue bezel and dial 126613LB “Bluesy” and the black bezel and dial 126613LN.

With a yellow gold bezel, crown, and polished center links, the two-tone Submariner variants offer a step up in luxury for those wanting to add a bit more bling against the typical full steel models typically seen. Of note, the 126613 models now feature white dial text instead of gold text seen on the previous 116613 generations. Current retail price: $15,600

4. Rolex Submariner 126618 Solid Gold Models

Rolex Submariner 126618 Solid Gold Models

For a brand as vertically integrated as Rolex, it should come as no surprise that it even makes its own gold. With an in-house foundry, Rolex can ensure strict quality assurance and material integrity. Truly, Rolex gold (in yellow, white, or Everose) is a site to behold AND hold (it’s heavy). For the ultimate in exuberance, look no further than the 126618 (black and blue variants available, 126618LN and 126618LB, respectively). Current retail price; $39,000 

5. Rolex Submariner 116610LV “Hulk”

Rolex Submariner 116610LV “Hulk”

From its debut in 2010 to its discontinuation in 2020, the 116610LV (often referred to as the “Hulk”) was the first and only Submariner with a green bezel, and dial, whose popularity and demand continue to this day on the secondary market.

Though the use of a green bezel was first applied on the 11610V “Kermit” to mark the Submariner’s 50th anniversary in 2003, the combination of the brilliant “green gold” dial along with the increased lug mass of the super case earned the 116610LV the now infamous moniker.

A darling of the secondary watch market boom in recent years, the Hulk now commands prices well above its original retail price if you’re lucky enough to find one. Hulk Smash! Last MSRP: $9,350

6. Rolex Submariner 126610LV “Cermit”

Rolex Submariner 126610LV “Cermit”

With the discontinuation of the 116610LV “Hulk” in 2020, Rolex released a new green bezel Submariner in the 126610LV. Gone was the “green gold” dial, replaced with a standard black Submariner Date dial. Collectors still debate over which version they prefer, as well as what to actually name the watch. In 2024, two names have stuck most: “Cermit” (as in, Cerachrom bezel ‘Kermit’) and “Starbucks” (based on the popular coffee retailer’s logo).

Whichever name you decide to call it, the 126610LV features all of the technical updates of the latest 41mm Submariner generation, including a new case and calibre 3235 movement with a 70-hour power reserve. The green Cerachrom bezel remains a pleasant differentiator from the standard Oystersteel models; at the very least, “bragging rights!”. Current Retail Price: $10,800

7. Rolex Submariner 126619LB White Gold “Smurf”

Rolex Submariner 126619LB White Gold “Smurf”

In 2008, Rolex released the first Submariner to feature a full 18k white gold case and bracelet to mark the brand’s 100-year anniversary. Contrasting with the white gold was a bright blue dial and Cerachrom bezel, which was quickly named the “Smurf” based on the popular cartoon (collectors love nicknames). When that super case model was discontinued, Rolex replaced it with the current 41mm diameter size 126619LB in 2020, albeit with a standard black Submariner Date dial applied instead.

Decidedly stealth wealth, the white gold could be mistaken for plain old steel from the less discerning. A true “ if you know, you know” watch, though we should really call it the “Sub Zero” now (for the Mortal Kombat fans; what did I say, we really love nicknames). Current Retail Price: $42,000

8. Vintage Rolex Submariner 6204

Vintage Rolex Submariner 6204

The first true “Submariner”, produced in 1953. Though a few standard hallmarks of current-generation Submariners are missing, all of the initial design elements were in place from the get-go, starting with the black rotating bezel and dial layout.

Relatively smaller in comparison to today’s standards with a 37mm diameter case and 5.3mm crown, the 6204 still was a serious tool watch rated to 100m water resistance. At its heart, the watch was powered by the caliber A260, Rolex’s most robust automatic movement available at the time. The gilt dial and pencil-like hands were inevitably removed upon later iterations.

9. Vintage Rolex Submariner 6538 “Big Crown”

Vintage Rolex Submariner 6538 “Big Crown”

The year is 1962. Actor Sean Connery plays the role of James Bond in the film Dr. No. A film legend and saga is born. On Connery’s wrist: A Rolex Submariner, reference 6538. The rest is history. Today, the 6538, with its oversized 8mm crown, is perhaps the most iconic and coveted of vintage Rolex sport watches due to its association with the film and character.

One particular example even sold for $492,500 at auction in Christie’s New York in December 2017. Two main variants exist; The “two-line” with two lines of text at the six o’clock position and the “four-line” with four lines of text in the same position, albeit denoting chronometer certification (the first Submariner to feature such).

10. Vintage Rolex Submariner 5514 “COMEX”

Vintage Rolex Submariner 5514 “COMEX”

The legend of the Submariner is propped up by its association of use in the field by the military and deep-diving research teams. COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), a leading French diving company in the 1960s and 70s, worked with Rolex to create the reference 5514 for personal use. As a watch specifically made for COMEX, the 5514 was never sold in public retail, ultimately making it among the rarest of all Submariner models ever produced.

Based on the existing ref. 5513 of the day, the 5514 features a Helium Escape Valve flanked on its left-hand case side (the only Submariner model to ever feature one), with the COMEX logo emblazoned in white just below the center of the dial. A truly rare and sought-after vintage model, examples have sold for over $100,000 in today’s market.


From humble tool watch beginnings to becoming the definitive and most identifiable Swiss luxury watch today, the Rolex Submariner has stood the test of time by maintaining a laser-like focus in its aesthetic design and pursuit of technical excellence.

Few other products in any category can claim such history or success, and the Rolex Submariner has earned its place alongside such undeniable icons. Which Submariner do you choose? 

Automatic vs chronograph watches

Wristwatches are more than just functional timekeeping devices; they are also symbols of personal style, luxury, and craftsmanship. Among the various types of watches available, two prominent categories stand out for the modern collector, enthusiast, and all prospective buyers: automatic and chronograph watches. Each of these categories has a unique history, design, and functionality, which intersect and overlap in many ways. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of automatic and chronograph watches, exploring their origins, how they operate, and this fascinating overlap between the two in the form of automatic chronograph watches. Buckle up, and let’s dive in!

About Automatic Watches 

The roots of automatic watches can be traced back to the late 18th century when Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a Swiss watchmaker, invented the self-winding movement. His invention laid the foundation for automatic watches, which are often referred to as “self-winding”, “mechanical”, or “mechanized” watches.

The key innovation behind automatic watches is their ability to wind themselves through the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist. This ingenious mechanism eliminated the need for manual winding, the default function of watchmaking of the day, making automatic watches a practical choice for those who appreciate the beauty of traditional watchmaking without the need for frequent manual intervention by the user.

How Automatic Watches Operate

Automatic watches function through a complex system of gears, springs, and rotors. Here’s a simplified explanation of how they work:

  • Rotor Movement: Inside an automatic watch, there’s a small semi-circular weight called the rotor. As the wearer moves their wrist, the rotor pivots on its axis.
  • Energy Transfer: The motion of the rotor winds the mainspring, which is the coiled spring responsible for storing energy.
  • Power Reserve: The mainspring stores the energy generated by the rotor’s movement. This energy is used to power the watch and keep it ticking.
  • Regulation: The watch’s movement is regulated by an escapement mechanism, which controls the release of energy from the mainspring at a consistent rate.
  • Timekeeping: The regulated release of energy drives the hands of the watch, allowing it to keep accurate time.

Automatic watches are known for their smooth, sweeping second hands, which move continuously rather than ticking in one-second intervals, commonly found in quartz watchmaking technology. This feature adds to the elegance and charm of automatic watches with its reliance on mechanical energy alone, without the intervention of batteries and electronic-based tech.

About Chronograph Watches 

Chronograph watches have a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. The word “chronograph” itself is derived from the Greek words “chronos” (time) and “grapho” (to write). These watches were initially designed for specialized applications such as measuring astronomical events and conducting scientific experiments.

One of the most notable figures in the development of the chronograph watch is Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec, a French watchmaker who invented the first practical chronograph in 1821. Rieussec’s design involved an ink-tipped stylus that marked elapsed time on a rotating dial as it moved across it.

How Chronograph Watches Operate

Chronograph watches are renowned for their ability to measure elapsed time with precision. Here’s how they operate:

  • Chronograph Movement: A chronograph watch features an additional set of sub-dials and pusher buttons on the case. These components are used to activate and control the chronograph function.
  • Start, Stop, and Reset: To measure elapsed time, you start the chronograph by pressing a designated pusher. The central second hand begins to move. To stop timing, you press the same pusher again, and to reset, you use a separate pusher.
  • Sub-Dials: The sub-dials on the watch face display elapsed time in various increments, such as seconds, minutes, and hours.
  • Return to Zero: After recording elapsed time, the chronograph hand can be reset to its original position, ready for the next measurement.

As mentioned, chronograph watches are often associated with precision timing and are favored by athletes, pilots, and professionals who require accurate timekeeping for various activities in sports and applications where accuracy is of the utmost importance and a literal split second counts.

Automatic vs Chronograph Watches: Which Is Best For You?: 

With some history and definitions under our belt, it’s now time to ask: Which is the best watch for you? Ultimately, the choice between an automatic and a chronograph watch boils down to your personal preferences and needs.

Choose an Automatic Watch If:

  • You appreciate the variety of styles and aesthetics within the automatic watch category. From everyday three-handed sports watches to dive or GMT watches with functional bezels, there’s likely an automatic watch to fit your needs.
  • You prefer a timepiece that doesn’t require frequent adjustments or battery replacements.
  • You’re a watch collector with multiple watches in rotation and value the ability to grab and go without the need to wind your watch daily.

Choose a Chronograph Watch If:

  • You require precise timing for activities like sports, racing, or aviation.
  • You want a versatile watch that can function as a stopwatch when needed.
  • You prefer a sportier and more rugged design. Many chronographs are larger in size and robust for larger wrists.
  • You value practical features that enhance your everyday life.

Whether you opt for an automatic watch or a chronograph watch, remember that the perfect timepiece is one that suits your lifestyle, complements your style, and aligns with your priorities. Both types offer their unique charm, and the right choice is the one that resonates with you the most. So, take your time, explore your options, and select the watch that will not only tell time but also tell your story.

What About Automatic Chronograph Watches? 

All that said, if you still can’t decide between the two and wonder if it’s possible to have the best of both worlds (ie: an automatic chronograph), have no fear. While automatic and chronograph watches are distinct categories, there is an intriguing overlap in the world of watchmaking – the automatic chronograph watch. 

These timepieces combine the self-winding mechanism of automatic watches with the stopwatch functionality of chronograph watches. The result is a versatile and stylish watch that caters to both horological enthusiasts and those who value precise timing.

Features of Automatic Chronograph Watches

  • Automatic Movement: Like traditional automatic watches, automatic chronograph watches use the wearer’s wrist motion to wind the mainspring and provide power to the watch.
  • Chronograph Functionality: In addition to telling the time, automatic chronograph watches offer the ability to measure elapsed time with the push of a button.
  • Elegance and Style: Automatic chronograph watches often boast exquisite designs, making them suitable for both formal and casual occasions.
  • Smooth Second Hand: These watches typically feature the characteristic smooth, sweeping second hand associated with automatic movements.
  • Complications: Some automatic chronograph watches may include additional complications, such as date displays or moon phase indicators, enhancing their functionality and aesthetics.

Popular automatic chronograph movements include the Valjoux 7750 and the ETA 2894, both known for their reliability and accuracy. These movements are widely used by renowned watchmakers to create exceptional timepieces.

Notable Automatic Watches 

In the market, there are a number of directions one could go when looking for an automatic watch. Indeed, a majority of mechanical watches in the market today will likely be automatic, given the practicality and standardization of automatic movements overall. 

Everything from your basic three-hand watches with dressier leanings to more rugged sports-type watches like divers and GMTs, there’s plenty to choose from. The following are three notable pieces to look into that range the gamut.

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPD37

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time SRPD37

The Seiko SRPD37 is a sleek and stylish dressy timepiece that combines classic design with modern functionality as part of Seiko’s Presage line. Its stainless steel case and calf-skin leather band give it a premium feel, while the “Cocktail Time” olive and black sunray dial with date window add a touch of sophistication.

The watch features Seiko’s reliable 4R35 automatic movement, ensuring accurate timekeeping without the need for a battery. The dauphine hands and diamond-shaped indices make it easy to read the time in various lighting conditions, and the Hardlex crystal protects the dial from scratches.

With a water resistance of 50 meters, the SRPD37 is suitable for everyday wear and can handle light water activities. Its 40.5mm case size (11.8mm thick, 47.5mm lug-to-lug) strikes a balance between elegance and versatility, making it suitable for both formal occasions and casual wear when paired with different strap combinations.

Overall, the Seiko SRPD37 is a fantastic choice for those seeking a well-built, stylish, and dependable dress adjacent automatic watch at an affordable price point.

Retail Price: $425.00

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date (ref. 01 754 7741 4065-07 8 20 22)

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date (ref. 01 754 7741 4065-07 8 20 22)

The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date (reference 01 754 7741 4065-07 8 20 22) is a timepiece that seamlessly blends vintage charm with modern craftsmanship. Its 40mm stainless steel case exudes a robust yet refined aesthetic, while the oversized crown pays homage to Oris’ aviation heritage.

The standout feature of this watch is its iconic pointer date complication, which adds a unique touch to the classic dial design with a striking pointer date hand tracking the date along the outside edge of the dial. 

The cathedral-style hands and track markers create a striking and sophisticated look, accented by the hour numerals marking 1 through 12 o’clock. The automatic movement inside (Oris 7544, base Sellita SW 200-1) ensures precise timekeeping with a 38-hour power reserve.

With a water resistance of 50 meters, it’s suitable for daily wear but not recommended for extensive water activities. The watch can be purchased on a steel bracelet or leather strap, with both options complementing the overall design, providing comfort and style.

In summary, the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date is a timeless and elegant watch that captures the spirit of aviation history while offering modern reliability and style. It’s a true classic in the world of horology.

Retail Price: $2,150.00

Tudor Black Bay 41mm (ref. M7941A1A0RU-0001)

Perhaps no other brand epitomizes the success of vintage design in the past decade than the Black Bay line of watches from Tudor. Particularly, the Tudor Black Bay 41mm (ref. M7941A1A0RU-0001) is a prime example of the brand’s dedication to blending heritage design with modern functionality. 

Its 41mm stainless steel case (13.6mm height, 50.1mm lug-to-lug) exudes rugged elegance, and the bold black dial with gold-tone accents exudes a timeless appeal in the all-familiar dive watch template from the house of Rolex (and Tudor by extension).

The watch boasts the reliability of the Kenissi MT5602-U automatic movement, ensuring precise timekeeping in daily use. Its signature snowflake hands and luminescent markers pay homage to Tudor’s iconic design elements and dive watch tradition (calling back to the Tudor Submariners of yore). 

Its 200-meter water resistance makes it suitable for various activities, from daily wear to recreational swimming and diving, along with its now iconic burgundy dive bezel with its practical elapsed timing capability.

Newly available on a traditional oyster inspired bracelet, 5-link bracelet, or rubber strap. Overall, the Tudor Black Bay 41mm effortlessly balances vintage aesthetics with contemporary performance, making it a worthy choice for those seeking a versatile and stylish timepiece that’s built to last; A perfect daily driver.

Retail Price: Starting at $4,225.00

Notable Chronograph Watches

And while automatic watches can offer a wide variety of styling and aesthetics, chronograph watches are a bit more particular in their execution due to the form factor required. Still, there are chronograph watches available at varying price points for a new or seasoned buyer, and the following are a few notable choices should you choose to dip your hand into the category.

Seagull 1963 Chronograph

The Seagull 1963 Chronograph is a charming homage to mid-20th-century aviation timepieces utilized by the Chinese Air Force. While larger variants exist, of primary note is a more faithful smaller version, measuring in with a 38mm stainless steel case (47.3mm lug-to-lug, 13.22mm thick), acrylic crystal, and vintage-inspired design, it exudes a sense of nostalgia and authenticity.

The standout feature of this watch is its manual-wind mechanical movement, which not only harks back to a bygone era but also offers a unique connection to the art of watchmaking. The chronograph function, complete with two subdials and a central sweeping seconds hand, adds a touch of functionality to its retro charm.

The cream-colored dial, bold Arabic numerals, and blued steel hands create a legible and attractive face. Although it lacks modern conveniences like automatic winding or a date complication, the Seagull 1963 Chronograph excels in capturing the essence of classic watch design.

This watch is a true gem for vintage watch enthusiasts and offers an authentic experience at an affordable price.

Retail Price: $325.00

Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph (ref. L2.830.4.93.0)

The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph (ref. L2.830.4.93.0) is a stunning timepiece that effortlessly marries timeless elegance with modern precision in a striking tuxedo dial. Its 40mm stainless steel case (13.6mm thick, 49.2mm lug to lug) embodies a vintage aesthetic, while the meticulously crafted details on the dial and bezel pay homage to Longines’ rich heritage and storied ties to aviation history.

This watch boasts a sophisticated caliber L895 automatic movement (28800 vibrations per hour, 54 hours of power reserve) that ensures accurate timekeeping and a reliable chronograph function for precise time measurements.

The cream-colored dial, silvered polished hands, blue chronograph hands, and painted Arabic numerals add a touch of sophistication, while the tachymeter scale on the outer edge of the dial provides a nod to its historical roots. With a black leather strap, it exudes classic charm and comfort.

The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph is a beautiful example of how tradition and innovation can come together in a harmonious and stylish timepiece, making it a remarkable choice for watch enthusiasts who appreciate both history and craftsmanship.

Retail Price: $3,425.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch (ref. 310.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch (ref. 310. is an iconic timepiece that has solidified its place in horological history. As the watch that accompanied NASA astronauts to the moon, it represents a pinnacle of precision and reliability.

Its 42mm stainless steel case (13.2mm thick, 47.5mm lug to lug) houses the legendary manual-wind Omega Caliber 3861 movement, renowned for its durability and accuracy (and now METAS-approved). The black dial features the iconic tri-compax subdials, luminous hour markers, and bold hands, ensuring superb legibility.

Overall, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is not just a watch; it’s a symbol of human exploration and achievement. Its timeless design, historical significance, and exceptional craftsmanship make it a must-have for any watch aficionado or space enthusiast.

Retail Price: $8,000.00


In the world of horology, the choice between automatic and chronograph watches often comes down to personal preference and intended use. Automatic watches are enchanted with their intricate self-winding mechanisms and variety in style and execution, while chronograph watches excel in precision timekeeping and sports-related applications.

Ultimately, whether you opt for an automatic watch, a chronograph watch, or an automatic chronograph watch, your choice should reflect your individual style, interests, and the role you want your wristwatch to play in your daily life. Regardless of your preference, one thing remains certain: the world of watchmaking continues to evolve, offering a vast array of options to cater to every taste and need. Godspeed!

Best Digital Watches

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, the concept of timekeeping has evolved exponentially. While traditional mechanical watches still hold a special place in the hearts of horology enthusiasts, digital watches have emerged as the epitome of modernity and convenience the world over. 

Combining cutting-edge technology with sleek design, digital watches offer a plethora of features that cater to both tech-savvy individuals and fashion-forward enthusiasts and perhaps even the most astute mechanical watch snobs. 

In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of digital watches, exploring their functionality and versatility. Plus, we’ll look at the enduring appeal that keeps them ticking amidst the age of the all-encompassing smartwatch and the traditional world of mechanical horology.

About Digital Watches

First, some history. In the midst of the technological whirlwind of the 1970s and 1980s, a small yet significant innovation emerged that would forever change the way we perceive timekeeping: the digital watch. 

These sleek, electronic timepieces symbolized progress, modernity, and a departure from the traditional mechanical watches that had dominated the horological landscape for centuries. With the combination of quartz and modern technology, this was truly a transformative era in timekeeping. 

The Birth of the Digital Watch: The 1970s

The 1970s was a time of rapid advancement in electronics, with integrated circuits and microprocessors paving the way for new possibilities in consumer products. It was during this period that the first digital watches made their debut, capturing the imagination of people around the world as a whole new way of timekeeping.

One of the earliest pioneers in this field was the Hamilton Watch Company, which introduced the groundbreaking “Pulsar Time Computer” in 1972. Marketed as the world’s first digital watch, the Pulsar featured a red LED display that illuminated the time when the button was pressed. This watch quickly became a status symbol, adorning the wrists of celebrities and tech enthusiasts alike.

As the decade progressed, other manufacturers jumped on the digital bandwagon, introducing more affordable models. Casio, a brand that would become a powerhouse in the digital watch industry, released its first digital watch, the Casiotron, in 1974. The Casiotron showcased a digital display and a host of innovative features, paving the way for future Casio digital watches that would dominate the market in years to come.

The Rise of Functional Style: The 1980s

The 1980s marked a turning point in the digital watch revolution. The technology became more refined, and digital watches evolved from being novelty items to essential accessories due to their increasingly affordable pricing and practicality. The distinctive futuristic look of digital timepieces became synonymous with the high-tech aesthetic of the era, and manufacturers capitalized on this trend.

Casio, with its innovative spirit, launched a series of iconic digital watch lines during the 1980s. The G-Shock, introduced in 1983, redefined ruggedness in wristwear. Its shock-resistant design and durability made it a favorite among athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, solidifying Casio’s position as a leader in the digital watch market, which lasts through the present day.

Meanwhile, Timex, another renowned watchmaker, introduced the Ironman Triathlon in 1986, targeting the fitness-minded consumer. With its stopwatch features, water resistance, and durable build, the Ironman became a staple for athletes and fitness enthusiasts worldwide.

A Continued Legacy

The impact of digital watches from the 1970s and 1980s cannot be overstated. These timepieces revolutionized the watch industry, transitioning timekeeping from a traditional mechanical process to a digital, electronic experience. 

They paved the way for the smartwatches and wearable technology we have today, demonstrating that wristwatches can be much more than mere timekeeping devices.

What To Look For in Digital Watches? 

With an understanding of digital watch history and how digital watchkeeping has developed in the years since its inception, we now ask what a buyer should look for when deciding which digital watch to buy. Whether casual wear or specialized activities are your use case, let’s explore a few factors.


One of the primary advantages of digital watches is their transparent, easy-to-read displays. However, not all digital watch displays are created equal. When evaluating a digital watch for legibility, consider the following:

  • Display Type: Look for a watch with a high-contrast display, ideally backlit for nighttime readability. Some watches feature LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens, while others use OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology for even crisper visuals.
  • Size and Layout: Ensure the digits on the watch face are large enough to be easily seen at a glance. Pay attention to the layout of the digits, ensuring they’re well-organized and intuitively presented.

Battery Life

Another advantage of digital watches is their typically longer battery life compared to many analog counterparts and the reliability of battery power.  When selecting a digital watch, consider:

  • Battery Type: Most digital watches use replaceable coin cell batteries, which are affordable and widely available. However, some advanced digital watches may have rechargeable batteries, for example, solar-powered watches.
  • Battery Life: Check the manufacturer’s specifications for the estimated battery life. A watch with a longer battery life is ideal, especially if you plan to use additional features frequently.

Additional Features

Modern digital watches often come packed with a variety of features beyond basic timekeeping. Depending on your needs and preferences, here are some additional features to consider:

  • Water Resistance: If you’re an avid swimmer or enjoy water-based activities, look for a digital watch with a suitable water resistance rating. Some watches are water-resistant but not suitable for diving, so check the specifications.
  • Alarms and Reminders: Many digital watches include alarm functions, making them great for waking up or setting reminders throughout the day.
  • Stopwatch and Timer: These features are handy for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or anyone who needs precise timing for various activities.
  • World Time and Time Zones: If you travel frequently, a digital watch with world time functionality can be a game-changer.
  • Smart Features: Some digital watches now come with smart features such as step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and smartphone connectivity. Assess whether these features align with your lifestyle and preferences.

Build Quality & Durability

A good digital watch should be able to withstand everyday wear and tear. Look for watches with sturdy materials, scratch-resistant screens, and quality construction. Additionally, if you’re into outdoor activities, consider rugged watches designed to handle harsh conditions. Now, onto our list.

The Best Digital Watches From Affordable to Luxury

Casio F91W-1

In the world of digital wristwatches, the Casio F91W-1 is perhaps the quintessential reference, renowned for its accessibility, dependability, and affordable price point. With dimensions of 38.2mm x 35.2mm x 8.5mm (length, width, height), it boasts a compact yet comfortable design that sits well on any wrist. 

This watch features a digital display with a versatile 1/100-second stopwatch, alarm, and 12/24-hour formats, making it a practical choice for daily use and sports activities. Its durable resin case and band ensure longevity, and the water resistance of up to 30 meters is just enough for everyday use. 

Of note, the LED backlight feature is a convenient bonus for low-light situations. Perfect for those seeking an affordable, functional, and durable timepiece, the Casio F91W-1 continues to be a beloved choice for those looking for everyday dependable performance.

Retail Price: $22.95

Casio World Time AE-1200WH-1AV

The Casio World Time AE-1200WH-1AV is a versatile and feature-packed digital world time watch that’s perfect for globetrotters and adventurers alike. With its unique looks flanked with pushers on either side of its case, it comes in at 45mm x 42.1mm x 12.5mm in size (length, width, height) and presents a substantial yet comfortable presence on the wrist. 

This timepiece excels in its world-time functionality, displaying 31 timezones across 48 cities, making it an invaluable tool for international travel. The watch also offers a 1/100-second stopwatch, five daily alarms, a countdown timer, and 12/24-hour formats. Its utilitarian design, highlighted by a resin case and band, ensures durability, while the LED backlight aids visibility in various lighting conditions. 

With its array of practical features, the Casio World Time AE-1200WH-1AV stands as a reliable companion for those who crave functionality and precision in a stylish and resilient package, with 100 meters of water resistance and a 10-year battery life to boot.

Retail Price: $29.95 

Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full Size

The Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full Size is a sporty and dependable digital watch that’s designed to keep up with active lifestyles and is another quintessential standby in the category. With a 38mm diameter and a thickness of just over 12mm, it offers a comfortable fit on the wrist and is lightweight in feel due to its resin and acrylic materials. 

Boasting a 30-lap memory, countdown timer, and 100-meter water resistance, it’s ideal for both athletic pursuits and everyday wear. The durable resin case and strap ensure longevity, while the iconic INDIGLO® backlight enhances visibility in low-light conditions. The watch features an alarm, a 24-hour countdown timer, and dual timezone settings, making it a practical companion for travelers. 

With its reliable performance and rugged design, the Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full Size is a fantastic choice for anyone seeking a versatile and durable sports watch that doesn’t compromise on style or functionality with its decidedly modern good looks.

Retail Price: $42.99 

Casio A168WEM-1VT

The Casio A168WEM-1VT is a stylish and versatile digital watch that seamlessly blends retro charm with modern functionality and materials. Its sleek stainless steel case is mirror-finished and measures 36.3mm in diameter (38.6mm in length and 9.6mm in height), offering a comfortable fit for various wrist sizes. 

The watch features a clear digital display with a bright electro-luminescent backlight, making it easy to read the time even in low-light conditions. A classic Casio design, the watch is enhanced by a silver-tone finish and an adjustable stainless steel bracelet. 

Key features include a 1/100-second stopwatch, daily alarm, hourly time signal, auto-calendar (28 days for February), and water resistance up to 30 meters. A perfect blend homage to classic Casio designs with practical features for everyday use.

Retail Price: $49.95 

Timex T80

The Timex T80 line of watches (34mm and 36mm variants of multiple case and strap materials available) is a striking fusion of vintage flair and contemporary functionality. Its compact 34mm case size harkens back to the iconic digital watches of the ’80s, perfect for those who appreciate a retro touch, a look that can’t be mistaken as soon as you set eyes on it. 

Within the line, gold and stainless steel colored options are coupled with matching gold and stainless steel bracelets, as well as being available on resin bands in colors ranging from maroon to tone-on-tone pink. 

The digital display is easy to read, and the watch offers useful features like a 24-hour chronograph, alarm, and Indiglo backlight, ensuring practicality in modern life on top of its stylish looks.

Retail Price: From $59.00 

Casio A700WM-7AVT

Within Casio’s vintage style range of watches sits the A700WM-7AVT, a handsome and sophisticated blend of retro 80’s style accented with a stainless steel mesh band. 

With case dimensions of 37.4 x 35.5 x 6mm (length x width x height), the classic Casio digital watch face design you know in love wears slim and comfortable on the wrist, along with the self-adjustability of the mesh band. 

Key features include a 1/100-second stopwatch, daily alarm, hourly time signal, auto-calendar, and water resistance up to 30 meters, adding practicality to its clean design. The estimated battery life of the CR1616 battery included with the watch is approximately 3 years.

Retail Price: $64.95 

Casio Databank DBC-611-1

Growing up in the early ’90s, the Casio Databank DBC-611-1 would’ve helped me stay a lot more organized (if I wasn’t a kid with nowhere to go and nothing to do). Another star of the Casio Vintage collection, its oblong case with digital display up top and numeric keyboard on the bottom is unmistakable. 

As alluded to above, the standout feature here is its databank functionality, allowing you to store essential information such as phone numbers and appointments. With a 25-page databank capacity, just think of all the information you could input! 

The watch also includes a calculator feature, an 8-digit calculator display, a multi-function alarm, and an auto-calendar, making it a practical accessory for everyday use. The LED backlight ensures readability in any lighting conditions, and the water resistance of up to 50 meters adds to its practicality. If you’ve ever wanted to relive the Golden years of the 80s and 90s, the DBC-611-1 is an immediately compelling watch to add to your collection.

Retail Price: $64.95 

Casio GA2100

Enter the Casio GA2100. Popularly referred to in watch nerd-dom as the “CasiOak”. With their distinctive octagonal bezel (reminiscent of a certain iconic luxury watch), combined with Casio’s rugged durability and cutting-edge features, we have a new line of G-Shock watches launched in 2019. 

With a carbon core guard structure, these watches are both lightweight and highly durable, measuring 45.4mm by 48.5mm in diameter and only 11.9mm thick, making them comfortable on the wrist. The GA2100 line offers a range of features, including multiple timezones, a stopwatch, a countdown timer, and a 200-meter water resistance, and are suitable for hard-wearing activities in true G-Shock fashion. 

The analog-digital display, paired with the Super Illuminator LED light, ensures excellent readability in any situation, and with over 43 different colorways (available as of 2023), one is sure to find a standout CasiOak for their personal tastes.

Retail Price: $99.00 

Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1

When you picture a G-Shock in your head, you’re likely picturing something along the lines of the classic GWM5610-1. With its classic square design, the watch features a tough black resin case and a comfortable adjustable band, just as any other G-Shock. So why the higher price point than a typical G-Shock? 

This G-Shock is solar-powered (Tough Solar, to be exact), equipped with Multi-Band 6 radio-controlled timekeeping for accuracy, and offers a range of useful features, including a full auto-calendar, daily alarm, countdown timer, and 200-meter water resistance. 

As with any G-Shock, the full list of features is too long to list (good luck reading that instruction manual), but at the end of the day, the GWM5610-1 embodies the essence of G-Shock’s toughness while incorporating modern conveniences, making it a reliable and versatile choice for those seeking a durable and feature-packed watch.

Retail Price: $150.00 

Yema LED Silver (ref. YMHF1575-AM)

When thinking of digital watches, Yema may not exactly be the first to come to mind. But there they were, as early as the 1970s, releasing the progenitor of this watch, the Yema LED Silver. 

It’s hard to miss the case upon first view. The striking squared and angled watch head exudes a certain robotic charm, while the characteristic red LED digital display showcases a retro-futuristic touch, offering a distinctive and nostalgic appeal. The LED has a standby mode to ensure low battery consumption and can be lit up by pushing a button on the side of the case. 

At 37.5mm in dimension and 10.5mm thick, the watch is compact on the wrist despite the odd-shaped design. While paying homage to its vintage inspirations, the Yema LED Silver embraces contemporary functionality and build, making it an intriguing choice for those who appreciate a harmonious fusion of classic and cutting-edge design.

Retail Price: $269.00 

Casio G-Shock GM-S5600-1

The G-Shock GM-S5600-1 is Casio’s down-sized version of the standard bearer 5600 series with a polished metal steel case. Paired with a resin band, the watch exudes a refined yet robust appearance (Case size: 43.8mm length, 38.4mm width, 10.9mm height). 

This G-Shock model offers the reliability and shock resistance that the brand is renowned for, with an approximate battery life of 2 years with its CR1616 battery. The digital display is crisp and easy to read, featuring essential functions like daily alarms, world time, and a stopwatch. At the same time, the 200-meter water resistance makes it suitable for various activities like watersports (and the occasional dishwashing). 

The GM-S5600-1 is the epitome of a versatile and durable timepiece, merging G-Shock’s trademark resilience with a touch of sophistication, making it a great choice for both adventure and style-conscious individuals looking for a bit more personal style.

Retail Price: $160.00 

Seiko Prospex “Digi Tuna” SBEP003

With Seiko’s hallowed history in the dive watch space for enthusiasts and laymen alike, it should come as no surprise that within the storied lineup of watches, there exists a digital watch mixing their iconic dive watch style with modern technology. 

Enter the SBEP003 “Digi Tuna”, a watch taking the shrouded case design of the infamous “Tuna” diver (their most robust professional dive watch) and adding in a digital display. No slouch in actual use, the watch is rated to 200 meters of water resistance, and its solar-powered capability (in-house caliber S802 movement) ensures reliability without worrying about battery changes.

Key features include a chronograph, dual time (44 cities), and full auto-calendar (good through the year 2067). The luminescent markers, hands, and the LED backlight, activated by tapping the glass, ensure legibility in low-light environments.

With its calls to heritage design, the “Digi Tuna” not only honors Seiko’s storied history in dive watches but also pushes boundaries, making it a true Prospex gem for enthusiasts seeking a fully capable dive watch in an alternative form factor to the typical G-Shock’s of the market.

Retail Price: $329.00 

Bulova Computron (ref. 97C110)

Pulling from the brand’s Archive Series, Bulova presents the Computron (reference 97C110), combining that nostalgic pull of 1970s design with modern elements and construction techniques of today. At first glance, the distinctive trapezoidal stainless steel case exudes a retro-futuristic vibe, capturing attention with its unique design and gold-tone. 

The digital LED display offers a bold and modern touch, featuring a red LED readout that complements the watch’s overall aesthetic. With its multifunctional capabilities, including time, date, and a dual time zone feature, this watch offers practicality in pair with its unique form.

Retail Price: $395.00 

Autodromo Group C

In a call of celebration of the Digital Age, Autodromo aims to meld the car aesthetics of that day (e.g., Porsche 962C) with watch design—the result: The Autodromo Group C. 

The sleek, slab-sided case will no doubt recall the popular form factor of the Casio’s and Timex’s of the market that enthusiasts will be familiar with but in a new and uniquely aerodynamic way that echoes Autodromo’s aesthetic and design cues as seen across their full lineup. 

For all of its nostalgic and clean looks, the Group C is also no slouch in the feature department, with complications including a chronograph with split time mode, Alarm, and Day/Date display mode. Powered by the reliable Caliber E168 Eco-Drive, the watch is resistant to 30 meters of water and has a 36mm diameter case (42mm length, 10mm height), which should wear well on most wrists. 

Retail Price: $475.00 

Seiko “Arnie” SNJ025

Anyone lucky enough to have lived through or experienced the period that is the 1980s and 1990s is likely to have seen or participated in the viewing of the huge spectacles that were action movies of the day. We’re talking big action films like Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), Running Man (1987), and Predator (1987). 

What do these all have in common? The watch on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wrist: The Seiko H558-5000, a watch still sought after in the vintage market among fans today. 

In 2019, Seiko decided to bless us watch, and movie buffs with the return of this line of ani-digi watches in the SNJ025. As a modern reinterpretation of the classic H558-5000, the SNJ025 has a few upgrades: a solar-powered (6-month power reserve) battery, power display, stopwatch, alarm, and 200 meters of water resistance, to name a few. 

At 47.8mm in case diameter, it might sound like a watch only Arnold could wear but don’t be fooled. With Seiko’s case design magic, even smaller wrists can enjoy the watch, which comes with an adjustable silicone strap for comfort (another upgrade since the older 1980s Seiko rubber).  

Retail Price: $525.00 

Casio G-Shock Full Metal GMW-B5000D-1

Within Casio’s extensive lineup of G-Shock models, the Full Metal GMW-B5000 Series offers a striking metallic look with the iconic square case design. The stainless steel case and band give it a premium look, while the G-Shock’s legendary durability ensures it can handle the most demanding situations. 

The watch boasts an array of modern features (full auto-calendar, world time, alarms, and more) as with most G-Shocks, but a standout feature is the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity for easy time synchronization and access to various functions via the G-Shock Connected app. 

And did we mention its Tough Solar? The combination of traditional G-Shock toughness, contemporary technology, and refined metal design makes the GMW-B5000D-1 a versatile and striking timepiece.

Retail Price: $550.00 

Hamilton American Classic PSR Digital Quartz (ref. H52414131)

As the originator of the digital watch in the early 1970s, Hamilton’s contribution to the field of digital watchmaking is a story of innovation and survival at a time when traditional watchmaking was thrown to the wayside with the advent of quartz and new technologies in timekeeping. Today, Hamilton offers the American Classic PSR (reference H52414131) to commemorate that historic feat. 

Measuring in at 40.8mm x 34.7mm, the PSR has a few modern upgrades over the vintage models that contemporary collectors may find of use, namely an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, a hybrid LCD and OLED crisp digital display with green digits, and water resistance to 100 meters. 

Simply push the button on the right-hand side of the case, and the time will display. A classic throwback to the style’s originator, the American Classic PSR offers a contemporary gateway to true heritage and digital watch design, married with the confidence of modern watchmaking.

Retail Price: $795.00 

Breitling Aerospace Evo (ref. E79363101B1E1)

Breitling is no stranger to quartz and digital watchmaking. Originally launched in 1985, the Aerospace line was designed to be a multifunction chronograph with the top Swiss technology of the day. As the inheritor of the line, the Aerospace Evo (reference E79363101B1E1) retains the now iconic ani-digi design and style, in addition to all of the latest developments with modern Quartz technology of today. 

Now powered with the official chronometer-certified SuperQuartz caliber, the watch’s functions are accessed in a user-friendly format via the single crown. Parts of the watch include a 1/100th of a second chronograph, second timezone, alarm, countdown timer, minute repeater, and calendar. 

Though made of lightweight titanium, the Aerospace Evo leans on the larger side of its 43mm diameter case (52mm lug-to-lug, 10.8mm thickness) but is every bit as tough and tactical as it looks. A true hero piece if you don’t mind the price tag.

Retail Price: $4,450.00 

Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0 (ref. 39800-32-001-32A)

While one may not think of forward-thinking materials luxury watchmaker Girard-Perregaux as a digital watchmaker, it holds true that, as with many traditional watchmakers of the day, they either had to adapt with the times of the quartz revolution or go bust. Between 1976 and 1978, Girard-Perregaux produced the original Casquette digital watch (8200 examples made). 

With the reintroduction of the line in the Casquette 2.0, it’s safe to assume that G-P wouldn’t hold back, and indeed, they haven’t. Now constructed of scratch-resistant ceramic (case) and Grade 5 titanium (caseback), the Casquette 2.0 now weighs 107g, with augmented comfort via the rubber interior of the bracelet, providing more flex against the wrist. 

Keeping the same design language of the original, the digital display now includes a chronograph, date, day, hours and minutes, month, secret date, year, and second timezone functions. 

Retail Price: $4,700 

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 (ref. 318.

The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 (ref. 318. is a pinnacle of innovative engineering and modern design. Inspired by Omega’s ties to space exploration, the watch showcases a sleek grade 2 titanium case and bracelet, offering durability and a lightweight feel for practical use.

The digital-analog display is intuitive and features many functions, including multiple timezones, chronograph, countdown timer, alarm, perpetual calendar, and more. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the dial, which boasts bold white markers and hands for excellent legibility. The X-33 is powered by a high-precision quartz caliber (Omega Caliber 5619), guaranteeing accuracy.

This timepiece is a homage to Omega’s legacy in space and a testament to the brand’s commitment to pushing boundaries, making it an exceptional choice for those who admire cutting-edge technology and a connection to the cosmos. 

And let’s not forget it’s also flight-qualified by NASA for space missions and is still issued and used by both American and European astronauts on the ISS.

Retail Price: $5,900.00 


As we journey into the future, digital watches continue to intrigue us with their unique blend of innovation, functionality, and style. They have come a long way from their humble beginnings as novelty items to becoming essential companions in our daily lives. Embracing technology while staying true to their classic roots, digital watches can offer the best of both worlds. 

Whether you are a fitness enthusiast, a fashion-forward trendsetter, or simply someone who values convenience and accuracy, a digital watch can be the perfect accessory to complement your lifestyle. As time progresses, these modern timepieces will continue to evolve, leaving an indelible mark on the ever-changing landscape of horology.

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