Watches are a dime a dozen nowadays. But if we’re being honest, there are really only five models you need to own. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or already have an extensive collection, these five timepieces are staples in the watch world and will serve you well on life’s many adventures.
No Collection Is Complete Without the Rolex Submariner
I don’t think any collection can be complete without the Rolex Submariner. I’m thinking particularly about the classic black version; its design is truly timeless and can still be dressed up despite its sporty flair. If you want to level up on the sportiness, however, you can’t go wrong with one of the vintage references of this diving watch. Want the best of both worlds? Look no further than the modern, six-digit references. Even though the subject is hotly debated, I firmly believe there’s only one “real” Submariner, and that’s the no date version. I mean, the others even have to be specified as Submariner Dates, which proves that they’re an anomaly. My personal favorite is the ref. 114060, the first modern reference to feature a ceramic bezel and at the same time introduced the ingenious Glidelock clasp. The maxi case, which also debuted with this version, may not find favor with everyone, but it makes a statement all the same. For the new Submariner references, Rolex leans a little more toward the vintage case format, and that could well make the 114060 a future classic.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Is a Must-Have
The Omega Speedmaster Professional deserves a spot in every watch collection. Not only is it one of the most recognizable timepieces out there, it also boasts a legendary backstory. As the official watch of NASA, the Speedmaster has been on countless missions. Among the Speedmaster’s most memorable moments are the first American spacewalk with astronaut Ed White, the first lunar orbit aboard Apollo 8, and, of course, the Moon landing, which transformed the chronograph into the fabled Moonwatch. But that’s not all: During the failed Apollo 13 mission, the Omega chronograph played an important role in rescuing the crew, who needed to reset a safe course back to Earth with time-critical maneuvers. This event earned Omega the Silver Snoopy Award, the highest honor for people and organizations that have participated in a manned NASA mission. If you’re now wondering which of the many Speedmaster references you should buy, there’s a clear winner in my book: the latest edition. Thanks to its Co-Axial movement, this timepiece boasts state-of-the-art technology, but still retains the traditional flair as never before, thanks to the step dial and other subtle tributes to its muse. This makes the watch arguably the best Speedmaster of all time.
Every Collection Needs a Beater Watch
Luxury watch classics with storied histories are all well and good, but you need a watch for the rough and tumble. That’s where your beater comes in, i.e., a watch that didn’t cost you all that much and is there to pick up the slack when a premium timepiece just isn’t appropriate. Say you’re in the park, playing catch with your kids: you’re definitely not going to want to have a Patek Philippe strapped to your wrist. The same goes for running errands or helping a friend move house; you’re better off leaving the Rolex at home. The Casio F-91 is a great daily beater. It’s made of plastic, offers endless functions, and is more accurate than a mechanical watch thanks to its quartz movement. The best part: it only costs around 20 bucks and looks good. Alternatively, you can turn instead to Swatch. These plastic warriors are available in all imaginable colors, variations, and patterns, so there’s sure to be something that fits the bill. And, in case you somehow missed it, Swatch now even offers a watch in the original Speedmaster design. But you already have an Omega Speedmaster in your collection, right?
The Rolex Datejust Spices Up a Collection
Yes, there’s another Rolex on this list. What can I say? I’m a huge fan of the Datejust, and it wouldn’t be right to only mention the Submariner. No other Rolex embodies the world’s most famous luxury watch brand as well as the Datejust. This is partly due to the famous date magnifier, or Cyclops lens, which debuted with this model, and partly due to the fluted bezel, which just screams “Rolex.” If you’ve ever watched a Formula 1 race or a tennis match, then you know the omnipresence I’m talking about: You can’t miss the official time display with the signature gold bezel. Whether you opt for a vintage reference or one of the modern variants, a model with 36 or 41 mm: the Rolex Datejust looks just as good with a suit as it does with jeans and a T-shirt. The Datejust makes the decision between a sports watch and dress watch so much easier, since it combines both, and it’s had its fair share of time in the spotlight in countless films. It’s really difficult to imagine the Rolex portfolio without it. In short, the Rolex Datejust is a fantastic timepiece that definitely deserves a spot in your collection.
The Cherry on Top: A Dress Watch
Now, you’re wondering why I’m explicitly mentioning a dress watch when I just recommended the Rolex Datejust, right? Well, the Datejust can be a dress watch, but it’s still on the flashy side. In other words, your collection needs a watch that can keep a low profile and doesn’t immediately attract everyone’s attention. I’m thinking along the lines of classic watches paired with a leather strap that just ooze elegance and sophistication. It’s probably not a watch that you’d wear all too often, but it’s indispensable for special occasions all the same. If your budget is around $3,000, my tip would be to check out Omega’s De Ville collection. These watches offer excellent value for money, and are hard to beat on that front. If you’re willing to invest around $10,000, I’d recommend the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon in steel. This timepiece boasts a silky sunburst dial, a magnificent movement on full display, and a wonderful moon phase. It’s one of the most beautiful dress watches I’ve ever seen, and is only topped by similar (and more expensive) creations from Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne. Even if I had the budget for the latter, I’d still choose the Jaeger-LeCoultre Ultra Thin Moon, but the solid gold version. As you might have guessed, I’m really taken with this watch! But my personal feelings aside, a bona fide dress watch rounds off any watch collection perfectly.