Watches which you can wear everyday as a beater. Where you are not flustered when it bears some marks of being used, and shall we say, abused on your wrist. A little patina makes the watch more worn in, and makes for good character. Here are our six recommendations for an everyday beater watch.
Six everyday beater watches: two Germans, two Japanese and two Swiss
To meet the criteria, we assume the following:
- The watch should not be too expensive or rare. A sensible price range of less than SGD 8,000 MRSP is set as an arbitrary limit.
- The case should be a hardy material like stainless steel, titanium. We make one exception, but hopefully we justify this to you in the discussion.
- Advantage if the watch is easy to read, with good lume for low light legibility.
OK, with these ground rules, let’s begin. Oh, one more, we decided to choose two from each of the big watchmaking countries – so two Germans, two Japanese and two Swiss.
We start at the German corner, with an underrated brand. Tutima. This is a rather old German manufacture. Founded in 1927 as Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG (UFAG). During WWII, its factory in Glashütte was destroyed but the company’s founder relocated to West Germany. It continued to produce watches in West Germany, and finally returned to Saxony Glashütte in 2008. Their return to Saxony is marked with many interesting pieces in their catalog, including the first minute repeater designed and manufactured entirely in Germany – the Tutima Homage Minute Repeater, a spectacular demonstration in the state of the art. But as our subject is everyday beaters, our choice is the M2 Coastline.
The Tutima M2 Coastline is a great looking timepiece. The aesthetics are rather sleek, and streamlined looking in a relatively slim profile on a tonneau shaped 43mm case size. Cased in full titanium with a very nicely made titanium bracelet, it is comfortable on the wrist. It is no a diver watch,, as many tool watches tend to be, and hence lacks a diving bezel, though it is has a 300m water resistance rating. The M2 Coastline is perhaps more intended for a land based expedition, as much as daily wear as a street warrior. Priced at SGD 2,810.00, it is safely within the pricing limits we set.
Next up, perhaps a king amongst the tool watches category – the Sinn U50 S. This new Sinn U50 S is a true dive watch at heart, like the bigger brother the U1. The U50 case is thinner and smaller (41mm vs 44mm) than U1, though looking almost the same. It has a dark ominous look like it is in the toughness business. The markings on the bezel and dial, including the hands are superbly legible in both good and bad lighting. Rated with the European diving equipment standards and certified by DNV for 500m depth.
Sinn’s claim to fame is the use of high strength, seawater resistant German Submarine Steel with a super hard Tagiment coating, which they claim to increase the hardness by a significant amount. As an owner of a vintage U1 with Tagiment, I can attest to that – the watch does not show any scratches despite 20 years in service. A true wear anywhere, do anything beater watch. Retail price is SGD 4,850.
Launching soon in Singapore. Already available in Japan, Hong Kong and US, as far as we know.
The Japanese camp leads the the remarkable new series from Citizen. Dubbed the Series 8, this is a pack of three new mechanical models – 870, 830, and 831, though not all models are available in all countries. Our pick is the 830 with the magnificent lattice over mother of pearl dial. The watch case is nominally 40mm diameter in stainless steel with matching steel bracelet. The aesthetics with strong 70s throwback vibe. Angular lines juxtaposed with circles. High polished surfaces next to brushed ones. A look which we find very appealing.
The Series 8 is equipped with a new line of mechanical movements, designed and manufactured by Citizen in Japan. The entire watch is well conceived, superbly built to very high quality standards. We are impressed with the attention to detail and the superb final finishing lavished the case, dial, bracelet is excellent. Even without considering its modest pricing, we think its a great buy. But with the SGD 2,800 retail price in mind, it becomes an even better value proposition. The dial itself is an aesthetic marvel, and perhaps on its own is already worth the price of entry!
Another died in the wool tool watch. The very successful Seiko PADI Monster. Rated to 200m as a dive watch, with the characteristic unidirectional bezel in a stunningly beautiful blue hue, the SPRE271K1 is as beautiful as it is rugged. And fully up to the task of an everyday beater. The indications are large, no huge, full lumed, and thus legibility is superb under all lighting conditions. This beast is crafted in a stainless steel case of 42.4mm in diameter, and is as tough as they come. The movement is an in-house automatic 4R36, which also well proven in the field.
Retailing at SGD 679, it is significantly the least expensive piece on this list, but the presence and somewhat cult status puts it on par with its competition, and it the Prospex PADI Monster is able to hold its own.
Moving on swiftly to the Swiss, and we consider the Bell & Ross BR05 GMT…while Bell & Ross is a company based in Paris, the watches are Swiss made, and carry the French flair with Swiss practicality and efficiency. We particularly love the way they are able to innovate with design, and how the overall aesthetic of their watches always manage to look well put together and coordinated. Always looking good. The BR05, their new sports line introduced in 2019, is no different. From the line, our pick is the practical GMT model. It builds on the strong design aesthetics of a rounded square very successfully, and turned this into a recognizable accessory rounding up the entry level to the luxury sports genre.
The BR05 GMT finishing and craftsmanship is well on point, especially considering the modest pricing it is targeted at. And that in itself is an advantage. As an everyday beater, especially when traveling, one does not want to attract attention with the recognizable Rolex on the wrist. And one would be heart broken if one scratches the Nautilus, or Royal Oak during the hectic moments as one travels. The BR05 GMT is thus perfect. Stylish, but does not attract the attention of the shady types. And hardy to be able to take the rigors of travel, as well as modestly priced enough not to need handling with kid gloves. Retail is near the upper limit we set at SGD 7,500. If we selected one of the base models, the price would be lower, albeit only slightly, for e.g. the automatic BR05 retails for SGD 7,300.
And last but not least, we arrive at the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925. Quite possibly the best looking model in the Black Bay series. The distinguishing feature is the interesting choice of a silver case in 39mm diameter. The unusual matte sheen of the case plays beautifully with the taupe dial, looking regal and rather beautiful. The choice of silver for a dive watch is an unusual choice, to say the list, as the metal is traditionally known to be soft and easily tarnished metal, in addition to being more expensive than steel. But Tudor claims that this particular silver will not tarnish in the normal fashion, but will patina gracefully. So perhaps this is a bit strange that we include this watch on this daily beater list, but we are taking the Tudor claims at face value, and hope that after heavy usage, the patina will match the claims. Only time will tell when we revisit an owner’s piece perhaps a year later. The BB Fifty-Eight 925 was introduced this year in 2021.
The movement is the in-house Tudor MT5402 movement that we’ve seen in past Fifty-Eight models, with a display case back. The movement offers 70 hours of autonomy, and COSC certified. The watch is rated to 200m water resistance. And retails for SGD 5,904.
And there you have it. Six watches which we recommend for a daily beater, wear anywhere watch. Two Germans, two Japanese, and two Swiss. What would you pick as your daily driver? Tell us in the comments.