Feature: Brightly Coloured Watches
Black and steel. Lots of black and steel. The average watch display has all the vibrance of a February puddle—but as we slowly amble towards spring, it’s time to look at something with a bit more colour to it. It’s no secret that the Swiss are a reserved people, and many timepieces from the landlocked confederation err on the muted side, but if you look hard enough, it’s possible to find a selection of colourful delights to wear in the sunshine. If you’re having trouble picking out something appealing for the change of seasons, here are four suggestions that cater for all budgets.
Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO
It would almost be sacrilegious not to include the ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II, even if the use of white gold leaves a sour taste in the mouths of those who wanted to see it in more affordable steel. It’s not cheap, but it is cool, harking back to the colour scheme of the first GMT-Master, the 6542. The 6542’s Bakelite bezel makes way for a ceramic one, although there’s a hint of translucency to the ceramic that makes it feel like a long-lost relation of the original.
Since 2007, Rolex insisted that the ceramic bezel was almost impossible to make in blue and red. Even for the BLRO, it seems there was some kind of compromise, as both the blue and red appear to be deviations from a purple hue, the blue being a shade different from that of the black and blue GMT-Master II released in 2013. That and the insane weight aside, the BLRO is a very attractive watch.
Watch Spec | Case: 18kt white gold Dimensions: 40mm dia Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 100m Movement: Calibre 3186, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 50 hours Strap: 18kt white gold Functions: Time, date, GMT hand, 24-hour bezel
Omega Planet Ocean GMT
As soon as you get used to the whopping 17mm thickness of this Planet Ocean GMT, the details really begin to shine. And don’t worry: the size does melt away thanks to the use of lightweight titanium and the comfort of the strap. You won’t ever fit it under a cuff, though.
Listing what makes Planet Ocean GMT so good seems mundane, but it’s worthwhile to fully appreciate it: the ceramic bezel, filled with Liquidmetal, is slicker than Rolex’s platinum-coated bezel; the titanium crown’s mixed finishes are executed to perfection, the polished Omega logo meeting the bead-blasted dome with a crisp edge; the applied details on the rich blue dial have tolerances far beyond what’s visible; and the 8605 movement is a sunburst delight, dotted with purples and blues. The GMT function is the cherry on the cake, making this Planet Ocean all the watch you could ever need.
Watch Spec | Case: Titanium Dimensions: 43.5mm dia Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 600m Movement: Calibre 8605, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 60 hours Strap: Titanium Functions: Time, date, GMT hand, 24-hour bezel, helium escape valve
Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Tudor’s Heritage Chrono presents superb value for money, and this ‘Blue’ version is no different. Based on a colour scheme from the original 1973 Tudor Montecarlo, at first glance the Blue seems like a straightforward respray of the Heritage Chrono, but closer inspection shows that it’s not.
Obviously the biggest change is the colour, and the blues, oranges and off-whites lift the comparatively dark Heritage Chrono to a more summery place. The hands and markers have changed, too, the hands with a much shorter taper and straight shank, and the markers applied, with a thin strip of lume atop. These are of course nods to the vintage original, and it gives the Blue enough variation not to feel like an easy cash-in by Tudor. The Heritage Chrono is already a popular watch and very attractive with it, but the arrival of the Blue has taken it to a new stage of desirability.
Watch Spec | Case: Steel Dimensions: 42mm dia Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 150m Movement: ETA calibre 2892, manual Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 42 hours Strap: Steel (fabric also included) Functions: Time, date, chronograph, rotating bezel
Hamilton Pan-Europ H-30
By far the cheapest here by a factor of almost five, Hamilton’s Pan-Europ H-30 is not merely a watch for small budgets. Following on from the successful Pan-Europ Chrono, the H-30 is a watch that punches well above its weight, deserving attention from anyone considering the alternatives in this article. Supplied with both a leather and fabric strap, it’s a timepiece that transcends the smart-casual divide, offering two different looks in one package.
And quality isn’t sacrificed for the sake of budget or that additional strap: it’s a watch that oozes luxury from its polished bevelled edges, part-raised and part-countersunk markers and sunburst dial. The result is a surprisingly good-looking watch that isn’t let down by cost-cutting shortcuts. Even the movement is interesting. Yes, it’s a produced by ETA, but its day-date function and eighty-hour power reserve gives it a bit more pep than the average workhorse. All four of these watches are excellent choices, but this budget buster is certainly one not to overlook.
Watch Spec | Case: Steel Dimensions: 42mm dia Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 3,900m Movement: ETA calibre H-30, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 80 hours Strap: Fabric (leather also included) Functions: Time, date, day, sixty-minute bezel