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Feature: 3 Green Watches

A monochrome watch is safe. It blends in well, goes with anything, never stands out or offends. It’s also a little bit boring. Our eyes are tuned to see over seven million colours, and yet we gravitate towards watches that contain none of them. Well, let’s mix things up a bit and choose something with a bit more life—nature’s favourite colour, green.

Rolex Submariner 116610LV

A long, long time ago, before Nerf guns and Netflix, a small watchmaker was trying to break through into a centuries-old industry obsessed with tradition and craftsmanship with a watch that had all the charm of a steam valve. That company was Rolex, that watch the Submariner—and it would change everything.

Back then, midway through the 20th century, people wore watches as much for decoration as they did for practicality—in fact these watches often suffered horribly in the face of the slightest inkling of real-life abuse. Water, dust, pressure—these little trinkets were nothing short of ornate, but they were also as delicate to use as they were to look at.

There was no way for Rolex to compete as a piece of jewellery, so founder Hans Wilsdorf tried a different tack: don’t make a watch that people wear because they want to, make one they wear because they have to. There had been nothing like it before; thick, chunky, coarse and industrial, this watch, this Submariner, looked very much like it had been lifted straight from the engine room of its namesake vehicle.

The Rolex Submariner 116610LV or the "hulk" was discontinued in September 2020

The Rolex Submariner 116610LV or the "hulk" was discontinued in September 2020

The brands of old turned their noses up at it and laughed. After all, who would want to wear the timekeeping version of a pressure gauge over the slender and beautiful timepieces they had to offer? The answer was lots of people, that’s who. And not just those who wanted it for its diving capabilities, but others, too. The rugged tactility of the watch, the design born of function and not fancy, struck a chord in the hearts of a generation born to explore, and the watch was a hit.

Fifty years on, and as a quiet celebration of its achievements, Rolex released a limited run of green-bezelled Submariners known as the “LV”, or Lunette Verte—that’s French for green bezel. Like the original Submariner, it wasn’t imaginative, but it did the job.

Fast-forward again, and in amongst the new generation of ceramic Submariners we have this, the 116610LV, which really doubles down on the whole green theme by adding a green dial. With the ceramic of the bezel giving the green hue a silvery tone, and the dial gleaming with a sunburst flash under the right light, the LV may not exude quite the same hardy resilience as its originator—but as a celebration? It’s near-on perfect.

Panerai Luminor Submersible PAM00507

As 47mm behemoths go, there aren’t many that are green. This one, however, the Panerai Luminor Submersible, very much is. And that’s not the only colour you’re getting either, thanks to the marine-grade bronze used to fashion the case. You may think that this pairing is arbitrary—and maybe it is—but I think there’s something more to it, even if it is by accident.

Before hipster Panerai, there was military Panerai, an outfit that supplied the Italian Navy with watches and other instruments in order for special forces divers to do their secret, underwater jobs. That’s why everything about Panerai looks overbuilt—because it is. Never mind knocking your watch on a doorframe, these watches were constructed to take a ride on a manned torpedo through enemy minefields. The watches needed to be as tough as the people wearing them.

And the watch this draws inspiration from, the ‘Egiziano’, built in 1956 for the Egyptian Navy, was the toughest of them all. At 60mm, it made this Submersible seem like a discreet wear, studded bezel with its bulbous luminous pip at twelve designed to deflect whatever the enemy could throw at it.

Panerai's Luminor substance is self-lumintaing and brighter than its radioactive predecessor: the Radiomir substance

Panerai's Luminor substance is self-lumintaing and brighter than its radioactive predecessor: the Radiomir substance

The theme of nautical warfare is in the blood of Panerai, and so the pairing of drab olive and nautical bronze begins to make sense. This murky shade of indecipherable green is of course a favourite of the armed forces, used in disruptive patterns to blend into all manners of water, mud and vegetation a soldier might find themselves taking refuge in.

And of course, bronze was and still is a mainstay of the nautical industry, its surface shielded by the same metamorphosising oxidisation patterns that make it so unique. Twinned in the same watch and the result is something that looks like it could belong to the kind of person who knows where to buy grenades.

But it’s not all boat hulls and camouflage; the PAM00507 is a watch crafted to the standards expected of a modern, high-end timepiece, packing a precision-built calibre P.9002, a three-day movement with a power reserve and independent hour adjustment. Think of it like a mortar that fires Fabergé eggs.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G-010

Remember when nobody wanted an Aquanaut? I do. Remember when they actually depreciated? Yep, definitely remember that. Oh well—the past may be in the past, but now’s the present, and presently we have the green-themed Aquanaut 5186G to tide us over instead.

But where the material combo of the Panerai made sense, this Aquanaut in green and gold doesn’t so much. If it were yellow gold, perhaps it would, but it’s not, it’s white—which very much looks like steel when partnered with such a casual colour. I suppose it means you’re unlikely to see someone else wearing one when you’re riding the tube.

Peasantry aside, if the price boost warranted by the use of precious metal elicits no cause for concern, then what you’ve got here is a properly sporty Patek Philippe. The Aquanaut has always resided in the shadow of the monumentally popular Nautilus, but this gives it a flavour distinctive enough to be appreciated as an entity of its own.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G-010 or the "Grenade" was first introduced at Baselworld in 2019

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G-010 or the "Grenade" was first introduced at Baselworld in 2019

And don’t be under any false impression that this is a poor man’s Patek Philippe; it’s got all the bells and whistles, including the exquisite calibre 324 S C, all housed in a case that, at 42.2mm, actually wears like a modern sports watch rather than a retro call back. With the matching rubber strap, it almost feels like a watch you could do the gardening in. Almost.

Right, so you would probably need to be the kind of person who mops their brow with a thick roll of Microsoft stock to actually wear one of these whilst attempting any kind of manual labour, however the sentiment still rings true. The bold green colour accentuates the simplicity of the Arabic numeral-laden dial, the refined balance of the case. Gone are the flappy ears of the Nautilus, the broad, tapering bracelet, and instead you’re left with a watch that feels like it was actually designed to be a watch, rather than trying to be a rip-off of a competitor from the 1970s.

So, don’t fear any Boxster/911 comparisons, because with a simple flick of the colour wheel, Patek Philippe has whisked the Aquanaut out from behind the Nautilus and sat it in the jeweller’s window directly beside it. Well, it would if there were any actually left for sale.

If you do ever decide to go green, these three watches are a great place to start. I’m no fashionista, but green is one of those colours that will be forever popular, and what better way to brighten up your watch than with a splash of the old 490 nanometre light wave. They say green is a calming colour, so maybe it’ll even help make your day a bit brighter too.

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