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Feature: 5 amazing watches that do it all

It’s great to have a collection of watches that spread out into every niche possible, but the cornerstone of that collection just has to be a fire and forget watch that you can strap on no matter what. So whether you’re looking for the jack of all trades for your collection or want one watch to do it all, this is the list you need to see.

Grand Seiko Mistflake SBGE285

Who would’ve thought a humble watchmaker from Japan could end up dominating the industry quite like Seiko has done? Of course, a Seiko is virtually a must in any collection, and the question really is how far up the tree do you want to climb? This Grand Seiko Mistflake SBGE285 makes for a pretty nice resting spot on a comfortable bough far enough up to get a good view but not so high it brings on dizziness. At £7,650 it challenges some pretty serious watches, but as we’ll see it’s a pretty serious watch itself.

First off, it gets the legendary snowflake dial, which is perhaps the single greatest thing Grand Seiko has made. Why spend so much on a Seiko? Seeing that dial in person does more to answer that question than words and photos ever could. If you’ve found yourself feeling disillusioned by the coldness of Swiss watchmaking, rather ironically this icy dial is exactly what’s needed to inject a bit of warmth and feeling back into the hobby.

Warmth isn’t going to get the job done, however, so Grand Seiko have also seen fit to pump this watch full of high-intensity titanium for a 41mm diameter and 13.9mm thickness, keeping it water resistant to 100m. It’s no shrinking violet, but that’s the point. This goes head-to-head with the Rolex Explorer II, particularly because it has the addition of a GMT hand within the Spring Drive calibre 9R66. The hour hand is independently settable which makes jet-setting a breeze, and of course you can see how much power your automatic watch still has left at a glance. Spoiler: it’s full.

Tudor Black Bay 54 M79000N

A good daily is one that can take the knocks but remain discreet, and that’s exactly what you’re getting from the Tudor Black Bay 54. Why the 54 over the slightly larger 58? Because the 54 gets both the option of a rubber strap and the excellent T-fit clasp, which offers on-the-fly adjustment to accommodate the changing size of your wrist as you leap from a sweltering tube train to a freezing cold London street.

The 37mm case size is unusual but surprisingly easy to adapt to and doesn’t actually feel as small as the numbers suggest. It’s not going to feel like a chunker, but then Tudor has demonstrated with the Black Bay Pro that it can disguise its overindulgence one way, so why not the other. It’s something Tudor are great at doing, making watches of different sizes and shapes feel universally wearable.

Despite its small size, the case is water-resistant to two hundred metres and the in-house calibre MT5400 gets COSC certification and seventy hours of power reserve. It really does do everything, with the unidirectional bezel even adding a rudimentary chronograph function without costing chronograph money. Asking price is £3,090, not dirt cheap, but not eye-watering for this category and quality either.

Casio F-91W

If you want the watch that can do it all but don’t want to spend more than a pack of cigarettes for it, there really can be only one choice: the Casio F-91W. The F-91W is almost a meme at this point, but really it has earnt its legendary status by being the do-all be-all watch for anyone with at least £10 to spend. Along with the Toyota Hilux, it is the tardigrade of technology, the wristwatch equivalent of a Nokia 3310. It’ll take a bomb to break it, and that’s not just hypothetical.

In a fight between Chuck Norris and the Casio F-91W, not only would the Casio win but the whole Chuck Norris meme would have to be retracted. This skinny bit of cheap plastic will withstand almost all environments, from the freezing arctic to the scorching desert, submerged beneath the waves and dragged up a mountain. The DNA of this watch has even, through its bigger brother, the G-Shock, been to space.

Don’t let its deceptively simple looks fool you. As well as a battery life of a crazy seven years, it’s also brimming with more functionality than a grand complication. There’s the time in twelve or twenty-four hour format, daily alarms and hourly alarms, a perpetual calendar and a chronograph, which times up, down and splits to an accuracy of a hundredth of a second. You want the real answer for what the best watch is that can do it all? It’s this one.

Christopher Ward The Twelve

The next do-everything watch just happens to be my do-everything watch right now, the Christopher Ward Twelve. Yes, I paid my own money to own this watch because it offers an ungodly level of specification for an incredibly impressive price. And don’t just take my word for it, because it’s appearing around the world in collections it ordinarily would have no right being a part of.

How is this fast-growing reputation justified? Well, from a timekeeping perspective, it’s not doing anything special. The basic version gets a Sellita SW200 with the time and date, a power reserve that doesn’t even last two days and no other functionality to speak of. Upgrade to the titanium version and the movement is boosted to the SW300, which reduces the thickness and ups the power reserve to fifty-six hours. It’s chronometer rated for accuracy too.

Doesn’t sound so hot, until you get to the packaging. Whichever you get, it’s less than a centimetre thick, giving a slenderness that’s further emphasised by the stepped nature of the integrated case design. There’s no prizes here for originality, but when it looks this good, all that goes out the window. It’s really all about attention to detail. Sit this in between a £2,100 Tudor Royal and a £7,900 Zenith Defy Skyline and you’ll think it sits closer to the Zenith than it does the Tudor—and yet it’s cheaper than both. In steel, on rubber, it’s £850. Mind blown.

Grand Seiko SBGV245

Really, the best daily wear is going to be a quartz because it’s the best option for set and forget. But quartz usually means cheap, and if we want an all-rounder we probably want it to have some semblance of watchmaking quality. Enter Grand Seiko, one of the only high-end watchmakers that seems to acknowledge quartz watchmaking exists and should be appreciated.

It’s not like the top Swiss watchmakers don’t also do quartz. Patek Philippe do quartz, Jaeger-LeCoultre do quartz and so do F.P. Journe. Whether we like it or not, quartz is the revolution that made mechanical watchmaking redundant—but that doesn’t mean it’s the devil. The watchmakers that do quartz well—that is to say, with the same effort they put into mechanical—yield a result that is very appealing, just like this Grand Seiko SBGV245.

You don’t see the quartz movement, which is a shame because it’s incredibly well made to the same level as the equivalent mechanical. It’s fully serviceable and features a regulation system too. It’s even properly finished, striped diagonally, and is set with proper jewels, some with shock resistance. The coil is hand wound and the motor has a twin pulse function to move the large Grand Seiko hands. An ordinary quartz movement couldn’t do that.

It’s built alongside the Grand Seiko Spring Drive movements to the same standard, and whilst you can’t see the movement, you can see everything else. The case, the dial, the hands and the markers align their finish closer to Audemars Piguet than then do Seiko, and that’s no exaggeration. High magnification is this watch’s best friend, because it really shows off just how impressive it is. Only problem is it’s discontinued now. If you get one, hang on to it!

What’s the watch you’d choose as your daily do-it-all?

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