Watch-Insider Asks: Which of These 5 Watches Would You Take to a Desert Island?

IslandAs fall gives way to winter, many of us may soon be longing for a trip to a desert island. Let’s say one were to be stranded on such an island and only watch could come along. Which one to take? I know — not an easy decision for a watch lover. But how about if I narrow it down?

In this article from my blog,, I offer the five luxury watches, in alphabetical order, that you would have to choose from as your “desert island” watch. I’m curious to find out what everyone would choose, and why. Let me know in the comments section below.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms: The “Fifty” is the archetype of what we today would call a “real” divers’ watch. This iconic Blancpain is powered by an in-house movement and the design is a beauty.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver: A 100% masculine sports watch from Cartier. This ISO 6425-certified divers’ watch is perfect to accompany you through thick and thin. It’s also very good-looking and powered by an in-house caliber.

Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver

Omega Seamaster 300: This recent re-edition of a legendary Omega watch reflects the brand’s modern know-how, with superb in-house technology and bordering on what I’d call perfect design. This Omega Seamaster is essentially ageless.

Omega Seamaster 300

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 2500m 3 Days Automatic Titanio: This titanium-cased Panerai Luminor is powered by an in-house caliber and built to survive rough conditions both underwater and on land. And it is simply a cool watch.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 2500m 3 Days Automatic Titanio

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000: The recently released “version 3.0” of the dive watch legend is fully packed with all the most mature Rolex technology. The Sea-Dweller would make a perfect companion under the waves and also look really good on your wrist.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000

So which of these watches would you take along? Or do you have alternate suggestions? Let us know.

This article was originally published on June 14, 2014, and has been updated.

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  1. Stefanos

    Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ! ! !
    The “Fifty” is the archetype of what we today would call a “real” divers’ watch.
    This iconic Blancpain is powered by an in-house movement with a 120h power reserve !!!

  2. Jorge Santana

    But of course Rolex. You don`t need fashion on a dessert island. You need ruggedness ,reliability and durability….. not more, not less, the rest…

    • Lee Fikes

      Why does one need to know the time on the metaphorical desert island? Well, whatever. I’d suppose the date would be more important to know.

      My choice (2017) would be the Seiko titanium quartz solar 200 meter air diver. ~15 min. of sunlight gives a 10-month power reserve, with quartz accuracy and ruggedness.

      Practically speaking, beat that!

  3. I’m a very practical guy, so Definitely the Rolex…simply because of the name recognition.
    See if others get stranded on the same island, and there’s any women, they may not recognize the other brands – but they’ll likely have heard of Rolex, and say “Hey, I like a guy with a sun tan and Rolex.”

  4. Mark Lewis-Jones

    As a long time ex-pat resident of the Tropics (including 17 years on Caribbean islands), as a watch collector and enthusiast, I’ll weigh in my point of view. Each watch presented is exceedingly attractive in its style, and each fits in well with the destination.

    My vote is cast for the Omega, not because its necessarily my favorite brand, but under the circumstances, it fits the best. No date, no problem. One does not come to the islands to remember the date, but rather, to forget it. Secondly, as Ian Fleming brought Bond to life whilst living in Jamaica, it seems the Omega has the right pedigree to be chosen.

    Finally, the understated and simple elegance of the design (and the metal bracelet), the utilitarian and robust function, lends itself to the gent with the sort of sartorial aplomb to dress this timepiece for either the morning wreck dive, afternoon cocktails at the tiki bar, or the barefoot-elegant evening dinner on the beach and under the stars.

    Licence to thrill!

  5. Allison

    Watch for summer on beach? Certainly, the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Expedition Charles Darwin.

  6. Erling

    No doubt in my mind: I´d take the robust Rolex Seadweller. Even though I like the Omega, I´d rule it out because of the lack of date function. It´s good to know which date it is on a desert island. All the others come close, but Rolex for me. It´s a trusty workhorse.

  7. I would take the Sea Dweller. It would handle the waves and depths when I swim off the island.

  8. martin blum

    A Breitling! But I would trade it immediately for a Swiss Army knife

  9. Paul Hopkinson

    None of them , my G-Shock Rangeman for reliability and function, who cares if you have a Rolex on a desert island, leave that to posseurs.

  10. Robert Harper

    While my daily watch is a Rolex Day Date I would not want it on an island because every five or so years it requires servicing by Rolex, usually because the Day indicator gets stuck but sometimes for several other reason. Instead I would take my Citizen Radio Controlled Manual in Titanium. Depending on the location of the island it may or may not lock with an atomic clock but would continue to function and give me the time (digitally if I choose) day, date, times in various cities and it is Eco-Drive which means it will never require a new battery. It ain’t as stylish or expensive as my Rolex but it is much more practical. If I had to pick from your list then it would be the Rolex Sea Dweller which might make good sense on an island.

  11. None of the above. The one and only chioce is the BREITLING EMERGENCY.

    If you want to stay in the deserted island, that is fine, but this is the only watch that gives you the option to be rescued or not, at your leisure.

    • Andrew Hughes

      This is the best idea of the bunch… If only the Skipper had a Breitling Emergency on their “3 hour tour”, we would not have had to suffer through reruns of Gilligan’s Island. I bet Thurston Howell the 3rd would have had a Cartier.

  12. Harry Jordan

    JLC NSA. Tough. Better looking than the Blancpain in my opinion. And the alarm is handy to wake up for the beautiful sunrise.

  13. Jeff Clemmons

    All are very good watches but I am a long time wearer of Rolex and have a firm belief that it is the best everyday watch around and for extreme conditions will hold up the best. My second choice would be the Omega and I plan on owning one of the Seamaster 300’s one day.


    the cartier but i am biased as i own the steel and gold version then the blancpain as second choice followed by panerai.
    also the jaeger lecoultre master compressor

  15. The (arguably) most proven movement here – the Rolex – so Sea Dweller it is :-)

    • dennis

      That makes the most sense, you don’t have to worry about the wind, you will
      have the sun and you don’t have to wear it all the time.

      • dennis

        But i would take my seamaster 300m as a back up, just in case.

  16. Of this list – only the seadweller would check the absolute reliability box. Honestly I’d probably go for a some flavor of a solar gshock (e.g. Rangeman/frogman/gulfmaster) over any of these.

  17. I would take the Rolex because Rolex name is more recognized worldwide. that way, it would give me more bartering power if someone showed up on the island with food or transportation off the island.

  18. Hmmm
    First thought: Nautilus 5711 since i would wear it everywhere but if i will be alone then i would go for a manual winding one, to enjoy the company and interaction with a beating creature (watch in this case)

  19. Shane the Beachcomber

    The Seamaster of course, just in case Ursulla Andress (Bond girl numero uno) came running up the sand. And sadly the other choices are beautiful but no match for the ultimate desert island timekeeper, The Sinn UX. Clearest face of any watch, go deeper than Poseidon himself, and indestructible on land. Immune to high temps. Can be used to open coconuts. And great value for money.

  20. Hugo Maiutto

    None of them. To survive in desert island you will need a day & date watch, 300mts. water resistant.

  21. Willie levine

    Deserted island?….no watch! Does anybody really know what time it is?…

  22. Guyz, please STOP marketing BS!!!

    Almost all of Blancpain movements come from Frédéric Piquet with some from Nouvelle Lemania.
    Panerai movements come from ETA and Valfleurier. (Swatch’s and Richemont’s)

  23. there is ONLY ONE watch to have on a desert island and that is a CITIZEN ECO DRIVE 6000Y
    I have had one for twenty years and no problems!! A GREAT WATCH !!

  24. Mike Phelps

    Even though I’m wearing a Planet Ocean right now, I’d have to choose the Sea Dweller. My Omega runs too fast. My Submariner has not been re-set in 6 months and is only 14 seconds off the atomic clock.

  25. fraser stewart

    Sea Dweller hands down. I’m a diver and have many 300meter watches to choose from but since you’re giving me the option…

  26. For reliability,value, style,pedigree,and
    toughness, the only choice is the Omega

  27. This time round, I would take the Blancpain Bathyscaphe … It’s elegant and efficient judging by some reviews I have read.

  28. Andreas Alles

    Oh, come on – this is very hard choice. Is there a Hotel on this Island? Yes, i will take the Rolex. No, i will take the Panerai…..o.k. i will think about….

  29. john mcginnis

    If I were going to a remote Island, I would search for potable water and native, to the area, food.
    Choosing a watch is simple ‘wrist masturbation’.

  30. The ONE watch I would take to a desert island IS a Citizen eco Chrono time (BY0100-51 H)

  31. What would I rather own, the Blancpain.

    What am I more likely to buy (read afford) the Seamaster.

    What would I want on a desert island, The Rolex.

  32. I own a rolex sea dweller 4000 and I think it’s the ultimate!
    So first: Rolex 4000,
    3rd; Blancpain
    4th: Panerai
    5th: Cartier

  33. Pete morland

    I would take the omega seamaster planet ocean 8500. Water resitant to 600 meter means durability and its going to see a lot of water. The 60 hour reserve is good to have when its the only timepiece in town. Just an opinion.

  34. The truly obvious choice would have to be the Breitling Emergency II. This would be only the quickest way to be saved, as well as keep time accurately. No it might not be gorgeous…. but whY do I need a pricey Rolex on a deserted desert island? As Rolex pieces are simple status symbols, how could they serve function to me there? If I must choose from the list, I’d have to say the Omega followed by the Panerai. (This is only because this list is not terribly realistic in terms of survival. I must also mention that I dislike Panerais for both their looks and reputation.

  35. Last time this question was asked, I think I suggested the Omega Seamaster. However, since then the Victorinox INOX has arrived on the market and it’s tough, tough, tough. I’d take an INNOX on this trip and use the money saved to take out some lovely brown lady to dinner.

  36. I’d rather have the Breitling Emergency (II), as it may also help me get rescued from the desert island.

  37. Stan Watson

    I’ll take the Rolex. Auto movement, timeless design. However, I would prefer a leather strap. Metal bracelets and I do not agree.

    • Stan Watson

      Sorry for the typo. It should read “I’ll take the Rolex…”

  38. Easy choice for me. Omega Seamaster. Sorry Rolex fans but it’s not the 20th Century anymore. Omega’s innovations in recent years are what Rolex used to be. Rolex is an eroding dynasty living on past glory. Omega is mindful of respecting the past but not at the expense of the present. Master Co-Axial is an example of that. They keep trying to improve.

  39. JeffBD

    Muhle Glashutte SAR Rescue Timer: easy to read, lume you can flag down planes with, and the ability to crack coconuts.

  40. Gene Bricker

    I’d take the Blancpain for sure. The dial is easy on the eyes. I like the strap and I like the date feature so I can keep track of my days on the island. Normally I’d go for the Omega (one of my favorite brands) but it’s lack of a date display is a deal killer.

  41. Desert is the key word. rubber strap would be better than leather strap & metal bracelet.

  42. none because, all above watches will surely very good. but it term of situation like this and i know i might have to stay long i will prefer a watch with chronograph (if automatic) with at least 100m water resistance because i won’t be able to dive with no oxygen to 1000ft… but if i where to prefer it would be i know this is not an option many would take, but a g-shock with tough solar, compass, thermometer. not because it is not expensive but truly functional.

    but if you ask me from above it would be cartier, as its very easy to wear and with rubber belt its easy to wear.

  43. Alfredo Saenz

    The Rolex, of course.
    The others would serve very well as dress watches.
    Alternates: Seiko Black Monster 1, or Seiko Sumo.

  44. Johan Jensen

    I would rather bring a high quality knife.
    No appointments to keep and no one to impress with an expensive watch, it could be a bit
    of a relief to be without a timepiece (and also the iPhone).

  45. mohamed shartouh

    Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 2500m 3 Days Automatic Titanio: ofcourse

  46. Rudolf de Bruin

    This is a difficult choice! Will have to look at Rolex for its known reliability.

  47. Hormazdiyaar

    The Rolex Sea Dweller without any shadow of doubt. It is the toughest watch made by Rolex. I am a Sub- mariner fan but Rolex botched up their new Sub-mariners with the bracelet being dis-proportionate to the case. Thank you for rectifying this with the release of the classic Sea Dweller this year at Basle. I traded in my Rolex Steel Gold Zenith Daytona and got the new Sea Dweller and there is no looking back. It has become an integral part of my body and has not left my wrist since I put it on. I love the watch. It’s also so comfortable.

  48. Wolf von Noorden

    Being stranded on an island? I would go for absolute reliability, durability and functionality and there is, imho, only one first choice possible: Rolex Sea Dweller 4000. Thank you.

  49. Marko Mantere

    My absolutely favourite is Panerai Submersible. Rough enough for desert island adventure. Also I’m a big fan of Panerais.
    Second best is Omega.

  50. An automatic diver with metal bracelet, because soft straps may rot and brake: Rolex Sea-Dweller or alternatively I would swap the strap in Blancpain to mesh.

  51. Hi alexander,
    Keep up the good weather!
    I defenitely would bring the Panerai! It is so sturdy and build for these conditions. See the Arktos version which was taken to north pole expeditions.
    This is a dive watch , perfect for an island trip. And very imporant: sooo beautifull!
    Panerai for me.
    Greetings Tom

  52. The Cartier is the watch for me on my desert island. Elegant and masculine in one watch.

  53. Dr McRoberts

    Without a doubt, I would chose the Rolex. Because of its worldwide notoriety, it would permit me to buy myself a return home ticket when I would be rescued…
    The seamaster would come a close second.

  54. My vote is for the fifty fathoms…..I am biased because I own one, but love all of the options you presented and would be happy to own any of them! To me the “fifty” is the ultimate sports watch….durable, rustic elegance!

  55. I have actually pondered that question myself. Now all of the above are excellent choices. However, lets say you would be stranded for ten years. I believe you would want: A steel bracelet over a leather strap or rubber for that matter, (durability). Water resistance of at least 50 meters. Of course a date display, a day display and even a year indicator, (to keep your sanity). Now the million dollar question is, what watches fill all those requirements! I’ll leave that up to you Alexander. Good luck!

  56. Steve Daniel

    I’d take the Rolex Sea Dweller 4000. Looks good where ever you happen to be.

  57. Chris launder

    You don’t need a date complication on a desert island , nor probably a rotating bezel , although I’m a true blue Blancpain fan I think the new Omega Seamaster ticks all the boxes and leaves some money towards a bamboo hut …..

  58. Jorge Santana

    Although couple of choices Panerai and Rolex, I would personally take the Rolex Sea Dweller.
    Rugged, strong, accurate and stainles steel (will last forever) or hopefully till they find you or you get bored.
    The rest all have al have rubber, ballistic synthetic nylon and they will crack or eventually fadee away………

  59. Jim Walsh

    Of the watches you list I would pick the Blancpain. But what I would really prefer would be the old IWC Aquatimer that showed the day as well as the date. Another option would be a rugged annual calendar watch like the Jaeger Master Calendar that also showed the moon phases so you would know if everything else was still in sync.

  60. Supergenius

    For me it would have to be the Blancpain FF. It is the original dive watch, a grail for me and I could spend hours staring at it and marveling at its iconic design features. Another watch I would consider in this situation would be an Omega Ploprof – it’s rugged enough to take a lot of abuse while stranded on a desert island.

  61. Nice choices but IMO the Cartier is ??? How about a Ball NEDU Diver? Great blog! All the best! –J

  62. Leonard Martinez

    Tough choice. It’s a toss-up between the Fifty Fathoms and the Panerai, so flip a coin.

  63. Jeff McMath

    Even though I am a big fan and owner of Rolex and Omega watches, I would have to go with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms from this select group. It is just a really handsome watch, and looks as though it would have the best legibility of them all in adverse lighting conditions.

  64. Mike McNutt

    I like all of the choices, however, if I were stranded I wouldn’t want a rubber or a treated linen strap. Can’t find a replacement when it breaks. I would go with metal, so that leaves to Omega or the Rolex SeaDweller. The SeaDweller has a Helium release valve. No advantage, so I would probably go with the Omega, with the Rolex a close second. I could argue either way. I would be happy with either one. However, if they all had metal bracelets, it would be much harder.


    I would select the Breitling Emergency II in order to be rescued.

  66. Victor

    Love the ROLEX SD but, there are many DIVER choises with in house calibers including BREITLING SEAWOLF and SUPEROCEAN, GRAND SEIKO, SEIKO PROSPEX MARINEMASTER (300,600 and 1000 mt).

  67. Philip Dunham

    Seamaster. No question. The Seamaster 300 will be my next buy. (I own a Speedmaster and recently gave my brother a planet ocean so I’m biased.)

  68. shaun regan

    That Omega is so nice, they have done a really nice job with it. That would be my choice and maybe the least expensive?

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