We all adore high-complication watches. Whether it’s the fine finishing, the whirl of a tourbillon, or the chime of a minute repeater, there is a romantic notion to haute horlogerie that drives this passion for many of us. Despite that, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that admitted to casually wearing their double tourbillon while on a treadmill. With that in mind, here are five watches we saw at this year’s WatchTime New York that can go the extra mile, that are perfect for date night, lounging in front of the TV, or hitting the links at the golf course. Of course everyone has a different idea of what “everyday” means to them — who knows, you might be the kind of person that enjoys sounding off your minute repeater to see exactly how long you’ve been watching Law and Order reruns — so we capped the price at $7,500 and nothing more complicated than a chronograph made the cut.
When Baume & Mercier unveiled the Clifton Club collection earlier this year, it seemed poised for success. And it was. Almost every member of the horological cognoscenti had an opinion on it and they always seemed positive. What isn’t to like? An attractive, automatic watch that fits in at the office almost as well as it does on the tennis court — just ask Bob and Mike Bryan, who wore the Clifton Club 10339 throughout their run to the U.S. Open men’s doubles semifinals this year. But after going hands-on with it at WatchTime New York, it’s obvious why people like this watch so much. There are a lot of small details that aren’t obvious unless you handle the five watches themselves. For example, the funky little bevels that punctuate each hour marker on the bezel are a nod back to diving watches of the past and provide a nice sense of texture. When wearing the watch, it rests snugly against the wrist thanks to the curved lugs. The variety in colors and straps is another strong selling point; I’m partial to the combination in the 10339 model myself. All in all, the Clifton Club line deserves all the attention it’s received and is worthy of a second look if you had dismissed it previously. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Club timepieces range from $1,950 to $2,250.
While the spotlight from Longines at WatchTime New York was on the release of the brand new Avigation BigEye and the ever-popular Legend Diver, there was another heritage-focused timepiece from earlier this year that deserves a closer inspection. The Longines Flagship Heritage 60th Anniversary in steel represents 60 years of the Flagship collection for the brand and is a true vintage homage. Since it was not influenced by any specific model but rather the era as a whole, Longines was able to pick and choose an ideal representation of the brand’s history. At 38.5 mm, the watch maintains its vintage appeal without sacrificing too much size and the ultra-clean dial and lack of date window were smart moves to attract any vintage purists out there. With this watch, Longines has provided a case study on how a brand with substantial history should execute its vintage-inspired timepieces. (This is something Swatch Group as a whole has excelled at this year; check out the Rado Captain Cook if you haven’t already.) My favorite part of the new watch? It would have to be the unusual hour indices that reflect the light in a myriad of ways, never failing to catch your eye. The Longines Flagship Heritage in steel comes in at a very reasonably priced $2,175.
Another vintage-inspired watch comes courtesy of newly-independent Grand Seiko and is of even greater historical significance. After the announcement came out at Baselworld that Seiko and Grand Seiko were splitting up, the first series of new watches released by the marque were a trio of three-handed dress watches in gold, steel, and platinum. All three were updated from their original sizing to 38 mm and have the same 9S64 caliber, but right now we’re going to focus on the steel one, a.k.a SBGW253. This watch has everything you would need from an everyday dress watch. The blued seconds hand provides an element of classic style while the clean dial layout and slightly raised indices is enough to give any watch pedant goosebumps. In person, the SBGW253 feels like a dream on the wrist. It has enough size to have a strong wrist presence but can fit underneath a dress shirt with ease. It is limited to 1,960 watches — the birth year of Grand Seiko — and costs $5,700.
Other than a quick run-in with the watch at Shreve, Crump & Low in Boston a few weeks back, this was my first time handling the Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Garde-Côtes. It comes in two versions, time-and-date-only and chronograph, and both are sporty and attractive. I wouldn’t describe myself as the biggest fan of the color orange but it works really well here and provides the sort of nice visual kick one wants when wearing the same watch everyday. While the time-and-date-only version is a great timepiece, it only costs $1,400 more to bump up to the chronograph and it’s worth it for this watch. The designers at Bell & Ross must have had some fun with the subdials, and by making them the same gray color as the dial, it really allows the orange and white subdial hands and white indices to shine. Surprisingly, the muted gray color is the perfect backdrop for the interplay between the white and orange colors, making the watch supremely legible. At 41 mm the chronograph is a nice size, and the rubber strap it comes on is even more comfortable than you might expect. The Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Garde-Côtes costs $4,600.
OK, OK; I lied. I said everything on this list would be priced under $7,500, but this Zenith is impossible not to include and it’s indicative of the great year Zenith is having that I even feel the need to highlight it. The Zenith Heritage 146 has a visually-arresting sunburst dial and is powered by the ever-important El Primero caliber. The 38 mm steel case taps into that bijou vintage appeal so many watch enthusiasts thirst for and the dial design offers a different take on a chronograph than most people are used to seeing. To me, a watch like this is an ideal daily driver. It’s interesting enough to catch someone’s attention, thin and elegant enough to wear under a dress shirt in the office or on a date, and it offers a slice of horological history on the wrist with the El Primero caliber. The Zenith Heritage 146 is priced at $10,500.
The picture of the Grand Seiko does not match with the description – that’s the SBGR305, which was also released at Basel. But it is NOT the limited edition SBGW253 which is a far more handsome vintage-inspired piece (IMO).