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William Morris’ adage that you should have ‘nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ applies to wristwatches as much as anything else. Something we rely on and will want to look at dozens of times every day should certainly fulfill Morris’ criteria.
Context is all, however, and beauty is a fickle goddess. A slim, delicate dress watch barely visible in the candlelight is a thing of wonder. In the cold light of day, however, it may seem a little fragile. A little insubstantial.
Day to day, then, we might look for something more rugged. Beautiful and useful, certainly - but tough enough to take the knocks of everyday life. Such watches can often look a little obvious, however. They shout, ‘Adventure!’ and ‘adrenaline!’
Timepieces that marry rugged reliability with aesthetic charm are a rare thing. Perhaps that’s why the Rolex Submariner (pictured) will always be the benchmark. Whether or not you spend your weekends below the waves, the combination of its reassuring heft and precision craftsmanship doesn’t shout; it simply makes a statement:
Similarly, one doesn’t need to be a Luftwaffe pilot conducting a bombing run over Blighty to appreciate the crisp clarity of the Pilot watches for whom they were designed. When you simply want to know the time, you don’t need six buttons and three dials. Many firms make their own versions, but we think that the Germans still produce some of the finest, like the Stowa Fleiger Klassik:
Those who like to keep their feet on the ground may look for something less overtly adventurous. A field watch that tells you the time and looks great while it does so is a particularly rare beast. A thirty pound Swatch Once Again is a minor modern miracle: its quartz movement is astonishingly accurate, it’s waterproof and, were you not blinking, you could read it in the blink of an eye.
For something a little more refined, however, a little more substantial and a little more unusual, we’re rather fond of Farer watches, and the Endurance in particular: