Our top daily beater watches

Our top daily beater watches

Richard Brown

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The “daily beater” descriptor is truly evocative. It is a great category which perfectly describes not so much a genre of watch, but a model in your collection that has evolved into this beloved creature.  

For the purposes of this feature let’s start by defining the ‘daily beater’. This is of course our interpretation of the category, but we are pretty sure it will match most people’s understanding. A ‘daily beater’ is a watch of any value which you can strap on each day in the sure and certain knowledge that it will take anything the world throws at it. And, most importantly, you will not be too bothered if it gets the odd ding and nick on the journey. We are keen to differentiate this from a watch that you may well wear every day, but you’d be distraught if the lens was scratched.   

The first time I came across this type of watch was courtesy of an old boss overseas in Oman who had dragged his model through every environment known to man. The Hessalite crystal was badly scratched, making the dial not easy to read and the steel case and bracelet had dents the size of craters. Of course, this was an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, circa approx. 1977, and as I recall was about 12 years old when I first handled it. I also remember being horrified at the state of the watch and the way my friend treated it, but his rationale was that it had survived the Moon, why wouldn’t it survive the desert with him? Fair point! It was always a treat for me as a junior officer to ride in his equally battered 1960s Land Rover 110 Series IIa, watching the Speedy bounce along on his wrist.  

 I think the time I spent with this gentleman and his Omega shaped the way I consider watches and how I use them. Hence, since the late 80s, I have always taken a pragmatic view of scratches on my watches including a doozy down the side of my very own current Speedmaster Moonwatch. My Rolex Submariner was well used when sold (as it should be) and my current Explorer II has enjoyed trips through famous deserts and jungles but so far has not been lucky enough to see either of the Polar Caps. I can dream, maybe one day. The point is, it has scratches on it and I think nothing of it when wearing and enjoying it every day, accepting the consequences. I like to think it's what Rolex of old intended you to do with it.  

Is it my daily beater? In truth no.  I am not out to destroy it principally because I cannot afford to replace it at Rolex’s interstellar prices. Nevertheless, I will continue to embrace it as an everyday tool, and I would be bold enough to encourage lucky owners to do the same.  

So what are the daily beaters of the WatchGecko Magazine writing staff?  

Richard’s Daily Beater 

As for a daily beater currently, mine is a watch at the opposite end of the financial scale to a Rolex but one I regard with equal respect. It is, in my humble opinion, an icon which was tough enough for Tom Cruise to wear in his first Mission Impossible. I refer of course to the Casio DW-290.  

When new, the DW-290 has very 90s turquoise writing on it advertising the brand’s Illuminator technology.  All my lettering has long since been scrubbed off by a harsh life. The watch is probably on its third battery and has spent a fair amount of time in water and years in the desert. It has never had as much as a spot of condensation in the lens. It has Casio’s basic 3231 module which lacks many functions we now associate with G-Shocks, but that simplicity really works for me. 

Casio DW8300

The display is identical to the much sought-after DW-8300 which was the watch worn by the cast in Stargate SG1 (yes, I confess a factor in the DW purchase when the 8300 proved too hard to source.) 

But more important than its ability to undertake trips through the space-time continuum, the DW-290 is a great watch. Its design is G, but not quite G. It feels almost pre-G although the evolution is parallel. It is more subtle, slimmer and the aesthetically exciting hexagonal case hides tough 200m capability.  The retro steel pusher buttons look like old-school Casio – because they are. The sunken ADJUST button is a brilliant touch, seldom replicated. No matter what I have thrown at the DW, it has taken it. It is now well over 10 years old, and I am sure will be a companion for another 10. It is a first-class daily beater, bought for that purpose, and when you consider new it’s still only £42 from Amazon how can you find fault?  

Anthony’s Daily Beater  

My daily beater is unique, in the sense that it’s a watch that nobody else in the world owns (technically, I don’t own it either). So some people might view the wearing of someone else’s one-of-a-kind watch in this way as highly irresponsible, but in actual fact, this model was born to be beaten. 

How come? Because what you see before you is a prototype FORZO Gridster in titanium. It might never see the light of the day – or at least not in this format – but before any watch is produced, a number of prototypes are always created to be tested to destruction and see how a theoretical design actually looks in the metal. As a result of this process, detailed changes are normally made to ensure that the specification is perfect if and when the watch goes into production. 

FORZO Gridster

This one probably won’t be made with its current titanium case, as a lot of people don’t ‘get’ titanium, preferring the heft of steel. To my mind though, the matt finish of titanium not only looks stunning but is also supremely practical: there’s no real need to give your forearms a workout every time you want to look at the time.  

True, a titanium case is more easily scratched – but how much more easily scratched and how does that affect the overall look when it happens? Finding out the answers is just one reason why all prototypes lead a deliberately hard life, and that’s also why my FORZO Gridster Automatic prototype is the perfect beater watch. It gets thrashed and abused without compunction – and all in the name of improving the product for customers. Yes, that’s just how selfless we are… 

The Gridster also happens to be a handsome, reliable, and sturdy watch with a distinct 1980s vibe that makes it really stand out, thanks also to the soft blue dial and rev-counter-like face.  

If this watch ever goes into production, there are some things you definitely won’t see again: the FORZO logo has since been refined and there is a myriad of other details that would be quite different now. But this only makes my trusty daily beater all the more special.    

Fabian’s daily beater

Choosing a daily-beater watch brought me to a fork in the road. At first, I thought my choice would have been obvious, my Boldr Venture. It is my go-to watch - I wear it most days and for most occasions. Its humble 38mm case size is unobtrusive, the matte titanium case looks sleek and feels light (perfect for everyday wear) and suits a wide variety of straps making it easy to dress up or down. 

However, wearing this watch most days does not mean I wouldn’t be upset if it had scratches. Given the titanium case, it inevitably received a few scratches here and there, the first one caused by an accidental knock against the dining table, I remember my stomach sinking at the sight of a barely noticeable blemish. Given that this is still my reaction to anything the watch comes in contact with other than my wrist, I believe it didn’t qualify as a ‘daily beater’.

That would be my Laco Himalaya, which was subjected to a harsh life straight out of the box. The first time I wore it was also when my neighbourhood was flooded (as it does every year), it was knocked around a row boat and submerged and scraped in muddy waters. 

Laco Himalaya

I was reviewing the watch at the time, making an effort to not be precious with it to see what it could handle. It took everything I threw at it, and since then it has accompanied me on a few hikes, most recently when I went scrambling over some rocks I liked along the cornish coastline. 

CornwallOn each trip, the Laco Himalaya was strapped to either a WatchGecko Signature NATO or a ZULUDIVER Rubber Tropic Strap, making the heft of stainless steel more manageable for long walks. 

It has picked up some scrapes and dings along the way and I’m certain it will keep picking up more, etching each adventure into the case and crystal like one of those scratch-maps of the world, marking all the places I'll go to with this watch.

Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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