As I delve deeper and deeper into the watch world, I have found that there are all different genres of watches out there. From Dress watches to Military watches, how do we know which watch is best suited to what occasion and what are the defining factors of these genres?
Let’s begin with dress watches. As you’d expect a dress watch is also known as a formal occasion watch. It can be defined as one of the most elegant and simplest of all watch types. Traditional, fuss-free, and minimalistic a dress watch is designed to pair perfectly with more formal attire.
Wristwatches were traditionally reserved for women prior to the 20th century but this began to change thanks to the military which saw men beginning to strap their pocket watches to their wrist for ease-of-use paving way for the dress watch. One of the earliest men’s dress watches was the Cartier Tank released in 1917 it was an instant classic. The typical defining characteristics of a dress watch are as follows:
- A Slim Profile – allowing for appropriate fit under a shirt cuff or other formal attire.
- Case Size – Most dress watches fall within the 34mm-4mm case size range.
- Leather Strap – Typically fitted with a leather strap.
Precious Metals – Sometimes offered in precious metals such as rose gold or even platinum
Another widely used term to describe a watch is a Field watch. Put simply, a field watch is a military watch with a minimalistic design. They have no unnecessary features or complications their only purpose being to tell the time. Made popular throughout World War 2 due to their ease of use and durability. They must be able to withstand a reasonable amount of dust and dirt with the movement remaining unaffected making them more than suitable for daily adventures.
Boldr Venture Field Medic II Destro Chronograph Watch. Image Credit: WatchGecko
The term ‘Military watch’ essentially has the same meaning and purpose of a Field watch so don’t be surprised when searching for a military watch if you don’t see an option. These will come under Field watches on most websites. Military watches come with all the features of a good watch that we take for granted today: shatter-proof glass, accurate timekeeping, illuminated dials and exceptional durability.
Geckota's S-01 Phalanx Special Operations watch Gen 2. Image Credit: Geckota
Unsurprisingly a Dive watch is a watch that has been designed for diving and these watches are continuously evolving allowing us to explore deeper into the ocean’s depths than ever before with a dive watch. There are a few must-have characteristics that define a dive watch.
- Water Resistance – To be considered a dive watch must be water resistant to at least 100 meters. More advanced watches can be water resistant of up to an impressive 1000 meters.
- Legibility – You must be able to read a dive watch underwater. The majority contain luminosity for low-light and no-light conditions which is essential when diving at certain depths.
- Rotating Bezel – A rotating bezel allows the wearer to know how long they have been underwater and, in some watches, will also show the depth. Timing accuracy is essential when diving.
- Durable Strap – Most dive watches will be paired with a rubber or stainless-steel strap. It is important that the strap can withstand pressure, humidity, direct sunlight, and seawater (we’re not asking a lot!). However, a Military Nylon strap is now also becoming a more popular dive strap due to its ease of use in cold water and durability.
- Helium Escape Valve - This is a feature that professional divers will be looking for and it is important to note that not all dive watches come equip with this feature. It allows for divers to operate at great depths for prolonged period with the confidence that their watch can release trapped helium during resurfacing.
A Pilot’s watch is a watch type that is specifically tailored to the needs of aircraft pilots. They must be easy to read in all conditions hence why most Pilot watches have large, contrasting dials with good luminosity. Most Pilot watches are on Greenwich Mean Time which is the worldwide standard and, as time is one of the biggest indicators of location when in the sky a GMT function is essential. A rotating bezel is also an important feature enabling the pilot a more efficient method by simply turning the bezel to compensate for the difference in time. As computers have now widely replaced watches, pilot watches are rarely used for their original purpose, however, they are still a practical and elegant watch choice which is still loved by many today.
Racing watch is a built for purpose timepiece used to measure race times. Race cars and watches are strongly connected throughout history which watches once being widely used to measure race times. Racing watches are generally characterised by:
- High-Contrast Dial – Most watches have high contrasting dials so they can be easily read at high speeds.
- Chronograph – The Chronograph is a separate stop-watch function often commonly seen on racing watches.
- Tachymeter Bezel – A Tachymeter bezel scale allows for speed calculations to be made.
- Angled Case orientation – Many racing watches once had an angled case so they could be viewed without taking your hands off the wheel. This isn’t the case so much now.