With summer comes a desire to take life a little less seriously. You wear fewer socks, drink more beer and leave work early on Fridays to cram as much adventure into your weekends as possible. It’s also the time of year when you park the Patek on the winder until September and slip on a rough-and-ready summer watch. What makes the perfect summer watch? Water resistance, colorful and casual style and a rugged build that can stand up to cannonballs off the dock, mountain bike crashes and full-contact lawn bowling. It also doesn’t hurt if it’s affordable. Here are twelve watches that you can strap on now and not take off until September. Just don’t call them timepieces.
Best For: The Precise Grillmaster The Quickster is a classically-styled Swiss chronograph that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Available in a suite of summer-ready colorways, all priced at less than $500, this is the watch you’ll use to time steaks on the grill. An available stainless steel bracelet is comfortable even on the sweltering dog days.
Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter
Best For: The Diver After a few years’ hiatus, the Aqualand name is back in Citizen’s lineup and this legendary dive watch is perfect if your summer adventures involve going underwater. The automatic depth gauge tracks your depth to a crushing 70 meters and when you’re back on the boat, you can recall your maximum depth for your logbook and bragging rights. Even if you never leave the beach, the burly steel case, colorful dial and thick rubber strap go as well with board shorts as a wetsuit.
Suunto Essential Slate
Best For: The Refined Mountaineer Suunto’s new Essential collection adds a level of refinement to the company’s proven functionality in the mountains. Combining an altimeter, barometer and compass with a sculpted steel case, sapphire crystal and textile strap, the Slate is one Suunto that can go from trailhead to office with equal aplomb.
Seiko Prospex SSC017 Solar Chronograph Diver
Best For: The Beach Bum Is there really a more perfect summer watch than a dive chronograph? How about one that’s charged by that ample sunshine? Water resistant to 200 meters, with a 60-minute quartz chronograph and a colorful bezel, the SSC017 is your go-to watersports watch from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Fully charged, the battery holds power for six months in total darkness, meaning even if you put it away for winter, it will be ready to go again next summer.
Victorinox Swiss Army INOX
Best For: The Guy Who’s Hard on Watches The INOX is possibly the most durable watch you can buy. Before its release, Victorinox ran prototypes through a battery of tests that included extended UV exposure, water pressure, temperature extremes — even running it over with a tank. In other words, it’s ideal for any summer shenanigans you can cook up. The new red version pays tribute to Swiss Army‘s signature color and true to form, its dial and strap were tested against fading when exposed to a summer’s worth of sunshine.
Casio G-Shock Ga100Cm-8A
Best For: The Urban Guerilla The merits of the legendary G-Shock are well known to Special Forces soldiers and rap stars alike; it’s indestructible, functional and lightweight, with a healthy dash of urban style. The awkwardly named Ga100Cm-8A introduces a camouflage case, strap and even dial that crosses over from urban jungle to the more leafy kind, where it won’t give away your position during an intense paintball shootout.
Best For: The Driver If your summer plans include top-down motoring, this is the watch for you. With styling ripped from the gauges of midcentury Italian sports cars, a sturdy Japanese automatic movement and a padded leather strap, the Stradale perfectly complements any summer driving ensemble, even if your ride is a 1980s Chrysler LeBaron.