If you are like me and my colleagues at Fratellowatches, you can’t live with only one watch. You need at least one chronograph, one watch with a second time zone, and one divers’ watch (even if you never go near a swimming pool). Perhaps you need at least one quartz watch as well, if only to set the time correctly on your mechanical watches. What about a watch with a moon-phase? Can’t do without one, right?
However, for most people – including me – the reality is that one has to make choices. I feel fortunate to have accumulated a modest collection of watches over approximately 15 years. It is, I’d say, a well-balanced collection, even though I have several pieces representing the one specific brand and model that I seriously “collect.”
But what if you could only own one watch? Perhaps we are all spoiled. My father and grandfather always had just one good watch, one that they bought for life. Many brands appealed to that mentality in their advertising decades ago, but nowadays, much of their marketing is focused more on the “lifestyle” concept of having a watch for each of your various outfits and moods — which, of course, persuades us to buy more than one watch from them. But, for the purposes of this list, let’s go back to that old-school notion of one good watch that you can wear the rest of your life.
The list below represents what I’d call my top five “Only One” watches. Yes, it’s not really fair, since I’m naming five rather than one, but again, you need to make choices. I would pick any one of these watches to be my only watch if need be. Perhaps that day will come, but I hope not.
Also, to make it a bit easier, I chose watches from more or less the following price ranges:
$10,000.- USD – $ 20,000
$20,000.- USD – $30,000
1. Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Caliber 9300 (< $10,000)
I’ve reviewed this watch in detail some time ago (here) on my blog, Fratellowatches.com, and it remains my favorite “Only One” watch for quite some time now. Although I am a collector of the Speedmaster Professional models that are considered to be classical “Moonwatches,” this new interpretation, with an in-house-developed, co-axial chronograph movement, is a great all-around watch for everyday use. At first, I had to get used to the two subdials instead of the earlier model’s three, but after a few days I found myself feeling quite comfortable reading the elapsed chronograph hours and minutes from one subdial. Omega Caliber 9300, with its co-axial escapement and use of silicon parts, is quite impressive for an industrial-produced movement. The domed sapphire crystals on the front and back make this an easy watch to wear; it doesn’t feel as bulky as its specifications make it appear. The classic design of the case is clearly based on that of the original Moonwatch, and the dial is very clean and readable. In the under-$10,000 price category, this is definitely my number one pick.
2. Rolex GMT-Master IIBLNR ($10,000 – $20,000)
One of the advantages of owning a Rolex used to be that you could trade it for a plane ticket home from anywhere in the world. Although that still might be the case, the world of luxury watches has grown so much over the past two decades that, even in the most exotic places, any number of other luxury watches will get you that ticket. So I didn’t take that reason into account. The black-and-blue Rolex GMT-Master II, introduced just this year, is – to me – the perfect all-arounder, and especially useful when traveling through (and to) different time zones. The stainless-steel case has a perfect size and the Oyster bracelet, with its Easylink system for adjustment, is almost unsurpassed. To be honest, even though the Rolex GMT-Master II (like all Rolex watches) has become quite expensive over the last few years — I have not received comparable annual increases from my employers — it is still well worth it. I did a write-up about this particular black-and-blue Rolex GMT-Master II here.
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