There are a few basic rules to summer dressing most men follow almost automatically. First, the switch to fabrics you don’t roast in – out goes cashmere, in comes linen. Then, there’s a general brightening up. Men who’ve lived in navy all winter suddenly burst into colour like a flowerbed that’s just realised there’s no longer frost on the ground. Sunshine invites colour and you’re wise to accept.
This sartorial switch-up should extend to your wrist. Partly for reasons of practicality (that crocodile leather strap grosses up pretty quick when it’s 30°C outside), but also aesthetics. All-black watches may be trending, but they’re a bit of a mood-kill when you’re rocking a floral Cuban-collared shirt.
Bringing your watch game into season means recognising that child-like urge to head outside the minute the sun breaks cover, and planning for the risk to your wristwear. Until the mercury drops, you need to slot your tourbillon back in its safe and wrap your wrist in something more rugged. Succumbing to the urge to dive into lakes is much more satisfying when you don’t first have to pause and carefully tuck your watch into your shoe first.
When it’s hot, ditch leather and metal. “Sticky summers can be incredibly uncomfortable,” says Muhaddisa Fazal, fine watch buyer at The Watch Gallery. “And a tight leather strap on the wrist is unbearable.”
Your forearms are full of heat-sensitive nerve endings, which means wrapping them up can make you feel artificially warm. So when you swap your high-shine leather shoes for porous suede, you should switch to a strap that ensures air circulates around your wrist. “Sports-led watches often feature ‘breathable’ rubber straps for extra ventilation,” says Fazal.
They’re better on something rugged – like the Victorinox I.N.O.X. (£359, johnlewis.com), which can survive being run over by a tank – than your Patek Philippe Calatrava. “They might not match classic tastes, but they are a great choice for a more modern piece.”
If rubber is a touch too deep sea diver, then embrace the still-going-strong trend for NATO straps, which are these days as likely to secure a Tudor to your wrist as a Timex. They’re traditionally made of nylon, but you can also find them in more breathable canvas and cotton if you need more airflow.
Since NATO straps are affordable – most cost less than £20, compared to hundreds for a metal bracelet – and come in everything from olive green (a colour that nods to their military roots) to acid-tinged paisley, having several in your rotation is a more wallet-friendly way to add some seasoning to your watch wardrobe than picking up a new piece.
We’re big fans of the straps from Triwa (from £20), which err towards the Scandinavian (read: simple and well-priced). Unlike leather, they’re a breeze to switch in and out, which means you can hit the office with a sober strap and then slip into something a touch more outré for the pub.
- Timex Stripe Canvas Strap Watch In Blue And Red
- Daniel Wellington Warwick Silver Canvas Strap Watch
- Bulova Mens Green Canvas Strap And Black Dial Watch
- Timex Weekender Slip Thru Watch All Black
- Timex Weekender Slip Thru Watch Olive
- Mwc 21 Jewel 300m Auto Submariner Watch Khaki Nato Strap
- Shore Projects Whistable With Grey Classic Strap
- Larsson And Jennings Blue Kulor Watch
- Gucci Ya136206 Dive Stainless Steel Watch
- J. Crew Solid Watch Strap
- J. Crew Striped Watch Strap
- Briston Long Nato Watch Strap In Burgundy
- Triwa Army Nato
- Triwa Black Grey Nato
- Triwa Blue Stripe Nato
Your Summer Watch Squad
Summer is a time for impromptu plans, fuelled by a combination of sunshine, high spirits, and probably some actual spirits too. What sits on your new strap should reflect that fact. “You don’t want to dent a diamond bezel by playing outside,” says Fazal.
You’re looking for that combination of hardiness – don’t be the guy who can’t join his mates on that spontaneous mountain biking trip in case he breaks his delicate watch – and fun.
Your dress watch has no place in a beer garden. These do:
Your “Beat-‘Em-Up” Watch
When the sun’s blazing through your office window so brightly it turns your computer screen into a mirror, it’s easy to entertain thoughts of jacking in your job to venture into the wilderness. With Timex’s Expedition Field Shock (£69.99, timex.co.uk) on your wrist, that urge is bound to be even harder to resist.
It’s shockproof, so won’t wimp out when you’re riding your motorbike out into the woods. It’s water resistant to 100m, ensuring you can wear it to snare salmon from the rivers like the bear man that you are. And unlike its digital cousins, the analogue face is still sensible enough to wear in the office when you inevitably pull the blinds closed and get back to your spreadsheets. One day, though.
Your “Grill Master” Watch
Better barbecuing is all about timing. Avoiding salmonella chicken is easy, but producing steaks to order while it cooks is the mark of a professional. That’s best achieved with Tissot’s Racing Touch (£415, watchhut.co.uk) which, designed for timing races, boasts the ability to track up to 99 lap times, so you can ensure culinary perfection even when everyone you invited brings two mates.
To work off your lunch you can lead the postprandial hike with your watch’s inbuilt compass, make sure you hit the beach at the right time thanks to its tide calculator and, if you wander (much) too far, it’s got a second time zone function so you’re not caught out.
Your “Life’s A Beach” Watch
You don’t need to be a diver to wear a diving watch. But when you’re by the sea, it’s handy to know that what’s around your wrist is hardy enough to withstand more than just a dip in a rock pool.
Seiko’s Prospex watches (£279, seiko.co.uk) have everything you’d expect from a Davy Jones’ Locker-ready diving watch. Think 200m of water resistance, a unidirectional rotating bezel for keeping tabs on your oxygen supply, and a super-visible dial that’s still readable underwater thanks to the Japanese brand’s LumiBrite paint on the hands and markers.
You also won’t risk your watch ticking to a halt mid-dive – it’s charged by both sunshine, which you’ll hopefully see a lot of, and artificial light, in case you don’t.
Your “Kicking It By The Pool” Watch
Since you don’t want to take a box of mechanical watches on holiday, you need something for that tricky transition from sun lounger to cocktail lounge. The Ahoi, from German brand NOMOS (£2,600, nomos-store.com), seals its automatic movement in a screwed-down, crystal-backed case. So you can still admire its guts underwater should you so wish.
Its face is as uncluttered as you’d expect from a NOMOS but the powder blue hands and textile strap – waterproof and inspired by the key fobs at German swimming pools – give it a sportier edge. It’s still dressy enough to wear straight to the bar, though.
Make sure your swimming shorts are a tailored pair, so you can just throw on a linen shirt and sink straight into an Aperol Spritz.
You don’t need to radically overhaul your watch wardrobe to make it seasonal, but lightening up is your best bet when the sun comes out.
Do you wear different styles in the heat? Or is there a watch we’ve missed you think works for all twelve months of the year? Would you ever put a luxury watch on a NATO strap?
Let us know in the comments section.