Charlie paris
Picture courtesy Charlie Paris.

CORDER’S COLUMN: The perfect holiday watch

Rob Corder trips through the best timekeepers for a summer by the sea on any budget.

Rob corder 11
Rob Corder.

I’ve always been a walker when it comes to exercise. It lets me listen to the news or a podcast while working off a couple of hundred calories.

Swimming always seemed tougher, particularly at a municipality pool where a combination of wee, chlorine and feral kids keep me away.

Plus I can’t put on my headphones and distract myself (no, I do not have an Apple Watch).

The trick to swimming, I’ve always been told, is to not think about the exercise, and allow your mind to wander.

I experienced this on day one of my summer holiday, today, whiling away half an hour of breaststroke in the Aegean while composing a column about the perfect watch for a beachside break in my head.

My musings concluded thus:

Stunning staycation watches

If you are backing Britain by spending your hard-earned vacation on home turf, why not go one step further by supporting a British watch brand as well?

The overwhelming majority of these brands manufacture overseas, but I am not ruling them out because they pay their taxes here, and that is good enough for me.

Cheap and cheerful: Mr Jones

103 v0 a perfectly useless

This list may be focusing on watches to wear in the sea, but while bobbing along thinking of affordable British timekeepers for the summer, my mind almost immediately alighted on the best-known and bestselling of Mr Jones’s catalogue, the exquisitely named A Perfectly Useless Afternoon.

The gently rippling swimming pool dial, with a bather reading in a rubber ring lazily showing the hours and a small yellow duck doing the minutes is the perfect choice.

Yours for £195 with a quartz movement or £495 as an automatic with a Swiss-made movement.

A fantastic alternative would be the brand new Accurist Dive Watch, which has just been launched as a mechanical automatic with a Miyota movement for £349.

Accurist 72006 front

Mid-market: Christopher Ward

Just launched by UK-based Christopher Ward, which has its own manufacturing facility in Switzerland, is the C60 Atoll 300.

It comes on a blue rubber strap and has a dial described as reef blue that fades from turquoise in the centre to sky blue on the edge.

Christopher ward

If your Bangor beach is looking a little murky under slate grey skies, this is a watch that will transport you to somewhere a little more exotic and is beautifully made with contrasting polished and brushed steel surfaces and precisely-made hands and applied hour markers.

It is on only sold online directly by Christopher Ward, and cutting out middlemen means the price of this 40mm diver can be kept down to an alluring £915.

Blow the budget: Bremont

Bremont has had a longstanding mission to bring industrial-scale watchmaking back to this country, and can claim to have achieved that goal since opening its Manufacturing and Technology Centre, know as The Wing, just outside Henley-On-Thames, in 2021.

Some of the company’s watches use its own inhouse movement, others are assembled in Britain using modified movements from Switzerland.

Its Supermarine collection falls into the latter category, but is still an exceptional piece of British design and engineering.

S300 vigo bracelet ladies supermarine watchSince we are considering staycation watches, I have swerved the GMT watches that might have you thinking of a second faraway time zone, and opted instead for an S300 Vigo in white, which is said to have been inspired by the fine white sands and clear water of Cornwall, perhaps.

It is on sale now for £3,795.

Surefire short haul watches

Foreign climes are calling, and where better to enjoy a blend of culture, classic cuisine and the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean than the French Riviera.

WatchPro particularly loves the opulence of Monte Carlo, and we are holding a watchmakers’ dinner at the Monaco Yacht Show in late September.

Here are a few suggestions on French watches that will help you feel right at home on the beach this summer.

Cheap and cheerful: Charlie Paris

Most mechanical Charlie Paris watches retail in the 800 euro range, but the Concordia  Nazaré, a favourite of professional windsurfer Thomas Traversa, keeps time using a Seiko quartz movement, which brings the price on a steel bracelet down to 295 euros on the brand’s own website.

Charlie paris marque de montre francaise

The watch is water resistant to 300 metres, highly legible hands and hour markers and a discreet unidirectional bezel.

Mid-Market: Herbelin

Herbelin recently opened its first boutique in the world, on the arty left bank of Paris, which is the perfect place to shop for one of its bestselling Newport watches.

The ultimate Newport is a 35th anniversary model, limited to 350 pieces, which launched this month for 2,799 euros, but there are more affordable models in the range.

1764 42 porte montre herbelin automatique bracelet cuir bleu inspiration marine

My recommendation is the Newport Heritage Automatic, which launched last year and is available for 1,299 euros.

It deviates from the normal circular case of the Newport, but the cushion shape with a round bezel is a striking combination.

Blow the Budget: Louis Vuitton

TambourMade at the legendary Fabrique du Temps in Switzerland, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver has a je ne sais quoi that will blend in perfectly on a superyacht moored off the coast of the Cote d’Azur.

You could go for the racy 46mm chronograph (£8,150), but I prefer the slightly more discrete 44mm automatic (£5,700), both of which have internal dive bezels operated by a separate crown.

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1 Comment

  1. Staycations aside on the musings as one enjoys the waters of the Aegean on ‘Holiday’, as one climbs the ladder of Investment Spend and looking specifically at what would be British Brands before crossing the Channel, the Bremont S300 Vigo is certainly a stunner, classic, refined and quietly dynamic in it’s finish. That said, it’s understatement and enhanced Retail from the entry of fellow British Brands, could have been enhanced and given greater value, had the opportunity for the Aegean, the Maldives or the BVI with a GMT Hand that works simply off the Dial, be it +2, +5 or -4, adding utility and peace of mind without carrying ‘the blower’ to one’s respite by the sea. Going north from Mr. Smith, Accurist and Christopher Ward, could have seen value added, in the new Prestex Rivington GMT offering a shaped alternative and Feature-Benefit to the traveller, with the Rubber, perfect for sand, sea and surf.

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