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Going Beyond the Submariner

  • Najib Benouar

If you’ve been paying close attention to the wrists of menswear lately, you’ll have noticed a lot of metal-strapped diving watches peeking from under well-appointed cuffs. It’s a good look, the rugged juxtaposed with the elegant (à la Agnelli’s Italian hiking boots and bespoke suit). But nowadays the Submariner has become so ubiquitous, it’s almost as if there aren’t other wearable watches out there—which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our two cents: it’s time to move on and start looking for a new, dressier watch. And as luck would have it, we’ve got a few suggestions...

The Elegant Square It’s a totally different direction than your oversized sports watch—and a totally different shape—but the squared face and leather (or croc) band gives a touch of subtle luxury that you won’t get from the sporting crowd. The original is the Cartier Tank, the first of its kind circa 1918. Many have tried to replicate the look, but to this day there’s none better than the authentic gold case and alligator band version.

There’s also the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Duo, born from a sporting background, and originally designed so the case can be flipped to protect the crystal while playing polo. Nowadays, when you flip the Duo you’ll reveal an entirely different watch face—one side for daytime wear and the other for night.

The American TraditionalistSteeped in the railroad and military tradition, American watchmaking had its heyday during the earlier half of the 1900s. Even though you’d be hard-pressed to find any fully American-made watches at present, you can still pull off the polished heritage-minded look with the few American brands still ticking. Hamilton, for instance, makes a handsome archival watch called the Jazzmaster Slim, a monochrome case of brushed steel on a leather band. This is suit and tie material. Then there’s the Cleveland-based Ball Watch Co. and the rose gold Trainmaster Doctor’s Chronograph,which earned its stripes on the rails.

The Art DecoThis is the more advanced move of the three—and you’re most likely going to have to go vintage for this one, so a good place to start looking would be here. Think Chrysler Building: strong lines with a few subtle geometric adornments—like this vintage IWC. Aside from impressing any watch aficionado you’ll encounter, it’ll complement a tweed blazer. If you’re looking for something shiny and new, try this limited-edition 2011 Panerai Radiomir. The bowed case straddles the line between tonneau and round, by far the largest case size of the bunch. That means it’s a statement piece, not for the faint of heart or wrist.

You’re neither. —N.B.