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Timepieces are enveloped by an aura of precision and sophistication. Whether it’s a 16th-century objet d’art encased in precious metals and hand engraved, or the digital tech of today adorned in modern patterns or jewel-encrusted, watches have always coupled functionality with style.
Nowadays, the market is also saturated with thousands of generic replicas. Hordes of social media influencers flock to the latest trend, reposting photos of their finds as if to signify inner worth. But those who appreciate style and know how to spot a good timepiece continue to participate in a culture that’s about craftsmanship and design. For example, pop superstar Drake has been known to sport the Richard Mille RM 27-04 wrist watch. On the surface, it looks relatively plain: a black baseplate with bright blue bands and an orange dial, but a closer look reveals something much more interesting. Designed in collaboration with tennis champion Rafael Nadal, the face is encased in a patented polyamide, showcasing the bespoke inner workings consisting of steel cables and titanium gears. It’s a technical piece valued at $1.05 million, tested to withstand elite performance and fly enough for Drake to flaunt on his wrist.
But you don’t have to spend like Drake to get a distinctive wrist watch. Look for details of design: Break away from the traditional silver links for classic leather bands, or opt for a sleek, minimal face rather than the bulky alternative. Here, are six looks we think will make people pay attention and put you on par with your favorite style icons.
Coach—Perry Leather Strap
Coach has a history with leatherwork. Founded in 1941, the small team of six specialized in carefully hand-crafting leather goods, beginning with wallets and billfolds, then branching off into accessories and handbags. It’s safe to say leatherwork is intrinsic to the brand and part of their DNA. Jump to the present, and you can still find the same care in their work, especially in this classic and elegant piece. With traditional numbers and hash marks removed from the face, the design is simplistic, showcasing Coach’s famed horse and buggy in the center of the dial and a brown leather strap with painted edges. The design is adaptable, weaving between the casual everyday of work, and chic nights of drinks and gossip.
Skagen—Aaren Natural Faux Leather Strap
For the eco-friendly wearer who wants something classic with a bit of color, this watch is the perfect match. Scandinavian design has long been known for its simple and modern aesthetic, and Skagen is no exception. This watch in particular — encased in recycled stainless steel and bio-based straps — features cognac-colored brass hardware and a slender body. The forest green face is unique, breaking away from the traditional silver, gray, or white and is a great match for those who prefer to stay with a neutral and earth-toned color palette.
A unique selection that features all of the conventional elements blended with modern touches, the MVMT Bloom is for the traditionalist that’s interested in trying something new. The chain link straps are slender, crafted in rose gold with a matte interior and polished exterior, a shift from the original bulky silver option while retaining some of the original appeal. The face is stripped of its numbers and presented in a matte black, elements reminiscent of modern tech watches, and a second subdial underneath the main nods to the classic designs of the mid 1950s. If you’re used to the classics but interested to try something a little unusual, this could be the perfect option.
Technology, especially in terms of sustainability, has come a long way and that has never been more apparent than with Citizen. In 1970, they pioneered the first watch to use light-power as a response to environmental outcry, and named it eco-drive. Over time, they perfected the technology to eliminate the one-use battery, now embedding the tech in more than 70 percent of their inventory, and have built relationships with non-profits around the world to give back. That’s why this watch is the perfect pick for anyone wanting something both stylish and environmentally conscious. Classic but not gaudy, this watch is infused with synchronized time adjustments with support in 43 cities worldwide, a perpetual calendar, and power reserve indicator so you know when the juice is running low — luckily any light source will do the trick for a quick fuel. The red-toned brown leather straps, gold hardware and green dial give it a bit of swank — definitely the type of timepiece you would catch on the wrist of Marlon Brando or Al Pacino. Whether a purchase for yourself or a gift to another, this is a purchase you won’t regret.
If you aren’t convinced on Citizen’s range of products by looking at the PCAT take a look at the Drive. Utilizing the same eco-drive technology, this watch is a radical break from most pieces, featuring a monotone color hardware across the whole design. The numbers are larger, adding texture to an otherwise minimal face, and features the traditional brushed matte straps with polished edges. For someone who likes to stack jewelry or just wants something to gleam on their wrist, this is a new classic.
Samsung—Galaxy Watch Active 2
The smartwatch has revolutionized the way people think about timepieces. Like something out of a James Bond movie, these gadgets are designed with the latest technology to track your personal habits and deliver a catered product. Although Apple may have expanded the market, no one is creating a product quite like the Samsung Galaxy watch. The design is classic, displaying a rounded face encased in metal hardware with leather straps, but remains lighter than your average watch. LTE connectivity allows you to virtually use it as your second phone and can connect to a mix of android devices. Integrated with holistic health monitoring and advanced sensors, this piece is designed for the person on the go. But don’t worry if you forget to charge, as the battery has a five day power reserve, beating Apple out of the water. If you’re wanting something high-tech, this might be the one to beat.