Summer Splash: What Is The Best Summer Watch? Dave’s Picks — Breitling, Zelos, And Tudor
Roll up, roll up! The summer has hit The Hague, and Fratello is keen to celebrate. After the fizzing success of March Mania, we are back with a new knock-out competition conceived to find the very best summer watch out there, according to YOU, the Fratelli. And guess what? You can win prizes! No, there won’t be a watch available this time, but there WILL be some of the finest water-firing weapons money can buy: the Spyra 2 water cannon is reputedly the strongest of its kind ever made. Fancy getting your hands on one? Read on and take part in the poll and comments section of the Summer Splash.
Eight Fratelli editors will choose three of their favorite summer watches and pitch them to you this time around. The rules? The watches must be under €5,000, water-resistant to at least 100 meters, and actually available to buy. That doesn’t mean they can be limited, but they can’t be sold out at the time of writing.
What were we thinking?
The logic? We want this to actually help people to decide what to buy. Crucially, therefore, whichever watch wins has to be in stock and attainable. That means no lengthy waiting lists either. For the sake of our consciences remaining clear, it has to be something that can stand up to the environments it’s likely to meet as a summer beater. And while you might disagree with us here, we don’t think that many people want a super expensive watch on their wrists when jumping into the pool, kayaking rapids, scaling fearsome peaks, or getting drunk on mojitos to the point where the watch on the wrist is in danger of serious damage.
We also don’t want the masses to be a herd of sheep following blindly, so expect to see some unexpected choices from our editors that you may not have otherwise considered. Hopefully, you’ll walk away from this competition with a few new options added to your ever-growing wish list. So, put down the tux and put on your comfiest swimming attire for the Fratello Summer Splash! This is a contest to find a rough and ready wrist companion to stick with you through the thick and thin of planet Earth’s most bodacious season. Enough talk, it’s time to make a SPLASH!
Breitling Superocean 42
OK, so first up is the Breitling SuperOcean 42. I’ll be completely transparent here. While I wanted to include a Breitling Superocean on this list, I couldn’t go with the one I wanted because it’s an old model that you sadly can’t buy brand new anymore. That was the 42mm Superocean Abyss. Coincidentally, it was my first luxury watch, so I have many years of experience with it and honestly believe it’s one of the best summer watches going. But, to play by the rules, I selected the “next best” option. The current Superocean 42 edition.
This is not a consolation prize on my beloved Abyss model, though, as the latest Superocean actually improves on the older model. Most notably, the addition of the luminous pip at 12 o’clock on the bezel. The Superocean Abyss was technically a 1,500m dive watch, but the lack of luminous bezel marking meant that it couldn’t be considered an actual dive watch. The follow-ups righted that wrong, and now the Superocean is pretty much everything you could watch from a proper dive watch.
Black and blue make a splash
A bright white dial allows for enhanced legibility against the blue hands and hour markers. This black and blue color scheme looks very sharp and is the perfect summer accompaniment. An added benefit of the white dial is that the date window blends in nicely without standing out. Always a positive in my book. I perhaps preferred the italicized font on the older Abyss. Still, the font on the dial and bezel of the current Superocean 42 is definitely more legible at a glance. So, in the essence of function over form, the modern iteration wins again.
The Breitling Superocean 42 does have the option of a bracelet, but I purposely chose the version with a rubber strap. Breitling rubber straps are very comfortable from my personal experience, and I feel it’s the right choice for this competition, but really the choice is yours as both options fall under the price limit. A nice blue-colored strap is slightly more Summer Splash than a bracelet though, right?
Zelos Mako V3 Titanium
Let’s have a change of pace. So, the competition rules say we need to keep the price under €5,000. What if I told you this next watch was under €500? That’s right! My next entry is making serious waves for the ultimate budget entry in the competition. If that was a category and a prize available, I’d bet good money on the Zelos taking the crown. For any of your fine folk that has an interest in the microbrand world, you will undoubtedly have heard of Zelos and be well aware of the brand. For those unaware, might your curiosity be piqued if I were to tell you that Zelos is one of the very few microbrands whose watches often appreciate over time? That’s right!
With some of the brand’s more popular launches, the watches sell out in ridiculous times and quickly appear on the second-hand market for more than retail. My recent acquisition was the Swordfish 40 made of crystallized titanium. It sold out all 40 pieces in about 4 minutes, if I recall. Since then, those watches have changed hands for more than the $899 retail value. Now my Swordfish 40 is not available to purchase from Zelos, and indeed all the Swordfish 40 models are currently sold out. So, instead, I am picking one of the brand’s most recent launches for the Summer Splash — one that is no less summery than the model I own. That is the Mako V3 in titanium.
As light as a cloud for summer
In the spirit of the vibe of Summer Splash, the titanium case of the Mako means that it’s a fantastic wrist companion from diving in the daytime to sipping cocktails at the swim-up pool bar in the late afternoon. As those empty pina colada glasses mount up, the lightweight titanium won’t stop you from lifting the next one to the space you believe your mouth to be.
Zelos gives prospective buyers a nice variety of color combinations to choose from. My pick of the bunch is probably the delightful teal dial, the perfect accompaniment to the brightly colored cocktails you’ve been throwing down your neck all evening. Or maybe I’d go with a fully-lumed “frost” dial. Decisions, decisions. Well, actually, at the price of $449, you could just buy both and focus on those cocktails?
Tudor North Flag
You ain’t gonna find a Black Bay here. No sir-ee! I’m not the biggest lover of the Tudor Black Bay family except for the Sterling silver model, which Mike picked for his team, here. Despite its overwhelming popularity across the industry (and indeed in the Fratello team!), this model really doesn’t tickle me pink as it seems to for so many others. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the appeal, but visually, I find it a bit bland. The Black Bay was launched as the modern incarnation of the iconic Tudor Submariner. Along the way, something got lost in translation for me, and it’s worlds away from the Submariner. It tried to be modern and vintage and. In my opinion, it ended up less than a sum of its parts. Don’t forget, this is a subjective opinion, and I am well aware that most will disagree with me!
So, where does the Tudor North Flag fit into this story? Despite having some influences from historic models from Tudor’s back catalog, with the North Flag, Tudor thankfully decided to stop incorporating as many design references to vintage models and allowed itself some more creative freedom. That resulted in the Tudor North Flag — a watch with its own modern and well-defined personality.
The devil is in the (dial) details
The dial is well executed, in my opinion. I love the no-nonsense black dial and chapter ring, with its fun splashes of yellow. Black and yellow are my favorite, so that was instantly a tick in the plus box. I’m also one of those odd fellows who likes a dial-wide power reserve. I’m yet to meet another soul who actively “likes” them in the same way I do. I know people who tolerate them and swathes of fellow collectors who actively hate them. In the case of the Tudor North Flag, the dial-side power reserve adds an excellent focal point to the dial. Extra points for going with the disc indicator rather than a traditional hand. Go your own way, Tudor!
I get it when people say they dislike power reserves on automatic movements and find them somewhat pointless. I get that argument and partially agree, but I still think it looks cool here. My Grand Seiko Skyflake suffers from the same affliction, but I got over it pretty quickly and loved its inclusion. Tudor has officially discontinued the North Flag, but it’s very easy to pick one up from ADs who still have them in stock brand new. Hopefully, this is not bending the rules too much, but the North Flag deserves its spot on my list!
Summer Splash voting
And with that, we have all three of my entries into Summer Splash! Which of these fine timepieces will get your vote to move on to the next round and go head-to-head with one of my fellow writers? Will it be the Breitling, the Zelos, or the Tudor? Only you can decide — get voting now!