The Unexpected Perfect Two-Watch Collection — Rolex Sea-Dweller And Day-Date
I often envy those who can live with one watch for a large part of their lives… The people who don’t feel the need to have a “collection”. My grandfather was a perfect example. He had his gold watch for 42 years and just wore it every single day. Just recently, my dad showed me a Junghans watch that he received in 1960 when he was 10 years old. It was a gold-plated mechanical watch with a case diameter of approximately 34mm. He wore it until he graduated and received an Omega Genève when he was 18. He basically wore that watch until 2017 when he proudly purchased the Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday.
In this day and age, I think it’s less common to spend half a lifetime with one watch. Even those who have no special interest in watches tend to have a few different ones. Often, these watches are for different purposes or to ensure there’s always one that matches their outfit for the day.
But how many watches do you need? Regardless of the price or budget you have, limiting yourself to a “one-watch collection” is not easy. A friend of mine tried with his Rolex Explorer II 16570, but even he added another watch after nearly 12 years of having just that watch. It’s perhaps also a bit of a never-ending game to find that one perfect watch, or the holy grail. I gave up on the concept a long time ago, although I had some possible candidates that I could see as the only watch I’d ever need. And even though I ended up with a few of them (some got sold again), it never worked for me. I am too much of a watch enthusiast to just go with one.
A two-watch collection — formal and sporty
So, what about a two-watch collection then? Could I live with “just” two watches for the rest of my life? With the recent purchase of my Rolex Day-Date reference 18238 (I covered the buying process here), I realized that it fills a void for sure. I don’t have many dress watches in my collection and had been contemplating a Breguet 5157 as a “purist” dress watch.
But I also realized that it wouldn’t get much wear since I don’t attend that many formal occasions. By choice, I might add. Anyway, I will get that watch at some point for sure, as I truly enjoyed the 5157 in rose gold I had in for review a while back. I think it’s that near-perfect modern dress watch that’s actually available on the market.
The gold Day-Date 18238
The Rolex Day-Date I bought is not a dress watch. It does, however, behave like one if you dress up formally enough or if you put it on a nice, classy-looking alligator strap, for example. And no, the Day-Date is not a thin watch, and it also has a cyclops and many more things that wouldn’t pass the critical observer, but I am not a purist in that sense.
And it is still more on point than people wearing their digital Garmin watches with a tuxedo (yes, I’ve seen it happen). From what I’ve seen, there are quite a few watch enthusiasts out there who use their vintage Day-Date 1803 on a strap as a dress watch. And it does look good, in my opinion.
Not suitable for all occasions
The Rolex Day-Date is not suitable for all occasions, though, so you will need something more understated on the side. That could be a Rolex Datejust, of course, but I also feel that’s a bit more of the same, just in steel. I know, I know, I am exaggerating, but you catch my drift. The looks of the Datejust and Day-Date show too many similarities to bring diversity to a two-watch collection.
However, I realized that I already have that perfect counterpart to the 18K yellow gold Day-Date. It’s the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600.
The Sea-Dweller 16600
The Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 was my first sports Rolex, and I bought it all the way back in 2003. My first Rolex was a Datejust that I received for my graduation from my mother. At the time, the prices were quite different than the prices today. And if memory serves me well, I think I paid about €2,000 for the Rolex Sea-Dweller from 1996 that I bought pre-owned. In my eyes, it was the perfect sports watch. It was the “professional” execution of the Submariner, with a depth rating of 1220 meters instead of 300 meters and an automatic helium escape valve. Oh, and no Cyclops on the date.
Optically, the Sea-Dweller 16600 is a little different from the Submariner 16610 and 14060 as well. It has a thicker case, a different case back (with special engraving), and a thicker crystal. I wore that Sea-Dweller 16600 almost daily for several years, on and off with my vintage Speedmaster Professional. Then, I realized that the Sea-Dweller 16600 wasn’t as comfortable as the GMT-Master II 16710 that I bought in 2006.
The main reason is the case back of the Sea-Dweller. It’s quite domed in comparison to the GMT-Master II. In 2014, after 11 years of ownership, I traded the Sea-Dweller for a vintage GMT-Master 1675 from my birth year.
But then came regret, as the Sea-Dweller 16600 fits me better than the vintage 1675. About one and a half or two years ago, I had the opportunity to purchase a minty Sea-Dweller 16600 from a friend, so I didn’t have to think long. I’m happy to have it back, and if I hadn’t built up a collection of watches in the past 15 years, it could have easily been my everyday watch.
With the two Rolex watches I have here together, I think most “occasions” would be covered. Well, except for bringing them to places that put you at risk for wearing them, of course. That said, they do go together very well, and each has its own role within a collection. The Sea-Dweller is a perfect do-it-all watch and looks good with anything from a business suit to a swimsuit. For the evenings or special occasions, there’s the 18K gold Day-Date. The Day-Date can also be worn during more casual occasions, you just must ask yourself whether it’s appropriate to wear a full-gold watch.
When we leave the pricing out of scope, I think it is a nearly perfect two-watch collection. Today’s market prices for watches are a never-ending discussion, and if people are still paying the prices that are being asked, there’s not much you can do. I have both watches in my possession and think they’re worth every penny. Availability is not much of a topic, as both references discussed here are long discontinued and widely offered on platforms like Chrono24.
Could you live with a two-watch collection?
However, I am spoiled and have quite a few watches to choose from. So, it would be difficult for me not to have a vintage Omega Constellation, a Grand Seiko Mt. Iwate, a square G-Shock, a NOMOS Weltzeit, or of course, a Speedmaster (or two). But if I could start with a clean slate, the Sea-Dweller 16600 and Day-Date 18238 would be an almost perfect two-watch collection.
Could you live with a two-watch collection, and if so, what would your perfect pair look like? Let us know in the comments. More Rolex articles can be found here.