Thanks to the Internet, recreational watch collecting has really caught on in a big way. For decades there have been “insider” watch groups consisting of long-time, heavy-hitting collectors that meet regularly and discuss haute horlogerie.
Today, though, we are witnessing an all-new generation of young watch collectors who are ever more knowledgeable about watches and who meet regularly in cities around the world to talk about the watches they love. I’ve sat in on many collector group meetings, and find today’s collectors are a lively and engaging group that talk about not just the high-end of watchmaking, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the everyday watches they feel are the must-haves for their generation.
Here’s an inside-scoop of five watch brands that today’s new generation of collectors love.
Insiders appreciate Oris for its good Swiss quality watchmaking, its fairly affordable price, good looks, and the brand’s commitment to ocean conservation, supporting coral restoration and shark tagging. In terms of timepieces, the brand is all about retro styling in a modern manner, perfect for today’s watch lover. The Carl Brashear watch is a particular favorite, in part because it pays homage Navy hearo Brashear who was the first African American U.S. Navy Master Diver. Equally popular is the Aquis line, especially the Clipperton Limited Edition which benefits the Clipperton Expedition, a research project that studies the remote Clipperton Island to preserve its ecosystem and study the area’s shark migration patterns.
The sister brand to Rolex, Tudor was established in 1946 by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, whose intention was to offer the same high level of watchmaking expertise as the prestigious Rolex in a more approachable price range. The brand has a young, lively vibe to it, with collections inspired by motorcycles, sports car racing, and traditional military divers’ watches. Tudor’s Heritage line recalls the brand’s rich history but the most coveted collection is the Black Bay dive watches.
Started in Japan in the 1960s under the Seiko auspices, Grand Seiko differed from its parent company and focused on premium, mechanical-only watches. But it wasn’t until 2016 that Seiko spun Grand Seiko out as its own brand and Grand Seiko started making headway in the US market. Today’s collectors love the classic look of the watches, with nice detail and finishings. They also like the brand’s unique spring-drive movement that combines the force of a mechanical mainspring with a high-precision quartz caliber. Grand Seiko’s Heritage series remains a fan-favorite.
Founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892 and boasting a rich history of providing precision timepieces to the military, Hamilton Watch Company is now owned by the Swatch Group and its timepieces are made in Switzerland. The brand has been highly involved in aviation for more than a century, starting in 1926, when Admiral Richard E. Byrd became the first pilot to fly to the North Pole and used a Hamilton watch during his historic flight. Today, Hamilton works with a team of pilots to refine the form and function of their watches. In 2005, Hamilton became the sponsor of the Red Bull Air Races, an international race in which pilots must navigate through an obstacle course, making tight turns and dodging plyons (or “Air Gates”). The most popular Hamilton collection is the Khaki Aviation line of pilot watches, an equally sleek and practical timepiece.
Born under the Casio brand, Casio G-Shock watches are in hot demand thanks to their durability. In 1983 Casio’s chief engineer designed the first G-Shock, which could withstand a 32-foot (roughly three stories) drop onto a hard surface, was water-resistant up to 100 meters and had a 10-year battery life. The line has progressed over the years and now offers a host of great added functions while still maintaining its incredible endurance. Key lines here are the Frogman (which was built with crucial feedback from professional divers) and the rugged and high-utility Rangeman collection.