It’s hard to leave your favorite timepiece behind when heading off on vacation, but the summer months present a few challenges for any watch. This article shares everything you need to know to make sure your watch stands up to the tests of your next adventure, whether you’re at the beach, relaxing poolside, or hiking in the mountains.
What sort of challenges do watches face on vacation?
Hot summer temperatures can pose a serious risk to your timepiece. If temperatures climb above the 100°F mark, mechanical watches, in particular, will struggle to perform accurately. The components in mechanical movements tend to expand in extreme heat, which is especially dangerous for the balance spring. Even the slightest change can have major impacts on the movement’s performance. Moreover, the lubricant that reduces friction between moving components reacts adversely to heat. High temperatures can alter the material’s viscosity and likewise cause deviations. Vintage watches are particularly susceptible to extreme temperatures. Modern manufacturers are increasingly turning to components made of special alloys and materials such as silicon, which are much less affected by temperature changes.
Moisture can also lead to problems for your timepiece. If your watch isn’t sufficiently protected against water – resistant to at least 100 m (328 ft or 10 bar) – you’re better off leaving it behind in your hotel room when going for a swim or whitewater rafting. Saltwater and freshwater impact timepieces in a similar manner; just make sure you rinse your watch with clean tap water after swimming in the ocean so salt crystals don’t form on the case. We don’t want to cause unnecessary worry, but we recommend having your watch’s water resistance checked regularly or at least before you head away to put your mind at ease.
It’s another story altogether when it comes to bands. Leather straps are not suitable for vacations that include water activities, as they tend to swell and become brittle from exposure to salt. The combination of sweat and sunscreen is not a good mix for leather, either. You’re better off changing out your leather band for a fabric variant such as a NATO or Zulu strap. These are much better suited to water and will give your timepiece a fresh summery look. Rubber straps are also ideal for vacations that involve plenty of water. Just be sure that the strap offers ample air circulation with holes and a textured underside. Metal bracelets should only be used if they have a quick adjustment feature. Your wrist will swell in the summer heat, and fixed metal bracelets often become uncomfortably snug.
Fine sand particles from the beach or dirt from trails likewise pose a threat to delicate timepieces. Both can get lodged under the crown, bezel, or chronograph push-pieces. The worst case scenario is if sand particles find their way inside the watch case and into the movement. If this happens, the watch will need to be taken to a certified watchmaker.
Top Watch Models for Vacation
The perfect vacation watch must be robust, water resistant, and able to withstand extreme temperatures. Mission Timer (EZM) and diving watches from the manufacturer Sinn Spezialuhren certainly fit the bill. The EZM 5, for example, is an ideal choice: It is made of saltwater-resistant submarine steel, features scratch-resistant sapphire glass, can withstand temperatures ranging from -49°F (-45°C) to 176°F (80°C), and is water-resistant to 2,000 m (6,560 ft or 200 bar). To top it all off, Sinn equips this watch with a dual time function, meaning you can quickly see both the local time and the time back home. What’s more, the rubber strap is available in a wide range of colors, including white, red, blue, or green.
You can’t go wrong with the Rolex Submariner. This iconic diving watch originally debuted in 1953 and is considered an absolute classic. Current editions come in stainless steel, gold, or a combination of the two. The watch is water resistant to 300 m (984 ft or 30 bar) and is extremely durable thanks to its blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock protection system, two of Rolex’s proprietary developments. Even the lubricant is developed in-house and meets the highest performance standards. The in-house caliber is COSC-certified, which speaks to the timepiece’s high level of precision.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is likewise water resistant to 300 m (984 ft or 30 bar). The traditional Swiss brand has been using silicon balance springs in their in-house calibers for many years now, leaving the movement impervious to magnetic fields and high temperatures. If you’re planning on decompression diving during your vacation, the Seamaster Diver 300M is the perfect choice, as it also features a helium escape valve. This watch is available in both men’s and women’s sizes and as a chronograph or classic three-hand model. You can choose between a stainless steel, gold, or two-tone case.
Looking for something less sporty? The NOMOS Ahoi may be more up your alley. The watch’s Bauhaus-inspired design features clean lines and an overall elegant look. You can choose between a blue, red, or white dial for a pop of color. Don’t be deceived by the Ahoi’s elegant exterior, however. This watch is water resistant to 200 m (656 ft or 20 bar) and is certainly up for a dive or two.
Besonders praktisch sind im Urlaub aber auch quarzbetriebene Sportuhren wie die Casio G-Shock oder die Timex BST.47. Diese Uhren sind nahezu unkaputtbar und warten mit nützlichen Features wie Stoppuhrfunktion, Ewigem Kalender, Wecker, Weltzeitfunktion oder Schrittzähler auf. Ein weiterer Vorteil: Diese Uhren sind meist deutlich günstiger als ihre mechanischen Kolleginnen.