Our Favorite Summer Watches

Every year, the conversation begins anew. As the weather gets warmer, watch enthusiasts reach for the “summer watch.” But what is a summer watch, anyway? Can a watch have an inherent seasonality? If there are summer watches, are there also winter watches, or autumn watches? These are the existential questions that keep watch collectors up at night, frankly. While we might not have all the answers, we do have picks for our favorite summer watches, however we choose to define the term. 

Our editorial team weighs in on their favorite summer watches below, but we want to hear from you. What are you wearing this summer? Is it any different from what you wear at any other time of year? And how do you define a summer watch anyway? Let us know in the comments.

Zach Weiss 

Despite being a June baby, I hate the summer. It’s too hot, especially in NYC in August when the humidity really kicks in. The pavement radiates heat back up at you, and everything that never smelled good to begin with is much more potent. Let me tell you, the subways are worse than they’ve been at any point in my lifetime. I also walk a lot. I walk a few miles to the office and then home again in the evening, so comfort and sweat are on my mind. 

Because of this, I don’t think about my watches in terms of the season but rather straps, as they can make all the difference on a humid 90-degree day, which, for me, really means mil-straps. I don’t want to ruin my leather straps with sweat. I find bracelets uncomfortable at the best of times, but even more so in the Summer, and I can’t stand rubber. Luckily, most of my watches look great on mil-straps, and have no problem fitting them (weird lugs, small gaps, etc). That includes unexpected watches like my Grand Seiko SBGW277 and SBGA375, which look amazing on mil-straps despite their fancier leanings. 

The only other factor I consider for comfort is weight. I’ve professed my love for titanium in a few places before, but that love really is proven in the Summer. So, with my two requirements outlined, I’m now realizing that I indeed have a pretty perfect Summer watch: my Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein. It’s 40mm, titanium, comes on a velcro nylon strap, and has personality to spare. Also, my ADPT watches, but that feels a little self-promotional :-).

Zach Kazan 

When it comes to summer watches, my cup runneth over. How did this happen? I agree completely with what Zach wrote above: summer is the worst. I find heat and humidity unbearable, and am happy to keep my life perfectly climate controlled between Memorial Day and (more and more frequently) the tail end of September. 

But when I look at my watch box, I see summer watches everywhere. I didn’t seek these watches out to fill a summer watch void, and I never intended them to accompany me on any specific summer activity. I don’t even really like the beach. My favorite summer activity is taking the afternoon off and slinking into a movie theater seat to watch things explode, or CGI dinosaurs, or exploding CGI dinosaurs

The fact is, I enjoy color, and bright, vibrant colors are what we think of when we think of the summer watch, which has become something of a genre unto itself. The one watch, though, that really corresponds with my very aggressive popsicle intake this time of year, is the Seiko Orange Monster. 

Mine is the SRP311, which I wear on a Seiko rubber strap. This reference has a black bezel, which is, in my opinion, a more toned down look than the solid steel bezel that many associate with the Monster. You still get the shroud, and of course you still get the bright orange dial. This particular flavor of Monster is my personal favorite, but these come in a rainbow of dial variants and I think all are interesting and appropriate for the season. But there’s just something about that orange.

Truth be told, I don’t actually find myself wearing the Monster all that often these days. But it’s the rare watch in my collection that has some real personal meaning to me. An Orange Monster that I owned years ago was something of a gateway watch, leading me to the world of watch forums on the internet, and eventually collector communities on Instagram. I sold my first one a long time ago, but have owned others since, and no matter the exact reference, they always have a nostalgic pull and make me feel just a little bit better about this miserable, uncomfortable season we find ourselves in. And if a watch can take some of the sting out of these dog days, that’s powerful. 

Kat Shoulders 

Summer watches are my jam. Mostly because I gravitate towards dive watches in my collection as a whole. There’s a lot of warm months here in Tennessee, so it can be hot for a majority of the seasons, enter the summer watch. My favorite flavor of a summer watch is mostly a diver on a nato or rubber. Bonus points if the watch is a bright color. 

This year, my favorite summer watch is going to most definitely be the neo-vintage Tudor Submariner ref 79190 that I recently picked up from a Camera West event. The shade of blue screams the ocean to me and being land-locked here in Tennessee means I can day dream a bit about being on the ocean while I stare at my wrist throughout the day. Admittedly I haven’t really taken it off the bracelet that much yet, but the temps are starting to rise up here by the day so I have a feeling it’ll find a place on a green nato strap very soon. 

Summer watches are very much a thing to me. I personally like to wear all of my collection all year but there’s something nice about having a few that are my go-to’s during a specific season.  It’s a time of year I don’t feel as awkward wearing a big clunky dive watch if I wanted to because well…so many others are doing the same. I will say, the ultimate summer watch goes to the Seiko SKX 007/009 on their jubilee style bracelet. To me, that watch screams summer, the beach, a margarita, and good times. 


Chris Antzoulis 

“Summer watch” is one of those watch phrases that makes my eye twitch when I read it or hear it. I think it’s my natural disposition to be opposed to a rule, no matter how unofficial, that is limiting on what you can wear. It’s 2024, wear whatever you want all year long; as long as you’re comfortable and you like it, that’s all that matters. And please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective, but don’t spend your money on a watch with the intent of only wearing it for two or three months out of the year.  That being said, my disdain for fashion rules is easily outweighed by FOMO, so when we received the email asking to participate with our favorite summer watch in our collection my reaction was as bright and chipper as the watch I’m about to name. My bright red Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Dive (ref. BN0159-15x) is the watch that first comes to mind when someone asks me about a summer watch. 

I do wear this watch all year long, but when I think about the reasons why I bought it, it makes the most sense with life in the summer and why I love this watch. First of all, I love color, and this watch is fire engine red and stark white. It looks like a giant peppermint laying on the wrist. So, it can either blend into a loud ensemble, or be a diva in a more subdued getup. No matter what, it’s a fun watch to look at. But looks aren’t the only reason for the purchase. 

I also snapped this watch up because it’s both a capable dive watch, as well as an accurate and reliable solar-powered watch. I do have more expensive watches equally, if not more capable, of a dip in the pool, or swimming at the beach, but I’m one of those folks that just won’t risk it. It might sound silly, but I’m always nervous about the worst case scenario, and I’d rather lose a less expensive watch I can buy again, than a watch that took me months or years to save up for. And the fact that I never have to worry about setting the watch, or even replacing a battery, is icing on the cake, and apt for a lot of the running around I do when I take days off or go on little summer vacations. 


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The only thing I don’t like about the watch, aside from the 4:30 date window, is the original strap it came on. I haven’t worn the watch once on the supplied Citizen strap (I’m pretty sure I don’t even know where it is anymore). However, I found a “five-link” style bracelet made for it at Long Island Watch, and I ordered a red rubber strap as well, so I swap back and forth between those. 

Marc Levesque

When I think of summer, I think of swimming pools, barbecues, sleeveless shirts, vacations, beaches, and ask myself: what watch would go best with all of the above? A diver’s watch of course, but not just any run of the mill monochromatic dive watch. I am thinking of bold robust shapes and a liberal use of color. Something that screams sun’s out, guns out and hey check out that watch! That is why my choice for a fun summer watch is the Isotope Hydrium Revuelta Amarillo.

Isotope’s Hydrium has been around for some time now and it has had so many different iterations, however, this one may be their most bold. Its 40mm x 14.9mm may not be entirely cuff friendly, but who cares, cuffs are for the other seasons, this is summer. The deep yellow dial, raised chapter ring and goutte d’eau (water droplet) motif, really accentuate the playfulness of this timepiece. With contrasting black markings and hands, the time jumps out at you, so you are never late for the next cookout.

Brett Braley 

I’m not going to pretend that I’m a big fitness guy, but slowly and surely I’m finding myself exercising more (to both my surprise and my chagrin). While I haven’t fully integrated a smartwatch into my rotation, I’ve found this G-SHOCK GDB500-1 to be the bridge between what I want in a watch and (perhaps begrudgingly) what I need as a new gym-goer this Summer. Its slimmer design makes it a more comfortable fit on my wrist versus larger G-SHOCK models, which I’ve found a bit too heavy and distracting when working out. 

The Bluetooth capabilities with this watch also help to keep me on track – and move me into the 21st century. The step tracker meets my needs while the phone tracker is surprisingly useful when I’m rushing out the door for my tennis lesson (yes, I did join a tennis club because of Challengers). And with a 20-bar water resistance, this will definitely be packed for my upcoming beach trips to Mexico and South Carolina this Summer. 

Meg Tocci 

Did you catch some of the most recent lewks at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival? The 1980s are back, baby! And so are BBQs, pool parties, and a road trip or two. I found no better way to mark the intersection of those two realities than with a little addition to my watch box in the form of a Swatch Neon Hot Racer. This neon series is Swatch’s callback to one of their late 80s lines. While you can still find one of the originals on eBay if vintage is your vibe, I wanted to pick up something new for the summer. This cutie is only 34mm in diameter and four (yes, four!) millimeters thick. And she’s already captured hearts and minds at the local RedBar Denver meetup. 

Though I believe people can wear whatever watch they’d like whenever they’d like, I am very much in the “seasonal watch” camp. I think there are watches that just feel like summer when you put them on. I think summer watches should be colorful, practical, and not take themselves too seriously. I know that some will tout the necessity of high water resistance in the summer months (I’m guessing dive watches are going to be a popular theme of this editorial, and rightly so) but I don’t think this has to be a requirement for a good summer watch. But I do think whatever it lacks in WR it should make up for in price – this little Swatch cost me $120, which means I won’t fret if it accidentally sees some pool action this season.

Garrett Jones 

While many people are changing out a watch for summer weather, I’m swapping out almost every aspect of my daily carry. I take a more minimalistic approach rather than my typical “carry any and everything” mindset. First, I swap out my backpack for a messenger/shoulder bag. While backpacks are more comfortable, messenger bags force me to carry less gear, preventing the inevitably (and gross) phenomenon known as “back sweat.” My favorite bag in this style is the Saracen from Bedouin Foundry, due to it having just enough space for a small first aid kit, camera, and sunglasses.

Since I’m already slimming down my bag carry, I also like to swap out the items in my pockets. I firmly believe in never leaving my apartment without a knife, it’s arguably the most useful thing I carry. Following my mindset of “minimal but functional”, I reach for my Benchmade Bugout mini. The Bugout mini is my favorite summer blade due to its light weight (1.5 oz), liquid resistance Grivory scales, and compact size. Since this knife is small and light, I can carry it while wearing shorts without it flopping around every time I step.

Lastly, I find myself being outside longer/ more frequently after dark. While I carry a small flashlight daily ( Olight i1R 2 Pro, on my keychain), I like to add another flashlight in my pocket. While I’ve tested many different models over the years, I keep coming back to the Streamlight Micro Stream. This pocketable light runs on a single AAA battery, can be clipped onto a hat, and weighs 1.1 oz.  Over the years of owning this light, I’ve dropped, kicked, and thrown it, but it continues to work just as well as when I first got it.  Since it runs on a single AAA battery, I can always find a replacement battery at any bodega or corner store.

Griffin Bartsch

What’s my ideal summer watch? Well, it’s probably the one that’s been planted firmly on my wrist for the last few weeks — a vintage 36mm two-tone Rolex Datejust. Sure, summer is a great time for big orange dive watches, but it’s also a season filled with time on the water, days on the golf course, evenings around a campfire, happy hours at rooftop bars, sports, weddings, and beach days. It’s a season when things happen, and I want a watch that can handle it all.

The perfect summer watch has to be one that I could put on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and not take off again until after Labor Day. It has to be a subtle dress watch when I want it to be, and a robust sports watch when it needs to be. It has to be water resistant, braceleted, reasonably sized, and look great with everything. Summer is when we get out into the world, and I don’t want to waste a minute worrying about a leather strap on a hot day or whether my watch can survive an impromptu dip in the pool.

To me, nothing fits the bill better than a 36mm watch in an Oyster case. It doesn’t need to be a Datejust, or even a Rolex. I’d happily opt for the Tudor Black Bay 36 that Kyle so eloquently defended in Part II of the Tudor Thunderdome. Modern or vintage, Rolex or Tudor, the Oyster Perpetual recipe has proven itself over and over again, and the Datejust on my wrist is a great reminder that a watch doesn’t need to be brightly colored, water-resistant to ungodly depths, or laden with complication to earn a spot on my wrist this summer.

Tanner Tran

While I don’t subscribe to this school of thought, the idea of seasonal watches adds an element of fun to collecting. Like clothes, watches are ultimately avenues for self expression, and what you wear is a conscious choice that signals to everyone something about yourself. When I think of summer, I naturally think of beach vacations, sweltering heat (at least here in Texas), and fashion choices that center around practicality and carefreeness. And one watch comes most easily to mind: the Omega Ploprof. In all of its iterations over the years, it’s remained big, brash, and plain enjoyable despite its hardcore roots.

Widely known in the watch world but seldom seen, the Ploprof is so singular in its purpose – and design, by extension – that it is inherently limited in its appeal and use case, so to speak. But maybe that’s the secret. Versatility is about as close to an undisputed virtue as one gets when it comes to timepieces, and the Ploprof simply doesn’t have it (despite what Gianni Agnelli may have you think) like other watches do. It doesn’t compromise its design or aesthetic all that much and therefore is effectively relegated to casual use. It’s not the watch most can wear from the ocean to the office. It’s the one you wear while you lounge and watch the kids splash. Fiddle with the iconic bezel locking system and try to conceptualize how deep 1200 meters is. Forget the thought as you take another sip of a Paloma. It’s just a watch for fun. In other words, it’s summer.

Christoph McNeill 

What is my favorite summer watch? That’s an easy one for me, my Seiko SBDX001, more commonly known as the Marine Master 300, or MM300. A summer watch for me would be a watch that is more or less a “grab and go” piece that is easy to set the date and is one that I don’t have to worry about when I wear it. I don’t have to worry about getting it wet, or dirty, or baby it. As a collector of primarily vintage watches, for me it’s also got to be a modern watch for all the reasons just listed. It’s less about style and more about functionality.

When I think of a “summer watch”, I think of a watch I’ll be wearing on my days off (few and far between though they may be…) and when I’m on vacation. My favorite places to vacation would be somewhere tropical with warm beaches and warm water. The Seiko MM300 has all the prerequisite qualities and style in spades for any adventure. It is of course waterproof, so no worries when in the ocean or pool, or sweating in 90 degree/90% humidity weather in Puerto Rico. I can set it, strap it on and forget about it…until I need to know the time of course. Or, if I need to set the bezel to time a parking space, or a steak on the grill.

For the summertime weather, I almost always change the strap on my MM300 to an Isofrane rubber strap. First off, they look badass, and are the most comfortable straps out there. But it’s functional as well, as one would expect. It is of course water proof, but also it’s so easy to loosen the strap when it gets hot and my wrist gets a little swollen. Not to be confused with swole, as I’m not a gym rat! And in the summertime, I have to be ready to go from the beach to a swanky restaurant with my lovely and stylish wife right? The MM300 is right at home on my wrist while wearing a nice outfit in a fancy restaurant as it is getting wet and sandy in the surf. And for the summer days that I’m at home pulling weeds in the garden, the MM300 is up to that task as well!

Nathan Schultz

As a season, summer has a lot of pressure on it. After a gloomy winter and a rainy spring annually team up to beat us down, summer has the responsibility of bringing us back up. It does this with sunny skies, colorful foliage, and blue ocean waters ready to offer reprieve from the heat. In return, we change our wardrobes to welcome these bright new surroundings. Earthtone winter coats are traded for colorful t-shirts, and orange Crocs suddenly emerge from closets around the world. For watch collectors, this change in season offers an opportunity to bring a pop of color to our wrists capable of matching that orange Croc energy. Discussions of summer watches tend to focus on a playful use of color (bust out those summer watch bingo cards and find “bold”), and I’m certainly not immune to this seasonal embracement of eye-catching dials.

Watch enthusiasts offer bonus points if a watch pairs that jovial summer aesthetic with specs suited for the two most common summer activities: sweating and swimming. We favor small case sizes (who wants to wear a giant chunk of steel when it’s 100 degrees out?) and ample water resistance. I’ve lusted after no shortage of watches that offer this combination of color, size and specs including high dollar options such as the 38mm 1965 Oris Diver Heritage and the bold (BINGO!) dials in the 36mm Oyster Perpetual collection. But if any season calls for a beater watch that can accompany you on adventures with zero fear of scratches, it’s summer.


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For me, nothing checks the summer watch boxes better than the Seiko VH31 powered (high beat quartz movement) 36mm Addiesdive Deep Sea Hunter AD2030. I picked up the blue dial variant recently and am eager to put its value driven elegance to the test over the summer months. Let’s address the elephant in the room: you aren’t going to impress the snob in your group chat with a wrist shot of this blatant Grand Seiko homage readily available for less than $50 on AliExpress… but who cares? Just don’t invite them to join you on the beach as you enjoy the comfortable 36mm case, admire the polished second hand sweep across the textured dial and swim with full confidence provided by 100 meters of water resistance and a screw down crown.

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