Temperatures are rising and for horology fans with money to burn, now is the perfect time to add a new piece to the collection. We’ve analyzed the market to provide some tips for finding the best luxury watches for summer.
Every year the watch industry sees a spike in sales around summer. Why? Well, people are generally happier, more optimistic, and certainly more capricious when the sun is shining. Holidays are often paid for and being taken in far-flung lands that perhaps offer the opportunity or inspiration to make a purchase that will forever remain indelibly linked to that perfect moment in time; and companies pump out new and often cheekily outlandish designs at this time of year to capitalize on their clientele’s seasonal wardrobe.
As discussed in this column before, luxury watchmaking has experienced something of a classical renaissance in the past 18 months, but there is scope for the bombastic design language of several years past to enjoy success in the summer months as wrists are freed from cuffs, and bronzed, bulging biceps demand a beefier beater than a tux ever would.
Big is Still Beautiful
Bare arms, casual wear on the lower half, trainers or flip flops, active days and hot temperatures all favour a larger timepiece made of a robust material like steel, titanium, or some kind of scratch-resistant polymer. One brand that I’ve always loved but struggled to wear with a suit is Panerai.
The Neuchatel-based brand is part of the Richemont group and has a growing range of in-house calibers that give their pieces far more provenance from a collectability standpoint. In addition to their ever-improving mechanics, the brand has an interesting history and a large group of diehard fanatics that keep the price of pre-loved Panerai watches high. Early models – especially those linked with the Italian Navy – are some of the best luxury watches for summer.
A Sign of the Times
This season has seen an obvious attempt by many luxury maisons to drop their entry-level price point to appeal to the next generation of watch aficionados – a generation that has, until this move, not been as willingly forthcoming as the industry might have hoped.
Appealing to the youth is essential and Panerai are a great brand to start with. The watches are large (which seems to the nascent buyer to indicate good quality) legible, relatively timeless for such an imposing piece (thanks to the respect harbored for the iconic case shape), and surprisingly good value for a watch of this caliber with an in-house movement.
The cheapest Panerai watches do not have in-house movements, and the price reflects that. Even though they are the cheapest, I would swerve those pieces in favor of the entry-level in-house movement. With functional water resistance (200m) and a super-legible dial that boasts excellent lume, the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio is a brilliant luxury watch for the summertime and retails around $6,000.
Looking for more? See our guide for selecting the best luxury watches for summer by attribute.
About the Author: Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.