Oris Aquis Date 43mm – ~$1,000
To start with, I’m picking the Oris Aquis series replica watches. Despite not being a diver myself I still wanted a piece that can handle “gymming and swimming,” wouldn’t look out of place under a button down shirt in the average office environment, and that also gives that solid feel I like from a dive watch. The Oris Aquis sits perfectly between tool diver and dress diver—being a bit of a chunky beast, but with a partly polished case, stunning gradient blue dial and a ceramic bezel insert. For quite a while I assumed the 40mm version of the Aquis would be the best choice for me, but the 43mm diameter is perfect for my seven-inch wrist due to the fairly short lug-to-lug length.
For this slot in my three watch collection I’m also opting for the pre-revamp version. The beefier, squarer lugs and slightly larger crown guards are part of what makes the watch as desirable as it is, and while the new handset is probably a slight improvement on the old one, the departing version is the more appealing overall package in my eyes.
The non-standard lugs on the Aquis do limit the scope for aftermarket straps, but the quality and overall look of the bracelet is sufficiently good that I don’t think I would care about switching it out anyway. The thought of being a one-watch-guy sends shivers down my spine, but if I had to go down that route I could do a whole lot worse than this one. As this particular version has now been superseded, I would have to look to the used market and should be able to find one in good condition for a little over $1,000.
Nomos Club Campus – $1,950
My next choice would be something towards the other end of the spectrum. Something sub-40mm, slim and slightly dressy while still casual enough so as not to be consigned to suits only. Step forward the Nomos Club Campus. I’ve been a fan of the Club’s dial design for quite a while. When Nomos fake watches unveiled the Campus edition earlier this year it took me a while to get my head around. Firstly, the unusual interpretation of a California dial is a strange choice; normally the top half is Roman numerals and the lower half is Arabic. As with many Nomos watches, the marker or numeral at six o’clock is often sacrificed to make way for the seconds sub-dial. This, coupled with the alternating stick markers and numerals of the Club, means that there are only two hour markers left on the dial to be represented by a Roman numeral—yet despite this it still clearly appears to be a California dial. Furthermore, the general convention on watch dials is to use IIII to represent the number “4,” but Nomos have eschewed this in favor of IV creating an imbalance between the left and right side of the dial.
The bold red and black of the hands and indices of the regular Club are replaced here by silver framed hands and a pastel blue on all of the hour markers with a very fine outline in red. The only strong color comes from the red second hand, and that’s pretty small.
Somehow, instead of an accumulation of reasons to dislike it, all of these small quirks add up and create a really interesting watch for the wearer. I find that I really like watches that fly under the radar if someone catches a glimpse of my wrist, but I can really appreciate all of the design aspects when I look at it closely.
Rado Captain Cook Limited Edition – $1,900
My final choice is a tough one. One of the standout Rado replica watches unveiled at Baselworld earlier this year, the Rado Captain Cook Limited Edition is a faithful reissue of the original model from 1962. I always knew I wanted to include this watch here, but I was trying not to duplicate styles too much within just three watches. I’ve convinced myself that the low water resistance (only 100 meters), push-pull crown and leather strap make this a dive watch predominantly in name and aesthetics rather than specs and likely usage.
Rado have kept the 37mm diameter fake watches UK here which is pretty small for a diver by today’s standards. A much larger modernized version accompanies it in the newly released series, but the rich brown dial and over-pronounced arrow hour hand of the smaller LE version have me charmed.