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Trend - Tool Watches… What’s the Big Appeal?

Trend Tool Watches… What’s the Big Appeal?

With on-the-go adventure taking prime space in the today’s lifestyles, we may have entered a new era of back-to-basic tool watches.

Years ago, a good mechanical watch was the utilitarian tool that everyone needed to accompany them in day-to-day life. Then quartz came in, solar-powered watches and even today’s smart watches — with the most accurate GPS options on the market available on the wrist. Still, for many adventure-seeking mountain climbers, hang gliders, paddle boarders, bikers and others, the essential tool is still a mechanical watch — one with an added function or two that is perfect for the task at hand. 

Today’s pervasive desire for ultimate experiences is the driving force behind the craze for tool watches, and top watch brands are complying — offering clean designs and simple functions that are as refreshing as getting back to nature and the basics.  Still, this all-killer, no-filler approach to watchmaking — offering just the tools one needs when rappelling down a mountain, for instance, leaves us wondering: what tools does one actually need when rappelling down that cliff? Pretty much, I would think, nerves of steel and some great rope. (Of course, I am not a mountain climber and doubt I ever would be. Hiking is way more my speed.) 

Montres-instruments : pourquoi cet engouement ?

Alpiner 4 Automatic © Alpina

So, then, what’s the big appeal about mechanical tool watches — pieces built for a specific purpose or task — and why are they in such hot demand? The answer is, of course, they fulfil a need. One doesn’t require 10 functions on a dive watch, for instance, just a good rotating bezel and dive counter. Same with a pilot’s watch; legibility is key there. So on and so forth. So why strap on a watch that overcomplicates the situation? 

Additionally, one of the nicest things about a simple mechanical watch is that unlike many of today’s gadgets and gizmos, it doesn’t rely on external sources of electricity or atomic power. It runs thanks to the complex system of wheels, gears, teeth and oil that comprise its soul. It is a somewhat soothing companion at the end of an adrenaline-filled adventure rush. 

Montres-instruments : pourquoi cet engouement ?

Avenger BlackBird 44 Black Titanium © Breitling

Because tool watches are often inspired by military watches, they are generally highly legible, accurate, and durable. As such, they exude an underlying sense of meaning and purposefulness — something many consumers search for in their lives. 

Another nice thing about a tool watch is its price. These watches don’t have to cost as much as the adventure you are embarking on. From affordable brands with watches that retail for less than $1,000, to brands in the $1,000–$5,000 price range, such as Oris, Tudor, Tutima, TAG Heuer, Breitling and Alpina — a good tool watch can be found without too much difficulty. Even at the higher end of the spectrum, brands such as Omega and Rolex deliver quality and function designed to go the distance. 

Montres-instruments : pourquoi cet engouement ?

Bell & Ross BRV2-94-Military-Beige © Bell & Ross

So, is there a downside to tool watches? Maybe. Maybe buying a watch with the “less is more” attitude means the average watch price is less than if one bought a watch choked with functions. Maybe focusing on such utilitarian timepieces — polar-opposites of the horological trend of wildly bold “just-because-we-can” space-age-like watches — impedes our imaginations, making us distrustful of 3D creativity. I don’t think so, though. I think there is plenty of room in the world for great horological masterpieces and for watches that deliver exactly what you need. No more. No less. 

Montres-instruments : pourquoi cet engouement ?

Oyster Perpetual Date Explorer 2 © Rolex




Established in 1883, Alpina is recongised as the inventor of the sports watch as we know it today, having presented its Alpina 4 model back in 1938.

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For Bell & Ross, each detail has a specific meaning and function: functionality is key, and minimalism – dispensing with superfluous ornamental details in favour of essential aspects – is vital.

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From humble family beginnings Breitling grew into a major player in the world of chronographs and aviation instruments. At the dawn of a new era, the brand is poised for a legendary future.

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