The “perfect” beater

Some time ago, I did an article looking at “beaters” and what I considered my favourite. Following the recent “Just Five” watches article, I received a number of different requests suggesting that I consider adding a “beater” to my five as a watch that I could wear every day.

It is certainly true that my “Just Five” watches are ones that, plausibly, I would not want to wear every day. So, to reconsider the theme, I am going to evaluate a “Just Five Beaters” view.

To re-state my three rules of the beater;

  • Reliable
  • Cheap enough not to worry about
  • Interesting to look at

Ignore Rule 3 to your peril. A beater needs to be very interesting. There needs to be a twist to a good beater. Ignoring this third rule has been a big mistake for me in the past. It is also the reason that I have had so many “beaters” over the years. In terms of wrist-hours, my “beater” will tend to get more hours on my wrist than most of my watches. It is, therefore, not just important that the watch is interesting, it is absolutely essential.

So, without much ado, I will look at what I would consider my five beaters.

In a departure from normal, I am going to look at both Rolex and Patek Philippe within this category as in many ways Rolex lends itself very well to the task. My first two “beaters” would be the Submariner 16610LV and the 14060.

Both watches are obviously very reliable. Both are fine in a swimming pool as well as under a cuff (just). I am going to pass on the “cheapness” angle as both have appreciated quite a lot in recent years. Are they interesting to wear? Well, if you like the look of the Submariner, these two tick the boxes. I like the Submariner “look” and appreciate the fact that these two do NOT have the thickness of the lugs of the modern Subs. Also, I am less of a fan of the new ceramic inserts. Just too shiny for me.

Very few Submariners are rare. But both of these are what I would describe as “Rolex rare.” The Ref. 14060M with the Long F script can still be found but there are few and far between. The First series Ref. 11610LV are also readily available, but at an increasingly eye-watering price. As beaters, they are both firmly on my list.

A smart collector once said that vintage Rolex is all about the colour. The GMT exemplifies this very well. One could pick any number of possible GMT beaters.

One could easily have edged to the Ref. 16700 GMT Master or the 16710 GMT Stick Dial as possible GMT beaters. The Ref. 1675 would also be a distinct possibility. However, there is just something about the GMT Ref. 16760 “Fat Lady” that wins me over. Finding one in good condition with B&P is a challenge. The watch definitely gets a spot in my “Beater Five.”

Patek Philippe do not really make beaters in the true sense of the word. The watches are simply too refined as a rule. I do not see the Nautilus as a daily beater. I can see why many view the Ref. 5711A or Ref. 5712A as daily beaters. I can see that and indeed the Ref. 5712A has spent a lot of time on my wrist this year in just that role. However, if I was selecting a watch that would be my only beater, would it be either of those Nautilus? No. In terms of sporty chic, they are both more chic than sporty for this purpose. I would, however, most definitely pick one of these:

The Aquanaut Ref. 5167A is, for me, the Patek Philippe sports watch. Highly reliable. The finishing and movement on this watch is a big step up from any other “sports watch” in a similar arena. Also, when I look down at my wrist, I see a watch that I like the look of. It interests me a great deal. Also, as a big bonus, I don’t look like a used car salesman wearing one. Having said this, I will note this about the Ref. 5167A, and that is that it gets a lot of criticism from collectors who have never worn it.

Another observation that I have is that amongst a lot of sophisticated Patek Philippe collectors, and by this I mean collectors who own a lot of Patek Philippe watches and have experienced a great deal of different Patek Philippe watches on their wrist and who have spent the time researching, thinking about and understanding the manufacturer, there is a theme with the Ref. 5167A. These collectors all seem to “love” their Aquanauts. It is their understanding and breadth of experience of the manufacturer that allows them this. To me, the Ref. 5167A is a very cool watch that would work very well as a daily beater.

My fifth selection would be in a similar shape.

Ref. 5168G – I could never get bored looking at this dial

Many would say that the Ref. 5168G is too similar in appearnce to the Ref. 5167A to include it on a “Five Beaters” list. I agree if the purpose of this exercise was to own all five of these beaters. The aim, really, is to give a list of five from which I would pick just one.

Which one would that be?

It gets hard to pick just one. If I was pushed, I would say that I could narrow the list to the Rolex 16610LV and the Patek Philippe 5167A. Both would work very well as a watch to add to my “Just Five” watches list.

Just one?

Every day? Yes.