We’re deep into the heart of summer, and most definitely the heat of it, and if you’re like us, that tan line on your wrist from wearing a watch all summer long in the sun is getting quite noticeable. It’s the time of year when rubber straps become a necessity, loud dial colors are acceptable and encouraged, and you’re getting ready to set that “out of office” and head away on a new adventure. What better way to celebrate our love of watches and summer wrist tan lines than to discuss our most favorite summer watch complications!
First up (and definitely the most obvious and well-known in the lineup) is the diving bezel. There’s arguably no more hallmark feature of a dive watch than the rotating bezel. Originally introduced in 1953 by Rolex, Zodiac, and Blancpain, the rotating dive bezel was a product of necessity. As the sport of scuba diving became popular in the 1950s, divers needed a way to track their time spent underwater, leading to the creation of the external rotating dive bezel.
Image Source Beaverbrooks.com
Traditionally, to use a rotating dive bezel, the user would align the luminescent pip to the minute hand at the time of their descent. This would allow a diver to know exactly what time they went under the water so that they could keep up with how much oxygen they have remaining in their tanks. As the minute hand progresses, it will display how much time has elapsed since their descent. This is also a key reason that in order for a watch to be an ISO Certified dive watch, it must have either a unidirectional bezel or if bidirectional, the bezel must have a locking function. As a diver relying on their bezel to showcase how much more oxygen they have, you wouldn’t want to accidentally knock the bezel and move the pip forward, making you think you have more oxygen than you actually do. Needless to say, bad things would happen.
And while sporty, dive bezel watches contribute to the majority of watches produced globally, the reality is that most of us don’t actually use our dive bezels for much more than a fidget spinner (guilty!). But if you’re looking for a great excuse to justify a new dive watch purchase by selling yourself on its practicality as a necessity, I find that dive bezels make great timers for sunscreen application if you’re more fair-skinned and trying not to burn on the beach.
Image Source OMEGA
Speaking of diving, there is a lesser-known but I’d say far more interesting complication that is perfect for summer, the Apnea. In its most simplified form, the Apnea complication is essentially a short chronograph, measuring just a few minutes at a time- 7 minutes to be exact and was originally created for free divers to track how long they had been underwater while attempting to reach historic new depths.
While there may be a few ways this can be displayed, my favorite comes with the OMEGA Seamaster Apnea Diver 300 which features a modular 3601 chronograph. Produced to honor French skin diver James Mayol, the dial features seven cutouts, each representing one elapsed minute. Underneath, there is a bi-colored wheel (white and red) that rotates to show the elapsed time. When starting the timing function, the rings will fill with red as each minute passes. At James’ peak, he could hold his breath underwater for just over 5 minutes, leading the OMEGA Apnea to utilize a seven-minute counter. Needless to say, those old records have been far surpassed, with the current one at an unbelievable 24 minutes 37 seconds.
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Another unique and interesting complication that screams summer also happens to be a chronograph - the Regatta. A feature developed in the 1960s, the Regatta features a 5-minute chronograph counter to assist yacht sailing competitors while getting into starting position as crossing the starting line too early would lead to severe penalties, and crossing too late is an obvious disadvantage. There are a lot of external factors to take into consideration by these racers far before the race starts which makes this sport incredibly fascinating. Check out how the five-minute chronograph works here.
Image Source Rolex
Last but certainly not least in the “Summer Complications” roundup - the GMT. Created in 1954 by Rolex in collaboration with Pan American Airways, the complication quickly became popular among pilots and world travelers as global travel skyrocketed. So of course, there was no way that the GMT would miss our list of summer must-have complications! While the complication has evolved over the years with different types of displays (check out our article comparing two very common methods here) in its most basic form, the dial utilizes an additional hour hand that corresponds to a 24-hour indication, allowing its user to track both local and “home” time on one watch.
Image Source Rolex
And while many business professionals choose to use this complication responsibly, tracking their home time zone and their office time zone, this writer chooses to put the GMT to much better use. Always set to some faraway beach destination, I can sit at my desk and glance at what time it is on the beach and wish I were there!
No matter what watch or complication you decide to vacation with this summer, be sure to pack your patience as we’ve all seen those airport disasters recently. But hey! You’re on summer holiday and have all the time in the world at your disposal! Be sure to explore our collection of watch pouches for the journey ahead!