Timex Q ($179)
Timex reached into its archives for a watch it made in the 1970s. The Q is for quartz, and while that might be a dirty word for watch snobs, on a summer watch, it translates to affordable and cheerful, not to mention durable. The 38-millimeter steel case is classic, conjuring dad, sideburns, and Kodachrome, while the woven steel band is comfortable even when the weather gets steamy. The blue and red 12-hour bezel rotates to provide a simple way to track a second time zone, should you be road tripping cross-country.
Garmin Instinct ($299)
The new Instinct is an affordable connected watch that provides training data, such as heart rate, elevation, distance, and speed, in addition to track-back navigation, for specific sports as varied as climbing, cycling, or kayaking. Its light, reinforced polymer case and soft silicone strap are comfortable on the wrist while still meeting the U.S. military’s standard for field use, including temperature tolerance and 100 meters of water resistance. Its battery life is better than that of most connected watches, lasting up to two weeks between charges so long as GPS isn’t used extensively. The Instinct is available in six summery colors, including flame red, sea foam, or my favorite, sunburst.
Bulova Oceanographer ($795)
Bulova’s dive watches, dating back to the 1960s, were all given the diabolical nickname Devil Diver, due to their 666-foot depth rating. For the new Oceanographer, the company dusted off a design from 1970, with a round steel case, bicolor timing ring, and those distinctive 3-D hour markers. The mechanical movement inside stays wound up as long as the watch is on your wrist, and with that devilish water resistance, there’s really no reason to take it off.
Farer Lander II ($1,425)
A colorful watch goes well with the more casual clothes of summer and few do it as well as the Farer Lander. When was the last time you saw a watch with a deep-teal dial like this one? It just begs to be paired with a faded T-shirt and a strong rum drink. That longer orange hand points to a 24-hour scale on the outside of the dial, allowing you to track a second time zone, useful for overseas sojourns. A subtle element: the crown is made of bronze, which will age to a green patina after years of wear.
Rado Captain Cook Automatic ($2,000)
Dive watches are perfect for summer, since you can ride them hard and put them away wet. They also evoke the beach, even if you’re playing on a weedy, mosquito-infested lake. Rado’s 1960s Captain Cook diver has been revived for a new century, retaining all the charm and modest size, but it’s been upgraded inside and out with a ceramic timing ring and an antimagnetic self-winding movement with 80 hours of power reserve. While green isn’t a color often seen on dive watches, it feels just right for the fleeting, verdant days of the season.