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It's not a particularly controversial notion that the iconic "tool watches" that have grown to be so famous have diverged pretty far from their original intended purpose. Like it or not, watches like the Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster are now being marketed as exclusive luxury items, made of precious stainless steel metal and boasting features borrowed from much higher end watches. These watches are noticeably different than their previous versions in terms of quality and intended purpose, and prices hikes have far outpaced the rate of inflation as a result.

So I thought it might be interesting to ask, what do you guys think are the spiritual successors to the original incarnations of these watches? Perhaps a utilitarian but well-made Marathon GSAR or Sinn? Or is it conceivable that if these companies had access to modern technology back then they would have made something closer to a G-shock or Luminox? Maybe something else entirely?

Note: this isn't intended to be an argument about what the one and only successor might be, just a discussion of various possibilities. Any historical insight to back up your choice would be interesting, too.
 

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That's the tough question to answer, but a fun one to ask.

I'd say that on a direct one to one sort of comparison - watches like Sinn, Ball, Marathon, even modern day Tudor are closest to the true successors of a Rolex or Omega of 30 years ago or so. Mostly because they're rugged, utilitarian, and cheap enough to replace, while still being an expensive, passionate purchase.

If you want to know what the guys who wore Rolexes and Omegas in the 50s, 60s and 70s would wear today - the Cousteaus and Hillarys and Scott Carpenters - I think the answer is almost undoubtedly something like a G-Shock or a Suunto Core.
 

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I don't know to many people who use their multi thousand dollar watch in the field for its intended "tool" purpose these days. I don't think watches are even needed as they were before the technical age. I guess if you don't mind scraping and dinging one of those you just don't care for watches like we do. Definitely GShock, Luminox, Citizen, Seiko, ect.. Basically a great watch that has the functions you need and don't mind beating up or replacing easily.
 

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Ironically, the closest modern equivalents to the original tool watches are probably the G-Shock or a well made water resistant quartz watch, i.e. Citizen. Like Rolex in its golden era, they are reliable, dependable, and still affordable for the average Joe without much financial sacrifice.

That said, they aren't mechanical watches, and there are many modern types of technology that fill the role watches once did, so it's also fair to say that there are no modern equivalents.
 

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If you want to know what the guys who wore Rolexes and Omegas in the 50s, 60s and 70s would wear today - the Cousteaus and Hillarys and Scott Carpenters - I think the answer is almost undoubtedly something like a G-Shock or a Suunto Core.
Yes I agree. The G-Shock and its kind are without doubt the modern tool watch.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You guys make some good points about the function first design mentality shared by both modern G-shocks and older tool watches. On the other hand, I don't think these tool watches of yesterday were ever intended to be disposable; they were well-constructed and had subdued designs that wouldn't quickly go out of style. Modern G-shocks and the like are not built to last too long, are quickly replaced by newer models, and often use outlandish colors and designs for a very in-the-moment look. Companies like Ball or Damasko may be making an outdated concept of the tool watch, but they do seem to be working towards building a legacy through lasting timepieces.

Which brings up another interesting question. If these companies succeed in creating lasting legacies, will they shift focus the way Rolex and Omega and the like have? What are the chances that in a few decades, people will be complaining about some of the latest diamond-studded Sinn monstrosities and lamenting how they've lost their way?
 

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Modern-day equivalents ... Yup, G-Shock. If you really prefer analog over digital, Citizen Eco-Drive. (Ironically, I've got one that can easily do double-duty as a very acceptable dress watch for formal occasions.)
 

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Tool watch for the future?

What about integrated HUB helmet and arm mounted "Computer"?

;-)
 

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I think notion of mechanical tool watches are romanticized in this day and age.

A real modern equivalent would be a Timex Ironman/G-shock DW-5600C/E. Both of which are flight approved by NASA for space missions.
 

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I think notion of mechanical tool watches are romanticized in this day and age.
Of course they are. Nowadays, practically everything with moving parts that isn't made out of flesh & blood is completely dependent on electricity/batteries. Nowadays if there was an EMP attack, in a few hours folks would panic and riot in the streets. A few short generations ago, that wouldn't have been the case. If you think a crack-addict's addiction is horribly crippling, it's nothing compared to the number of nations in the world in which everyone has become so incredibly dependent on electricity and battery-powered devices just to get through their normal day.

Mechanical watches often harken back to a simpler time. A time when the world wasn't so horribly addicted to everything that needs electricity or batteries just to perform basic tasks. Someone invented an electric can-opener, and it made them rich. I use a P-51 as my main can-opener. Someone invented shavers that only massage my whiskers instead of cutting them. I use a razor. Someone invented automated soap dispensers that have electronic sensors built in so you just put your hand underneath them and they dispense never-enough liquid soap. I use a bar of soap. Someone invented automatic sliding doors with sensors built into them. I just push or pull on a handle. When an elderly customer walked up to a door, a helpful employee or even the owner of the store would open the door for them. Someone invented quartz watches ...

Is it any wonder mechanical ones are romanticized?
 

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I think notion of mechanical tool watches are romanticized in this day and age.

A real modern equivalent would be a Timex Ironman/G-shock DW-5600C/E. Both of which are flight approved by NASA for space missions.
This++. Sinn, Damasko, et al are direct descendants of the old style tool watch, but are more based on traditional concepts of "tool" than actual tool-ish ness, their design and implementation are skeumorphisms if you will. I'm especially disappointed by the 44mm+ diameter, 16mm+ thickness watches which are supposed to be more toolish. For me, when I'm doing physical stuff, I'd prefer my watch to be sturdy, thin, and unobtrusive. Anybody who's tried to ski with a 16+mm chronometer on their wrist will appreciate the problems they cause.

For durability and reliability it's hard to beat the G-shock DW-5600C/E. If you're looking for a bit more elegance, I think some of the Citizen Eco-Drive and Casio Lineage/Edifice/Oceanus line would be far better suited for a tool watch than the oversized monsters called tool watches nowadays.

That said, I think Damasko, among the watch companies I put in the tool watch category, despite the creeping size increases in their recent releases, have kept well to the tool intent of their watches. Within the bounds of having a anachronistic mechanical movement, of course.
 
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How about the Tudor Pelagos, which is a no nonsense dive watch.

 

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... Like it or not, watches like the Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster are now being marketed as exclusive luxury items, made of precious stainless steel metal and boasting features borrowed from much higher end watches. These watches are noticeably different than their previous versions in terms of quality and intended purpose, and prices hikes have far outpaced the rate of inflation as a result....
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Here's a vintage Submariner advertisement(1964 @ $195 or $1471 in 2013), I would say the luxury diver watch is well build-in their DNA

The other arguability most successful luxury tool diver is AP Royal Oak(1972 @ $315 or around $1,762 in 2013)

The cheapest of the Ceramic sub today is the "ND", retailing around $7,500 and the AP Royal Oak at much higher price point.

:)
 

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^^ Great advertising from Rolex. I BUY IT!
I don't know. I was really enjoying the ad until it got insulting! What do they mean the ONE piece of scuba equipment I can wear 24 hours a day? What's wrong with my underwater camo wetsuit? How about my red cap and speedo? Clearly written by someone who doesn't know what real scuba is ;-)
 

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Here's a vintage Submariner advertisement(1964 @ $195 or $1471 in 2013), I would say the luxury diver watch is well build-in their DNA

The other arguability most successful luxury tool diver is AP Royal Oak(1972 @ $315 or around $1,762 in 2013)

The cheapest of the Ceramic sub today is the "ND", retailing around $7,500 and the AP Royal Oak at much higher price point.

:)
Not only do I like the price tag from 1964, I also like the price ratio. Assuming an affordable "underwater watch" (say a mechanical one) is $200 today, that would price the Rolex at $1000. Would totally buy a Rolex if that was the case.
 

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The TRUE spiritual successor of the 1st Rolex Submariner is...
















The Rolex Submariner 114060LN with ceramic bezel and 904L SS case and bracelet.
 
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