We’re already one quarter into the year, where things start to feel a little more settled. Things might not be drastically different from the past year or so. Still, we know one thing for sure, that time only advances forward with no intention of slowing down. We had a little tweak on the first few Lookbooks this year, where my teammate Zong Lie and I touched most on personal hot watches and strap selections to kickstart 2021. This March edition will continue this trend, highlighting something that’s arousing within the watch community recently. And that would be the heated topic of unisex watches. Surprisingly, this isn’t something new for me. The people over at Hodinkee (thank you) have had raised the issue of “why do we need to label watches with genders?” In early February, I came across the particular article (Second Opinions All Watches Should Be Unisex – And Here’s Whyby Hodinkee), and it nudged me once again on that how so accurate watches should not be categorized by gender. Therefore, I have decided to include my wife in this Lookbook, highlighting several unique gender-free watches that both of us would personally wear. Where her’s is mine and mine is hers. PS, you might be surprised by both our choices here.
Steinhart Ocean One 39 Green
The first watch was picked up by my beloved wife, and that both of us agreed that I made the cut was the Ocean one 39 with a green aluminum bezel. This Steinhart has always been mostly in my dive-watch stable as I am a dive watch fanatic and love the overall two-tone look. Although she did not catch on the watch bug, she’d love some great watch designs, and she picked the Ocean one 39 Green when asked.
Yes, it’s a dive watch that was initially scaled-down for men to fit the current trend on a “better size” market; the Ocean One 39 measures at 39mm (duh), 47mm lug to lug, and only at 12mm thick. With that sizing, it easily fits oh-so-well on my wife’s wrist and exudes some sportiness at that. She was intrigued by the nature of the dive watch built, which allows her to carry on her day while enabling her to pick up some appreciation for a nice Swiss-made mechanical dive watch.
She told me she’d like the watch because it has a green “ring” that contrasted well over the black dial. I’m there feeling that somehow she managed to get a little skin-deep in what I love about that timepiece too. Well, there goes my weekend beater, at least for a while.
Squale 50 ATMOS Onda Laguna – Gnomon Exclusive
The second one was a little no-brainer as it clads the same aesthetic theme as the Ocean One 39 Green. This time is the Squale 50 Atmos Onda Laguna with a reversed styling. Imbue with a vibrant green dial with wave texture as its Italian “Onda” moniker inferred, only to be contrasted by a steel bezel with de-bossed markers. When my significant saw this piece, she got love at first sight feeling, in all things horology related.
Both of us tried other 50 Atmos skin-divers in the past, never once nitpicking like being chunky on our wrists. Even when the paper states a 41mm wide case, the 50 Atmos collection had felt like 39mm through and through. And Seeing the iterations evolve progressively, the Onda Laguna was both of our favorites (as of now). The mesmerizing green dial with a certain depth due to its wave patterns was prominently engraved, elevated by a 3D bezel in glossy steel tone. Everything felt nicely in-place and well-executed. This was backed up by my significant as she strapped it on and starred at it for a while.
Everything seems so clearly defined, and it just looks so metro in a way thanks to the unique look on the Onda Laguna. Heck, once I personally get my hands on the latest Onda Rosa version, maybe soon. I would rock the Pinkish wave dial personally, too, even on its original white stingray-textured strap.
Sticking to the dive watch theme here, the Marathon MSAR Arctic made the cut of a gender-free tool watch. It comes with no surprise as each MSAR only runs at 36MM wide with lugs to lugs distance of 43mm. This specification would be equally popular with men and women. My wife loves this particular Marathon model. It features a stark white dial with a red second hand that sweeps mesmerizingly around.
If you realized by now that she has a habit of picking bright color dials with a few exceptions while acknowledging the medium-sized military diver be durable enough for her daily activities. Although it might felt chunky at first for her, as time goes and I assured her that its due to the requirement of a sturdy tool watch with the ever-presence light-show from the tritium gas tubes and Maraglo™ within, She enjoyed it even more now as she catches the orange-green “candy bars” within doing their work 24/7 just for her.
I had the opportunity to speak to Mitchell Wein sometime back. He’s the third generation of the family that runs the vaunted military watch brand. I’d remember him mentioning that the white dial Arctic MSAR was created with reasons apart from being super readable during daytime operations and prevent “snow blindness,” with the other being was to cater for the Canadian Rangers, including around 37% of them were women in mind. With that, the company demonstrates that even the purest military tool watches can be borderless for both genders. Well done, Marathon.
Seiko Dolce Steel Ref. SACM171
“Is that a ladies’ watch you’re wearing?” The reaction I got from her when rocking the 33.5mm Dolce Steel, and I assured her that it actually suites me likewise. Seiko knows a way or two when offering a watch that appeals to both gender, and this piece truly defines what a unisex watch should be. Since the early days where several Seiko dress watches were done in a smaller sizing like this, it never seems to be out of place for both men and women. This SACM171 carries the baton to this day. With that statement, I firmly believe many Seiko enthusiasts would share the same perspective with me without hesitation.
Although my wife has not tried my Dolce Steel, as she had her own Exceline Silver Ref. SWDL209, the Dolce Steel just look so elegant on my wrist and pretty sure will be equally sexy on her’s. It demonstrated what a fine dress watch should be – a mid-century look with a slim profile (5.3mm) and a simple time-only display. The Dolce Steel encapsulates Seiko’s philosophy of a clean dress watch. Like the Grand Seiko’s of the late 60s and 70s, the Dolce Steel exudes a robust and luxurious charm with its white textured dial that resembles the starlight dial from the Grand Seiko ref. 6145-8030. A true zen-vibe minimalist at its best.
There’s just something about the Marathon General Purpose Mechanical watch. Based on those 60s to 80s GG-W-113 field watches that the brand was famed for making for the US government, this military watch was meant to be robust for the military pilots. Initially coming in at 36mm, with the bulk upsize at 39mm, it lends itself sweetly in the unisex territory if either me or my significant wants to strap on a watch that’s thoroughly military influenced without feeling out of place. With the unique case design, mostly its “silo” shaped bezel that sloped seamlessly from the mid-case, the GPM differs from the other field watches.
As it was meant to be masculine back then, complying with the military standard, the overall aesthetics lends a little sport-chic that both men and women can enjoy wearing while not worrying when we go on our daily activities. I couldn’t help but enjoy the short horology engagement when I’m indulged in winding up the ETA 2801 caliber within. And since now we’re in 2021, where many of us felt that watches that are genderized felt like an old tale, this fully matte, overflowing tritium luminance and classic field watch had never been ever befitting for every woman who wants a piece of history with military essence.
Although my wife finds it a little too “quirky” with the design (its already more than 5 decades old), I would like to think this watch to be perceived as like we men can thread with svelte Cartier Tanks or other elegant vintage watches, then these might be those tool watches with great historical roots that are gender-free and inclusive for women, as such things go. As the saying goes, “watches should always be for everyone.”