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21 cool watches to keep secret


We’ve picked 21 of the best design-led watches that are understatedly cool

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Sally Ashley-Cound,

Tired of watches with diamanté details and hard-to-read numbers, those in the know have been turning to watches which are easy to see, smart, fuss-free and have been designed to be go under the radar of friends and co-workers.

With vintage styling such as stainless steel, crisp edges and brown-leather straps, many have the hard-wearing and sturdy feel of watches made in the 50s – with the designs of several directly inspired by models of that era.

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Nixon bases entire collections around flight watches and the dials found in cockpits – as in the Corporal above – but alongside its retro-inspired collections Nixon also has modern, streamlined watches which take the essence of vintage design, the quality and robustness, and update it for a modern customer: the Quad is a good example.

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Larsson & Jennings combines sleek Swedish style with British heritage colours, providing a talking point for any outfit without sacrificing elegant design, but those looking to travel higher on the radar go for brands they remember from when they were young, such as Casio, Swatch and Baby G.

These brands are recognising that while customers want to wear their watches, they need to be able to do so in the boardroom and office, not in the playground. So they’ve tailored their colour palate and design to suit. However, there are some designs that will never go away, such as the Casio F-91 and Braun’s Classic ceramic watch.

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