Less is often more. And that applies particularly in the world of watches, where there’s frequently a distinct correlation between the abundance of adornment and lack of taste. So that’s why the best travelling companions on your wrist are often the simplest, and also why Geckota chose to trim back the Sea Hunter for a special edition that is known as the Slimline.
Unlike slimline tonic though, it’s an edifying complement - rather than a poor replacement - to the original. The Sea Hunter, as the name suggests, is a dive watch, but in Slimline guise, all the usual diving adornments are stripped down to something much simpler and more jewel-like. Gone is the moveable bezel, replaced by a polished fixed bezel, that frames a simple dial with no date to showcase the very essential nature of time.
A watch like this, in my view at least, actually looks better without the chunky metal bracelet that is normally a characteristic of dive watches, swapped here in favour of a simple leather strap that highlights the uncompromising simplicity of the design. Maybe that affects your ability to go diving with it, but - to be honest - how many people will actually do that?
Instead, the addition of a Winchester leather strap makes this a watch that can go anywhere and feel appropriate for every occasion, while still maintaining a distinct nod to its dive watch heritage.
The new Slimline came with me on a recent trip to Spain, travelling (as I usually do) by car, given that air travel these days seems to be about as enjoyable as a tooth extraction, with the sort of queues that only used to be seen when buying bread in Vladivostok at the height of the Cold War.
The journey began with a ferry journey from Dover to Calais (courtesy of DFDS Ferries, which provides a useful discount to members of the Guild of Motoring Writers). From there it was a gentle meander through France, taking in motorways as well as more rustic routes nationales through the heart of the countryside where it appears that time has stood still. By contrast, the route also took in the Boulevard Peripherique around Paris: the closest thing you’ll find to a race track on the road.
So a mixture of different routes and scenery showcased the sheer variety of French landscapes en route. The ability to enjoy a bit of everything is what makes the tapestry of life and road trips so rich, helped of course by the right car to drive. And of course, the right watch to come with you.
The Sea Hunter I took feels light and quite small on the wrist, to the point where you can forget that you’re wearing it. The Slimline is a watch for those who like their timepieces to be discreet, gliding under a cuff as seamlessly as a superyacht gliding into the harbour. And that’s exactly what you need when travelling around Europe on a busy schedule: a watch that fits seamlessly into your life.
It’s a long way down to Barcelona, with the sun-baked scenery of the south of France, redolent of olive oil and lavender, eventually giving way to the majestic foothills of the Pyrenees: the gateway to Spain. The road south becomes busier and in a way more exotic. Along with the relentless cavalcade of lorries and business travellers, you spot the occasional – often overloaded – car that is registered in Tunisia or Algeria or Morocco, making its way down to the ferry ports of southern Spain towards Africa.
It actually used to be a toll road from the border down to Barcelona, but in a rare example of the world getting cheaper, those toll booths have now been ripped out and it’s a free run down to the capital of Catalunya. Never make the mistake of calling this area of the world “Spain”…
I was staying in a small suburb of Barcelona called Sant Cugat, about half an hour away from the city centre with no traffic (which never happens, as this is truly a 24-hour city ).
Next to Sant Cugat is another suburb called Rubi, which is distinguished for two things. Firstly it has an amazing restaurant called Can Ferran, which is cheap and unpretentious, yet where the food is so good that it’s constantly frequented by celebrities and also FC Barcelona players: all of whom could afford to eat anywhere with a constellation of Michelin stars yet choose this unpretentious eatery time and time again.
The second thing that makes Rubi even more famous is that it’s the home of Siegfried and Silvia from www.watches83.com: perhaps the most eclectic and enjoyable second-hand watch store anywhere on the internet and any trip to this area is always a brilliant excuse to catch up with them.
They took us to another amazing place, this time in Sant Cugat, called Can Gula – which is a sort of cross between a market and a restaurant, with a stunning variety of tapas on offer. These range from Jamon to seared tuna, washed down with crisp local beer, velvety Rioja, and plenty of lively conversation. Naturally, much of that revolved around watches, with Siegfried keen to see the Slimline and comment on its vintage skindiver influences; like many of the watches for sale on his website.
He loved the honesty of its back-to-basics approach, with the minimalism of the design contrasting with the sunburst blue that fades from a bright azure into almost black: a bit like descending into the depths of the ocean.
It was a watch, we agreed, that managed to combine the best of both worlds: a classic look with the reliability of a modern Miyota 9039 automatic movement. To my eyes, the blue on a brown leather strap is the pick of the bunch, but there are other dial options too, including green, cream, and black. For those who love the look of a dive watch but don’t appreciate the chunkiness that comes with it, the Slimline might just be the answer. Having been thoroughly tested in the field out to Spain and back, it certainly looks the part in a Mediterranean summer as well.