Living in the Cayman Islands lends itself to an outdoor lifestyle. Therefore it is not surprising that rugged, sporty watches have pride of place in many watch collections and see quite a bit of use, especially over the weekend.
According to Denver Douglas of Island Companies, the group is uniquely positioned to provide a selection of rugged watches that range from fun and affordable to limited edition timepieces.
From Island Time, which carries the main high-end watch brands including the likes of Ulysse Nardin, Cuervo y Sobrinos and Oris, to Watch.Me which carries more fashion and sport brands including G-Shock, Nixon and Suunto, Island Companies has you covered regardless of what you want to see on your wrist.
Dive watches are the original rugged watches, and although originally designed to assist divers, these timepieces quickly jumped the paddock and went mainstream due to their technical nature and rugged looks.
With the advent of dive computers, very few divers still rely on dive watches for vital information, yet the market segment has never been more popular.
“People like dive watches because they are sporty, they have a great look, because that’s who they are saying they are when they’re wearing that watch,” says TJ Hendrix of Island Time.
“It’s like the pilot watches – who’s ever going to use a slide-rule?”
Denver echoes the sentiment. “You don’t have people using the watches for the purpose they were intended for.”
However, merely because you decide you want a watch that is rugged in looks and nature does not mean your choice will be limited, as there are exquisite timepieces by the top watch brands that fit the mould perfectly.
These days I find that a lot of customers are looking for something that they’re not going to see on everyone else’s wrist. So that’s what I think we offer very, very well – luxurious, technical or mechanical alternatives,” says TJ.
Of course, with a selection of top brands that people might not be intimately familiar with, and a depth of product that they might not otherwise encounter, the role of the salesperson becomes so much more important.
“You have to ask questions, be proactive, to help the customer get what they really want,” says TJ.
This means a salesperson needs to be very well versed in the brands and models in store in order to help a customer find the right watch for them. This is especially important when it comes to high-quality brands that might not be as well known, but would present the customer with a more unique watch that is a better expression of who they are without needing to blow their watch budget out of the water.
According to TJ, one of the most important components of the Island Companies shopping experience is the peace of mind assured by Island Companies’ 90 day global money back GOLD STAR guarantee.
“We are the only company in the Caribbean that offer that. Even if you buy it from an authorised dealer, most places in the Caribbean have a 10 day to two week return policy – most customers aren’t even necessarily going to be settled at home, aren’t even going to really have the opportunity to use their watch in that period of time,” says TJ.
“I think that we take fewer returns even with it than other places that have a less lenient returns policy. Maybe it is because our sales professionals are more trained and more knowledgeable and maybe more friendly – just more concerned about finding out what the customer really wants.”
Regardless of what you do in the great outdoors, it is unlikely that it will exceed the demands placed on a watch by the most elite Special Forces in the world, the US Navy SEALs.
Luminox made its name as a watch brand when the company designed the original Navy SEALs watch, and has continued to build on that reputation with models inspired by stealth aircraft like the Lockheed F117.
The key differentiator for the watch is the Luminox Light Technology, which is a self-powered lighting system that allows you to read the time even in complete darkness without the need for the luminescence to be charged by a light source or the need to press a button. And with luminescence that lasts for 25 years it is a timepiece made to stand up to whatever you can throw at it.
Available in Air, Sea and Land lines, the line has something to suit every taste.
Whether you are looking for a highly technical watch or an automatic timepiece, Tissot’s range offers a selection second to none. The innovative T-Touch series of watches feature a touch-screen in the form of a tactile sapphire crystal face which senses your body heat when you touch it, allowing you to change functions without need to fiddle with buttons. A watch like the Sea Touch is a perfect example of this high-tech approach.
Yet at the same time Tissot also creates timepieces like the Sea Star, a mechanical piece that brings to mind some of the best known dive watches ever created. From the sapphire crystal which means the glass won’t scratch, to the top quality materials used, Tissot has firmly established itself as one of the best starter Swiss brands, according to Denver. Combine this with a range of pieces that touch on many different price points and you have a brand that is well worth a look.
Although it might not be as well known as many other brands, Edox has a rich history and has undergone a resurgence over the last couple of years, quickly become a brand well worth taking notice of. According to TJ, the brand is very focused on details, creating watches that attract those who appreciate fine workmanship and a unique product. The brand offers a level of exclusivity that many of the bigger brands cannot offer, without the need to buy that exclusivity through stratospheric pricing, offering a luxurious alternative.
With a history in the railways, Hamilton became the first company with a contract to supply watches to the US military, doing so during WWI and WWII. The company also features an Air, Sea and Land range of watches that combine good looks with rugged features.
“I love that brand – Harrison Ford is the brand ambassador, and if Han Solo and Indiana Jones is telling you a watch is cool, most likely it is cool,” says TJ.
Founded in 1883, Alpina Genève is a Swiss manufacturer of accessibly priced luxury watches and is an independent company based in Geneva, Switzerland. Each watch is still hand-assembled in Switzerland by a team of skilled craftsmen and women.
Alpina is involved in all the stages of the production, from initial design of calibers to final assembly in Geneva. Through heavy investments in state-of-the-art digital machinery, each watch is assembled by hand for maximum quality and durability.
With an uncompromising passion for luxury sports and lifestyle timepieces, Alpina’s core value is “be a player” which encapsulates the active nature of the brand. The range features four collections - Pilot, Racing, Sailing and Diver.
As a company that started its life as the provider of marine chronometers for 28 different navies around the globe, it is not surprising that Ulysse Nardin produces timepieces of uncompromising accuracy and reliability. Their Marine line of watches, including the Marine Diver and the Marine Chronograph combine the exclusivity of Ulysse Nardin with the rugged appeal of a diver’s watch for an unmatched timepiece.
When it comes to the perfect weekend watch, few brands can compete with the G-Shock. Rugged, versatile, and above all affordable, these watches have carved a niche in the extreme sports category where the toughness speaks to a tough brand of athlete. Yet the watches are fashionable as well, with different designs and different colours, and with affordable pricing you can have match your watch to your activity and your outfit.