What's a GADA watch?
In short, a GADA watch is a Go-Anywhere-Do-Anything timepiece. In other words, it's a piece that you can wear anywhere, at any time, that will fit every single occasion. The most important criterion of a GADA watch is its versatility.
Why do you need a GADA watch?
Here are the two main reasons why people buy GADA watches:
1- Saving Money
The first benefit of owning a GADA watch is that you won't need to buy several watches to accomplish different purposes. For example, instead of buying a dress watch, a casual watch, and a sports watch, you could simply buy a Seiko SARB035 and tick all these boxes.
2- Saving Time
As a mechanical watch collector, winding your piece and setting the time & date can be quite time-consuming. When you wear a different watch every day, there's simply no way that your power reserve will last long enough.
Instead, people get a GADA watch to avoid this inconvenience. By wearing the same watch for every occasion, your automatic movement will get enough power from your body's motion to keep on running indefinitely.
Now that you know what a GADA watch is, there's only one question left to answer: "What's the best GADA watch for me?".
To help you with this query, we built a list of the 7 best GADA watches, ranked from the cheapest to the most expensive. Enjoy!
1. Seiko SNK809
Topping off this list is the ubiquitous Seiko SNK809. This affordable GADA watch is the highest-selling Seiko out there, and it's easy to see why.
Being so affordable, the Seiko SNK809 is the perfect entrance into the watch collecting world. Not only is the SNK809 extremely versatile, but it also packs a lot of great components (in-house mechanical movement, Hardlex crystal, etc.)
This watch is often referred to as a "Strap Monster"; the SNK809 will look awesome on steel bracelets, nylon straps, and leather bands. This means you can dress it up quite easily with the right leather band, or simply sport a colorful NATO strap and hit the gym.
For this reason, I think the SNK809 is the perfect watch if you're looking for an everyday piece without breaking the bank. This one will be right at home both with casual wear or formal outfits (with the right strap).
2. Orient Symphony III
The Seiko SNK809 is great if you're on a tight budget, but the additional 80$ you put towards the Orient Symphony III will get you a lot. For instance, this polyvalent GADA watch has a reliable mechanical movement that can be hand-wound and hacked, two rare features on affordable pieces.
Another great addition over the SNK809 is the 50m water resistance. This rating means you can take your Symphony for a swim, adding a new meaning to the "Go anywhere" part of GADA.
What makes the Symphony III a proper GADA watch is its design. Indeed, this Orient has the minimalist styling that's usually associated with dress watches, but it doesn't skimp out on useful features. For instance, you get a date display and a minute-graded chapter ring.
Although it comes from the factory with a stainless steel bracelet, the Symphony III is very versatile when it comes to third-party straps. Paired with the dauphine hands, a leather strap will make this Orient as classy as any other dress watch.
On the other hand, the Orient Symphony III can also be dressed down quite easily for casual wear, as pictured above.
3. Seiko SARB033/035
As the price range increases, it's only natural to expect more from these GADA watches. The Seiko SARB033/035 doesn't disappoint; the flat sapphire crystal will be plenty scratch-resistant, no matter what you plan on doing with the watch.
Also, the in-house 6r15 caliber lodged inside the Seiko SARB is very accurate, reliable, and it offers hand-winding and hacking features. However, I must say that this movement starts to be a bit dated, but it's normal considering that the SARB was discontinued in 2018.
This also explains why the price range above isn't very accurate. Ever since it's been discontinued, the SARB's price keeps rising as suppliers empty their inventories. While I never suggest buying a watch as an investment, you can be pretty sure that your SARB won't go down in value over the years.
Another spec that keeps going up as the price range increases is the water resistance rating. With 100m WR, the Seiko SARB can be worn for recreational snorkeling, but not diving (especially considering that it uses a push-pull crown).
4. Sinn 556i
While Sinn wasn't on my radar for this "Best GADA watches" list, the 556i has been recommended way too many times for me to ignore. To me, the Sinn 556i's styling is very similar to the aforementioned Symphony 3 (minimalist, small date window, etc.).
Of course, being almost 10x as expensive as the Orient, the 556i has a level of finish that can't be replicated for cheap. The satin case is exquisite, the sapphire crystal is anti-reflective coated on both sides, and the bracelet is excellent.
Whereas the previous watches on this list needed a third-party strap to be dressed up or down, I think the Sinn 556i is extremely versatile with its OEM bracelet. This gorgeous piece will be at home while barbecuing by the pool or when pitching an idea at a business meeting.
Not only does it look good in almost any situation, but the Sinn 556i will also be an excellent conversation starter when running into other watch collectors. Enthusiasts won't usually notice your Rolex too much because they're so ubiquitous, but getting a Sinn is a clear statement that you're into watches.
5. Omega Seamaster AT
Omega Calibre 8900
AR-Coated Domed Sapphire
Omega is one of my favorite watchmakers because they sell great watches, and their prices are a bit less inflated than brands like Rolex. Selling below the $4,000 mark, you could say that the Aqua Terra is an entry-level Omega watch. However, it's filled with amazing components.
Another beloved component of the Seamaster Aqua Terra is the domed sapphire crystal. This gives a vintage vibe to the watch, but it still looks good by modern standards. Also, the anti-reflective treatment applied on both sides of the crystal greatly increases legibility under heavy lighting.
With its 150m water resistance, the Aqua Terra is just a few meters shy away from being a proper dive watch. However, I must admit that 150m is plenty for 90% of the targeted consumers, so I can look over the 200m WR gimmick.
6. Rolex Explorer
Rolex Calibre 3132
100m / 10 bar
The Rolex Explorer is undoubtedly the most popular high-end GADA watch. The first feature that makes this watch versatile is the indices/numerals layout. Indeed, the 3/6/9 o'clock numerals add some legibility to the dial without making it too casual.
We're used to seeing Arabic numerals on casual/sporty watch, whereas simple baton indices are reserved for dressy pieces. With this hybrid layout, the Rolex explorer gives you the best of both worlds.
Additionally, the bold font of the Arabic numerals allows for a thick layer of Chromalight lume, which makes for a very bright dial at night.
I also think that the Oystersteel (904l) case & bracelet are great for GADA purposes. Indeed, 904l stainless steel allows for a higher level of polish (making it classier) while also being more resistant to corrosion (great for sporty/outdoors purposes).
I must say that it's a bit annoying to spend over $6k on a watch an only get 100m of water resistance. However, it's easy to overlook this slight inconvenience knowing you get one of the most accurate mechanical movements in the game.
7. Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek 26-330 SC
$50,000 - $500,000
If you're spending more than the average U.S yearly income on a watch, you might as well be able to go anywhere and do anything with it. The Patek Philippe Nautilus is the best way to flaunt your wealth to watch enthusiasts whilst flying under the radar to the average Joe.
The reason why I put the Patek Nautilus in the GADA category is the same as every other watch on this list; it can be dressed up or down easily. The slim 8,3mm case, simple baton hands & indices, high-quality finish, all make it perfectly understated in a formal outfit.
On the other hand, the rugged stainless steel case, teak-patterned dial, porthole-shaped bezel, make it a truly viable option for casual wear.
It's a bit futile to talk about the specs of a $60k stainless steel watch because you obviously buy it for prestige rather than the actual components. However, I must say that the Caliber 26-330 SC is a bit underwhelming considering the small 45 hours power reserve.