You are currently viewing The 5 Best 24 Hours Watches (2021 Buying Guide)

The 24 hours watch segment is a small niche in the horology world, but enthusiasts of these timepieces are usually very loyal and tend to collect exclusively these models.

Since the information about 24 hours watches is very scarce around the internet, it can be a bit tricky to know where to start collecting these peculiar timepieces.  

This article can be used as a buying guide for collectors who want to start out in the 24 hours watch world. I split the article into five price ranges, depending on your budget.

$0 - $200

Vostok Komandirskie

Vostok Komandirskie Front

In the sub 200$ range, most of the quality 24 hours watches available are made by Russian companies. Vostok is probably the most well-respected Russian brand in the industry because of its long history of manufacturing robust watches.

Considering Vostok's ties with the Russian army, the Komandirskie fits perfectly with the military/aviator background that is associated with 24 hours watches. 

Specs

Movement

Vostok 2431

Crystal

Acrylic

Water-Resistance

200m

Lume

Hands / Pips

Movement

One of the main reasons why the Komandirskie is so popular is because it uses an in-house Vostok movement, instead of a run-of-the-mill ETA or Chinese movement. The Vostok 2431 is a 31 jewels automatic caliber that is known for its robustness and reliability.

Unfortunately, the accuracy of the 2431 is good, not great. Also, the power reserve of this movement is only 31 hours, so you will have to set the day and date every time you put it on, unless you wear it every day.

Specs

Considering the small price of the Komandirskie, Vostok uses a slightly domed acrylic crystal. As you might know, acrylic crystals are almost unbreakable, but they are extremely easy to scratch. Fortunately, those scratches can easily be polished off.

Vostok Komandirskie laying on side

Thanks to the screw-down crown equipped on the Komandirskie, the water-resistance of the piece is 200m, which should be enough for amateur diving. This is a really cool feature for a watch this cheap that isn't necessarily built for diving purposes.

Lume lovers will be happy to hear that the Komandirskie's hands and hour pips are covered in a nice layer of luminous phosphorescent. I couldn't find the brand of lume used by Vostok, but it will glow as well as similarly priced Seiko watches. Take note that there are only 12 lume pips, so telling the time at night can be a bit of a guessing game.

Measurements

Case Diameter

41.5mm

Case Thickness

15mm

Lug-to-Lug Length

48mm

Lug Width

20mm

The case diameter of 41.5mm and the lug-to-lug length of 48mm are quite common measurements for watches in this category. The Komandirskie will look great on men with medium to large wrists (6.25'' and up). 

Vostok Komandirskie on wrist

What's out of the ordinary about this Vostok is the 15mm thickness, which is considered humongous for a medium-sized case like this one. Most men like the imposing presence of the Komandirskie on their wrist, but you shouldn't expect to wear it with a tight dress shirt.

Finally, the 20mm lug width is very common, so you will be able to find a replacement strap without a problem.

Design

Hour Marks

Even Numerals / Odd Indices

Bezel

Unidirectional Rotation

Crown

Large Screw-Down

Hands

Baton / Arrow

Case Back

Screw-Down Steel

24 Hours Layout

24 on Top

Vostok Komandirskie dial closeup

The Vostok Komandirskie is available in a plethora of models with different dial and band combinations. The dial can be grainy or sunburst depending on which model you choose. What I really like about this model is that the dial remains uncluttered for a 24 hours watch.

The Komandirskie's distinguishing feature is the enormous screw-down crown that sticks out at the 6 o'clock position, which is used to set the time and date. The rest of the watch is pretty normal: 60 minutes bezel, screw-down case back, and baton/arrow hands.

Runner-Up

Alpha Military Universal Time in hand

The Alpha Military Universal is the next best alternative to the Komandirskie. This Chinese watch is equipped with a 35 jewels automatic movement, a domed mineral crystal, and a 316L stainless steel case.

On the Military Universal, you also get a superb uncluttered dial, but the watch is even bulkier (43.5mm case, 51mm lug-to-lug, and 17mm thickness).

This Alpha is even cheaper than the Komandirskie, but the quality control isn't as good.

$200 - $500

Poljot Polar Bear 

Poljot Polar Bear Front

Poljot is another Russian brand that is well-known and well-respected in the watch world. The Polar Bear is one of their most popular watches because of its very unique styling. Technically, the Polar Bear has a 500 Euros MSRP, but you can find it for much less than that. 

Specs

Movement

Vostok 2423

Crystal

Sapphire

Water-Resistance

50m

Lume

None

Movement

Like the first watch on this list, the Polar Bear uses a Vostok movement. The 2423 is a bit more rustic than the 2421, in the sense that it can only be hand-wound, and uses 17 jewels instead of 31. This does come with a few benefits, such as the prolonged 42 hours power reserve and increased reliability.

The 2423 beats at the same low-frequency (19,800 bph) as the 2421 used in the Komandirskie.

Specs

The price increase in comparison with the Komandirskie can be noticed when looking at material quality. For example, the Polar Bear uses a very scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a high-quality leather strap.

Unfortunately, the Polar Bear doesn't use a screw-down crown, so the water-resistance is only 50m. Still, this will be enough for recreational swimming. This is to be expected since Poljot's history is related to space missions much more than diving, so I can't complain.

The Polar Bear's hands aren't coated with lume, so you can't expect to read time in a dark setting.

Measurements

Case Diameter

44mm

Case Thickness

12mm

Lug-to-Lug Length

49mm (est.)

Lug Width

22mm

Like almost every 24 hours watch available, the Polar Bear is a very bulky piece. The 44mm case diameter is much wider than the Komandirskie, but you might notice the 49mm lug-to-lug length is about the same for both watches.

Poljot Polar Bear on Wrist

This means the Polar Bear has a huge case-to-lugs ratio and it will look massive on your wrist. The curved lugs are 22mm apart, and the 12mm thickness of the case is considered thin in this category.

Design

Hour Marks

24 Arabic Numerals

Bezel

Compass

Crown

Signed Push-Pull

Hands

Syringe

Case Back

Steel w/ Planet Engraving

24 Hours Layout

24 on Top

The dial is really what makes the Polar Bear so special. The model presented in this article (PB002) has a dial filled to the brim with the 24 main timezones in the world. This is more of a fashion statement rather than a useful tool, as there's no GMT hand.

There is an Arabic numeral for every single hour of the day, which contributes even more to the cluttered look of the dial. This is a polarizing (pun intended) design choice as some collectors love filled dials, and some want as few information as possible.

Poljot Polar Bear Case BAck

The rest of the watch is packed with cool peculiar traits, such as the thick syringe hands, the engraved globe on the back, and the compass bezel. As was the case for the Komandirskie, the configuration places the 24th hour mark at the top of the dial.

Runner-Up

MR Jones Time Traveller front

Like the Polar Bear, the Mr. Jones Time Traveller is a fashion statement much more than it is a functional timepiece. This one pushes the design to the extreme, as it features only tiny hour indices to display the time.

The hands are shaped in different landmarks, so for example, someone living in new york will use the Statue of Liberty hand to figure out the time. Of course, the Time Traveller uses a 24 hours quartz movement.

The small 39mm case is perfect for men (or women) who's wrists are too small to wear a big piece like the Polar Bear. 

$500 - $1000

Automatically Slow 03

Automatically Slow 03 front

Every watch presented up until now is manufactured by a watchmaker with a long history. Conversely, Slow Watches is a very young microbrand that sold its first timepiece in 2013. This doesn't mean they make low-quality watches, as two of the four creators are Swiss designers.

For now, every single watch created by Slow uses a 24 hours mechanism, and has a very minimalist 1 hand design.

Specs

Movement

ETA 2893 Automatic

Crystal

Sapphire

Water-Resistance

100m

Lume

None

Movement

Of course, microbrands like Slow don't have the same producing capacities as multi-billion dollar companies like Seiko or Tissot, so they can't produce their own in-house movements. Still, the Automatically Slow 03 uses an ETA 2893 automatic caliber which is a well-respected Swiss-made movement.

Automatically Slow 03 case back

This movement operates at a medium frequency of 28,800 bph, uses 21 jewels and has a very respectable power reserve of 50 hours. ETA doesn't specify the precision of this caliber, but Slow Watches state a +- 1 to 2 minutes/month accuracy. 

Specs

The specs of the Automatically Slow 03 are up to standard with the industry for watches in this price range. The sapphire crystal is a must on a near-$1000 watch, and Slow doesn't disappoint here.

The 100m water-resistance, which is enough for swimming and snorkeling, is above average for dress watches so it's a nice bonus. Of course, with dress styling usually comes a lume-free dial, and such is the case for the Slow 03.

Measurements

Case Diameter

41mm

Case Thickness

7.6mm

Lug-to-Lug Length

47mm

Lug Width

22mm

The 41mm case diameter is medium-sized when compared to other timepieces, but it is considered big for a dress watch. Taking into consideration the 47mm lug-to-lug length, the Slow 03 is perfectly sized for men with wrists ranging from 6.25" to 7"+.

Automatically slow 03 on wrist

If those dimensions are a bit too big for your wrist, I encourage you to browse the Slow Watches website as they have plenty of 34mm and 38mm 24 hours watches.

Design

Hour Marks

24 Arabic Numerals

Bezel

Fixed Steel

Crown

Signed Push-Pull

Hands

Single Needle Hand

Case Back

Exhibition

24 Hours Layout

12 on Top

Slow Watches uses Arabic numerals for every hour mark to help a bit with legibility, as it isn't easy to tell time using the Slow 03. While every 24 hours watch is hard to read considering the crowded dial, the Slow 03 makes it even harder by using only one hand. 

Automatically Slow 03 laying on side

This design makes it easy to estimate the time, but you definitely won't be able to tell precisely what minute it is. This isn't a problem for me as I consider the Slow 03 to be a fashion piece more than a precise timekeeper.

The rest of the design is simple yet elegant: small push-pull crown at the 18 o'clock position, exhibition case back to peek through the ETA movement and 12th  hour mark situated at the top of the dial.

Runner-Up

Airnautic Early Bird Front

The Airnautic Early Bird is a really close second in this category because of its customizability. On the manufacturer's website, you can choose your bezel's color, the movement inside, and you can even choose between date or no date display.

The specs are pretty damn good for the relatively affordable price of the Early Bird, as you get 300m water-resistance, Super-Luminova lume and you can even get a COSC certified movement.

I placed this one in second place as I prefer uncluttered dials on 24 hours watches.

$1000 - $5000

Glycine Airman DC 4

Glycine Airman DC 4 front

It would be completely sacrilegious to write an article about 24 hours watches without mentioning the famous Glycine Airman. The Airman is the most sold model from the Glycine brand, a company that is a pioneer in pilot watchmaking.

The Airman is an extremely popular watch that has been in production since 1953, and you can now buy it with either a "contemporary" or vintage styling.

Specs

Movement

Glycine GL293

Crystal

Sapphire

Water-Resistance

200m

Lume

Super-Luminova Hands

Movement

The GL293 automatic caliber is the first in-house Swiss-made movement on the list, so it deserves some kudos for that. The word "in-house" might be contested by some, considering it is an almost unchanged ETA 2893  movement, with the exception of a few aesthetical tweaks.

Glycine Airman DC 4 case back

Still, it is a very smooth and accurate 21 jewels movement that beats at a frequency of 28,800 bph. Glycine's 42 hours estimate for the power reserve of the GL293 is much more conservative than ETA's 50 hours for the 2893.

Specs

While some people might doubt the usefulness of 200m water-resistance on a pilot watch, I think it's always nice to have the possibility to dive from your plane. Also, the sapphire crystal will help your watch remain unscathed even if you bump your Airman on the propeller on your way down.

The minutes and hours hands are coated with a nice application of Super-Luminova, which glows brightly and lasts a while. Additionally, the inside of the crystal has 3 layers of AR coating, so legibility under the sun is no problem.

Measurements

Case Diameter

42mm

Case Thickness

12.10mm

Lug-to-Lug Length

49mm (est.)

Lug Width

22mm

By now you should've realized that almost every pilot 24 hours watch is situated in the same size range. The 42mm case diameter / 49mm lug-to-lug looks best on medium to large-sized wrists (6.5'' and up).

Glycine Airman DC 4 on wrist

The case thickness is given very precisely at 12.10mm in Glycine's technical sheet. Also, the lug width is 22mm, but the strap that comes with the Airman DC 4 is pretty good so I don't necessarily recommend changing it.

Design

Hour Marks

24 Arabic Numerals

Bezel

Bidirectional Rotation

Crown

Signed Screw-Down

Hands

Brushed Dauphine

Case Back

Mineral Exhibition

24 Hours Layout

24 on Top

I chose the vintage version of the Glycine Airman since I'm a big history fan. The domed crystal, cyclops lens and general styling of the DC 4 all contribute to the old-school vibe of the piece.

Glycine Airman DC 4 laying on table

I find the dial to be quite uncluttered for a 24 hours watch, even though the 24 hours bezel gets a bit repetitive. The brushed dauphine hands, Arabic numerals and date display are all small, leaving a large sea of matte black on the rest of the dial. 

The bidirectionally rotating bezel and the pair of screw-down crowns are crisp and they will allow you to fidget away all day long.  Finally, the black nylon strap completes the vintage pilot look perfectly.

Runner-Up

Longines Heritage Avigation front

The Longines Heritage Avigation is another "throw-back" model in homage to a 1940's pilot watch. I placed it second since the 24 hours version isn't available from Longines's website anymore, so you'll have to buy it pre-owned.

This Swiss-made timepiece is equipped with a huge 47.5mm case that's 16.15mm thick and it uses Longines's in-house L704 automatic 24 hours caliber.

My favorite aspect of this watch is the big 3 o'clock crown that's shaped like a doorknob.

$5000+

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 front

Breitling's deep aviation history makes it the king of luxury 24 hours watch. With so many 24 hours Breitling watches to choose from, my decision landed on the Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute for its unique styling and rarity.

Specs

Movement

Venus 178

Crystal

Plexiglass

Water-Resistance

None

Lume

Tritium Hands

Movement

The Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute has been released in several variations and limited editions during the 20th century. My favorite model, and the one I chose for this list, is the REF: 809, which was around in the 1960s.

This model is equipped with the revered Venus 178 Caliber, which is a Swiss hand-wound movement that uses 17 jewels and has a 45 hours power reserve. Of course, it isn't as precise as 21st-century mechanical movements, but well-maintained Cosmonautes will be very reliable.

Specs

As is expected from a 1960's timepiece, the crystal used is made of plexiglass (plastic), so pre-owned examples will often have a nice patina, giving a true vintage look that can't be replicated. Back in the days, the technology didn't allow for much water-resistance, so the Cosmonaute is rated as "not water-resistant". This means you should be very careful around water as a small splash could be lethal if the gaskets are worn out.

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 laying on table

The hands of the Cosmonaute have tritium tubes, which is a phosphorous luminescent that's barely used anymore by watchmakers. You'll be lucky if your pre-owned example still glows, as this lume can easily deteriorate within a few decades.

Measurements

Case Diameter

41mm

Case Thickness

13mm

Lug-to-Lug Length

47mm (est.)

Lug Width

22mm

At this point, there's really nothing much more to say about the dimensions, as about every watch on this list measures almost the same thing. Even if 41mm is a size that fits almost everyone, some might still find it too small or too big.

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 on wrist

If you think a 41mm case is too small, you could instead get the Breitling Navitimer Chronograph GMT 46, and if you find the Cosmonaute too big, you could get the Breitling Navitimer 38. Just know that these two alternatives are not official 24 hours watches per se.

Design

Hour Marks

Even Arabic Numerals

Bezel

Rotating Slide Rule

Crown

Signed Push-Pull

Hands

Sword

Case Back

Signed Stainless Steel

24 Hours Layout

24 on Top

The styling of the watch is the main reason why you should buy a Navitimer Cosmonaute. As you probably noticed, the dial is extremely crowded, but this is what makes the charm of this Breitling. 

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 laying on table-2

Mathematic geeks will be pleased to find a rotating slide rule bezel, a minutes-to-hours chapter ring, and three chronograph subdials. I  can't elaborate too much in short article like this one, but this Youtube video will help you out with understanding all these scales and chronograph complications.

At the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions, you can find the two pusher buttons used to operate the chronograph subdials, and the signed push-pull crown used to set the time and date is situated at the 6 o'clock mark.

Runner-Up

Universal Geneve Aero-Compax front

The Universal Genève Aero-Compax is a great alternative to the Breitling if you want a chronograph with an uncluttered dial. This is also a Swiss timepiece from a very reputable watchmaker that was available in the 1960s.

Apart from the uncluttered dial, the specs are almost identical to the Navitimer Cosmonaute: it packs the same Venus 178 movement, 41mm case, and plexiglass crystal. 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Christian Muller

    Wow, I didn’t know there were so many different 24 hour watches! There are really some cool and unusual designs! For my taste, the dials on some models seem overloaded. I myself prefer the Tres 24 by Botta Design with its simple look and clean lines. I like it when the difference between day and night is color-coded on the 24-hour dial, as is also indicated here on some models.

  2. Kate

    Why on earth do so many 24-hour watches have a ‘24’ on the face whenthere is no such time as 2400 – it goes from 2359 to 0.

    1. James

      I completely agree! Seeing that on a watch face makes me immediately look somewhere else.

    2. STOG

      I presume you are smarter than the watch, so why does it matter?

      To answer your question specifically: Typically you will use 24:00 to signify the end of the day/shift, and 00:00 for the beginning of the day/shift.

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