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Roamer Watches - The 5 Best Models from Exciting Swiss Brand

Posted on March 19 2021

Roamer Swiss Made Watches

Heritage.

Some watch companies have it and others don't.

There are plenty of companies that try and fake it, often to the point of absurdity. But there aren't many brands that can boast that they've produced watches for more than a century.

But Roamer can.

They're a Swiss brand that has 130 years of history. It began with six employees. Later they were measuring watch production in the millions.

They're still going strong. Their profile may not be as big as other Swiss names, but they're still here.

And they're still Swiss-made.

That's important because it's seen as a sign of quality and authenticity.

The 5 Best Swiss-Made Watches from Roamer


I have a soft spot for Roamer. I inherited a Roamer watch from a relative several years ago. It wasn't anything special. A simple three-handed mechanical piece.

I was the family watch geek, so the watch came to me.

It was quite attractive and had an obvious sentimental value. I wore it more than I would have done if I'd bought it for myself.

So I often check in with the brand. I like to see what they're up to. There are quite a few modern Roamer watches that don't appeal to me. But then there are these. My five favourites.

I'll get into the history of the company and discuss the build quality later. First, let's see the best watches that this Swiss heritage brand has to offer.

Roamer Searock Classic Automatic Watch

The Searock is Roamer's alternative to the Rolex Datejust or Omega Aqua Terra. It's an affordable Swiss-made automatic that ticks many of the same boxes as those better-known watches.

Although it's available in a few dial colours, classic black would be my choice. It's simple, elegant and highly versatile. This is a watch you can wear in most settings.

The black dial has a stunning sunray effect and benefits from the plain indices. The dauphine hands match and maintain that simple colour palette of black and silver.

There is a touch of colour - the tip of the second hand and the model name on the dial - but it's just a touch. The watch isn't colourful.

And that's what makes it so versatile. It's a mid-sized piece with a stainless steel bracelet. It will work as a tool watch or a dress watch. And a strap change will give you more options again.

Of course, unlike the Rolex and Omega, this watch doesn't have an in-house movement. That's to be expected in a watch costing one-tenth of the price of the others.

Instead, it has ETA's work-horse movement, the 2824-2. It's a Swiss-made automatic that you can see through the exhibition back.

This is where you should start with Roamer. With a classically styled Swiss-made automatic.

Roamer Searock Classic 210633 41 55 20

  
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Roamer Mecaline Pro Watch

The Roamer Mechaline Pro is a Swiss-made automatic that you can pick up for less than £300. There's a lot of watch here for the money. If you're after a Roamer - and you're on a tight budget - take a look at this model.

This watch wins for two reasons. It's Swiss-made and the dial is beautiful.

Let's get past those specs first. For three hundred bucks, you're getting a Swiss-made mechanical watch. In this case, that means an STP1-11 movement. It's like the ETA in the Searock.

With the sapphire crystal, 100M of water resistance and stainless steel bracelet, you're getting value for money.

But all that I actually see is the dial.

It has a wonderful barley grain guilloche pattern in the middle. There are a plain outer ring and a neat minute track too. It's eye-catching and elevates this piece above your standard dress watch.

Again, the colours are pared-down, although there is the addition of some numerals. So there is quite a lot going on, but the result is still restrained. It doesn't get over-complicated.

The case is more dressy than the Searock and creates a smart aesthetic.

If budget is a major factor, try the Mechaline Pro.

Roamer Mechaline Pro 953660-41-54-90

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Roamer Vanguard Chronograph Watch


A neat, uncluttered chronograph is a difficult design for watch manufacturers to pull-off. But Roamer does it well with the Vanguard. It has the functionality you'd expect and a delightful vintage style.

As much as I love a contrasting Panda dial layout, I'm also a fan of this understated design. With the Vanguard, the subdials match the dial colour and simplify a busy watch.

And that is where this watch succeeds. It could have numbers, with the subdials cutting into them. Instead, it has straightforward applied indices. The subdials are symmetrical and keep an orderly layout.

Only the date window breaks this symmetry, but it's partly matched by the model name on the opposite side.

I like it. There's no tachymeter or anything else intrusive. The colours are basic, making the blue hand very noticeable.

It's a very affordable watch, so the movement is quartz. But it's a reliable Swiss movement and ensures the watch can have those two important words at the foot of the dial.

The vintage-style is obvious in the case shaping. Particularly the lack of crown guards and the modest pushers. It complements the dial and adds to the vintage charm.

With a well-established brand like Roamer, it's nice to see that nod to history. The Vanguard name is familiar to fans of vintage Roamers and I like that they're still using it.

This is more flamboyant than the previous two models. But it is still comfortably sized, tasteful and just as affordable.


Roamer Vanguard Chrono II

  • 42mm Diameter
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Roamer Primeline Swiss Watch

The Roamer Primeline is a homage to the Rolex Day-Date. You can have the style favoured by presidents for a fraction of the price.

And it's still a Swiss-made automatic. Trust me, this is a great alternative to the iconic Rolex dress watch.

The Rolex has a distinctive design, more so with the fluted bezel models. It's that look that the Roamer imitates and I like that they've also gone with a colourful dial.

The deep green dial is stunning and faithfully recreates the aesthetic that has worked so well for Rolex. Once again, success comes from simplicity. There are two colours - green and silver.

They compliment the classic styling.

You see the green dial - how could you not - but it doesn't distract you from the clean lines of the case. And it doesn't draw you away from the watches main feature - the day display at 12 o'clock.

It shouldn't. This was a first when Rolex originally released their model in the 1950s. It's crucial to the design.

Roamer, following the Rolex DNA, has stuck to this layout. For me, it works.

The case is a little larger than I'd have liked. But the 42mm diameter is around the right size for most people. The movement is obviously Swiss-made and the quality is as you'd expect.

At £500 this is a real contender for the best affordable Rolex Day-Date alternative.

Roamer Primeline 981662-41-75-90

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Roamer Searock Pro Dive Watch

The Searock Pro is Roamers dive watch. It's chunkier than the previous models and is equipped with 200M water resistance.

It's a sports model that is more rugged than the Searock Classic. The substantial case is just over 44mm and has a barrel-style shape. There are no crown guards, so like a lot of the Roamer line, it has a vintage appeal.

The movement is ETA, and again this is a Swiss-made automatic. The hands and dial are reminiscent of Omega's Seamaster but the Roamer still has its own style.

And it is a stylish watch. Although there is nothing unique here. This watch is familiar. But I value that. It's a proven look that is popular with dive watch fans.

Taken as a whole, this is a pleasing piece. It's Swiss-made, functional and attractive.

The dive watch market is a tough space to compete in. So I can't claim that the Searock Pro represents the greatest value for money.

But if you're considering an entry-level Swiss automatic. Say, a Certina or Tissot. Then the Searock becomes a legitimate competitor.


Roamer Searock Pro 211633-41-54-20

  • 44.5mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


A History of Roamer Swiss Watches


Roamer is a true Swiss heritage brand.

Like many Swiss watch companies, Roamer has humble beginnings. It began as a small family run business and only later became the company that we know as Roamer.

It's a familiar story if you're interested in Swiss watchmaking. In this case, Fritz Meyer set up a small workshop in Solothurn, Switzerland. He employed six people.

Within half a dozen years he was employing ten times that number and the business continued to grow. Working with a partner - Johann Studeli - they began to produce complete watches.

They quickly expanded to a few hundred employees. Then began to exhibit their watches at prestigious watch fairs. Acquisitions followed. They acquired the brand name 'Roamer'. It had been registered in 1908 by a different company.

By 1923 the company could boast that it produced a million watches a year. A real milestone.

Further expansion was rapid and by the 1940s Roamer employed over 1000 workers. At this point, they were also able to produce their own cases and dials.

1955 saw the business clarify its branding. The company name was officially changed to Roamer. The name capitalised on the popularity of their most successful watch line.

It was around this time that they released the Anfibio model. A patented waterproof watch case that boosted the brand's reputation.

But like all Swiss watch manufacturers, the introduction of quartz watches caused a rethink and a refocus. Roamer chose to switch production to quartz models.

They survived when many other Swiss watchmakers didn't.



Roamer's fans had to wait until the early 2000s to see the brand reintroduce mechanical watches. And another ten years to celebrate 125 years of continuous watch production.

That's where I picked up the story.

Are Roamer Watches Any Good?


Roamer is an entry-level Swiss brand.

I've compared some of their watches to Rolex and Omega. But those luxury brands aren't their competitors.

I see Roamer competing with Tissot, Certina and Victorinox. They all make affordable Swiss-made quartz and mechanical watches. And each has its own interesting backstory.

These brands have inexpensive quartz models starting at a few hundred pounds. Their best mechanical models tend to be nearer £1000.

In this market, Roamer has the quality and specifications that I'd expect. They use similar movements to their competitors. Often they all use the same Swiss-made ETA engines.

The other features are also comparable. Roamer has decent water resistance where appropriate and uses sapphire crystals.

Admittedly, they're not as well known as Tissot and Certina, but they produce similar products at a similar price.

They're good watches. Not noticeably better than other Swiss-made brands. But no worse either.

Conclusion


Roamer has two main selling points.

They're Swiss-made and they're a brand with history.

I'm a fan of watchmakers with history. Particularly, when they have a history of innovation.

Roamer ticks those boxes. They have innovation and over 130 years of experience. Importantly, they aren't a revived brand. They survived the quartz crisis by adapting.

It's great that they've made a return to making mechanical watches. It's where the real craft of watchmaking is most evident. And it's where Roamer is strongest.

Their movements aren't built in-house and I wouldn't expect them to be. Instead, they use reliable Swiss-made ETA movements.

That makes for an interesting brand. Swiss-made, innovative and consistent. They also have a tendency to mirror the designs of popular luxury watches. And I'm a big fan of affordable alternatives to the big brands.

I've highlighted models that remind me of Rolex and Omega.

Have a look yourself and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Does the Roamer Primeline really make an inexpensive replacement for a Rolex Day-Date?

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