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The 8 Best Watches with Crown at 4 o'clock (A Buyers Guide)

Posted on January 23 2021

4 o'clock Crown Watches

 

The traditional position for the crown of a watch is at 3 o’clock. It’s no coincidence that this is also the default position for the date window. It’s a natural choice for a right-handed person with a watch on their left wrist.

When wearing a shirt or suit that is the first part of the watch that you see. It makes sense that the crown should be accessible and the date window visible without pulling the cuff up enough to display the full watch.

It’s easy to peek at the date or quickly adjust the time.

But not all watch manufacturers use the standard position.

Why Do Some Watches Have a Crown at 4 o’clock?


The logic for repositioning the crown to 4 o’clock is also pretty simple and was adopted initially by dive watch manufacturers.

  • The 4 o’clock crown doesn’t dig into the back of your hand
  • It’s less likely to catch on obstacles when diving
  • It’s more ergonomic and makes adjusting the time easier
  • The overall width of a large diving watch is reduced

Of course, this design feature hasn’t just been adopted by dive watch companies. Other’s use this style too.

Which Watch Manufacturers Position the Crown at 4 o’clock?


A lot of watch manufacturers have experimented with the 4 o’clock crown positioning, but it hasn’t been widely adopted. German watchmakers Sinn regularly employ it as do Swiss-made Squale.

On this blog, I’m more interested in affordable brands. Fortunately, this is where most of the choice is for this style of watch. The big Japanese names - Seiko, Citizen and Orient - all make these watches.

And some North American brands - namely Bertucci and Momentum - have the 4 o’clock crown as an integral part of the watches DNA.

The Best 8 Watches with a 4 o’clock Crown


The graphics in this post feature Seiko’s popular SKX007 model. It’s an iconic design, and often the first watch people think of when they picture a dive watch with this crown positioning.

Although now discontinued, it’s part of a larger Seiko design ethos. Indeed, the Seiko 5 collection includes almost exclusively, watches with an off-centre crown. I’ve highlighted this collection elsewhere, so in this piece, I want to focus on less well-known models.

I will, however, kick off my list of best affordable examples with a Seiko 5 watch.

 

Seiko 5 SRPE57K1

 

The Seiko 5 line of watches were designed with value for money in mind.

The concept is relatively simple - well made and affordable mechanical watches, with the design emphasis on a young demographic.

What this has meant in practical terms, is a series of watches built with Japanese in-house movements and often taking design cues from other, more expensive, Seiko designs.

First launched in 1963, the Seiko 5 line had very clear specifications. Five features each watch should have. Still in use today, the suggested attributes are:

  • An Automatic Movement
  • Day/date displayed in a single window
  • Water resistance
  • Crown at the 4 o’clock position
  • Durable case and bracelet

With that in mind, this model is a well made functional watch, designed to provide good value for money.

Stylistically, it lies somewhere in the middle of the Seiko range of dress and dive watches. The 40mm case is similar to the SKX007, as are the hands and hour markers. There’s no rotating bezel and the gold accents suggest an elegance that you don’t normally find on sports watches.

So this isn’t marketed as a dive watch - the 100M water resistance being a confirmation. It comes equipped with Seiko’s own Hardlex crystal and is powered by their in-house calibre 4R36 automatic movement.

It’s a really attractive watch that takes design cues from Seiko’s most successful divers but softens the look with a more refined aesthetic.

Seiko 5 SRPE57K1

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Orient Triton Bronze Watch

 

It was inevitable that I’d include an Orient watch in this list - Orient and Seiko are two Japanese brands that are are linked, but compete in the same space.

Where Seiko had their entry-level divers, Orient has its popular Mako collection. Where Seiko have the very affordable Seiko 5 line, so Orient has their version - the TriStar line that I discussed here.

Stylistically, the Triton has some similar features to the Seiko - the case shape is almost identical and the spot hour markers are close too.

Despite the case similarities, there’s little that is shared when judged broadly. The Triton has a beautiful chrome coloured case and this has been paired with a deep green dial and bezel - the splash of orange adding further flair.

Technically, it is a superior watch - it has a comparable Orient automatic movement but improved water resistance of 200M and a sapphire crystal.

It’s a very well made piece with great colouring. There’s a slight military vibe, although I’d be wearing this as a sports watch. It’s both wider and thicker than the Seiko and has a 22mm Nato canvas strap - easy to swap out if you fancy a change.

Orient Triton RA-AC0K04E10B

  • 43.5mm Diameter
  • 12.8mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



MWC Depthmaster Dive Watch

 

MWC stands for Military Watch Company.

As an Authorised Dealer I’m a little biased towards this Swiss brand. They’re primarily known for producing classic military watches, from the British Army G10 to their remakes of US watches from the Vietnam era.

The Depthmaster is a more recent offering and part of their extensive Divers range. This particular variant is at the top of the specs they produce. The design is more spartan than the Orient with the MWC aimed much more at the deep-sea diving market.

The 4 o’clock crown feels right on this specialist dive watch. It works well with the heavy-duty case, bold numerals and simple bezel. This looks like a watch that was built as a work-horse.

There are a Seiko NH35A movement, a sapphire crystal and a whopping 1000M of water resistance - there’s also a helium escape valve - the type used on watches provided to saturation divers.

The case is thick and heavy. The depth is 15mm and the width 44mm. Like most MWC watches this model is delivered with an easily replaceable canvas Nato strap. The ceramic bezel is a nice touch, as is the neat date window at 4 o’clock.

This is not a desk diver. This is the real thing.

MWC Depthmaster

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 



Momentum Flatline Watch

 

Momentum is a Canadian watch brand created by the St. Moritz Watch Corp. Their watch collections have a strong emphasis on rugged models designed for the outdoors. They produce field, divers and some dress watches.

For the most part, their watches have a recognisable house style, often featuring the 4 o’clock crown that we're interested in.

The Flatline is among my favourite Momentum watches.

The case is 42mm. That suits me better than the 44mm of the Depthmaster. It has a dial that more than hints at aviation and military influences - like the MWC this gives the impression of a watch designed as a tool.

The brand suggests that this model is equally at home “trekking in the Himalayas or surfing off the coast of Vancouver Island”. It’s not a watch that I considered in my piece on Surf watches, but I’m sure that it would be up to the job.

My preference would be to retain its primary role as a field watch with a military feel.

It has a simple dial, red accents and a handy date window that shows three dates. It’s conservative and functional. At 9mm it is also reasonably thin, so will be fine with shirt cuffs if you wear the same watch for work and play.

Momentum Flatline 1M-SP18BS0

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 9mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Quartz Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Invicta Pro Diver Watch

 

Invicta - it’s Latin for invincible - is an American company with a large range of both quartz and mechanical watches. They’re usually powered by Japanese movements, although on occasion, they’ll use Swiss made.

The company is now American owned.

But Invicta can trace its roots to Switzerland during the late 1880s. Its corporate headquarters are in Switzerland along with its customer service centre and its current president, who is a third-generation watchmaker, is Swiss.

The company's products are based largely around a stable of divers watches. They are functional sports watches with features you would expect. Decent water resistance, rotating bezels, screw-down crowns and the like.

The brand is renowned for high spec watches at an affordable price, and this Pro Diver is no exception.

At 47mm it’s a bit of a monster. It’s also 16mm thick. With the Seiko automatic movement that makes for a substantial watch - it’s large enough for size to be a dealbreaker.

If the size doesn’t put you off then you can expect a lot of watch for your money. As well as the reliable automatic movement there is also a sapphire crystal and 200M of water resistance. All for a little over £100.

The watch itself is bold, with a quirky asymmetrical case and nice colour palette. There’s also a cyclops lens over the date window which is a nice touch.

If you like heavy-duty watches, take a closer look at the Invicta.

Invicta Pro Diver 30412

  • 47mm Diameter
  • 16mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Bertucci Gamekeeper Watch

 

Bertucci burst onto the watch scene with the 2004 release of the A-2T, their bestselling titanium field watch. From there the company released a series of similar styles, all sharing key attributes, including a 4 o’clock crown.

The guiding principle for Bertucci was to make a watch for a customer who only wanted one watch.

In the company’s literature, they state that this one watch “would need to possess the qualities of durability, value, a singularity of purpose, and versatility. Designed to balance form and function, to be equally rugged and refined”.

In practice, this means that there's a consistency to the Bertucci range. This single purpose has, like Momentum, lead to a very strong house style.

Central to this is their signature Unibody case design. It's a comfortable case with fixed strap bars designed with durability in mind. The strap pins can't be knocked loose as they are part of the case. As noted, the crown is placed at 4 for comfort and to avoid damage.

The Gamekeeper is fairly typical of a Bertucci watch. It has their Polycarbonate case, water-resistance and plenty of lume. It’s designed to be worn outdoors. They emphasise that the lume doesn’t need a button pressed, presumably a dig at rivals Timex.

In keeping with this ethos, the American made strap is a one-piece leather Nato style. Importantly, it is waterproof, abrasion-resistant and has had a non-reflective surface treatment.

It bears repeating. This is a watch built to excel in the field.

Bertucci Gamekeeper 13382

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Polycarbonate Case
  • Quartz Movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance



Fossil Aeroflite Watch

 

Fossil is another young company, this time founded in the mid-1980s.

The Fossil Group owns a handful of other brands with Zodiac Watches probably being of most interest to watch fans. As a watch manufacturer, they also produce watches for a selection of household names including, Burberry, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors and Adidas.

Although positioned as a fashion watch brand they do have design studios in Biel, Switzerland and manufacturing facilities in China.

The Aeroflite probably isn’t the type of watch you picture when thinking of Fossil. It’s a well-designed aviation piece quite similar to the Momentum and unlike the fashion designs you’re more likely to associate with the brand.

This is a very affordable quartz model, with a 44mm stainless steel case. With the 22mm bracelet, it’s a relatively chunky piece. The dial is basic and highly legible, as to be expected with a pilots watch, and there are no distracting colours.

What’s apparent is that most of the watches that feature a 4 o’clock crown have been built as tool watches and the Aeroflite is no exception.

Again, we have a rugged and stylish watch built for the active man.

Fossil Aeroflite AM4562

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz Movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Citizen Armor Watch

 

The final watch that I want to highlight is from Citizen, one of the giants of the watch industry.

This Japanese manufacturer markets its own comprehensive range of watches as well as producing movements for other watch companies.

Although originally created in Switzerland in 1930, the aim of Citizen from its inception was to sell watches to the Japanese market. After an initial transfer of technology from Switzerland, the company then took over existing watchmaking facilities in Japan.

But for watches marketed under the Citizen brand, the Eco-Drive technology is probably the term that you’re most familiar with. The Armor, like most Citizens, utilizes this feature.

The concept of Eco-Drive watches is simple. The watch movements are designed to convert both natural and artificial light into energy to power the watch. Initially developed in the 1970s, this technology has allowed Citizen to produce watches that never need a battery change.

The Armor is a quirky piece with an unconventional angular case. I suspect the crown positioning on this model is more for aesthetic considerations than for ergonomics. Either way, it works for me.

In addition, the specs are good. The case is titanium and therefore significantly lighter than stainless steel. It also gives the watch a darker, more subdued appearance.

There’s a sapphire crystal, and of course, an Eco-drive movement that negates the need for batteries and the subsequent replacements.

In a list dominated by tough rugged watches, this is actually one of the most robust, albeit with a style that doesn’t make this obvious.

Citizen Armor AW1660-51H

  • 41mm Diameter
  • Titanium Case
  • Eco-Drive Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


The 4 o’clock crown is a simple feature.

The thought behind the design suggests that this positioning is more comfortable on the wrist and more practical when wearing a watch in environments where it may get bumped.

An added bonus is that the style has a quirky, off-centre look that many watch fans find appealing.

Interestingly, this style of watch case seems to be more popular among affordable watch manufacturers than the iconic luxury brands.

In this list, I’ve highlighted what I believe are the best affordable examples. Watches that are well-designed, stylish and represent good value for money. The styles vary, although there is a noticeable slant towards rugged tool watches.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Which other models have I missed?

Let me know in a comment below.

 

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