What is a good entry-level luxury watch to buy?
This is a very good question, and I find it asked often. But before giving an answer, we should make a little excursus into about what “luxury” is.
I have seen around many definitions - each one has his own - and price levels associated with what we call “luxury”. And also, one man’s luxury could be another man’s cheap, of course, especially if we take into consideration the fact that Quora is read around the world, and there is a distinct difference about what a typical worker can buy in - let’s say, Chattanooga or Hyderabad with his salary.
So, I would try to establish some objective categories related with watches, based on industry data. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, in his reports, uses several price categories to define watches.
Less than 200 CHF
From 200 to 500 CHF
500 to 3.000 CHF
More than 3.000 CHF
I want to remember that the CHF and the USD have substantially the same value.
If we examine them, we see that fashion watches lie inside the categories 1 and 2, affordable mechanicals and automatics are in the 2nd category (but we have some in the 1st as well), and then we have categories 3 and 4, which we could call “affordable luxury” and “true luxury” automatics.
Even if there are some available, in this answer I will not consider luxury quartzes.
Using that scale, it comes out that our “affordable luxury” timepieces fall into this range - possibly starting around the 1.000 CHF value, to differentiate them better from the good-quality ones. And well, with that kind of money you can buy some impressive stuff in this price range.
Another important fact is that if you want to buy a second-wrist one (which I would personally recommend), you would end up with much more watch power on your wrist. But still, I have focused my answer on some models that you can buy straight away in every official retailer.
So, here follow some very good choices I happened to see lately (1st quarter 2018). Please note that, given the extremely dynamic state of the watch industry, you could find something better quite soon. So, be sure to check early.
Tissot Chemin des Tourelles Squelette
The Tissot T-Complication Squelette is a modern, yet refined-looking timepiece blending tradition and fashion. It is a true skeleton watch, mounting a solid, customized and decorated ETA 6497 movement, with sapphire glass and back, mechanical stunner from a very respected maison. And at a price of around 2.000 USD for the stainless steel version with alligator wristband, it’s almost a steal.
Baume et Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10436
This watch markes the debut of the Baumatic movement, a new engine prepared by the Richemont R&D department, which sports some impressive capabilities: 5-day power reserve and COSC certification as Chronometer, between the others. Baume et Mercier are making a comeback in style. And at around 3.000 USD, this watch is a keeper. Expect to find it on sale around September 2018.
Longines Master Collection 42mm Blue Dial Automatic L28934926
You can’t go wrong with Longines - and the Master Collection is a timeless classic which will never lose its charm and value. I find it extremely refined in this blue dial and stainless steel bracelet. It mounts a caliber Caliber 619/888, which is a modified ETA A31.L01 - 21 jewels, power reserve 65 hours, and almost at Chronometer specs. You could find it around 2.250 USD.
Nomos Glashutte Tangente 38
If you want a manufacture movement, a quintessential Bauhaus style, and superb German workmanship at a price of around 2.000 USD, you should search no more - the Tangente has it all. The Alpha movement is Nomos’ standard, featuring many in-house innovations, and the style is superbly minimal.
I wanted to add this regarding one of my faves at this moment: Oris
Oris Divers Sixty-Five Bronze Bezel
This is an amazing piece of horology, at a price that fits the budget of lots of people. It is a real diver watch (100 meters water resistant), with that lovely vintage looks, enhanced by the subtle metal lining on the bezel. It is available in 36 or 40 mm versions, at around 2,000 USD.
So, what I would buy?
If I had to buy one, I would personally go with the Baume et Mercier. This movement looks terrific, on specs. But let’s say I would certainly be tempted by every one of the others as well - they are gorgeous timepieces, which are bound to raise some interest between the watch people, and for sure, you cannot go wrong with them.
---by Franz Rivoira, Watch expert and project manager. The Watchonomicon on FB
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