I was very pleased to be asked by The Versatile Gent to contribute a piece on watches for $1500.
I run a service called The Tailored Watch, and at it’s heart it’s a watch finding service. If you want to buy a vintage watch, but aren’t comfortable navigating the treacherous online terrain of frankenwatches (watches with parts cannibalised from numerous other watches – like frankenstein’s monster) and dodgy dials – I can help you out. Or perhaps you’re getting a watch for the significant other in your life and can’t recall if their dream watch was a Blancpain or a Bell & Ross – I can help you out. Or even if you’d just like a bit of guidance and moral support before dropping a few months salary on a new watch – I’m there for you.
It’s more of a passion – a calling, rather than a business.
The majority of people getting in touch with me are looking for a ‘good’ watch somewhere between $1000 and $2500, people who are buying their first ‘serious’ watch or looking for a quality second piece to mix up their look a little.
In the world of fine mechanical watches this price range is usually considered at the cheaper end of the spectrum, in an industry where dropping 10k on a new steel watch isn’t unusual (let’s not get started on watches with gold, diamonds or exotic complications). But let’s be real, for the overwhelming majority of people, $1000 is a lot of money to spend on a watch, and I like to think one of my greatest strengths as a watch finder is that I’m not snobby about watches. Sure I appreciate quality, but I don’t think that $$$ equals quality (or vice versa).
There is some amazing quality, and value for money to be had at this end of the spectrum, especially if you open up your options and opt to buy second hand. To show you what I mean I’m going to show you three very different, very excellent automatic watches that are all available for under $1500.
The Sporty Watch
In the highly competitive ‘tool’ watch market (named because the watches have a practical, tool-like function, not because of the people who wear them) bigger is better. Well, bigger, tougher, deeper, and more bad ass. The Stowa pro-diver (designed for professional divers, mostly bought by desk divers), doesn’t fail to deliver on any of the above criteria. It’s a big watch, (though at 42mm wide and 15.6mm high it’s suitable for any size wrist) with some pretty serious technical specs; water resistant up to a whopping 1000m (and incorporating a Helium Escape valve to deal with all those pesky decompression gases) and a solid construction (it weighs almost 250 grams on a bracelet) that can take anything you throw at it. It’s powered by an uber-reliable Swiss automatic movement. And all this horological badassery comes in at around 900 bucks.
I’ve been raving about the German brand Nomos for ages now, I think they’re the best thing since sliced bratwurst (horologically speaking). They make a range of beautifully restrained, bauhaus inspired pieces, completely in house. And they don’t cost an arm and a leg. All their designs are quite formal and restrained – ideal for the role of a more dressy ‘suit and tie’ watch. You can’t really go wrong with any of their watches, though my pick is the excellent ‘Orion’ – a very slender wearing watch, with sexy curves and a classic look. In fact I love it so much i’ve broken my own rule; it weighs in at a little north of $1500 – prices start around $1800.
The Do-anything Watch
One of the common exercises in watch aficionado circles is the ‘only watch’ question. If you could only have one watch what would it be? For many people having more than one watch would be unusual. If you’re going to spend good money on a timepiece, you want it to be able to perform well with a suit and french cuffs, and also with a shorts and a t shirt. My pick would be the Sinn 556. This watch has a clean uncluttered black dial with white hands and indices, an unobtrusive date and a reasonably sized 38mm case. So that’s the do anything looks accounts for. It’s construction is equally as flexible, water resistant to 200m means it can easily handle the beach, antireflective sapphire crystal and satin finished steel case mean it will look good for years, and it’s powered by a super reliable Swiss movement. For maximum flexibility I’d wear it on a bracelet, and even then it comes in at under $1400.
So there you have it, three great value, great quality watches that won’t break the bank. I promise it’s a coincidence that they’re all German.