Watches for Every Budget
Buying a watch can be a stressful affair - it’s a world full of large egos, technicalities and dodgy salesmen. It can also be a cracking investment if done right, and something you’ll grow to appreciate more and more over many generations. With a nod to the reality that not everybody can afford a luxury timepiece of the highest echelon (ie. the Rolex Daytona once owned by Paul Newman sold for $17.7 million USD) there’s a brand and style for just about everyone. Here are some subjective tips.
The big difference between a watch at this price point and higher is that it’s almost impossible to find a watch with automatic movement, a term which means it’s self-powered by kinetic movement, a delicate and complex detail that watch brands compete to perfect. Instead, cheaper range watches are quartz battery powered, with the battery needing to be changed occasionally. While in actual fact this means the accuracy might be even better, collectors tend to baulk at anything quartz - it goes against the spirit of old school horology. We suggest opting for something that’s less a ‘fashion watch’ (basically a mass-produced imitation of a more expensive watch) and opt for more simple and reliable pieces, like a Timex or a Casio.
The famed Seiko brand is a true value offering at this price point. Most live in the $500-$1000 price point, but you’re getting one of the world’s most reliable, unbreakable and versatile watches. There’s a reason so many watch collectors wear a Seiko as their daily beater - you get all the good stuff of a top watch Swiss brand (reputation, quality and automatic precision) without the hefty price tag. Another fun thing about a Seiko is the thriving customisation community - with a few tools and some YouTube tutorials, you can purchase pieces and customise the watch to your wildest whims. An honourable mention also goes to Hamilton, the iconic American brand, who make sturdy and high-quality pieces at a range of price points.
If you’re looking for something new, then you’ll start to be able to afford the entry tier of Swiss watch brands, quality names like Tag Heuer, Montblanc, Baume and Mercier and Longines. Be wary of assuming all watches will fit in your price point, as they all have inevitably higher priced ranges too, but there are a range of high quality and widely celebrated brands to reach for. If you’re looking for something a little quirky and fun, try the Ralph Lauren bear watch - it’s a playful option for the young at heart with a nice little history. Or, if you’re prepared to enter the (slightly scary) world of vintage watches, you might be able to nab a recent or not-so recent iteration of a top tier brand like Omega, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, or even some of the more affordable Rolex models (if you’re lucky).
While it’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on a watch, there’s still a lot of brands that are going to sit outside your ballpark (sorry!) - a Rolex diver, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, three of the most desired watches in the world, are all well outside of your reach still! However, there are some remarkable, beloved watches from cracking brands - our picks for versatility, quality and story are the Omega Speedmaster (the watch that went to the moon!) and many of the pilot watches from IWC. These are timeless pieces that will, if taken care of, hold their value for many many generations, passing down over generations without losing their appeal.