“Bargain” is a highly-relative concept in an industry where $2,500 is sometimes considered entry level. Even so, cheap chic exists in regards to timepieces, at least if you know where to dig. For this holiday season, we asked six influential watch bloggers to unearth the ultimate envy-inducing timepiece for less than $1,000. Here are their picks.
Stephen Pulvirent, managing editor, Hodinkee
Autodromo Group B
Brand: A Brooklyn watchmaker inspired by classic midcentury European sports cars.
Model: The titanium capsule evokes the storied rally cars of the early 1980s, including the Lancia 037 and Peugeot 205 T16.
Wow Factor: “I honestly think this is one of the best buys in modern watchmaking. It’s superslim, the combination steel-titanium construction keeps it lightweight, and it has a sort of industrial feel that makes me feel comfortable beating it up a bit. It’s a design-guy’s sports watch.”
Ian Skellern, a founder of Quill & Pad
Brand: An independent Swiss company known for envelope-pushing design and customization.
Model: Instead of hands, time is represented by rotating rings that reveal the hour, minute and second at the traditional 12 o’clock position.
Wow Factor: “If you think you have as much chance of finding a unicorn as a high-quality, Swiss-made watch with eye-catching design and easy customization for under $500, check out the Klok-01 by Klokers. The real magic is that you can quickly swap straps and watches using the patented quick-release dock, so that your accessories complement your mood and social context.”
Price: from $430
Ariel Adams, Founder of aBlogtoWatch
Mr. Jones Watches, the Accurate
Brand: A whimsical British company known for playful, often inscrutable, pop art dials.
Model: Based on the medieval memento mori, the watch offers a sobering message, “Remember you will die,” across its hands, along with a mirrored dial to remind its wearer that life is fleeting.
Wow Factor: “This boutique London-based watchmaker offers expressive, artistic watches at accessible prices normally associated with much more boring products. The Accurate, for example, entertains the form of a daily-wear watch, but with a message that reminds people not to sweat the small stuff and focus on the important things in life, such as actually living.”
Price: about $180
Zach Weiss, Executive Editor, Worn & Wound
Baltic Bicompax 001
Brand: This Parisian newcomer specializes in 1940s-style timepieces assembled in France.
Model: The “neo-vintage” design features a two-register chronograph, column-wheel movement and a calfskin strap.
Wow Factor: “A near-perfect example of why affordable watches can be great. Based on 1940s step-cased chronographs, the 38 millimeter case exudes vintage style while their dials exhibit a restraint typically found in Patek Philippe Calatravas.”
Price: about $630
Matt Hranek, founder, The William Brown Project
Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch
Brand: A Los Angeles start-up inspired by nautical gauges and pocket watches from the early 1900s.
Model: A 42-millimeter sport watch that features a mechanical movement, a sapphire crystal and case back, and a hand-painted dial.
Wow Factor: “Weiss was trained in Swiss watchmaking techniques, and honed his craft with Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. He then set up shop in Los Angeles to make a watch exclusively on American soil. I love the white numbers, indexes, simple black dial and the nod to military styling.”
Frank Geelan, founder, Monochrome
Brand: It’s Timex. Duh.
Model: A reissue of a “Mad Men”-era classic, it features midcentury styling, retro sizing and a hand-wound mechanical movement.
Wow Factor: “Timex recreated an old model, the Timex Marlin, to exact specification as the original one from the 1960s. One could even say it’s a straight copy-paste, but it simply looks great. A classy hand-wound watch with a diameter of 34 millimeters makes this new Timex Marlin a great dress watch.”