Friday, May 31, 2013

Top 10 Reasonably Priced watches from Baselworld 2013

You would've already seen/read quite a number of "top 10" lists from Baselworld 2013. But the problem with these lists is that they're quite often without rhyme or reason. Put all the watches on the dartboard and you too can come up with a similar top ten list.

This is why you've come to the Sydney tarts. I didn't put together a top ten list earlier (even though I could have) to cash in on the rush, but then there would be no point. I wanted to think through the choices, not not just most hyped/popular pieces. I didn't want to do a list just because. The list need to serve a purpose.

Granted the list is not exhaustive as Baselworld is massively huge and since I'm not there personally I can only rely on press releases and coverage from people who have made the trek. But out of all that I've seen, I believe these are the best 10 watches from Baselworld this year that are affordable. Relatively speaking. It's easy to cram in ten dozen complications into a watch and charge six figures for it. The problem is that most of us will never ever see them in the flesh let along truly appreciate them as they should be appreciated. Ie, strapped to the wrist. I believe that it is much more difficult to make a truly desirable watch at an affordable price point.

For this top ten list I have set a price ceiling of $5000 as this seems to be the upper limit of what a "reasonable" person will be willing to spend on a good watch. However, majority of the watches on the list cost much less. I've tried to find pricing info for all the watches. Where pricing is not available I've done my best to guesstimate. The list is not in any order.

1. Tissot Luxury Automatic
USD850 on strap, USD895 on bracelet

Beautifully designed. Simple and elegant. With an in-group movement to boot (I say in-group as the Powermatic 80 movement is also used in Certina watches) this Tissot is extremely great value for money. Gorgeous case work, stunning dial, this dress watch delivers in spades. The 80 hour power reserve is very practical, as you can take it off Friday evening after work, and it'll still be running when it goes back on your wrist Monday morning. At 41mm in diametre it is quite wearable and as usual, for an extra $45, get the bracelet variant then stick the watch on a strap if you feel like it to give it that extra dressy look/feel. This watch makes the Fossil way overpriced...

2.Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase
From 2650 Euro

We've already raved about the watch here. Not much else to add, really. Just a really really beautiful watch with an in-house movement at a great, great price. It's definitely on my shopping list.

3. Mondaine Vintage II Automatic
950 CHF

The classic Swiss railway watch, with a great automatic movement (ETA 2892-A2) at a great price. This is for all those movement snobs who just can't bring themselves to getting the quartz version of the classic Mondaine. But you might have to be quick as these are limited to only 500 pieces worldwide.

4. Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic Chronograph
USD 1845

Good thing about Hamilton with the might of the swatchgroup behind them is that they are able to offer brilliant watches for very low outlay. I think ETA is also doing more customising for each of the brands within the swatchgroup now that they don't have to produce massive amounts of movements for the rest of the Swiss watch industry. This watch gets a modified Valjoux 7753 to a bi-compax layout and an increased 60-hour power reserve. It's a very well done modernisation of a classic 70s Khaki pilot with the case size updated to a still-versatile 41mm. One small gripe. WHY THE DATE WINDOW???

5. Mühle-Glashütte Teutonia II Tag Datum
From 1790 Euro

This is another clean, simple and elegant dress watch, and great for someone who wants something outside the Swiss Made repertoire. Perfectly symmetrical and balanced dial with day at 12 and date at 6 and powered by a Sellita movement (which is, ahem, Swiss). At least the name is a mouthful, and passer-bys wouldn't have a clue what it is. And that is exactly what you want. Otherwise you would have gone for the Tissot...

6. Alpina 130 Heritage Chrono
Guesstimate $3000

A lot of brands are celebrating anniversaries this year eh? Swatch is 30, Alpina is 130, Tissot is 160, Jaeger-LeCoultre is 180... Anyway I digress. Again, this is another watch we raved about. The more I look at it the more in love I am with the watch. Just goes to show you can make a fantastic looking watch with a great movement (looks like a modded Valjoux 7753) for not a lot of money. And many brands from Basel are doing just that- great value for money is definitely another trend we're seeing.

7. Sinn T1/T2
Approx. 3000 CHF

The ultimate tool watch. The weapon of choice for those of you whom the watch is actually used than babied. This is definitely not a safe queen since that would be just a waste. You can read the in-depth here on Horologium, but the two watches are essentially the same, just differ in their sizes, and you can choose from a leather strap, rubber strap or a bracelet. Extremely legible, by day or by night, and the updated case also makes it much more comfortable on the wrist.

8. Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver
2900 CHF

Maurice Lacroix is a highly underrated watch brand and they deserve to be more noticed. This watch could do the trick. It is a proper diver's watch with a compressor case, similar to the style used by Longines in their Legend Diver. Comes with an internal rotating bezel as well as a helium escape valve. Although how often desk divers uses this is up for debate. This is another watch with a very clean dial, the date at 6 makes it more symmetrical, although I would've preferred a white on black date wheel. Powered by a Sellita movement (ETA 2824 clone) it's bound to be highly reliable, and can be had on a soft nato style leather strap or a bracelet.

9. Bell & Ross 123 Sport Vintage
Guesstimate $2800

The 123 Sport Heritage is the one on the left
That's right Bell & Ross makes watches other than those funky square cockpit instrument watches. Even if that's what they're known for these days. The 123 Sport Vintage is a welcome addition to the range, complete with a vintage look/style. It pays homage to the sports watch style of the 60s and I think they've done a brilliant job. Yes there is a date window but at least it's quite subtle, so I don't mind it and it doesn't detract from an otherwise clean dial with great legibility. Instant classic powered by the venerable ETA 2892 movement. There is also a limited edition "Falcon" version of said watch named after the Dassault Aviation model. Based on the pricing of the B&R 123 Original, I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess the Sport Vintage will retail around about $2800

10. Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
4200 CHF

The final piece on this list is also the most expensive. Even then it's still a relative bargain. I actually prefer the blue version from this year over the previous black/grey/orange version from a few years back. Partly because I don't have a blue themed watch, but I also think it looks cleaner. The quality should match the previous model, meaning it's very well made. Movement is an ETA 2892 with a chrono module, but you wouldn't pick it from the outside as the pushers and the crown lines up perfectly (module chrono movements tend to have the pushers on a different plane to the crown as the module sits on top). I believe this movement is exclusive to Tudor. And yes, I'm going to mention the dial and date window position. It's perfect. The dial is extremely clean (especially when compared to its big brother's tendency to write paragraphs on the dial, and the repetition of the name in case you forget...)


Adrian Shwiiz said...

I really like that Maurice Lacroix

Unknown said...

love that Tudor Chrono... Tudor is on a winner there! most definitely! :)