Back to basics with 6 simple but exceptional watches

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

There is always something fascinating about simple looking watches that have more than what meets the eye.

We always like how certain unassuming watches are the ones that amaze us the most – in terms of technical prowess or exceptional finishing. It is as though the watchmaker or designer had deliberately downplay the other elements to make the special bits a little more outstanding.

In addition, we also celebrate the art of perfecting techniques – which we think is equally as important as highly complicated watches. Haute horlogerie finishing techniques, for instance, is an art – and one that is slowly disappearing with the advent of machines and computing. That is why we are always on a lookout for watches where additional effort was made to refine the watch, to make it as stunning as it can be.

For this week’s column, we will be taking a look at a few simple watches that will blow your mind. By simple, we meant clean aesthetics with as little complications as possible. But we are more interested in the things beyond its face value – with a large emphasis on value and finishing. What are some of the watches that have made it to the list this week? Let us find out!

Citizen AQ6010-06A

We begin the article with a highly unusual choice. And a quartz watch, no less. Cue the Citizen AQ6010-06A.

Touted as the world’s most accurate timepiece with a deviation of a mere 1 second a year, the 37.5mm AQ6010-06A is certainly a technical feat where accuracy is concerned. But it is beyond that. The attention to detail, despite having a niche market for such watches, is incredible with lavish finishing on every aspect of the incredible timepiece.

With a retail price of US$16,800 (approximately S$22,316), the white gold watch is not exactly a modestly priced watch. But beneath that simple facade is a timepiece that goes way above and beyond on every single component, with utmost respect given despite it being a quartz timepiece. This is an outstanding watch, and one that certainly expresses the prowess of watchmaking and engineering capabilities of the Japanese.

Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860

When it comes to Chopard, its jewellery creations might perhaps be the first thing that comes to mind. But for watch aficionados, it is more than that.

The L.U.C collection is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the industry, and it is often overlooked when high-end and well-made timepieces are concerned. But that does not mean that it does not deserve any form of recognition. The XPS 1860, is a damn fine timepiece despite its restrained outlook. The magic lies in the overall quality of work done to the watch, as well as the in-house Calibre 96.03 which boasts a 22k gold micro-rotor and the Hallmark of Geneva.

Unlike its other competitors, the 40mm XPS 1860 is priced rather modestly. It retails at US$9,020 (approximately S$11,982) for the stainless steel model, which is rather reasonable for something of this calibre. This is a worthy brand and/or watch that is worth a double take.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Seconds

Following hot on the heels of the Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 is another compelling competitor from the same tier: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Seconds.

More known for its Reverso collection, the Master Ultra Thin (or MUT, for short), is a lesser known but equally impressive series that produces great dress watches that exude both style and elegance. The 40mm MUT Small Seconds is the epitome of that, with a simple design that comes with a sleek case profile and quality touches on the different components of the timepiece. The same goes for the movement – in the form of the Calibre 896/1 – which is well-finished for something of this price point.

The retail price of the JLC is around CHF7,250 (approximately S$10,816) for the stainless steel model. Compared to the Chopard L.U.C above, both timepieces are great in their own ways. The JLC, we reckon, is more suited for someone who prefers a watch that is more muted and cleaner in design. Definitely a great choice for any collectors, especially one who is looking to buy his or her first high-end dress watch.

A. Lange & Söhne 1815

A. Lange & Söhne is a brand that we have often waxed lyrical about. It is another highly underrated brand, but it is definitely one of the best manufacturers out there – even against the likes of the “holy trinity” of watchmaking (Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet).

The 1815, despite being one of the entry-level models together with the Saxonia, is one of the best three-hand watches that is available in the market at the moment (excluding the independents). While its appearance does not exude much fanfare, it is the details that really make it stand out against its competitors. The Calibre L051.1, for instance, is perhaps one of the finest movements that we have seen amongst the high-end watch manufacturers. And it is not lightly said, considering the history and reputation of its competitors.

The 38.5mm timepiece is priced at €22,500 (approximately S$36,276), and it is only available in precious metal. It is honestly difficult to find fault with the 1815, and if you are able to afford it, we will highly recommend you to add this timepiece (or any other Lange watches, for that matter), into your watch collection.

Seiko Credor Eichi II

Earlier in the article, we have presented one of the finest quartz watches from the Land of the Rising Sun. But now, we have another masterpiece from Japan, albeit a mechanical timepiece.

The Seiko Credor Eichi II may look unspectacular to the untrained eye, but this is Seiko’s way of letting the special details shine. Gracing the front of the watch is an impeccable porcelain dial, which is produced by the artisans back at Seiko’s Micro Artisan Studio. But it gets even better. On the flip side lies the impeccable, and stunning, manual-winding Calibre 7R14. The contemporary-looking movement is finished to the highest quality – which includes convex bevelling, anglage, and linear brush finishing. It also features a 60-hour power reserve indicator, as well as Seiko’s proprietary Spring Drive mechanism.

Sized at 39mm, the Eichi II is an excellent dress watch for numerous occasions. It is subtle, simple, but yet very elegant at all angles. The porcelain dial is an unusual touch, and its intriguing appearance certainly makes it a conversational timepiece. The Eichi II is available in many variations, with our favourite being the rose gold version which is priced at US$42,000 (approximately S$55,791).

Philippe Dufour Simplicity

Almost every regular reader of Deployant would have seen this coming. The Philippe Dufour Simplicity is perhaps one of the finest, if not the finest, three-hand watches in the world.

It is difficult to pinpoint the specifics that makes the Simplicity so great. But one main thing that we can attribute to is how Philippe Dufour has the knack of making simple things perfect. The pièce de résistance of this piece lies in the movement, specifically the superlative finishing. There are a multitude of hand-finishing techniques were applied, and that includes black polishing, interior angling, and chamfering. The double assembly method is also applied to ensure that the final finish is not marred by the assembly and adjustment process. This is dedication at its finest.

Unfortunately, the Simplicity is no longer in production. The last known retail price is around CHF89,000 (approximately S$132,749), but prices in the secondary market have risen exponentially over the last few years. Often touted as one of the finest watches to have been ever produced, the Simplicity is almost unparalleled in every aspect – and there are definitely large shoes to fill if any watchmaker decides to outdo the creation of this Swiss-born legend.

Concluding Thoughts

Even though we have selected six watches for today’s article, this is certainly only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other brands that offer great timepieces with simple complications, especially the independents where great emphasis is placed on the finishing techniques of both the watch and the movement.

One watch that we do like to highlight, in particular, is the Citizen AQ6010. It is indeed rare enough to see watch manufacturers producing high-end quartz watches, but Citizen had brought it up a notch by producing what we feel is one of the best quartz watches that is currently available in the market. It is such a niche market, but that does not stop Citizen from improving the technology (to improve accuracy) and additionally applying high-end finishing techniques to the timepiece. The brand certainly has the utmost respect from us for that.

So, what are your thoughts on today’s topic and selection? Are these watches your cup of tea, or do you prefer timepieces that features more complications and functions? Let us know in the comments section below.


About Author


  1. Great article. I am very tempted by the Lange 1815 powered by Calibre L051.1. I love simple classical watches.

  2. Hi Robin,

    These are great choices. The JLC is probably all one would ever need as a simple yet special watch.

    May I suggest two more for consideration: the Blancpain Villeret which comes in many guises and is quite affordable for the SS varieties, and the Breguet Classique 5140.