When it comes to getting a luxury watch – typically to commemorate a special occasion – most people will tend to go for the most obvious choices – either a Rolex, or an Omega.
These two brands certainly make great watches, and there is absolutely zero ambiguity about that. In fact, that is why Rolex and Omega are so popular with collectors and non-collectors alike. However, there are so many individuals that opt for these two giants that it makes them a little too common in the crowd, for the lack of a better term. For the keen eyed, you can easily spot them on the wrists of people regularly on the streets.
In this week’s article, we will be showcasing six different watches from other compelling manufacturers, at similar price points. The idea is to let individuals – especially non-collectors – know that there are also incredible timepieces aside from the two above-mentioned brands, and that they are great options out there to consider as well.
We begin the article with an unmistakable icon in the horological world: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
The Reverso first debuted in the 1930s, for an interesting reason. Back then, the Polo players requested César de Trey to produce a timepiece that can withstand the knocks from polo mallets. This gave César the idea to create a timepiece with a reversible case, and hence the Reverso was born.
Over the years, Jaeger LeCoultre had produced many iterations of the Reverso. However, in our opinion, nothing beats the time-only version of the Reverso – especially if one is just starting out in building a proper watch collection. The price of the manual-winding Reverso Classic begins at S$8,300, and we reckon that it is a very attractive alternative considering its provenance and style factor.
Glashütte Original Senator Excellence
The Glashütte Original Senator Excellence offers collectors a glimpse into the wonderful world of high-end German watchmaking, with a relatively reasonable price point.
Launched in Baselworld 2016, the Senator Excellence is one of the entry-level models of the Glashütte-based watch manufacturer. It is a time-only piece, but with great attention to detail. This includes the nicely shaped flame-blued hands, silver graining dial, as well as the exquisitely finished Calibre 36-01 movement that features some great finishing touches (think Glashütte three-quarter plate with stripe finish, skeletonised 21-carat gold rotor, anglage, polishing, and flame-blued screws).
The 40mm G.O. timepiece is a great way to gently introduce collectors into the higher echelon of the horological world. It is also a handsome timepiece, if it helps as well. The stainless-steel model is priced at S$13,500, and it makes a great dress watch especially for the office executives.
Grand Seiko GMT (SBGM003/SBGM221)
Grand Seiko is a brand that has really caught on in the last few years, as collectors have warmed up to the incredible works of the Japanese watch manufacturer.
The Grand Seiko GMT (pictured above is the old version SBGM003; the new version SBGM221 comes with some minor tweaks), showcases all the great things about the manufacturer. Here, we have a well-made timepiece that offers a great value proposition. Specifically for the GMT, we love the smooth cream dial, as well as the beautifully finished indices and hands that featured the manufacturer’s famous zaratsu finish. The movement is a sight to behold as well.
This 39.5mm Grand Seiko is a classy piece, and it is well-priced at S$6,600. This is the perfect watch for someone who is a frequent traveller, or a business executive that will find the dual time-zone function useful.
Chopard L.U.C GMT One
The Chopard L.U.C. GMT One is an interesting timepiece from the Geneva-based manufacturer. Introduced in 2016, the L.U.C GMT One attempts to offer collectors a more contemporary timepiece – a move away from the traditional dress watches that the collection is normally associated with. The 42mm timepiece features an inner rotating bezel to display its second time-zone, and the GMT hand can be adjusted with the crown at the 4 o’clock position.
The piece de resistance for the timepiece perhaps lies in its movement. The watch is fitted with the Calibre L.U.C 01.10-L, a self-winding COSC-certified movement that boasts a decent power reserve of 60 hours. The finishing is pretty good too, with some of the highlights including Côtes de Genève and chamfered edges for the bridges. The end result is pretty good.
The L.U.C GMT One is priced at S$14,800. Although the watch is slightly pricier than the rest of the watches in this week’s column, we think that both its functionality and quality make up for the premium in its price tag. It is also an aesthetically pleasing piece, and we are sure that it will look appropriate in any kind of formal occasion.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
In the world of diver’s watches, the likes of Submariners and Seamasters are perhaps some of the first names that would come to mind.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is an excellent alternative, albeit with a slight premium. Launched in 2013 to commemorate the brand’s flagship diver’s watch collection, the Bathyscaphe has a different design profile as compared to its brethren – with a less chunky bezel and cleaner aesthetics. We find its no-nonsense appearance rather charming, and perhaps less imposing than the larger Fifty Fathom Automatique.
Priced at CHF9,800 (approximately S$14,300), the Fifty Fathom Bathyscaphe is a serious tool watch that has both style and substance. For someone who is looking for a sensible and well-constructed luxury tool watch that will stand out from the crowd, look no further.
Tutima Patria Admiral Blue SS
We round up the article with one of our newfound favourites. Cue the Tutima Patria Admiral Blue SS.
Positioned as a discreet and elegant gentleman’s watch, the 43mm Patria Admiral certainly ticks all the right boxes with its quality and stunning looks. This includes its steep curved lugs, applied blue cold enamel dial, as well as the beautiful in-house Caliber 617. Notably, the movement features all the typical German characteristics, such as the three-quarter plates, Glashütte ribbings, and an openworked balance cock. The rose gold hue also adds a nice touch to it.
The exquisite Patria Admiral Blue SS is priced at US$6,900 (approximately S$9,470). It is well-priced for what it offers, and we reckon this watch is a great addition to any collection especially considering what this watch has to offer. The only downside is that it is a tad large at 43mm – we believe that a 40mm version would have been perfect.
As we have always mentioned, our selection today is only the tip of the iceberg. At the sub-S$15,000 and below category, there are many exceptional watches out there that offer a great proposition as well – especially if one is willing to venture into the secondary market as well.
We understand the hype and brand equity factor as well – Rolex and Omega are well-recognised brands, with exceptional reputation and credentials that are almost unparalleled. Then again, watches are very personal items, and one should not buy it only with intrinsic values as a yardstick. It should be something that one really enjoys, and this can only be confirmed when one has explored the different brands and models to know what they truly like or dislike.
Ultimately, we hope that today’s article has provided the audiences with a greater perspective into the horological scene, and hopefully gives potential buyers the confidence to look beyond the usual suspects. The watch industry is an extremely vibrant one after all, and one should take the leap of faith to see what the rest is able to offer.