We have always been told that watch collecting is a rather expensive hobby. This is not assisted by the exclusivity of popular pieces, as well as the astronomical increase in prices of certain watches in the secondary market.
However, that does not mean that there aren’t any modestly priced and cheerful watches that one can get, without breaking the bank. Granted, that means we will not be looking at the usual suspects – but here is where we will get the opportunity to see something that is different from the crowd.
Fun and cheerful: Six modestly priced watches to consider
For today’s article, we will henceforth be looking at watches that are less common, and with a relatively affordable price-point (mostly around or below S$1,000, with a few exceptions). What have we selected? Let us find out!
We begin the article with something from Russia: Raketa Copernicus Limited Edition.
Known as Russia’s oldest and largest watch manufacturer, Raketa has produced numerous interesting watches for the Red Army, the Soviet Navy, and for North Pole expeditions, as well as for civilians. This particular watch, inspired by a similar model produced by the brand in the 1980s, pays tribute to the Polish renaissance astronomer’s discovery of the model of the universe with the planets, including Earth orbiting the Sun. This is seen in the use of stone dials – where aventurine and agate were used – to represent a snapshot of the solar system.
The 40.5mm watch has other quirky features, such as the strange-looking circular discs that act as hands, and the in-house produced movement with fairly unusual engravings. This unique watch is limited to a production of 300 pieces, and it is priced at €1,290 (approximately S$1,968). It may perhaps be one of the priciest watches on our list today, but we dare say that it is certainly one of the most interesting ones as well.
Tool Watch Co. Arctic
Continuing with the theme of astronomy, we have the Arctic from Tool Watch Company.
Tool Watch Company is one of the latest entrants in the world of microbrands, and their first offering is rather compelling. The Arctic is a 38mm timepiece, with some interesting features such as the use of a titanium case and a meteorite dial. We like the overall concept of this watch, and how the results turn out.
The Arctic is fitted with the Sellita SW-200 movement, and it is well-priced at US$800 (approximately S$1,075). This watch offers a lot for what it is worth, and it is definitely a tad more interesting than most microbrands. It is definitely worth a look, especially for someone who is looking for a well-priced timepiece with some unusual touches.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm
Moving on, we have an interesting mechanical timepiece that offers an excellent value proposition: Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm.
This Hamilton was based on the historical military watches that were issued to the ground troops in the past. The watch remains faithful to its original aesthetics, and interestingly Hamilton had fitted the watch with faux cream luminescence to enhance the classic looks of the watch.
Notably, the watch is fitted with the ETA 2801-2 ébauche – a manual winding and dateless version of the renowned ETA 2824-2. It is a three-hand timepiece, with a decent power reserve of around 42 hours. The Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm is priced at S$720, and it is probably one of the most affordable mechanical Swiss-made timepieces. We like it for its appropriate case size, but more importantly for its manual-winding movement as well. This is a fun piece that is great for casual wear – and certainly a great piece to add into any watch collection.
Bulova “666” Devil Diver Oceanographer
We then turn towards something that is much more bold and bright. Cue the Bulova Oceanographer 96B350.
The 41mm watch is a design tribute of the brand’s acclaimed Oceanographer, made in the 1970s. There are many classic cues with this piece, from the design of the case to the bold and bright orange dial. One interesting element to note is the indices, which have cylindrical sapphire appliqués and are treated with SuperLuminova to have a bright glow in the dark. The overall aesthetics are certainly unusual indeed.
Fitted with the Oceanographer is the Miyota 821D-21B. This is a standard workhorse self-winding movement, with an autonomy of 42 hours power reserve.
With a retail price of US$750 (approximately S$1,008), the Bulova is certainly worth a consideration for someone who wants a reliable and sturdy weekend watch. We like the watch’s loud orange colour, and reckon it is certainly a great casual piece to wear on a weekend.
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
It is tough to find a modestly priced timepiece that ticks all of the right boxes, but for the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80, we might have found the answer.
Arguably one of the best novelties in 2021, it is hard to fault the timepiece. The 40mm PRX Powermatic 80 features the great self-winding movement with an autonomy of 80 hours, as well as a stamped tapisserie dial and integrated bracelet. The entire package is brilliant, and at a price point of S$950, it is certainly a winner for us.
This watch is perfect for either a budding or seasoned collector. It is a great watch, with a great design. You really cannot go wrong with such a well-made piece, especially one with a rather attractive three-digit price tag.
Finally, we round up the article with the Seiko Alpinist.
First introduced in 1961, the Alpinist was touted as the first “Sports Watch” for the Japanese watch manufacturer. More than half a century later, however, the perennial favourite now has a cult following for both its functionality and versatility.
The latest variant, featuring a stunning midnight blue sunburst dial, is a limited edition piece for the US market. Fitted with a palatable 39.5mm stainless steel case, the Alpinist comes with two crowns at both the 3 and 4 o’clock position to adjust the time and bearings respectively. The latter points us to the roots of the Alpinist, in which it was produced specifically for Japanese mountain climbers in the past.
Powering the Alpinist is the humble Caliber 6R15, which is a self-winding movement that boasts a power reserve of around 50 hours. It is also additionally fitted with a Diashock absorber (for shock-resistance). While it might be a tall order to get the “original” Alpinist right now, the next best option is perhaps the new Prospex Alpinist (Reference SPB117/119/121) – which will be retailing from US$725 (approximately S$975) onwards.
In the world of collecting, and with the passage of time, it is often common to lose sight of the joy in watch collecting as we continue to chase for the higher-end pieces.
This article hopes to prove that we can still have fun and compelling pieces that are priced at around S$1,000, or below. In fact, for watches like the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 and Seiko Alpinist, we reckon they are perhaps some of the finest within its price point – and they are capable of beating the big boys that are priced much higher than them.
So, what are some of the interesting and modestly priced watches that you reckon deserve a spot on the list? Let us know in the comments section below!