For this week’s Sunday musings, we suggest six watches to help you survive the urban jungle.
Six watches for survival in the urban jungle
But first some criteria. Because, as one might know, almost any watch can fit this very broad category. Here are some “of the “rules” to put some boundaries, so to speak:
- Price: we intentionally limit this selection to watches below SGD 22,000 retail, inclusive of GST. Twenty grand is not a magic budget, but a rather arbitrary number. Chosen to serve a line on the ground for reference.
- Ruggedness: the watch must be built as a tool like watch, intended to take the rigours of a daily life of commuting in public transport, survive the knocks and bumps in crowded spaces, subject to all weather conditions from hot to cold, rain or shine.
- And perhaps as important as the other two criteria the watch has to be stealth enough to escape the eyes of muggers and undesirables. Very critical for survival in the harsh realities of the urban jungle.
We kick off with the Bell & Ross BR X5 Black Steel in steel bracelet, which retails for SGD 10,500. With this new release, BR has gone slightly upmarket. Gone is the Sellita based movement, and in its place, the Kenissi manufactured BR-CAL.323. Bell & Ross is partly owned by the Wertheimer brothers of Chanel, and this gives them access to Kenissi who also count Chanel as one of their investors. We cross referenced the claim that the caliber is exclusive to Bell & Ross with the Kenissi site at the time of release and an additional quick check at time of writing this article, and it tells us that this movement is the only one so far with a power reserve indicator.
The watch is very handsome, as is the case with all Bell & Ross timepieces. Credit goes to the talented Bruno Belamic (the “Bell” of Bell & Ross) for the amazing aesthetics. The case’s monocoque construction is also of high merit. And now powered by the rugged and rather nicely decorated Kenissi movement, the BR X5 is offered with a 5 year warranty.
Coming in at SGD 21,100, the Glashütte original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date is another excellent option. Just clear the budget. Typically Glashütte Original is flying under the radar, which is a significant advantage in the urban jungle, this watch is a masterpiece of German watchmaking. We love the watch. From the design which is reminiscent of the 1970s TV box to the dial, appliqués and hands which are manufactured in-house in the GO dial making facility Pforzheim. And the caliber 37 movement is in-house designed and manufactured movement in Glashütte. The movement features a column wheel actuated chronograph as well as a panorama date presented at 6 o’clock on the dial. All very nicely finished.
We also covered an earlier edition in considerable detail here.
Another watch to run under the radar is the The Citizen Mechanical caliber 0200. This is the mechanical, hand wound companion to the The Citizen AQ 4020-54Y we waxed lyrical over some years back, and still is on our list of being the best quartz watches of all time. The mechanical Citizen watch retails for SGD 9,500 and is their flagship watch, which embodies the highest expression of design based on four ideals to reflect Citizen’s pursuit of the essence of the watch – ideal accuracy, ideal quality, ideal design, and reliability.
The Citizen Mechanical is a very handsome watch. We loved almost everything about it. From the vintage vibe, to the gorgeous dial, which is magnificently finished, to the faceted appliqué and the case design to the haute horlogerie level movement which powers it. Absolutely fabulous.
And to us, worth every penny of the asking price. Perhaps even exceeds the excellent value proposition. It punches above its price class and competes well into the SGD 20k bracket. And for all that, it is still a watch which will be more likely to be mistaken for being less expensive than it is. Which, in our books, is a good thing. Especially in the cut throat urban jungle.
We loved the Alpine Eagle 41 in Lucent Steel on release in 2019, and still love the value it represents. Even though the price has increased from SGD 17,200 at release, to the current retail of SGD 20,400.
The use of Lucent Steel is a standout from the rest of the bunch as it is a form of sustainable steel made from recycling. When handling the watch, it feels very similar to standard stainless steel. It is hypoallergenic and have properties comparable to surgical steel, but with a hardness quotent of 223 Vickers, it is 50% more resistant to abrasion than conventional steel. The crystalline structure is also homogeneous, and this property enables it to reflect light in a unique way.
Of course, as a true Chopard, it is powered by the in-house movement- the Caliber 01.01-C. The movement is very finely made, with excellent finishing. And with a very usable 60 hour power reserve.
The Piaget Polo was released this Watches & Wonders (2023) in a smaller 36mm size, and a lower price tag. The regular Polo Date in 41mm retails for SGD 17.5k, while the 36mm “unisex” version goes for SGD 16k. Both models qualify for this list. The Polo Date 36 is powered by the Caliber 500PI (3.63mm) automatic winding movement, while the Polo Date 42 is powered by the Piaget 1110P. This makes the 36mm version not only smaller in diameter, but also thinner at only 8.8mm instead of 9.4mm for the larger watch. in our books, this provides more options in sizing, which is always a good thing. Especially when the Maison does not skimp by using the same movement in large and small cases.
Both are highly desirable, and are quite stealthy. The only danger being that it might be mistakenly taken for a Royal Oak or Nautilus to the uninitiated. However, the Polo will get a quiet nod from those in the know.
We recently featured the Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph, and loved it, especially the steel version retailing for SGD 11,100. The graphics are brilliant, with the very high contrast of the red accented hands over the deep, dark corrugated dial with rainbow details. And the big date. What a lovely interpretation and implementation. Some will argue that a date on a pilot watch is no bueno. But in our books, we rather like the practicality of having the date as an easy reference. Especially when presented so persuasively as on the Zenith.
The El Primero 3652 Caliber movement beating within has the heritage from way back to the 1969 origins of the automatic chronograph, and is nicely executed.
So here are our picks. What would you pick for your daily driver for surviving the urban jungle?