For many collectors, we are bound to arrive at this crossroad one day – how can we elevate our watch collection with something interesting (and with a complication), without relatively breaking the bank?
In this week’s article, we are looking beyond the usual suspects to see what the watch universe has to offer. This is one the back of some incredible watches that we have reviewed recently, which were priced rather reasonably in the grand scheme of things.
Hence, for today’s selection, we will be keeping it pretty straightforward. We will be looking at six watches that are priced below S$10,000 – each with a complication, and offering a strong value proposition. Extra points will be awarded for watches which are lesser known as well.
So, what have we selected? Let us find out!
BA111OD Chapter 4.1
We begin the article with a rather cool and relatively unknown timepiece: BA111OD Chapter 4.1.
BA111OD is an interesting Swiss brand with a rather unusual approach. It made its debut in 2019, with a slightly different business model – it relies on “Afluendors” (a contraction of “ambassadors, influencers, and vendors”), in which it allows current owners to earn points and redeem rewards for referrals. This is quite a novel approach, but one that has clearly worked well for the brand.
Beyond the business model, the Chapter 4.1 is also an impressive watch in its own right. This is perhaps one of the most affordable Swiss-made tourbillon to date, with a retail price of CHF4,920 (approximately S$7,064). It is no slouch too, with fairly compelling finishings present on both the movement and skeleton dial. All we can say is that BA111OD is punching above its own weight with this watch, and brands should keep their eyes peeled on how this newcomer is able to offer so much at a modest price point.
Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph
The Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph is one of the best novelties of 2022, and it is not difficult to see why.
Featuring a beautiful retro-inspired case and integrated bracelet, the PRX Automatic Chronograph now features the chronograph complication – as suggested by its namesake. We absolutely love the design of the 42mm timepiece, with its retro vibes and clean design. If there are any qualms, that will probably be its case profile. A smaller 40mm case, with a thinner profile, would have made the PRX Automatic Chronograph an almost perfect timepiece for those with a smaller wrist.
This Tissot is priced at S$2,550, which is pretty good value for a timepiece of such calibre. If one is looking to start the year strongly, then the PRX Automatic Chronograph should be worth a serious consideration – provided that you have not already bought the watch.
Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture
Frederique Constant is often known for producing great watches with a modest price point. The Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, however, takes that accolade onto a whole new level altogether.
Beneath its slightly unassuming facade, this particular watch boasts a mechanical heart that beats like no other. The Slimline Monolithic Manufacture features an oscillator that beats at 288,000 bph, a figure that is nearly ten-times faster than a regular timepiece. If that is not impressive enough, Frederique Constant had managed to put the timepiece together into a regular package – and priced it at S$7,093. Now, that is quite unbeatable, isn’t it?
While the brand has a solid reputation for making complications accessible, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture also showcases the prowess of the maison. The watch – produced in collaboration with Flexous – proves that it is not just another watch brand, but one that has the capabilities to produce something groundbreaking.
Grand Seiko GMT (SBGM003/SBGM221)
We move on to a timepiece that is no longer a well-kept secret. Cue the exceptional Grand Seiko GMT.
Over the last few years, the Japanese watch manufacturer has attracted the attention of many collectors. This is attributed to its well-made timepieces, and arguably the value proposition that it offers as well. One of such timepieces is the GMT (pictured above is the old version SBGM003; the new version SBGM221 comes with some minor tweaks), which is a mainstay of Grand Seiko. We love the smooth cream dial, and the well-finished indices and hands that featured the manufacturer’s famous zaratsu finish. The movement is a sight to behold as well.
The 39.5mm watch is a classy piece, and it is well-priced at US$4,600 (approximately S$6,210). This is a great watch, especially for a business traveller who needs to keep track of two different time zones. This watch offers tremendous functionality and value – and it is one that will tick all the right boxes for most watch collectors.
Reservoir GT Tour Blue Edition
We have a thing for brands who try to attempt something different, and introduce different complications to the masses at a relatively affordable price point. The Reservoir GT Tour Blue Edition is one such timepiece.
Reservoir, who is a relative newcomer into the watchmaking scene, has caught our attention with their repertoire of interesting timepieces. The 43mm GT Tour Blue Edition combines both automotive and watchmaking together, with a timepiece that leverages on the retrograde complication that mimics a car’s tachometer. This is further seen in the power reserve indicator, which reminds us of a car’s fuel gauge. It is a refreshing take for sure, and we like how the brand has incorporated interesting complications into the watch.
The GT Tour Blue Edition is priced modestly at US$4,494 (approximately S$6,067). We like the inspiration behind the brand’s creation, and the use of such complications at a relatively accessible price point. While it might seemingly not be everyone’s cup of tea with a more polarising take on designs, we applaud Reservoir for being different. This is certainly a great attempt, and we do hope to see more watch manufacturers taking a leaf out of this.
Habring² Foudroyante Felix
We round up the article with a timepiece from the independent watchmaking scene: Habring² Foudroyante Felix.
Habring² is the brainchild of Richard and Maria Habring, a husband-and-wife duo that produces wonderful timepieces from Austria. The Foudroyante Felix is one such piece. This seemingly simple watch has an interesting complication in the form of the Foudroyante complication. This hand – on the sub-seconds indicator at the 9 o’clock position – ticks 8 times per second. While it does not serve any particular function, the animation is quite a fascinating sight to behold – especially for a seemingly simple-looking dress watch.
Priced at €6,550 (approximately S$9,357), the 38.5mm timepiece is a lovely dress watch that is a little different from the norm. The base variant, without the Foudroyante complication, should be even more accessible. For any collectors who are looking to enter into the rabbit hole of collecting watches from independent watchmaking, Habring² certainly offers something compelling that is worth serious consideration.
There are certainly many hidden gems in the market out there. In this article, we have easily picked four watches (aside from the Tissot and Grand Seiko) that are not as widely known by the community. Despite the fact that they do not share the same level of popularity vis-à-vis the leading marques, they do offer timepieces that are often compelling and offer excellent value propositions.
Today’s article is probably most suitable for collections who have collected a few quintessential pieces in their collection. After attaining the likes of Rolex Submariners, Omega Speedmasters, and perhaps a Cartier Tank (or JLC Reverso), this is perhaps one option to consider in terms of taking the watch collection forward. Of course, the other way is to look at the “Holy Trinity” pieces. We will perhaps explore that in the future.
We hope that you have enjoyed our article this week. Do let us know your thoughts on our selection, as well as topics that you might wish to see in the future. Till the next one, happy collecting!