Picture this. You have been a watch collector for at least the last decade or so, but the watches in your personal collection are predominantly the likes of the usual suspect: Rolex, Omega, IWC, and maybe one or two pieces from the “holy trinity of Swiss watchmaking” – if you are a little luckier in life.
Upon reviewing your collection, you realise it is dominated pretty much by the cookie-cutter pieces. There is obviously nothing wrong with these watches, but it might perhaps be the time to try something a little different. There is certainly some apprehension about dropping a five-figure sum for something that is not conventional, but you are still keen to get something unusual with a relatively modest price point.
In this week’s article, we are hoping to give such collectors a slight push – with some compelling options that one can consider. What are some of the watches – below a price point of S$10,000 – that are worth taking a shot? Let us find out.
anOrdain Model 2 mkII
We begin the article with the incredibly popular anOrdain Model 2 mkII.
anOrdain is a relatively newcomer to the scene, but it has already made a strong impact in the horological scene. The Scottish watch manufacturer is known for producing brilliant time-only timepieces, mostly fitted with a vitreous enamel dial (or grand feu, as it is more commonly known) that comes in numerous colour options.
The watch is powered by the manual-winding Sellita SW-210-1, which adds to the old-school charm of this timepiece. We really enjoy the different interesting elements of the watch, right down to its unique pair of syringe hands. The attention to detail is pretty amazing, and for £1,700 (approximately S$2,873), we believe many will be hard pressed to find a timepiece that is as impressive and offers as much value as the anOrdain. The only downside? The current waitlist is unfortunately around 2 years long.
Sinn R500 Chronograph
Next, we have the uber-cool Sinn R500 Chronograph.
Launched in late 2020, the R500 Chronograph is based on a similar Sinn watch that was produced in the 1970s. The 42mm is nothing short of being a conversational piece, especially with its uncommon bullhead design and an angled case which tilts the dial towards the wearer. We also like how the date aperture and power reserve indicators are integrated seamlessly into the dial
The watch retails at S$7,250, and it is limited to a production of 300 pieces. It is highly uncommon to see a bullhead chronograph these days, and we think that Sinn had actually executed this timepiece rather well. It is a cool watch altogether, and we think it is a great piece to include in any watch collection – provided if you can still find one.
Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto
If you are looking for something that really punches above its weight, we have the amazing C1 Bel Canto from Christopher Ward (picture above courtesy of Chrisopher Ward).
Introduced at the end of 2022, the C1 Bel Canto is a timepiece that most collectors did not expect from a brand such as Christopher Ward. Do not get us wrong, Christopher Ward is known to produce brilliant watches at a modest price point, but we were certainly not expecting such a great looking timepiece with chiming complication – albeit not on request unlike a minute repeater (the Bel Canto chimes once every hour). The execution is also brilliant, to say the least.
The best part of the watch is its price point. The 41mm C1 Bel Canto retails at S$4,925, which is relatively reasonable in today’s market. This is certainly refreshing, and it proves that manufacturers are still able to offer such interesting and innovative timepieces without having to break the bank.
Grand Seiko SBGW283 “Kishun”
At this point in time, Grand Seiko is perhaps a name that most collectors should be acquainted with. However, that does not mean that many collectors have taken the plunge yet. The Grand Seiko SBGW283 “Kishun” might just be that watch that will help change that.
This particular series of manual-winding Grand Seiko watches, with a 37mm case, is perhaps another favourite of ours. We love the simplicity of the timepiece, and for this model, it also allows the exquisite Kirazuri textured dial to shine. As Teddy pointed out, Grand Seiko is known to produce extraordinary dials, and the SBGW283 certainly allows the dial a brilliant platform to shine.
The SBGW283 “Kishun” is perhaps what most watch geeks will want in a timepiece. Simple timepiece, with great finishing, and an engaging manual-winding movement. It also works as a good dress watch, and at US$4,800 (approximately S$6,450), we dare say that this watch has the ability to punch its weight above some of the pricier timepieces with a lower five-digit price tag.
Bell & Ross BR05 GMT
Bell & Ross might have been slightly late in the sports watch game, but the BR05 GMT offers collectors a rather compelling alternative with a timepiece that remains true to its DNA.
The BR05 collection, which was introduced in 2019, might have been overlooked by many. However, in our opinion, Bell & Ross’ interpretation of the sports watch deserves some attention. We like its bold and handsome aesthetics, coupled with an extremely legible dial that offers great functionality across the different complications offered. The GMT, in particular, is an excellent piece – it is perfect for travellers that want a nondescript, yet functional and solid timepiece.
Priced at S$7,900, the Bell & Ross BR05 GMT certainly offers a lot – considering the price point that some of its competitors are asking. Granted, its branding may not be as strong as some of its peers, but we think that it is time we judge a watch based on what it offers, without riding on the coattails of the brand itself.
NOMOS Zürich Weltzeit
The NOMOS Zürich Weltzeit is a piece that is often high on our list, with its minimalist approach and great functionality – all in a compelling package.
NOMOS is a Glashutte-based watch manufacturer, and they are known to produce Bauhaus-inspired watches with excellent in-house movements at a reasonable price point. The Zürich Weltzeit is a good example. The seemingly simple-looking piece actually features a nifty complication – the World Timer. The complication allows the owner to set their own home-time, and concurrently keep track of the timing in the other time zones around the world. It is certainly useful for collectors who are often travelling or have businesses that cover different locations regionally.
The 39.9mm watch is fitted with the in-house Caliber 5201. It is an automatic movement featuring the NOMOS Swing System, with a power reserve of up to 40 hours. The finishing is decent, with the distinctive three-quarter plate, Glashütte ribbing and sunburst decoration. It retails at S$7,900, and we do think that this is a wonderful watch for any modern gentleman.
There are certainly quite a lot of excellent models that are being offered in the market these days, although there is still certainly a hurdle to overcome if collectors are still fixated with the concept of brand equity.
Having said that, we are happy to see brands such as anOrdain and Christopher Ward offering watches that are vastly unique, with a relatively accessible price point. This is something that gets us really excited, and we do hope that more brands will continue to move towards this direction.
So, what are your thoughts on some of these watches? Would you consider adding them into your collection, or are there other compelling options that are also worth a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.