A couple of weeks ago, many watch ateliers and manufacturers have introduced their novelties in the incredible Watches & Wonders 2023.
While we have seen many stunning timepieces making their debut for the first time, we have had some comments that most of the watches are pretty inaccessible in terms of their price points. We do agree, especially since we do not see ourselves giving up tens of thousands of dollars on a timepiece without batting an eyelid.
So, for this week’s article, we will be looking at some of the W&W 2023 novelties – below the price point of US$5,000 – which we reckon are worth a consideration to add into one’s collection.
Without any further ado, here are our selections.
Furlan Marri “Grey Sector” Reference 2145-A
We begin the article with one of the most popular microbrands in the market right now: Furlan Marri (image above courtesy of Furlan Marri).
Following the brand’s introduction of its first mechanical timepiece in 2022, Furlan Marri had decided to make this collection permanent with an introduction of 3 new dial variants (grey, white, and salmon). The inspiration behind the watches are undoubtedly vintage timepieces, with beautiful cues such as the Breguet-styled numerals, step-case bezel, and the elaborated cow-horn lugs. Based on our understanding, the watch is also fitted with a self-winding movement that is made by La Joux-Perret.
The 37.5mm watch has a retail price of CHF1,250 (approximately S$1,860). For those who had missed out on the first mechanical timepiece that Furlan Marri had introduced in 2022 (i.e., “Black Sector”, a limited-edition piece), fret not, as these watches are now a permanent fixture – albeit they will be produced (and made available for sale) in batches.
Louis Erard Excellence Marqueterie
It is fair to say that Louis Erard has continuously impressed us with its offerings over the last few years, and the new Excellence Marqueterie (image above courtesy of Louis Erard) is no exception either.
The Excellence Marqueterie continues to enliven métiers d’art with a contemporary perspective, with an excellent value proposition. This particular version features miniature marquetry from an independent artisan named Bastien Chevalier, in which the craftsman carefully produces the trompe-l’oeil pattern in the form of a cube motif. These motifs – with its individual facets – are meticulously cut by hand with a saw, and are assembled without the slightest gap. Talk about precision at the highest level.
As with most of Louis Erard’s exclusive pieces, only 99 pieces of the Excellence Marqueterie will be made available. The price point of CHF 3,900 (approximately US$4,368, or S$5,810 in local currency) is extremely compelling as well, and we believe it is almost impossible to find such sublime timepieces at this price point.
Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date
The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date may have been around for a year, but the new variant – featuring a grey glacier patterned dial – certainly looks very cool (image above courtesy of Montblanc).
The dial, which was inspired by Mer De Glace – one of the largest glaciers on the Mont Blanc mountain – is a visual treat. The pattern was created using gratté-boisé, a technique that helps to reproduce the impression of the glaciers that almost mirrors that of the famed landform. The end result on this 41mm is magnificent, although we do reckon that it might have worked even better on a dressier watch.
Priced at S$4,600, the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date offers a strong competition to other diver’s watches in the sub-US$5,000 category. The watch should appeal to any gentlemen who wants a solid tool watch, without looking too serious and conventional.
Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture Steel
Frederique Constant is a highly underrated brand in the horological scene, and the Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture Steel (image above courtesy of Frederique Constant) is a living proof that complications do not have to be inaccessible.
While the watch itself is not necessarily new, the new dial variant of the Highlife Worldtimer certainly allows us the chance to reintroduce this wonderful timepiece to the world again. The 41mm timepiece features a sleek case design, paired with its signature world time complication that features 24 cities across 24 different time bands – courtesy of the in-house FC-718 movement.
The Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture Steel is well-priced at US$4,495 (approximately S$5,980), which offers excellent value especially for a well-made timepiece with an in-house movement and a world time complication. This is certainly a great watch for the globetrotting businessman, who might be looking for a functional and versatile timepiece without looking too ostentatious.
Oris ProPilot X Kermit Edition
The recent offerings by Oris have been refreshing, and the new 39mm ProPilot X Kermit Edition (image above courtesy of Oris) continues with that positive trend.
The Propilot X collection has all the underpinnings of an excellent watch, with the in-house Calibre 400 featuring a five-day power reserve, anti-magnetism, and an incredible 10-year warranty. The Kermit Edition, with its bold green dial and the endearing Kermit the Frog on the date window (albeit only for the first day of the month), certainly adds a nice touch to the outstanding timepiece.
With a retail price of US$4,600 (or S$6,100), the Propilot X Kermit Edition is a nice addition to any watch collection – especially for collectors who are looking to have a fun and casual watch for the weekends.
Tudor Black Bay 54
We round up the article with the brilliant Tudor Black Bay 54 (image above courtesy of Tudor).
While the Black Bay has been a mainstay in the Tudor repertoire for the last decade, we are glad to see the brand introducing a 37mm version to the collection. This definitely works out well for collectors with a smaller wrist. We would also like to add that despite the watch having a smaller dimension, it does not appear to be a lesser watch as compared to its larger brethren.
The new Black Bay 54 retains all the usual Tudor goodies – such as the COSC-certified movement, robust construction, and its unmistakable good looks. Finally, the watch is priced at US$3,850 (or S$5,300), which makes it one of the watches with the best value proposition in the market today.
Admittedly, it was not exactly easy to produce this article – for the very fact that there are not many novelties from Watches & Wonders 2023 that are priced below US$5,000. This certainly narrowed down the options that are made available to us for the selection tremendously.
While we are glad that there are still excellent timepieces at the US$5,000 price point, one cannot help but to think that watches may have started to become a little more inaccessible. Perhaps it is just us, but we do feel that the options that are available are dwindling, especially when it comes to entry-level luxury watches. There are microbrands that can help to fill in that gap, but realistically, collectors still do aspire to collect watches from the established names. There is a fine balance here between pricing and brand equity, and the brands should also consider how best to resolve this conundrum.
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s article. Do let us know your thoughts on our selection today, as well as any comments on the accessibility of timepieces in the market today.
Till the next time.