We are perhaps best known for our coverage of the haute horlogerie scene, but we do know what’s it like to work within a budget too. Here we recommend six watches which retail for below S$5,000 from our archives.
This week we tour the watches which are a bit off the beaten track. We intentionally omitted various Seiko models like the PADI, even though they are excellent candidates below the 5 Grand mark. And also did not consider the Tudor Black Bay models, though they are also supreme examples within the budget. But consciously selected those which are not your usual suspects.
As usual, links on the title will take you to our full hands on review. Here we go!
Although the list is in no particular order, we begin with the darling of the Chief Editor. I am truly taken by this watch. This is a watch which caused me to re-evaluate my assessment of quartz as a means to power the timing of a wristwatch. The Citizen embodies a remarkable refinement in design and a subtle, discreet luxury in its execution. Quite sublime.
Though not officially available outside of Japan, it retails domestically for ¥ 330,000 before taxes. This translates to only S$4,150. For this, you get one of the most accurate quartz movements in the world (recently superseeded by Citizen’s own 0100), a light powered watch with an instantaneous perpetual calendar. And a build quality that easily equals that of coveted Swiss and German marques, with a artisanal métiers d’art style Washi paper dial to boot.
Another unusual watch. The Jazzmaster Face to Face II is a very special chronograph which incorporates a rather ingeneous flip mechanism to allow its two faces to be used. Hamilton made the front dial as a nesting of multi-level dials in luminous, silvery grey with a partially transparent smoky disc and a skeleton-worked casing ring.
And the other side is a striking contrast with the technical, anthracite movement. A pulsometer, directly printed on the back of the crystal, enables the more fitness-minded to keep track of their own or someone else’s pulse. A tachymeter provides an accurate mechanical measurement of speed, while a telemeter can be used to calculate distances to a remote event, such as a lightning bolt.
The aesthetics are beautiful indeed, and with two dials to share the information display duties, the dial remains rather uncluttered. As a bonus, the flip mechanism a joy to use, otherwise all would be for nought.
Limited to 1,999 pieces introduced in 2016 but still on the Hamilton online catalog. It is offered at a retail of S$5,730 including GST. A bit over our 5 G budget, we admit, but so worth it!
Luminox is well known for their association with the US Navy SEALs and adventure. We went for one of the “executive” style SEAL training not once, but twice. Both times we were stretched to our physical limits and almost totally wiped out! Their base models are commercially very successful, and are quartz based movements in their signature carbon case. But the Deep Dive series is different. Associated with Navy SEAL Scott Cassell, this model is in a stainless steel case, and equipped with an automatic movement.
As a dive watch, it is built as robust as it can be, and is rated to a depth of 500m, with a special crown guard and a lockable bezel. Priced at S$2,800 for this super robust, ultra strong watch with Luminox’s always bright technoloay.
Out of the well trodden Rado path of ceramic cases, which they were perhaps the first exponents of, and are excellent comes one of their heritage models – the Captain Cook Automatic.
In its latest guise, it is available with four different colour variants: blue, grey, black, and green. Our pick is the gorgeous green ceramic bezel with a dark green dial. Handsome indeed. Plus it is kind of a mid-sized in the range, with brethren in 45mm and 37mm case diameter, this model is in 42mm. With a depth rating of 20atm, it is a practical watch, usable even for swimming and of course as a tool watch.
Retailing at S$2,800, it is a remarkable value for money, and will promise to run effortlessly, and without fuss for decades.
Yet another outlying piece from the extensive Maurice Lacroix collection. Standing out not only for the automatic movement, most ML watches have quartz movements to keep the price low, but still remaining at an affordable retail price of CHF 1,850 or approximately S$2,500.
The Venturer is a tool watch rated to a water resistance of 300m and equipped with a Selitta SW200 automatic movement. The design of the 43mm case has an athletic aesthetic, and very robust and ruggedly built with the strong anglular lines. Detailing on the case and dial is excellent, starting with the ceramic infill bezel and the clean legible layout of the markers.
And from the King of Tool Watches, Sinn comes one of their special executions for Medical Rescue and Emergency operarions. The EZM 12 is designed operators involved in these operations. Often under extreme time and sometimes environmental pressures, the watch needs to be easy to read and feature special functions for the specific mission. And it needs to be handsome but tough.
We are impressed with Sinn’s attention to detail, and the design of a tool watch which is done in collaboration with professionals in the selected field. Not some master watchmaker sitting in the Switzerland dreaming of what an emergency rescue team might need, Sinn chose to work directly with the German Air Rescue Service, which provide emergency response services while patrolling the AutoBahn in helicopters. As such, the needs of the emergency crew are well addressed. The EZM 12 is tough, rough, do everything nature of this tool watch is extremely appealing.
The EZM12 is set to retail at US$3,340 (about S$ 4,700).
There you have it. Six recommendations to spend S$5,000. We have met the budget safe one, which interestingly is a Hamilton, usually known for very modest pricing. As mentioned, we intentionally omitted the usual suspects and focus only on the unusual. We hope you have enjoyed reading it, as much as we have putting this list together. And please do revisit the detailed reviews on the links. What would you have picked?