When it comes to watches, some of us have a thing for pieces that are unusual. We feel that watches can be a statement and an outlet for people to be creative. After all, what fun would it be if all the watches come in similar shapes, and tells time in a similar way? Cue conversation starter watches.
Some of these so-called “conversation starter” watches come with a sticker shock. The excellent examples from MB&F’s Horological Machine Series or Cabestan’s Winch Vertical Tourbillon typify these.
But fret not! In today’s article, we focus on six watches that we reckon are conversation starters, and yet modestly priced. The criteria for our selection today is rather simple – watches which features unusual designs, be it the case or dial, or even the way it tells time. Plus be moderately priced, so no megabuck entrants here. We are limiting ourselves to watches with a Singapore retail of less than S$ 10,000. In fact, many of them are quite a good way less than 10 grand. So, what are the watches that we have chosen for this week’s article? Let’s find out!
The brand SEVENFRIDAY should not be a stranger to many watch collectors. Established back in 2012, the brand caught the horological world by storm with the P-series. The watch had set itself as a benchmark for many to follow, with its price point and interesting design scheme, as well as the use of clever marketing.
Following that, the brand successfully reinvented itself, most recently with the V-series and Q-series. These two series of watches have moved away from the rounded square cases they are known for. This time, that had opted for something that is quite unique – so much so that we can only describe it as a rounded rectangle case with two protrusions at the left side. Those two protrusions, by the way, are for the quick strap change mechanism.
Besides the case, the watch comes with a cool dial design as well. The hour indicator utilizes the “additioner principal”, in which you will have to add the timing that is displayed on the disc (either +0, +4, or +8), and the five numerals that the dial is displaying (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5). So, in this case, the left watch is telling us that it is currently 4 o’clock, while the right one is showing close to 2 o’clock. Not intuitive, but kinda fun. It is actually difficult to tell that this is achieved with a humble Miyota movement.
Priced at S$1,778, the SEVENFRIDAY V-series is something that will catch the attention of both enthusiasts and non-enthusiast alike. In addition, there is also the Q-series, which is a novelty that was launched last month. For more information on the latter, please check out our news release here.
NOMOS Tetra neomatik
Next up, we move on to square cases with the NOMOS Tetra neomatik.
These days, it is pretty uncommon to see watches that feature square cases. There are some that comes to mind, such as TAG Heuer’s Monaco and Cartier’s Santos, but the cases are not perfect squares like the Tetra, but there aren’t many alternatives beyond that.
Nonetheless, we feel that NOMOS had done a great job with the Tetra neomatik. The Tetra line has been part of their collection 1992, and revised with the neomatic. We particularly like how they increase the case size, from 28mm to 33mm. This makes the watch in line with the size of watches these days, even though 33mm is still on the smallish side. Besides that, we are also pleased that they had used an automatic movement (the DUW3001) for this one. We really like the movement for its robustness. Finally, we think that the blue dial adds the icing to the cake. An additional edge in terms of aesthetics.
We have always like NOMOS for its simple in-house produced watches – it is honest, and unpretentious. The prices are reasonable too. The Tetra neomatik retails between S$4,920 and S$5,060. It is one of the up-and-coming watchmakers, and we reckon its provenance and aesthetics is something that will be of interest to many.
TAG Heuer Connected
The rapid advancement in technology is insane, and it is just only a matter of time before it reaches the realms of horology. Sure enough, Apple came out with the Apple Watch, and a slew of other technological powerhouses having their own offerings as well.
TAG Heuer is one of the latest company to join the party with the Connected. The Connected is probably the first timepiece in the horological industry that had adapted the smartwatch, and it rather interesting. Powered by the Android Wear OS, the Connected features three different screens (GMT, Chronograph, or Live), and it allows seamless connectivity with either your iOS or Android mobile phone (to receive notifications). It also features an Intel Atom Z34XX processor, and a minimum battery life of 25 hours.
Comparing with the other smartwatches that are available in the market, the Connected is definitely on the better finished ones out there. The 46mm titanium timepiece is not cheap for a smartwatch though; it retails at S$2,100. However, the build quality is much better than a typical smartwatch offered by the typical phone or IT company, and it is an interesting timepiece that will surely get both the tech geeks and watch collectors to start talking.
TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of aspiring watchmakers launching their products online, especially since crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter allows these entrepreneurs to access to capital and consumers much more easily than before. This is an interesting prospect, since many of these crowd-funded watches tend to feature interesting aesthetics with excellent price proposition. And the TACS Vintage Lens is one of the few that had caught our attention.
The brainchild behind the brand is Yoshiaki Motegi (Yoshi), a Japanese designer that is inspired by traditional Japanese Zen philosophy. The watches that Yoshi produces draws inspiration from every-day devices, with its latest creation deriving from a vintage camera lens. The entire watch is a clever rference of that, with small touches that Yoshi used to make it more “camera-like”. Particularly the domed sapphire crystal, a rotatable bezel (similar to the focusing ring that is found on a proper camera lens), to the aperture on the dial itself. On top of that, the use of black and gold brings out a rustic feel, and the combination (or rather, contrast) makes the watch rather attractive to look it as well.
The 47mm gold-plated steel watch is priced attractive at US$429 (around S$596). The Miyota-powered timepiece is rather appealing, especially with its interesting aesthetics. It will definitely attract avid photographers, although we reckon that its intriguing design will appeal to much more people beyond just that. It is a novel timepiece, and one that we think will be an excellent conversation starter.
P.S. Find out how you can stand a chance to win the TACS Vintage Lens Watch here!
Hamilton Jazzmaster Face to Face II
When it comes to watchmaking, Hamilton is one of the brands that is does not conform to the conventional. The brand is perhaps most well-known for the Ventura – a piece that features an art-deco inspired triangular case. Perhaps it was because the watch was worn by Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii”, or that its re-issue had appeared in many blockbusters such as Men in Black and Independence Day. While it may be a popular film watch, we also think the unique aesthetics to be exciting.
Besides the Ventura, Hamilton is also known for another special piece: the Face to Face. First launched in Baselworld 2013, the watch had caught us by surprise with a rather spectacular rotatable oval-shaped case. Following that, Hamilton launched a successor this year, with the new Face to Face II. The greatest improvement, we think, lies in the movement. In the previous model, the watch features two separate movements: one for the chronograph, and the flip-side for the time display. For the Face to Face II, Hamilton uses a single movement for both displays. On the front side, it houses the watch’s sub-dial, together with the time, day and date display, On the flip side, the watch features a tachymeter and telemeter display.
While the Face to Face II has refreshing aesthetics, we find it to be not as practical as we had hope. The flipping mechanism is designed to pivot in the middle of the oval case. This means that the user is unable to rotate the case while the watch is worn on the wrist. But small matter for the coolness factor it no doubt brings. And as a conversation starter of a whimsical timepiece, and its price of S$5,730 is rather modest.
Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso
We end off the article with yet another iconic timepiece that comes with a reversible case: the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso.
The Reverso was designed in 1931, after Cesar de Trey was challenged by British Officers to produce a timepiece prevents the glass from cracking during polo matches. That was when the ingenious idea of creating a reversible case was born, since this will protect the glass from the knocks that it may potentially receive. Over time, JLC had included many other things on the reverse side of the case, since it had slowly involved into a dress watch. This includes a sapphire crystal (which allows the movement to be displayed), a dual time zone indicator, or even lacquered artwork. The possibilities are endless.
The Reverso is available in many variants, ranging from the simple Classique, to the complicated Grande Complication a Triptyque that includes a tourbillon and the Equation of Time. Price begins at US$4,500 (approximately S$6,060) for the basic Classique Quartz variant. Well, who says that dress watches are boring?
In this week’s article, we have covered six conversation starter watches that we reckon are modestly priced. Despite the perception that as a genre, unusual watches are usually exclusive and rather expensive. But these six watches point the direction that fun watches do not necessarily need to cost a fortune. The selection includes the Reverso, which is on the higher end of our under ten grand limit, but most on the list are significantly lower. The crowd-funded watches like the TACS, which are priced below S$ 1k. There is something for every one, and we think that Kickstarter is an excellent platform for collectors to source for interesting watches that are priced below a grand.
So, what are some of your favourite conversation starter watches? Or what are some of the watches that you reckon deserves a spot in this list? Let us know in the comments section below, and till the next article, ciao!
I am so glad you wrote this piece for the ‘six modestly prices conversation starters’, it’s just the sort of article that inspires and educates.
Looking through your list I can say your choices are pretty good and I immediately favour two particular pieces.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Face to Face II is really something to talk about which really fits your articles position, but my more pedestrian tastes have won through.
For my money the TAG Heuer Connected at $2,100 gets my vote.
This is a break away from my usual form, because I would normally shy away from ‘smart ‘ or ‘connected’ watched, but this piece by TAG is maintaining a classically beauty