When one talks about interesting or extraordinary watches, it is usually the independents or the luxury watchmakers that comes into the conversation. It is not unusual, considering that many entry-level manufacturers do not produce watches that are either controversial in design, or timepieces that feature the high-end complications.
However, once in a while, some of the entry-level watchmakers do produce some interesting pieces. And these watches usually catch our attention. It is because these pieces are really difficult to come by, since these manufacturers tend to prefer mass producing simpler and more popular watches. But whenever they do produce something unique, it is indeed something special. Hence, for today’s article, we will be looking at six of such watches which we think deserves a shout-out.
Longines Pulsometer Chronograph
The first watch in our list is the gorgeous Longines Pulsometer Chronograph. As the name suggests, the Pulsometer Chronograph is a watch that measures the pulse rate of a person. It also pays homage to the doctors’ watch that the company had produced in the early 1920s, in which the timepiece was used for medical purposes.
This timepiece features a really classic design, in which the lacquered white dial features fonts and layout that is typical of a classic timepiece. It is also contrasted nicely with the red pulsometer and the blue “Breguet-styled” hands. But this watch is not just a pretty face. The watch is powered by the ETA-based Calibre L788.2, which comes with a monopusher chronograph function. Other features include a 54 hour power reserve, as well as a date indicator.
Priced at S$6,330, the Pulsometer Chronograph offers collectors a relatively affordable price point for a monopusher chronograph. Besides that, the watch looks really stunning as well. It is, in our opinion, an excellent attempt by Longines – but it would have been a homerun had Longines removed the date indicator from the watch altogether!
Seiko 60th Anniversary Automatic Limited Edition Chronograph
Seiko – where do we start? The Japanese watch manufacturer is one of our favourites, for producing value-for-money watches that beat both the Swiss and the Germans at their own game. To be brutally honest, it is almost impossible to find a company that produces a timepiece with an in-house movement, for a price of around S$100. But then again, Seiko had just proved to us that it is possible with the Seiko 5.
Moving on, Seiko also produces high-end pieces. But one of the more reasonably-priced pieces that tugged our heartstrings is the 60th Anniversary Automatic Limited Edition Chronograph. Launched in last year’s Baselworld to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Presage line, the timepiece comes with two different dial options: one in black lacquered Urushi, and another in white enamel. The former is pretty unique, as it utilises a sap from a Japanese lacquer tree to be hand-polished. The end result is a glossy black dial, which we were told that it will turn dark as it ages.
The watch is powered by Seiko’s in-house Calibre 8R48. It is an automatic movement, fitted with a vertical clutch and column wheel system for its chronograph. In addition, it has a decent power reserve of around 45 hours, and it includes a date indicator as well. Priced at €2,800 (approximately S$4,220), the watches are limited to just 1,000 pieces each. We reckon that it is all sold out, but if you do happen to find one in the secondary market, we highly recommend you to acquire it quickly because it is a very sought-after timepiece.
Oris Caliber 112
Over the last few years, Oris had surprised the many of us with the launch of the Calibre 110. The watch was produced to commemorate the 110th Anniversary of the manufacturer, and Oris had decided that only an in-house produced timepiece with a 10 Days Power Reserve movement will be good enough for this occasion. That had subsequently led to the production of both the Calibre 111 and 112 (and more recently, the Calibre 113 as well).
The Calibre 112, which was launched last year, is an improvement from its predecessor. On top of its 10 Days Power Reserve, the watch is now fitted with a dual-time display and an additional night and day indicator. While it is certainly more functional, but the new dial layout of the 43mm timepiece might appear to be too cluttered for some.
While the Calibre 112 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has definitely impressed many with the new movement and its staggering power reserve. The watch retails at CHF 6,300 (approximately S$8,800).
Hamilton Jazzmaster Face to Face II
Hamilton is a brand that is no stranger to whimsically-designed watches – some of its more well-known models include the Ventura, Pulsar/Pulsomatic, and the Takeoff Automatic Chronograph. Oh, and not forgetting, the Jazzmaster Face to Face II.
The Face to Face II was first launched in Baselworld 2013, in which it features a rotating case that has two dials. While the concept was interesting, but it didn’t excite us mechanically – the watch utilises one movement for each dial. That prompted Hamilton to go back to the drawing room, which culminated in the Face to Face II. The watch still features the interesting rotating case, but it is now powered by a single movement: the Hamilton H-41 (a modified version of the Valjoux 7750).
Aesthetically-speaking, the Face to Face II is a visually stunning timepiece. Its oval case is unusual, and there is a contemporary touch in the design of the watch dial as well. Despite its size at 53mm, the oval case allows the watch to be worn comfortably on the wrist. The Jazzmaster Face to Face II is priced at S$5,730, and it is limited to 1,999 pieces.
TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T
When Jean-Claude Biver took over the helm of TAG Heuer, we knew that the industry veteran will do something drastic to outmuscle its competitors in the entry-level category. But creating a tourbillon at CHF 15,000 (approximately S$20,955)? That certainly did not cross our mind.
Nonetheless, when TAG Heuer launched the Heuer-02T, it shook the industry. After all, the tourbillon was only reserved for the upper echelons of haute horlogerie in the past. But TAG Heuer had managed to introduce it at a relatively affordable price point, with a Grade 5 Titanium Case and an additional chronograph function as well. Another noteworthy point about the watch is its aesthetics. The Heuer-02T follows a contemporary theme, with a blackened bezel and a skeleton dial. It is very modern, and some keened eye enthusiasts can even spot some semblance between this and Hublot’s Big Bang.
Overall, the 45mm Heuer-02T is a game-changer and a disruptor in the Swiss watch industry. Yes, it is still priced higher than the equivalents that are produced in Asia (or more specifically China), but TAG Heuer is definitely trying to carve a niche for itself here. And with Biver in power, we should expect to see more tantalizing products from this watch manufacturer in time to come.
Saving the best for the last, we have the sublime NOMOS Lambda.
NOMOS is a Glashutte-based watch manufacturer, albeit a little less illustrious as compared to both Glashütte Original and A. Lange & Söhne. However, do not let that fool you. NOMOS is known for producing reasonably priced watches with in-house movements, matched with a Bauhaus-inspired design. The flagship model – Lambda – epitomises that. On the surface, the 42mm watch is very clean in its design. It features a slim case profile, with a thin bezel and a simple dial. The movement, however, is rather different. It is pretty detailed and intricate, highlighted by the nicely-finished three-quarter plate and the engraved balance cock. The Germans surely know how to push the right buttons to get the collectors interested.
While its retail price of S$23,420 is slightly steeper as compared to the other watches in their repertoire, but we reckon the Lambda is probably one of the finest pieces that NOMOS had produced. In fact, we think that this is definitely capable of giving its neighbours a run for their money.
When one thinks of the major watch manufacturers, we usually picture them to produce watches that caters to the demand of the mass consumers. The likes of haute horlogerie complications, as well as watches with unique aesthetics, are usually produced by independent watchmakers or high-end manufacturers. But as seen in this article, the entry-level or mass-market brands do produce extraordinary pieces once in a while, and the results are nothing short of amazing. The Longines Pulsometer Chronograph, for instance, is a piece that have attracted the attention of many collectors. Its wonderful looks, as well as the monopusher function at that price point, is something that not many manufacturers can offer. But Longines had done a great job with that one. The same can be said for most of the pieces that we have featured today as well.
So what is your favourite piece, amongst the six watches that we have featured today? And what are your thoughts about entry-level manufacturers producing such watches? Let us know in the comments section below!