Throwback Sundays: Six Watch Recommendations that Cost Less than the iPhone X, from Our Archives

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Over the last week, there has been quite a fair bit of news coverage on the new iPhone X. There were many reports of how enthusiastic fanboys and fangirls who have queued overnight so that they could be the first few to get their hands on the latest phone from Apple. It is quite incredible to think that some had even started queuing a few nights before the sale. 

Well, for some, the arduous and excruciating wait is certainly worth it. But for the rest of us, we are rather puzzled with it. Even more so for the author, who thinks that the appeal of the new iPhone X is not so great to the extent that he will queue for a couple of days to get his hands on it.

The new iPhone X is not that inexpensive either, relatively speaking. Priced at S$1,888 for the 256GB model, the mobile phone is priced as much as the basic MacBook. With that kind of money, the Watch-Idiot-Savant in us would rather use it to purchase a new timepiece. That got us thinking – what are the watches that are available within that price range? We did some digging in our archives, and we have come up with a list of six pieces that you can potentially buy with that same amount of cash. Let’s find out what we have chosen!


Seiko PADI Automatic Diver (SRPA21)


The PADI edition of the Seiko Automatic Diver Watch.


We begin the article with one of the most popular watches on our website: the Seiko PADI Automatic Diver (SRPA21).

The watch was introduced last year to commemorate the both entities for serving the diving community over the last 50 years. Two watches from the Prospex range were launched, with the Automatic Diver Watch gaining quite a fair bit of attention. Based on the “Turtle” reissue, the timepiece is fitted with a blue dial and a blue/red bezel to pay homage to PADI’s corporate colours. The 45mm watch is fitted with Seiko’s Calibre 4R36, which is a common movement for most of the pieces in the collection.

Priced at S$667.70, we would say it is well-priced for a timepiece of such quality. It is rather well-made, and the watch certainly has a solid feel to it. If one is looking for a reasonable and robust timepiece, then perhaps this might be something that you might want to look at.


Orient Bambino Automatic


The Orient Bambino Automatic, on the wrist. Picture courtesy of  Deployant Reader: Michael Weightman.


Besides Seiko and Citizen, Orient is another well-regarded watch manufacturer in Japan. They are known to produce value-for-money watches, which includes the dressy and elegant Bambino.

The Bambino is often the go-to timepiece for many new collectors. It can be attributed to three things: price point, design, and quality. With a retail price of approximately S$230 (it can cost slightly more or less, depending on where the watch was purchased from), it is well-priced for a decent mechanical timepiece. Next, the design is rather classy and timeless, which goes well with any formal office wear. Finally, the build quality is pretty decent, which is surprising for a timepiece at that price range.

For someone who is looking for a simple and affordable dress watch, we would highly recommend the Bambino. The price proposition is really excellent, and you would say that this is probably one of the best dress watches that you can buy with around S$200.


Luminox Navy SEAL 3500 Series


The timepiece with a military pedigree: the Luminox Navy SEAL 3500 Series.


Next, for someone who is looking to buy a rugged timepiece with some military pedigree, we have the Luminox Navy SEAL 3500 Series.

The association between Luminox and the US Navy SEALs dates back to 1993, when the California-based company first produced timepieces for the elite force. In order to meet the incredulous requirements of the SEALs, Luminox had to produce extremely rugged timepieces that can withstand the tough conditions these Frogmen had to go through.

The Navy SEAL 3500 Series is certainly a timepiece that is capable of operating in tough environment. Fitted with a solid carbon composite case, the 45mm timepiece is both hardy and yet lightweight simultaneously. The luminescence – powered by tritium gas tubes – works brilliantly as well. Finally, it is fitted with a Swiss Ronda Quartz movement, with a battery life span of around 8 years.

With a retail price of S$695.50, the Luminox Navy SEAL 3501 is ideal for someone who is looking for a relatively affordable timepiece for outdoor adventures. After all, if it is good for any Navy SEAL Frogmen, then the watch should work well for any typical outdoor activities as well.


TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch


The TACS Vintage Lens on top of the Hasselblad HCD 4/28mm lens. The sapphire crystal of the watch face mimicks the impression of looking through the barrel of the lens.


In recent years, the proliferation of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter have allowed many micro-brands to raise funds to launch their creations. While many of them are rather boring and forgettable, there were some that had left a great impression on us. The TACS Vintage Lens, for instance, is one of such watches that had stood out for the right reasons.

Inspired by the Zen Philosophy, Yoshiaki Motegi (Yoshi) had set out to create timepieces that are based on everyday objects. The Vintage Lens, for instance, is obviously based on the lenses of a camera. But what is particularly interesting is how Yoshi had integrated the design of the lens into the watch itself. In fact, the entire timepiece, right from the domed sapphire crystal and down to the dial, reminds one of the lens itself. For the uninitiated, it might seem as though the owner is strapping a miniature lens on the wrist!

Powered by Miyota’s 82S0, the Vintage Lens is the first TACS watch that is fitted with an automatic movement. The movement boasts a power reserve of around 42 hours, and it features a special gilt finish to match the case. The watch is priced at US$550 (approximately S$750), and it is limited to a production of 500 pieces. However, they have also produced a similar model with a quartz movement as well, which retails at US$290 (approximately S$395). This is certainly a conversational timepiece, and it should be highly attractive to those who are into cameras and photography.


Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph


The handsome Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph.


For those who were collecting watches from the 1990s, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph might have look familiar. After all, this watch is touted as the revival version of the Calypso, which was an iconic piece from that period.

The Aikon, notably, is a much sleeker and modern timepiece. The 44mm stainless steel watch is fitted with a new case design, with the signature raised tabs on the bezel complementing the watch’s aesthetics. Additionally, the watch is paired with a silver sunburst dial – contrasted nicely with blue sub-dials and chapter ring. The combination works very well, and hence making it a pretty attractive timepiece.

While the watch is fitted with a quartz movement, the Aikon Chronograph is definitely no slouch. The watch is priced nicely at S$1,700, and it is fitted with a well-made integrated bracelet that is comfortable on the wrist. This is quite a good option for someone who wants a stylish and versatile timepiece.




The V-series is one of SEVENFRIDAY’s offerings, featuring a unique dial and case design.


Finally, we round up the selection with an interesting piece from our archives. Cue the SEVENFRIDAY V-series.

SEVENFRIDAY is probably a brand that is no stranger to many collectors. Launched in 2012, the watch manufacturer had captured the attention of collectors with well-priced and non-conformist timepieces. The V-series, which was the third collection from the brand, perhaps encapsulates the values of SEVENFRIDAY nicely. The watch features a unique disruptive dial layout, and an angular case design that is unlike any others that we have seen. The other nice functions of the V-series include a quick strap change mechanism, and a NFC chip that is embedded on the caseback. The latter allows the watch to be authenticated, and SEVENFRIDAY had mentioned that they will roll out more features within the application in time to come as well.

The V-series is powered by Miyota’s self-winding 82S7, boasting a power reserve of around 40 hours. The recommended retail price of the watch is S$1,778, and we reckon it is an excellent choice for someone who wants a conversational and bold timepiece.


Concluding Thoughts


So, should you spend the money on a new iPhone X, or a timepiece (or two?). If you ask us this question, we would definitely recommend you the latter. We do not really see the reason behind getting another iPhone, considering the fact that it is merely another mobile device from Apple. Of course, we can definitely see Apple fans disputing that statement that we have made earlier. But we shall save that for another occasion.

It is, however, interesting to see that at S$1,888, there are quite a number of timepieces for collectors to select. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are quite a sizeable number of Seiko watches and micro-brand pieces that are priced within the range, and hence giving collectors plenty of excellent options to choose from. For the more adventurous ones, the pre-owned market has quite a good selection too. For instance, at that price point, one can easily pick up a vintage Rolex 6694, or a TAG Heuer Carrera. The possibilities are endless.

So, what would you buy with S$1,888? An iPhone X, or a new timepiece? Let us know about your choice in the comments section below!


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  1. You are comparing apples to pears. The watch today is a piece of jewelry and you can pay or not pay based on personal criteria. You can be happy with a $50 swatch and be unhappy with a $50,000 patek. The phone has for better or worse become indespensible in modern life. If you have the money why not get the best you can which today is the iPhone X.