When it comes to buying a luxury watch – usually to commemorate a special occasion – most people will tend to opt for the more obvious choices – either a Rolex or an Omega.
Both of these brands certainly make great watches, and there’s absolutely no ambiguity about that. In fact, that’s why Rolex and Omega are so popular with collectors and non-collectors alike. However, there are so many individuals who opt for these two giants that it makes them a bit too common in the crowd, for lack of a better term. For keen eyes, you can easily spot them on people’s wrists on the street regularly.
In this week’s article, we’ll feature six different watches from other compelling manufacturers at similar price points. The idea is to let individuals – especially non-collectors – know that there are some amazing watches outside of the aforementioned two brands as well, and they are great options to consider as well.
We start the article with an essential icon in the watch world: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
The Reverso made its debut in the 1930s, for an interesting reason. At the time, polo players asked César de Trey to produce a timepiece capable of withstanding blows from polo mallets. This gave César the idea of creating a timepiece with a reversible case, and thus the Reverso was born.
Over the years, Jaeger LeCoultre has produced many iterations of the Reverso. However, in our opinion, nothing beats the time-only version of the Reverso, especially if one is just starting out in building a real watch collection. Pricing for the hand-wound Reverso Classic starts at S$8,300, and we think it’s a very attractive alternative given its provenance and style.
Glashütte Original Senator Excellence
The Glashütte Original Senator Excellence offers collectors a glimpse into the wonderful world of high-end German watchmaking, at a relatively reasonable price.
Launched at Baselworld 2016, the Senator Excellence is one of the entry-level models from the Glashütte-based watch manufacturer. It is a unique piece, but with great attention to detail. This includes the attractive flame-blued hands, the silver-grained dial, as well as the exquisitely finished Caliber 36-01 movement which features superb finishes (think the Glashütte three-quarter plate with scratched finish, the 21 gold skeletonized rotor carats, anglepolishing and flame blued screws).
The GO 40mm watch is a great way to gently introduce collectors to the upper echelon of the watch world. It’s also a nice watch, if that helps too. The stainless steel model is priced at S$13,500 and makes a great dress watch, especially for office executives.
Grand Seiko GMT (SBGM003/SBGM221)
Grand Seiko is a brand that has really taken hold in recent years, as collectors have become familiar with the incredible works of the Japanese watch manufacturer.
The Grand Seiko GMT (picture above is old version SBGM003; new version SBGM221 comes with some minor changes), features all the great things about the manufacturer. Here we have a well-made watch that offers a great value proposition. Specifically for the GMT, we love the smooth cream dial, as well as the beautifully finished indexes and hands that featured the manufacturer’s famous zaratsu finish. Movement is also a sight to behold.
This 39.5mm Grand Seiko is an elegant piece and is priced at S$6,600. This is the perfect watch for someone who travels frequently or a business executive who will find the dual time zone feature useful.
Chopard LUC GMT One
The Chopard LUC GMT One is an interesting timepiece from the Geneva-based manufacture. Introduced in 2016, the LUC GMT One attempts to offer collectors a more contemporary timepiece, moving away from the traditional dress watches the collection is normally associated with. The 42mm watch features an inner rotating bezel to display its second time zone, and the GMT hand can be adjusted with the crown at the 4 o’clock position.
The main dish because the timepiece may reside in its movement. The watch is powered by the LUC Caliber 01.10-L, a COSC-certified self-winding movement that boasts a decent 60-hour power reserve. The finish is also very good, with some of the highlights including Coasts of Geneva and chamfered edges for bridges. The end result is pretty good.
The LUC GMT One is priced at S$14,800. Although the watch is slightly more expensive than the other watches in this week’s column, we think its functionality and quality make up for the price premium. It is also an aesthetic piece, and we are sure it will suit any type of formal occasion.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
In the world of dive watches, the likes of Submariners and Seamasters are perhaps some of the first names that would come to mind.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is a great alternative, but with a slight premium. Launched in 2013 to commemorate the brand’s flagship diver’s watch collection, the Bathyscaphe has a different design profile to its brethren – with a thinner bezel and a cleaner aesthetic. We find its simple appearance rather charming, and perhaps less imposing than the larger Fifty Fathom Automatic.
Priced at CHF9,800 (about S$14,300), the Fifty Fathom Bathyscaphe is a serious tool watch that has both style and substance. For someone looking for a sensible, well-built luxury tool watch that will stand out from the crowd, look no further.
Tutima Patria Admiral Blue SS
We end the article with one of our new favorites. Cue it Tutima Patria Admiral Blue SS.
Positioned as an understated and elegant gentleman’s watch, the 43mm Patria Admiral certainly ticks all the right boxes with its quality and stunning looks. This includes its steep curved lugs, applied blue cold enamel dial, as well as the beautiful in-house caliber 617. Notably, the movement features all the typical German features, such as three-quarter plates, Glashütte ribbing and an openwork balance wheel . rooster. The rose gold hue also adds a nice touch to it.
The exquisite Patria Admiral Blue SS is priced at US$6,900 (about S$9,470). Its price is affordable for what it offers, and we feel this watch is a great addition to any collection, especially considering what this watch has to offer. The only downside is that it’s a bit large at 43mm – we think a 40mm version would have been perfect.
As we’ve always mentioned, our selection today is just the tip of the iceberg. In the sub-S$15,000 and under category, there are plenty of great watches that also offer a great proposition, especially if one is willing to venture into the secondary market as well.
We also understand the brand hype and equity factor – Rolex and Omega are trusted brands, with outstanding reputations and credentials that are almost unmatched. Again, watches are very personal objects, and they should not be purchased solely with intrinsic values as a criterion. It should be something one really enjoys, and that can only be confirmed when one has explored the different brands and models to find out what they really like or dislike.
Ultimately, we hope today’s article has provided audiences with a greater perspective on the watch scene and hopefully gives potential buyers the confidence to look past the usual suspects. The watch industry is after all extremely dynamic, and one has to take a leap of faith to see what the rest can offer.