A GOOD, CHEAP WATCH?
HOW IT WORKS
Let’s be clear. You won’t find a collector’s
watch for €500, nor an 18-carat-gold watch with inlaid diamonds. Just let go of any idea that you’ll get a high-status watch that will turn heads in the street and advertise what a fantastically successful person you are. But for €500 you can definitely find a good watch.
A WATCH THAT FULFILLS YOUR NEEDS
Do you ever go deep-sea diving below 200 meters? Are you a racing driver? Do you need another calendar that shows you the date dependably and accurately? If you answered no to those three questions, you should choose a three-hand watch with no complications that’s aesthetically pleasing (like a Merci, for instance) and, above all, tells the time reliably. If your watch satisfies this fundamental requirement, that makes it de facto a good watch.
A WELL-MADE WATCH
With a €500 budget, you have to choose your priorities in terms of quality. While a wholly Swiss-made watch may seem out of reach, there are modern watches on the market whose components are manufactured far away but that are assembled in Switzerland or France. Check out March LA.B (for innovative design) or the retro-inspired models of Le Forban, Yema, and Nivada. These watches are generally made of stainless steel and are good buys.
A RELIABLE WATCH
A good watch must not only tell the time, but also keep its promises. Casio’s G-Shocks claim to be super sturdy and to run for 10 years without a battery change, and they usually deliver. Then there’s Swatch, with its Sistem51. This automatic movement, made up of 51 components linked by one central screw, is wound by the movements of the wrist. Its renowned power reserve promises 90 hours of autonomy, even when unworn, and it will never disappoint. Despite being manufactured at industrial scale in vast numbers, it is extremely reliable. Whatever one thinks – and of course some people are especially keen on watchmaking craftsmanship – this is a quality criterion you can’t argue with.
A STORIED WATCH (NOW OR IN THE FUTURE)
It would obviously be hard to find a historic
watch from a big-name watchmaker for under €500. But consider the Hamilton Khaki, which the brand supplied to the U.S. Army for 60 years – that’s a history, isn’t it? Likewise the Mach 2000 from Lip, designed by Roger Tallon in 1975, which is starting to acquire lasting resonance. And what about in the future? When the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms came out in 1953, it cost $90. Now they sell for over €30,000. Inflation has obviously played a part in that,
but who can say for sure that one of the watches in this edit won’t follow the same trajectory and see its value soar, for one reason or another? Not us.
7. Seiko released its first diving watch in 1965, and the Japanese brand has been constantly advancing design developments ever since. With water resistance to 200 meters, a silicone strap and a solar quartz movement that needs no battery, this model from the iconic (and extensive) Prospex line confirms Seiko’s virtuosity
– at a reasonable price.
Prospex Watch, SEIKO.
8. This inventory wouldn’t be complete without a Swatch (the name’s a contraction of Swiss and Watch, but you knew that). Nicolas Hayek started Swatch in 1983 in response to the crisis facing the Swiss watch industry when Japanese manufacturers began to flood the market. Swatch’s quartz watches have prospered because of their reliability and their unique design. Some models have even become genuine collector’s items, like this 1990s Black Friday chronograph.
Black Friday Watch, SWATCH at COLLECTION PERSONNELLE.
9. We can thank the late Nicolas Hayek not only for Swatch, but also for keeping production of military Hamilton watches going for the civilian market in 1989, when Hamilton’s partnership with the U.S. Army came to an end. The Khaki is a reissue of a watch that the American brand, now Swiss-owned, supplied to the U.S. Army for over 60 years. Enthusiasts still appreciate this classic for its historic design and the fantastic value for money it offers.