If polo is the sport of kings, then watch collecting must surely be the hobby of ultra-wealthy high rollers. Right? Well, I’m not so sure. Now, I realize that writing about very cool watches under 2 grand could forever bar me from the “watch snob” club, but I will suggest some cool watches at reasonable prices and I will explain how a watch can be cool without costing as much as a car.
If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that I value the following in a watch: heritage, quality, mechanics, craft and style. Is it possible to find these attributes in a watch that cost less than $2,000? Yes. Can a $1500 watch impress people at a cocktail party? No. But can you enjoy it and appreciate it? Yes. Can you make a statement about your style and values with a watch that cost 800 bucks? Yes.
Let’s use the car-watch analogy. We would all love to own a Ferrari, but very few of us will ever have the means to buy one. So should we give up on cars? What about a nice Lexus? What about a Mazda Miata for summer afternoons? If you cannot afford a Porsche 911 Turbo, could you enjoy a new VW Golf GTi? If you’re starting out in life and you finally saved up some money to put toward a new car, could you enjoy an Acura?
I often think the same way about watches. Let’s say you love watches and you read magazines, blogs, websites, etc. You want to get into the game, but, for various reasons, you can only spend $1,000. You can definitely find a mechanical watch, with great style, nice quality and heritage for this price. It won’t impress watch snobs, but you can enjoy it and experience the world of mechanical timepieces.
Here’s another point. Are you really sure you can ONLY afford $1,000? As you may know, I have built up quite a nice little collection of timepieces myself. Obviously, I have had some means and I also make watches my priority. I don’t ski. I don’t ride a motorbike. I don’t travel very much. I drive an economy car. I am not a member at a golf club. If you REALLY love watches, if you REALLY want to play the game, then perhaps you should forego certain indulgences in favor of a good timepiece. Friends sometimes tell me about all the expensive watches they want but cannot afford. Then they take off on expensive trips and activities that I would never allow myself. They could easily have a Rolex if they REALLY wanted one. After all, a very good timepiece will hold its value and outlive you and your children. So it’s worth making an investment.
OK, so you trimmed down all your expenses and you still can only realistically afford $2,000. What should you buy? What is cool? What are the options?
Alpina Racing Automatic 47mm
I recently tried one on. Retail price about $1400. Wow. Very cool! It has a Sellita movement, visible through the back. It’s huge, cool and it has a fantastic black crocodile leather strap, with red stitching and deployment buckle. I almost bought it, but eventually went all out on my Tudor.
Hamilton King Pilot 46mm
Mine cost 800 bucks brand new. Big. Bold. Beautiful. Mechanical. Hamilton have a cool history and offer amazing quality for the price. They are the leaders in the lower price ranges.
Hamilton Pan Europ Chronograph
Wow! Under $2,000. Amazing. Great size, very good chronograph movement with superb power reserve. Cool 1970’s racing style. Oh yeah. This is a great one – amazing value for an excellent chronograph movement.
Sleek retro style and 42mm size with automatic movement. Only 900 bucks. This is a real Mad Men piece and there are several variations. Just plain cool.
Oris Cool Grey
Take a look at some Oris watches. You’ll be surprised. Like the Cool Grey. Way cool and well made. Oris have a century of history, they are present in Formula 1 and they also do great aviation pieces.
I had one that cost 900 bucks and was a great all-purpose automatic. It is a really simple utilitarian piece with some very cool strap options.
Marvin Malton Cushion
Don’t laugh. Marvin have some cool pieces – especially their Malton line. Too bad about the name. But the Malton Cushion has a great style and nice details.
Alpina Heritage Pilot
Not the first one, but the newest one. This is another fantastic piece under $2,000. I tried it on. Wow. Huge size. Unitas manual movement. Oh yeah. This is a super cool retro pilot piece. I very nearly bought one.
Archimede Pilot 45mm Hand Wound
Although I have never seen one in the flesh, this is an fantastic oversize flieger pilot piece. It uses the Unitas movement and, if you have read my posts, you will know that I am nuts for this movement. I also dig pilot watches.
Ball Engineer Master II Aviator 46mm
Once again, I have never seen this one in the flesh. And there are several variations. But this is cool. Retail prices seem to be just under $2,000 and I have seen a pre-owned example going for only $1,000.
So you see, there are many options and many styles for under $2,000 and this list doesn’t even include pre-owned watches. So get out there and get into the game.