Six budget watches to add to your watch collection –

One of the common comments we’ve received over the years is that the watches we review are still beyond the reach of the masses.

We hear all of your comments, and to some extent we share the same sentiments as well. After all, we’re all ordinary people and there’s no way we’d be able to spend a good five-figure sum on a watch on a regular basis.

However, does that mean there aren’t many great options in the budget category? We wouldn’t agree. In this week’s article, we’ll highlight some amazing watches that you can consider adding to your collection, without breaking the bank.

Tissot PRX Powermatic 80

We start the article with the much appreciated Tissot PRX Powermatic 80. The PRX is a timepiece we’ve featured regularly since its inception in 2021, and that’s no surprise. After all, we reckon it may have been one of the best new releases to hit the scene last year.

The 40mm watch is the one that ticks most of the right boxes. It features a great design, with a solid integrated bracelet and a brilliant self-winding movement with 80 hours of battery life – all at a price of S$950. What more can you ask for?

Regardless of the state of its collection, the PRX is sure to be a brilliant piece that belongs in any watch collection. It’s hard to go wrong with this Tissot, and we certainly think it’s a great watch for any collector.

Hamilton Khaki Champ Mechanical 38mm

Next, we have an interesting – but somewhat overlooked – mechanical watch that offers a great value proposition: Hamilton Khaki Champ Mechanical 38mm.

This Hamilton was based on the historic military watches that were issued to ground troops in the past. The watch stays true to its original aesthetic and interestingly Hamilton had fitted the watch with a faux cream luminescence to enhance the classic look of the watch.

Notably, the watch is equipped with the ETA 2801-2 ebauche – a hand-wound, dateless version of the famous ETA 2824-2. It’s a three-hand watch, with a decent power reserve of around 42 hours. The Hamilton is priced at S$720, and it is probably one of the most affordable Swiss-made mechanical watches. We love it for its appropriate case size, but especially for its hand-wound movement. It’s a fun piece that’s great for casual wear – and definitely a great piece to add to any watch collection.

Baltic MR01

Baltic may have been just a micro-brand with a relatively short history, but it has been making strong waves in the watch scene since its inception in 2017.

The MR01 is the culmination of the excellent work done by the French micro-brand over the past five years. Here’s a watch that’s on many collectors’ wish list – a good-sized 36mm watch, with a great textured dial, Breguet-style numerals, micro-rotor, and a very attractive price. What more can you ask for?

Priced at €545 (about S$760), the understated and sophisticated dress watch ticks all the right boxes. Admittedly, some snobs might balk at using a Chinese move, but frankly, as long as it does its job properly, one should be able to easily ignore this factor without consequence.

NOMOS Ludwig 33 black

NOMOS is a brand that we greatly admire, and the new Ludwig 33 black reinforces our love for this Glashütte-based manufacturer.

There’s just something about the design language of NOMOS watches, and this black Ludwig 33 is a great example of that. Beyond the typical minimalist Bauhaus-inspired looks, the new timepiece also features a rather elegant touch – in the form of a black dial complemented by contrasting gold hands. It’s classy, ​​without being overdone.

The watch is powered by the in-house Alpha.2 caliber, a hand-wound movement with a power reserve of approximately 43 hours. The 33mm watch is a great dress watch for collectors with a smaller wrist, and at S$2,260 the Ludwig 33 Black offers a lot at that price.

Sinn 556

When it comes to Sinn, the first thing that comes to mind are the utility watches the German watchmaker is known for. That’s why it does that quartet of 556 limited edition a bit more special.

Launched in mid-2021, this series of 556 – with emerald green, citrine yellow, aquamarine blue and carnelian red dials – is a breath of fresh air. Beyond the colors, Sinn had also gone a step further by applying metallic highlights and a coat of varnish to the dial – which gives rise to the subtle shimmering effect that makes the timepiece look rather magical.

Only available for a run of 400 pieces in each dial variant, the 38.5mm watch is certainly another wonderful timepiece from this outstanding watch maker. Its price is 2,370 Singapore dollars, and it is surely an attractive alternative for collectors who want to add more dynamism to their watch collection.

anOrdain Model 2 mkII

We end the article with the sublime anOrdain Model 2 mkII.

anOrdain is a relative newcomer to the scene, but it has already had a strong impact on the watch scene. The Scottish watchmaker is known for producing brilliant timepieces, most fitted with a vitrified enamel dial (or great fireas it is more commonly known) which comes in many color options.

The watch is powered by the hand-wound Sellita SW-210-1, which adds to the old-school charm of this timepiece. We really appreciate the various interesting elements of the watch, right down to its unique pair of syringe hands. The attention to detail is pretty incredible, and for £1,850 (around S$2,950) we think many will struggle to find a watch as impressive and offering as much value as the anOrdain. The only downside? The current waiting list is unfortunately about 2 years.

Bonus: Furlan Marri “Dark Sector” Reference 2116-A

Furlan Marri is another brand that has been on most collectors’ radar, since the introduction of its stunning Mecha-quartz line saw the brand catapulted into the limelight.

More recently, in 2022, the brand launched its first mechanical timepiece: Reference “black sector” 2116-A. The watch is inspired by watches of yesteryear, with beautiful elements such as the Breguet-style numerals, stepped bezel, and elaborate cow horn lugs. According to our understanding, the watch is also equipped with a self-winding movement manufactured by La Joux-Perret.

The 37.5mm watch had a retail price of CHF1,250 (about S$1,760). This was a limited edition, with collectors able to purchase the watch on a 10-day pre-order period a few months ago. If you missed your chance, don’t worry, as we understand that new versions will be launched in the coming year.

Final Thoughts

Given the competition from micro-brands, we have seen an increase in good quality watches that are priced in the sub-S$2,000 and below category. This includes top brands such as Hamilton, Tissot and a selection of NOMOS and Seiko watches.

This means collectors can enjoy adding more watches to their collection. Previously, the alternative was either to scour the secondary markets for bargains or to restrict one’s purchases given the constraints. In recent years there has been a move away from this, and collectors now have the ability to mix and match watches easily, with the accessibility of more watches in the modest price category. We have to add that these sub-S$2,000 watches are no slouch either; some of these watches are pretty well made, and they give entry-level luxury brands a good run for their money.

We still believe that there are many great watches out there at different price points, and we feel that many serious collectors can still find a place for some of the seven watches we featured in their collection today. That’s what we’d like to see, and hope that manufacturers can continue to produce such wonderful watches at a relatively more accessible price.

About Robert L. Thomas

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