7 Women Industry Insiders Pick Top Watches For Under $1,000 (for both genders)

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Roberta Naas | ic_query_builder_black_24px 9 minute read |
7 Women Industry Insiders Pick Top Watches For Under USD1000

Just in time for the holidays, we bring you seven great watches – for men and women – under USD1,000, as selected by women insiders in the watch industry. This article was initially conceived of in response to the male-insiders-only article written in the New York Times just over a week ago. For that article, entitled “A Watch With Snob Appeal for Under $1,000? Six Watch Insiders Offer Picks” the author opted to inquire about top watches under $1,000 as selected by 6 different men, including our Founder, Frank Geelen. We, at MONOCHROME, wanted to hear what women have to say on that topic too. Additionally, we can bring some choices for both men and women as well – something the men really can’t do.

Each of the women insiders weighing in here has been covering the watch industry for anywhere from 10 to 34 years – writing for some of the most prestigious watch and consumer magazines in the world – making each a true industry insider. It should be noted that we understand that watches under USD1,000 are a difficult category to expound on, yet it is a category that captures the hearts of many a millennial. So here are seven watches with great appeal that women industry insiders feel are a great choice in the price category.

7 Women Industry Insiders Pick Top Watches For Under USD1000

From left to right – Tracey Llewellyn, Carol Besler, Sophie Furley, Victoria Townsend, Sandra Lane, Roberta Naas, Elizabeth Doerr

Roberta Naas, Founder of ATimelyPerspective.com – New York (also, Monochrome-Watches USA/Women’s Expert)

Brand: Vortic. A small-batch watch brand based in Colorado, making custom watches using restored vintage movements and, in most case, great 3D-printed cases. You can even build your own watch. While many are priced higher than $1,000, you can get something really nice for $995.

Model: The Chicago, built using antique pocket watch movements made by Elgin, once the world’s largest watch manufacturer.

Why I like it: “I struggled with which watch to pick today, because I was torn between a great Movado Heritage Series Calendoplan Chronograph (yes, a $950 quartz watch that packs a powerful vintage appeal), an unusual Klokers watch and Vortic. In the end, the Vortic won out because it is a grand blend of so many things: vintage movements, high-tech 3D printed cases, Americana. The Chicago watch is part of the brand’s American Artisan series, and, as mentioned, houses a vintage American-made Elgin pocket watch movement that has been refurbished in America by American watchmakers. In great contrast to the historic element, the cases are titanium 3D printed by Imperial Machine and Tool in New Jersey, which specializes in 3D printing for aerospace and military uses. The back piece is stainless steel, milled in Colorado, and the crystal is Corning Gorilla Glass (made in Los Angeles). Even the hand-crafted straps, made from American cowhide leather, are crafted for Vortic by Hadley Roma Stylecraft division based in Florida. (For a little more money, one can opt to trade up for a Horween Shell Cordovan horsehide leather from Chicago, IL, but to be honest, the cowhide straps have a great look.) In all, the Chicago watch is a grand package of old and new, of mechanical and modern and has a rich American lure.”

Price: $995

Sophie Furley, Editor-in-Chief, Revolution Switzerland – Geneva

Brand: Omega, Vintage purchase. Swiss luxury watchmaker Omega, founded in Bienne in 1848.

Model: 1970s Omega Electronic F300Hz Seamaster Chronometer powered by a tuning-fork movement that predates quartz movements.

Why I like it: “One place to find a great timepiece under $1000 is on the pre-owned market. Like with used cars, you can often find a great deal for a brand that would normally cost much more. But unlike cars, a second-hand watch doesn’t have any mileage, so if it has been well cared for, it is just as good as new!”

Price: $650-$800, depending on where you buy it

Sandra Lane, Editorial Director of Alam Assaat Wal Moujawharat – Dubai

Brand: Seiko. Internationally, Seiko is widely associated with basic, quartz watches but in the Japanese domestic market (say “JDM” for real watch-cred) people have always known that the company makes excellent mechanical watches too – and its Presage line, made available to the international market only since 2016, offers outstanding value for money.

Model: Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time” Created solely for the Japanese Domestic Market in 2010, the design was a collaboration with a famous Japanese cocktail barman – which led to the public nicknaming it “Cocktail Time.”  It was launched internationally in March 2017 with a choice of dial colours: silver, ivory, pale grey, dark grey, ice-blue, cognac-brown and – my choice – deep blue.

Why I like it: “That dial. It looks gorgeous and is loaded with the kind of details normally reserved for Haute Horlogerie. Deeply etched with a sunray pattern, it has been given a graduated blue coating (also known as fumé, meaning smoked) and finished with seven layers of gloss. As a result, it looks alive – and really comes into its own when the light plays on it from different angles. (Nerd-alert: wearing the watch, you may find yourself staring at it for ages as you twist your wrist one way and another.)  A fine fillet of polished metal has been applied around the date window (something you don’t see on many higher-end watches) and the tapered kite-shaped hour markers are also applied. The fine, printed minute track nicely echoes the ribs of the sunray pattern, and the tip of the fine second’s hand has been curved to avoid the parallax effect of viewing it through the curved glass. The box-shape Hardlex mineral glass and fluted winding crown add a subtly retro feel (and note the manicure-friendly shape of the crown!). The case-back of hardened mineral glass allows you to enjoy the movement – a solidly reliable Seiko mechanical calibre. While the finish is very basic – as may be expected at this price – the partly skeletonised rotor with a brushed golden surface treatment contrasts nicely with the metallic tones of the movement itself. At 40.5mm, the watch is as big as my tiny, girly wrist can take, but with the metal link bracelet worn slightly loose, it feels great.”

Price: $425 and up, depending on where you buy it

Carol Besler, Independent Watch Journalist – Toronto.

Brand: Mido. An often overlooked Swatch Group brand that shares movements with sister brands, including Tissot, and represents high-value entry-level luxury.

Model: Mido Belluna II Automatic, 33mm, with a mother-of-pearl sector dial and contrasting oversized Roman numerals. It reminds me of the Cartier Ballon Bleu, sans the creative crown.

Why I like it: “The automatic, Calibre 80 movement, originally made for Tissot by ETA. It has a lower frequency – 3Hz (21,600vph) instead of 4Hz (28,800vph) – a high-performance Elinchron II balance spring, and an impressive 80-hour power reserve (compared to the standard 38h). The mainspring was made longer but thinner, allowing it to be coiled into a standard barrel size, thus saving space. It also incorporates a seconds hand, rare on a ladies’ mechanical watch. Proof that an over-priced, over-decorated timepiece is not the only option for women who want a top quality mechanical ladies’ wristwatch.”

Price: $890

Tracey Llewellyn, Deputy Editorial Director, Revolution Press – London.

Brand: Hamilton. Begun as an American brand, the company headquarters is now in Bienne, Switzerland, and is part of the Swatch Group.

Model: Khaki Field Auto 40mm

Why I like it: “As one who has always admired the military watch aesthetic and its prevailing philosophy of clarity, legibility and functionality, the Hamilton Khaki Field Auto 40mm is a pretty good choice of wrist-wear for me. Supplier of timepieces to the US Army during the Second World War, Bienne-based Hamilton carries the slogan “American Spirit. Swiss Precision.”  Each version of the Khaki Field uses a simple and effective colour palette, my personal favourite being olive green strap and dial with a stainless-steel case, while the large white numerals and hands with lashings of luminescent material make for easy reading in all light conditions. The proprietary H-10 automatic movement has 80 hours of power reserve, so that even after a watch-free long-weekend, it will not need re-setting or winding. Simple, robust and water resistant to 100m, the Khaki Field ticks so many boxes, all for under $700.”

Price: $695

Elizabeth Doerr, Co-Founder, Quill & Pad – Germany

Brand: Ming. A micro brand created from one passionate enthusiast’s search for the perfect watch.

Model: Ming 17.01. Encased in titanium and wrought through and through with deliberate details that vastly exceed what almost every other watch in this price range offers, the hand-wound Swiss made 17.01 is an all-around daily wearer for the undercover watch connoisseur.

Why I like it“I think this is one of the best buys in watchmaking today, perhaps only superseded by the likes of Nomos and Seiko with their manufacture movements. The watch’s slim titanium case, coming in at 38mm x 9.3mm, can be comfortably worn by both men and women and its many case and dial details perfectly suit the fan of Haute Horlogerie’s demands on a timekeeper. The MING 17.01 is perfect for the A. Lange & Söhne wearer who may not want to take a gold watch on a beach vacation, for example. And its quick-release strap system even allows for wardrobing (and it comes with three straps)!”

Price: $900

Victoria Townsend, Freelance Journalist – Paris

Brand: Hamilton. From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where it was founded in 1892 to its home today in Bienne, Switzerland, Hamilton International is a brand with authentic U.S. heritage. Equipped with quality Swiss Made movements since its acquisition by the Swatch Group in 1974, Hamilton watches are often THE reference for a first-purchase beautiful automatic watch.

Model: Hamilton Jazzmaster Lady Auto

Why I like it: “The Jazzmaster collection, launched in 2003, now has more references than there are notes to play, and one of the most recent ones, the Jazzmaster Lady Auto, is a serious eye-catcher with performance to match. Hamilton has been creating ladies’ watches since 1920 so the brand knows how to make them fit, and this 34mm round steel case is small enough to sit gracefully on any lady’s wrist.  Its feminine good looks are enhanced by curved Arabic numerals and graceful hour, minute and seconds hands on a textured patterned dial seen through the sapphire crystal.  A flower configuration with a round aperture at 12 o’clock proudly shows off details of Caliber 2824-2 with a power reserve of 80 hours; a further look is provided on the back.  Water resistant to 50 meters, this watch comes with a black or white dial and matching leather strap.  Easy-to-wear and tough enough for everyday use, the black model is also perfect for night-time glitter. From a brand that inspires confidence with 125 years of history, the versatile Jazzmaster Lady Auto is a true find.”

Price: $675


This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of watch-magazine A Timely Perspective. Roberta is also the author of six books on watches.

14 responses

  1. @Kees When the car is old, it is old; nobody cares about, unless Daytona, NSX, Cobra, db5. Too many second hand watches are very respectable, Tudor, Patek, and of course, that vintage Omega because they answer the test of time.
    When Kees can answer the test of time, we love to have them, New, Used, Pre-Owned, …

    Cheers

  2. i don’t think anyone says that a second-hand watch has no mileage, nor that women have don’t have brains. In fact, women with brains is the perspective we are coming from here. I think the reference made by one insider to the fact that seconds hands on women’s watches are “rare” for a mechanical watch … may be what you are referring? Perhaps the point is “seconds hands” on mechanical watches under $1,000 … not prevalent. thanks for your comment and readership.

  3. Great article indeed. For me, watch collecting is not just a journey but an attitude where we can appreciate opinions from all walks of life regardless of gender, race, social-economic status and taste. Without this, snobbery begins to take over our beloved passion. I value all opinions and often opens the door to aspects I once was not aware. An industry insider is someone that is constantly exposed to more watches than even the most seasoned private collectors from all market segments thus offering holistic opinions that many are just not exposed to. Thank you.

  4. This is a really wonderful item! Big thumbs up for the idea, and huge kudos from me for taking on that male insiders only initiative. But Roberta Naas’ choice here is incomprehensible. That is an atrocious watch in so many ways, and I am not talking about poor taste only. Really would love to see what Roberta has in her own collection. Leopard-print dials, and tricolour bracelets?

  5. Ha ha P. Oktori… sorry you don’t like my choice, but as Garret Hu says, it is all a journey and we all have personal taste. I don’t have leopard print dials in my collection, sorry to say … because i love leopards. Nor do I have tri-color bracelets — but with the resurgence of bi-color in the watch industry- two-tone is all in…. Glad you enjoyed the article, even though you didn’t like my choice of watch. As mentioned, I was torn — perhaps you would have liked one of my other potential choices .. but then we can’t please everyone. Thanks for reading.

  6. Thank you Garrett for your comments — you are right, we see many more watches — i see thousands annually — and half a dozen factories as well on an annual basis. watches are a passion … good to be exposed. thanks for reading.

  7. Regarding the first comment about 2nd hsnd watches, it is Sophie Furley’s segment he is referring to. Furley states, “…unlike cars, a second-hand watch doesn’t have any mileage…”

    For mechanical watches, this is simply untrue. The movements are little engines. They build up mileage as they are wound and worn. When unworn, lubricants break down or congeal which can be doubly damaging when the watch is again wound.

    The used market is full of pitfalls, especially with an uncommon vintasge movement, but equally true with a newer high end peice that may have expensive proprietary parts.

  8. I think hearing about women’s watches from women journalists is great. I hope to see more articles like this. Roberta’ a choice was one I haven’t seen before, good ideas all around.

  9. Kudos on Ming & Mido, 2 of thew “buff-ier” brands, in this insightful. reality-based article

  10. That Ming is gorgeous, but from 7 recommendations we get 2 second hand watches, a reconditioned Elgin and 2 Hamiltons? This is bizarre.

  11. Great article. Nice to see the selection of Vortex by Roberta. Although they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I love that some beautiful antique movements gain new life. These would otherwise be thrown away after scrapping their gold cases. I for one fully support the resurgence of craftsmanship in the US in any form. Although i’ve yet to pull the trigger on one of their pieces, I’ve been following them for some time. Elizabeth’s choice of Ming is a new one for me, but it is beautiful. I’m going to have to look into it more. Thanks for the insight!

Leave a Reply