Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Best Accessible Watches of 2023

No need to break the bank to wear something stylish with these five friendly priced watches!

| By Robin Nooy | 5 min read |
Swatch x Blancpain Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms - opinion review

Watches cost money; it’s as simple as that. And it’s also a given that luxury watches cost luxury money. But the assumption that you need to spend a fortune to wear something cool and stylish is wrong, luckily. While most of us might dream of tourbillons, split-second chronographs, minute repeaters or perpetual calendars, not many of us have the budget to spend tens of thousands or more on such watches. But if you look well enough in the entry-level segment of the market, there are plenty of very cool and very stylish watches. And with that in mind, we’ve voted on what we think are the Best Accessible Watches of 2023!

The market for mechanical watches below the EUR 1,000 mark (give or take) has become crowded as new brands or projects are popping up like mushrooms on platforms like Kickstarter. And while most of these come and go just as fast, occasionally, there’s one that makes a lasting enough impression to become a household brand. But even within the widespread landscape of well-established brands, some can nail the value-for-money watch on its head.

Baltic Bicompax 003

In just a couple of years, French watchmaking brand Baltic has established itself as a household name when it comes to cool, retro-styled, accessible mechanical watches. This year, Etienne Malec and his team have launched the third generation of one of its earliest models, the Bicompax chronograph. The Bicompax 003 drops down from 38mm to 36.5mm in diameter, on par with the current trend for smaller, vintage proportions. The new dial has multiple textured finishes, with a frosted/grained centre, a circular brushed outer ring and circular grooves on the two subregisters. The design is straight from the 1940s, both on the interior and the exterior. Movement-wise, Baltic selected the manually wound Seagull ST1901 column-wheel chronograph, which fits the theme of the watch perfectly and keeps the price down to a very sensible EUR 540 (excl. taxes). And for a small premium, Baltic installs an open caseback.

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Baltic HMS 003 silver-blue - Baltic Bicompax 003 salmon

For more information on the third generation of the Baltic Bicompax 003, please check out our hands-on introduction here.

Certina DS Super PH1000M

We’ve grown accustomed to brands digging into their archives to find past models to inspire new collections. While it is often done very nicely, few brands actually manage to knock it out of the park. Certina is one such brand and impressed us with a very cool and robust retro diver this year, the DS Super PH1000M. Thanks to the construction of its beefy 43.5mm by 42mm barrel-shaped steel case and helium escape valve, the water-resistance rating is an impressive 1,000 metres. Inside, the Powermatic 80.611 keeps you going for up to 80 hours. The orange (limited to 1,000 pieces) or (non-limited) black dial has large, applied indices with oversized hands. The rotatable bezel on top has a black insert and it comes with a rubber strap and an additional one made from #tide ocean material (recycled plastics). And at CHF 910 for the black dial and CHF 970 for the orange one, it certainly doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

For more information on the Certina DS Super PH1000M, please check out our hands-on story here.

Seiko 4 Sports SKX Series 38mm

Seiko has always been very good at making super-cool accessible watches, and the 5 Sports SKX series is undoubtedly one of the best-known and most beloved mechanical watches. For 2023, the Japanese powerhouse has decided to introduce a quartet of mid-size versions of its icon. Coming in at 38mm, it is literally a downsized Seiko 5 Sports from all angles, with some fresh new colours added to the mix. You can go for the classic black or cream dials, or the more outspoken orange or even funky mint green (which would be our choice!). Underneath the see-through crystal, you get a view of the calibre 4R36 that powers it. It comes on a stainless steel three-link bracelet that has a folding clasp and retails for an extremely sensible EUR 350. What’s not to love about that?

Seiko 5 Sports SKX Series 38mm Collection Mid-Size - SRPK29 SRPK31 SRPK33 SRPK35

For more information on the super-cool 38mm Seiko 5 Sports SKX SRPK29, SRPK31, SRPK33 and SRPK35, please check out our live introduction here.

Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms

Yep, it made the cut! The Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms has been selected as one of the best accessible watches of the year. This Blancpain and Swatch mash-up, following the immense success of the Moonswatch, celebrates the iconic Fifty Fathoms in a fun and accessible way. The Scuba, to make it simple, has a bioceramic case, a Sistem51 mechanical movement and comes in five different case and dial colours dedicated to the five oceans of planet Earth. Although it might be to everyone’s liking, it does bring Blancpain to the attention of a new crowd of people who, potentially, might find themselves lusting after a ‘real’ Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in the long run. There was debate about the Scuba’s serviceability, but we addressed that in our recent hands-on. And for EUR 390, it’s a very accessible and fun watch for people who don’t take life too seriously.

Swatch x Blancpain Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms - opinion review

For more information on the Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms, please check out our introduction or opinion piece.

Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 40mm Ice-Blue

Beloved for its no-nonsense approach to the luxury sports watch, Tissot has hit a genuine homerun with its PRX Powermatic 80 collection. Available in two sizes with multiple dial colours, the very best in our book is the ice-blue dial in the 40mm size. The shape of the case dates back to a quartz watch Tissot made in 1978. Just like the original, it has a raised bezel, applied indices, a time-and-date display and an integrated bracelet. The PRX changes things up from its predecessor with a Clous de Paris dial pattern, which looks super cool in this ice-blue tone. As indicated by the name, the mechanics are also more than taken care of, as it uses the Powermatic 80 automatic movement. This has a running time of 80 hours and comes with an anti-magnetic Nivachron hairspring. Currently, it’s priced at EUR 775, which makes it hard to ignore the PRX.

Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 Ice-Blue Dial T137.407.11.351.00

For more information on the ice-blue Tissot PRX Powermatic 80, please check out our review right here.

6 responses

  1. The Swatch is accessible in price only. The fact that they can’t be bought online is ridiculous.

  2. You left out the Seagull 1963 and Citizen Tsuyosa… If you are prepared to buy a Baltic at more than £500 (which has no history) you should at least consider the Seagull, which has the same movement and an honourable heritage. The Citizen oozes character and is both fun and excellent value.

  3. To be fair SMB, I went into the London store and got one with no queuing – the next day I got a Mission to the Moon as a Christmas present, so they are definitely available now.

  4. I have noticed lately expensive Rolex watches on everyone’s wrist lately I bet the credit cards are maxed out the thing is you just can’t take them with you when you die well I’m going to change that I’m going to buy my first Rolex sub. when I’m on my death bed and wear it when I’m 6 foot under I’ll be the most expensive and sought after skeleton I know I know I’m bizarre and random I own 40 seiko watches never was interested in super expensive watches because you just can’t take them with you……..maybe you can I am.


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