Buying Guide

Best of 2019 – Our Top 5 Accessible Watches

The MONOCHROME team selects the best accessible watches of 2019.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 min read |
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical - Reedition hamilton W10

As 2019 is coming to an end, we’ve gathered the MONOCHROME redaction team and started to think about the watches that most impressed us this year. After a look at the best chronographs, the best dive watches and the best traveller’s watches, it is time to think value propositions… And in 2019, we’ve seen some pretty cool accessible watches. As Christmas 2019 is on its way, we’ve selected 5 watches that we consider our Best of 2019 and that could be a nice treat for the festive season.

Accessible is a notion that is highly subjective. So before we start to list our best of 2019 “accessible” watches, this is what we consider a value proposition here. First, something extremely important for us: mechanical! We, at MONOCHROME, made the choice to focus on mechanical watches only, because that’s what we like. Nothing against quartz or digital watches, it’s just not our thing. Second, the price alone doesn’t make a good value proposition watch. You’ll see that we’ve selected 5 watches ranging from USD 300 to USD 2,500… But all of them are just great content for the price, whether in terms of design, quality or mechanics.

Baltic Aquascaphe

Baltic made quite a splash when it introduced its first collection of 1940s-inspired 3-hand and chronograph watches. This collection was an immediate success, due to its beautiful vintage design, fair price and very pleasant quality. Now the brand introduces its second collection, the Baltic Aquascaphe, a classic tool/dive watch with clear 1950s inspiration. Perfectly sized, with a clean design, nice materials all around (sapphire bezel, domed crystal, nicely executed dial), it features an automatic Miyota movement. Available in 3 editions (Blue Gilt, Black-and-Silver, Black Cream), it is one of our best surprises of 2019. And it is available on a classic, but oh so comfy bead-of-rice bracelet – and the look is simply cool. As of EUR 695 on rubber tropic strap and EUR 790 on steel bracelet.

Baltic Aquascaphe Dive Watch - Review

Quick Facts: 39mm diameter x 12mm height – stainless steel case, sapphire crystal bezel, sapphire crystal on top – 200m WR – Miyota 9039, automatic – “bead of rice” steel bracelet or tropic-like rubber strap – EUR 695 on rubber tropic strap and EUR 790 on steel bracelet – orders at baltic-watches.com

Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver

Dan Henry has been one of the most visible brands in the accessible/microbrand watches market. While we can certainly appreciate the cool design of his watches, most of them are quartz or meca-quartz (not our thing here). Still, there’s one that tickled our interest, the 1970 Diver. First, it is powered by a Seiko automatic movement. Second, and mostly, it really looks good and offers A LOT for the money. The Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver is a compressor-inspired dive watch, with a 40mm case, date or no-date display (you choose), and is available now in four new editions with cool colour combos. The best of all; it comes for only USD 290. And it doesn’t feel cheap, at all.

 

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Quick Facts: 40mm diameter x 14.8mm height – stainless steel case, optional PVD coating, mineral crystal – 200m WR – Seiko NH35, automatic, with or without date – tropic-style rubber strap – USD 290 – orders at danhenrywatches.com

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical

When it comes to Swiss-made, accessible watches, Hamilton might be the first name to come to mind. The brand’s reputation in this field is indisputable, especially with the highly praised Khaki Field watches. This year, the brand brings a new design and model to the collection, with the military-inspired Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical. Based on the 1973 Hamilton W10 made for the British Ministry of Defense and mostly worn by pilots, the re-edition remains entirely faithful to the original concept, down to its small but very cool 36mm diameter. Inside is a hand-wound, modified ETA 2801-2 with 80h power reserve (calibre H-50). Case and dial are well executed and the watch is full of nice details (the grained texture of the dial, for instance). And, in the classic Hamilton-way, it is fairly priced, at EUR 745 on fabric NATO and EUR 795 on leather NATO.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical - Reedition hamilton W10

Quick Facts: 36mm diameter – stainless steel brushed, hardened mineral box crystal – 100m WR – Calibre H-50 hand-wound with 80h power reserve – NATO in fabric or leather – EUR 745 on fabric NATO and EUR 795 on leather NATO – orders at www.hamiltonwatch.com

Ollech & Wajs OW C-1000

Recently revived, Ollech & Wajs is one of those brands that only seasoned collectors know… A hidden treasure that produced some of the best tool watches of the 1960s and 1970s. The brand is now back on track with new collections of relatively accessible sports watches, including pilot models and, just unveiled a few weeks ago, a new and powerful divers’ model inspired by the Caribbean 1000. The OW C-1000 is a relatively compact watch (below 40mm) with toolish design, 1,000m water-resistance and a design mixing modern shapes with cool 1970s elements. Powering this watch is the ubiquitous ETA 2824-2. It is now available for CHF 1,456 on nylon RAF strap and CHF 1,596 on steel bead-of-rice bracelet.

 

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Quick Facts: 39.56mm diameter x 15.15mm height – brushed stainless steel, sapphire crystal, diving bezel – 1000m WR – ETA 2824-2, automatic – nylon RAF strap or steel bead-of-rice bracelet – CHF 1,456 on strap and CHF 1,596 on bracelet – orders at ow-watch.ch

Ophion OPH 786 Velos

Last but not least, the new Ophion OPH 786 Velos. Yes, this is the most expensive model in our selection, and at just north of EUR 2,500, it is not per se an accessible watch… Well, until you understand what’s the watch really is. No Miyota or Seiko movement here, no Hong Kong-sourced parts. The new Ophion is a rather unique take on “accessible haute horlogerie”. First, it has a new case, with a design that might seem familiar. Indeed, the cases are manufactured by Voutilainen himself, with the signature individually welded teardrop lugs. Second, it features multi-layer dials, with bevelled rings, applied Breguet numerals, delicately shaped hands and, on some models, CNC-machined guilloché patterns. Finally, inside is a 5-day hand-wound movement by Soprod, with custom-shaped bridges decorated with polished bevels and hand-hammered decoration. Try to think of another watch at that price, with such a level of execution…

Ophion OPH 786 Velos

Quick Facts: 39mm diameter x 10.45mm height – stainless steel case by Voutilainen, sapphire crystal both sides – multilayered dials – proprietary movement made by Soprod, hand-wound with 5-day power reserve – handmade leather strap – as of EUR 2,580 (excl. taxes) – orders at www.ophion-watches.com

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