Despite what the masses think, there’s no need to amass an incredible budget to enjoy the “tic-tac” of a mechanical watch on the wrist. In fact, the past years have been great for watch lovers, even those with a tight budget. The rise of crowd-funded projects (most of them not worthy of being mentioned though) and the effort of some brands to offer entry-level pieces allow young generations or enthusiasts with a lower budget to access the world of mechanical watches. For our latest buying guide, we’ve gathered 5 cool, well-made and original mechanical watches priced below EUR 1,000. More money, more pleasure? Not sure!
Note: the following list is based on a consensus among the MONOCHROME redaction team. If you have other examples of recently launched, affordable watches (under EUR 1,000) that impressed you, feel free to share them with us in the comment box.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
Hamilton has always been known as the entry-level brand of the Swatch Group, with solid offers in the mechanical watch field. What’s new is the great “touch of cool” found in the latest creations. This started with the Khaki Field Mechanical in 2018 and a few weeks ago, the brand did it again with the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, a re-issue of the 1970s W10. It comes with some solid pros: pedigree, faithfulness, great historically relevant dimensions (33mm x 36mm), handsome textured dial, well-constructed case and an improved hand-wound ETA movement with an 80h power reserve and a reasonable EUR 745 price tag. If you like vintage-inspired military watches, you know what to do!
Quick Facts: 33mm x 36mm steel case – hardened mineral crystal – 100m water-resistant – Calibre H-50 – hand-wound with 80h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – storm-grey textile NATO with steel hardware – H76419931 – EUR 745
MeisterSinger Urban Day-Date
MeisterSinger is a brand that we love here at MONOCHROME for the simple reason that it offers original displays at reasonable prices. The brand is known for its “single-hand” watches, where time is depicted in an unusual way. No minutes or seconds hands, just one large hand displaying the hours and minutes to the closest 5-minute interval. Recently, MeisterSinger introduced a new entry-level collection, still based on this display but powered by Japanese Miyota movements, allowing for a price below 1K. Two versions of this “Urban” are available: a time-only and a second model with additional calendar indications (day-date), which makes it a practical piece on a daily basis.
Quick Facts: 40mm x 13.25mm stainless steel case – sapphire crystal – 50m water-resistant – Miyota 8285 – automatic – single-hand with hours, day and date – calfskin leather strap with pin buckle and additional NATO strap – EUR 995
Ollech & Wajs OW P-101
Ollech & Wajs is a brand that is only known by a small part of the watch community but that comes with an incredible pedigree. A Swiss brand dedicated to tool watches founded in 1956, the brand created multiple cool and nicely designed mechanical pieces and even bought stock and equipment from Breitling when it shut down its operations. The brand, unfortunately, didn’t survive the quartz crisis and ceased its production. But we’re in 2019 and Ollech & Wajs is back on track, with new, accessible and historically relevant watches. This includes the OW P-101, a solid tool watch with cool vintage/military design, 39.5mm steel case with 300m WR, domed sapphire crystal and automatic ETA movement. And the price remains very reasonable too.
Quick Facts: 39.56mm stainless steel case – domed sapphire crystal – 300m water-resistance – ETA 2824 – automatic – hours, minutes, seconds and date – natural leather strap – CHF 956 (approx EUR 865)
Seiko Samurai SRPD23K1 “Save the Ocean”
It is hard to write a buying guide on affordable watches without mentioning Seiko… The Japanese brand is the master of this category, with many cool watches priced from EUR 400 to EUR 1,000 – and not only divers but also elegant watches (Presage), chronographs or adventure pieces. For this selection, we chose the latest edition of the well-known and beloved Prospex Samurai, a modernly shaped dive watch with 200m water-resistance and an automatic in-house movement. The present ref. SRPD23K1 is part of the “Save the Ocean” project and features a specific colour scheme – blue and grey – as well as a nicely decorated dial. A good watch for a good cause, for only EUR 479.
Quick Facts: 43.8mm stainless steel case – hardened mineral crystal – rotating bezel – 200m water-resistance – movement 4R35 – automatic – hours, minutes, seconds and date – steel bracelet with folding clasp – ref. SRPD23K1 – EUR 479
Vario Empire Automatic
When you think elegant, dress watch you usually associate it with a high price. But as this buying guide is focussing on accessible watches, we thought it would be good to include a watch that addresses this category. Recently, Singapore-based brand Vario introduced the Empire, an Art Deco-inspired model with automatic (or hand-wound) mechanical movement. We had the watch in our hands and it impressed us by its overall quality. The case is well proportioned and well assembled and the dial is full of nice details. Elegant with a twist, it is powered by an automatic Seiko movement and is available through crowd-funding for just USD 278…
Quick Facts: 38mm x 11.5mm stainless steel case – sapphire crystal – 50m water-resistance – Seiko NH38A movement – automatic – hours, minutes, seconds – Italian leather strap or Harris Tweed strap – USD 278 for Early Bird (retail will be USD 348)