Nothing sets off an outfit like a good timepiece. Whether it’s a formal occasion or just a casual weekend, wearing the right watch allows you to make an impression on those you meet with a mere flick of the wrist. However, not all of us have the means to go after the top-tier brands while we set about owning a suitable compendium of timepieces. If your choice of iconic watches are currently out of your grasp, consider these alternatives. The timepieces in this list retail for under $4,000, making them solid entry-level choices.
The dive watch has come a long way from its original utilitarian roots. What was once an indispensable companion of deep sea divers can now be spotted at boardroom meetings and weddings alike. The Oris Sixty Five Bronze is a fine example of a dive watch that has evolved to suit contemporary tastes without forsaking its heritage. Available in 36mm and 40mm, the Sixty Five Bronze uses the natural alloy on the outer ring of its unidirectional bezel. Rose gold PVD-treated hands, indices and chapter ring markers provide a subtle contrast and accentuates the timepiece’s vintage charm. For those who prefer the no-date look, the 40mm case features a dial with its date display located discreetly at six o’clock. The 36mm version places the date at the standard three o’clock position.
Chronographs are the original tool watch. Early iterations were used by doctors and soldiers alike. Since then, they’ve found their way into any conceivable situation where precise time-keeping is required. The nature of their design creates plenty of possibilities for dial presentation: Ball’s Engineer Hydrocarbon Race Chronograph features a horizontal bi-compax layout for the sub-dials along with a sportier “panda” colour scheme. For those concerned about the watch’s movement not being up to snuff, the Hydrocarbon Racer Chronograph is powered by the in-house Ball RR1401-C automatic movement that is COSC-certified. It also uses tritium gas tubes on its hands and dial for night-time legibility.
Chronographs have always been useful in aviation. Prior to the advent of flight computers, pilots used to rely on aviation chronographs to perform complex calculations pertaining to concerns like fuel consumption and air speed. Due to the functional nature of these timepieces, they tend to convey a very busy look on the dial. The Zeppelin 7624-1 exemplifies this well, without looking quite as intimidating as many others.
While the Zeppelin 7624-1 doesn’t come with the slide rule bezel that vintage enthusiasts would consider essential, it does include a tachymeter housed within the case – a two-layered one that tracks two complete sweeps of the seconds totaliser, no less. Along with the three-register layout and mixture of black, red and blue accents against a white dial, the 7624-1 exudes a retro visual that many will be able to appreciate. Incidentally, the series is dedicated to the Zeppelin LZ 126, the first passenger airship used for long-haul flights.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, chronographs have been adapted to almost any style of watch. The limited edition Frederique Constant Runabout Chronograph can be considered a “dress” chronograph due to its luxurious appointments. Coming in both stainless steel and rose gold-treated options, this particular timepiece features a hobnail guilloché pattern, centred on a clean white dial.
Chronograph aside, a simple date serves as the other (eminently useful) complication. The pump-style pushers on the side of the case protrude quite a fair bit, which some may find a tad too sporty for a dress watch. However, the croc-embossed calf leather strap does help to balance things out a little.
Housed within the Runabout Chronograph is a modified Swiss Valjoux 7750 movement that can be hand-wound and stores a 46-hour power reserve. Just 2,888 pieces will be produced (both of the rose gold and stainless steel variant).
The world was introduced to the very first iteration of a luxury sports watch during the height of the Quartz Crisis in 1972. Not only was the concept radical, but the idea of elevating a stainless steel watch to luxury status was borderline insane for its time. The Dietrich TC carries these ideals quite well in its own DNA. The angular diving helmet-inspired case with exposed screws, coupled with the integrated stainless steel bracelet and textured dial are a nod to a classic heritage. Hints of its own its own character are found on the raised indices, hexagonal bracelet links and a matching crown. With a length and width of 42mm and 43.8mm, the TC plays to modern preferences when it comes to sizing, but manages to retain some traditional dress watch sensibilities, thanks to a case thickness of only 9.3mm.