The realm of mechanical watchmaking is steeped in a lot of labourious handcrafts which tend to increase retail prices beyond what is defensible (to the wife or girlfriend) of the average consumer or for the young professional beginning his first real job. Thanks to Kickstarter and a handful of other watchmakers outside Switzerland, you can get a decently made, robust timepiece for $500 less. These watches definitely don’t break the bank while giving you a massive uptick in sophistication.
5 Mechanical Watches Under $500
The first contender hails from Japan. Seiko is quite notable for its highly customisable Seiko 5 and its haute horlogerie cousin – Grand Seiko. But beyond the shores of the Rising Sun, few are aware of a mid-tier collection called: Presage. The Seiko SARB065 is distinctive for its dressy aesthetic and dial replete with guilloche effect. The result is a beautiful timepiece which looks high end to all but the seasoned collector.
Seals Watch Company Model A
Starting as a humble Kickstarter project which met its funding goals well under deadline, the Seals Watch Company is creator of this wickedly delightful mash-up of two beloved high horology icons: a Hublot Classic Fusion and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Series A without the ten figure price tag. Designed, built and tested with elegance, durability and longevity firmly in focus, the Model A uses a workhorse Miyota 9015 mechanical movement from Japan. Limited to 100 pieces per design. [Shop Seals Watch Model A]
Panzera Flieger Dornier
Giving you a taste of IWC sans the experience of going to bankruptcy court, Panzera is a newcomer to the scene, hailing from Germany. Developed to bring a new level of price competitiveness to the watch and men’s fashion industry, you can trust the Germans to develop enduring 47mm Pilot’s watches like this Flieger Dornier that’s simply value for money on both quality and appeal. [Shop Panzera F47-07D Dornier]
Panzera Altos Mesh Ltd Bauhaus Chronograph
Also from Panzera is this mindblowing Bauhaus-style mechanical chronograph. Sure, it costs slightly over $500 but can you direct me to another mechanical chronograph with product quality and design to boot below $2000? I think not. Available for pre-order from the same guys who make the Panzera Flieger collection, this purist (sans date) handwound Bauhaus chronograph from the Breuer collection is to die for. [Pre-order Panzera Breuer Altos Mesh Chronograph]
Corniche Heritage 40
Apologies. This isn’t mechanical, it’s quartz but Corniche’s Heritage 40 comes in at an affordable USD345 while bringing tons of high luxury class reminiscent of Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionelle (my favourite classic dress watch grail of all time). The model comes in different versions, in both rose gold and stainless steel – both featuring ceramic dials. The magnificent revamped case, with its mix of brushed and polished finishes, features curved lugs as well as hand-applied polished markers – both capturing reflections beautifully.