Five stylish watches that won’t break the bank in a time of austerity
Makers of mid-tier watches are looking to catch the eye of collectors trading down due to economic uncertainty
The mechanical watch industry is at a crossroads, with the twin threats of slowing sales in Hong Kong and China and the increasing popularity of smartwatches making life uncomfortable. In such economically constricted times, consumers are trading down – something that’s anathema to an industry so intertwined with status and perceived or actual value. However, mid-tier brands have stepped up to the challenge with a wealth of high-quality products that are reasonably priced.
Here we look at five great watches, none of which should set you back more than HK$30,000.
Nomos Orion Neomatik
Germany’s Nomos is a relatively new brand, when compared to some of its competitors, having been founded in 1990, a mere two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Famed for its minimalist designs, Nomos watches feature clean modernist dial designs coupled with movements made in-house at its Glashütte base in eastern Germany. The Orion Neomatik (HK$29,800) is a perfect distillation of the best of Nomos and features an ultra-slim 36mm steel case (yes, case sizes are becoming smaller, another side effect of the more austere times we live in). Features are kept to a minimum on this watch, with only a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock so as not to clutter the dial, and it comes with a cordovan leather strap.
Tudor North Flag
Rolex’s more reasonably priced sister company Tudor is enjoying its moment in the sun as consumers look for cheaper but no less prestigious brands. The company is also on something of a hot streak when it comes to its product offerings. The North Flag is another gem from Tudor and at an incredibly tempting price of HK$23,500. Coming in a sporty 40mm steel case, the North Flag is inspired by a watch Tudor made for the British North Greenland Expedition in 1952, hence the heritage styling and its overall robustness. The watch features an in-house MT5621 movement and features include a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock.
Here’s a rather more left-field choice, the Frederique Constant Pocket Watch. At HK$26,900, some may think this is a pricey and eccentric novelty but pocket watches should really be given a second look, especially for those looking to send that unique engraved gift. Made of steel, the case is sized at 45mm and inside is the FC-700 movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Features are simple to fit, with heritage design and use of roman numerals, and the watch has a hinged case back.
Breitling Superocean II 42
If you’re in the market for a dive watch but are put off by the high prices for some of the more iconic pieces from the likes of Blancpain and Rolex then check out the Superocean II 42 from Breitling. It might seem counterintuitive to seek out Breitling for a dive watch, as the brand is so closely associated with aviation, but the Superocean II 42 is a top-class watch with great features and priced at HK$30,000. The dive features on this 42mm steel watch include water resistance to 500 metres, a unidirectional bezel, markings legible in low light and a rubber strap.
Eterna Super KonTiki
Guys looking for a robust watch for outdoor activities that will also look just as good with jeans and T-shirt should check out the Super KonTiki from Eterna (HK$21,700). Limited to 888 pieces, the Super KonTiki is based on an iconic dive watch from 1962. The great thing about this reissue is that it features so many on-trend aspects from the black on black PVD steel case and dial to the ability to do quick strap changes (the watch is supplied with a Nato black mesh steel and black leather strap on purchase). Sized at 45mm, inside the watch has a reliable Sellita movement.