As a committed reader of the Financial Times and The Economist, those purveyors of doom and gloom, I am, of course, preparing myself for Global Economic Armageddon Part II. “What Armageddon?” you say, sipping your cold Sancerre and stroking a fluffy white cat. Well, it turns out that Asia might be in for a dose of austerity soon, so as belts tighten you may want to rein in the spending. However, even in the worst of times you still need to tell the time, right? Affordable and desirable can go together and a new watch for less than the trifling sum of HK$3,000 might be what the economist ordered.
We begin with local favourite Void and its allnew V03B (below right). Designed by a Swede living in Hong Kong, Void watches have that strong Scandinavian design aesthetic, with the dial of the V03B standing out for what it doesn’t feature rather than what it does. The design is clean and uncomplicated but not cold and clinical – a trap certain other minimalist watch designs fall into. The warmth of the design is also helped by the powder blue colour scheme, just one of several colour options. The 38mm stainless-steel case houses a Japanese Quartz movement and the watch is water resistant to 30 metres. Another pleasing feature is the Nato strap, which is very trendy right now and gives the watch a sporty edge. The Void V03B is priced at HK$1,330.
From a niche watchmaker we move to one of the big boys. In recent years, Nixon has quietly transformed itself from urban lifestyle brand to credible watchmaker and its 2012 timepieces can only win new admirers. The Nixon Spencer (below left) is a watch that has subtlety at its core. Nixon avoids minimalism and has instead created a toned-down design to allow the features of the watch to come to the fore. The 45mm stainless-steel case comes with a chunky steel bracelet that means the build quality is solid and reliably water resistant to 50 metres. The dial is large and features a digital ABOUT TIME Abid Rahman display that allows for second timezone functionality as well as giving the watch a neat alarm function. The Nixon Spencer comes in a variety of colours and material options and the watch is priced at a bargain HK$2,390.
Our third and final gem under HK$3,000 is the Lip De Baschmakoff (above right). Priced at an incredibly tempting HK$2,690, the De Baschmakoff is a reissue of a legendary 1971 Lip watch designed by Prince Francois de Baschmakoff. Despite his aristocratic lineage, de Baschmakoff was at the forefront of industrial design in the 1970s and his original watch has become a key component of all Lip collections. The new De Baschmakoff watch, first reissued in 2008, retains the design of the original but has subtle tweaks here and there and under the bonnet. The movement is a Ronda 513, and the time is indicated by two rotating discs; one for hours and the other for minutes. However, the tiny time display is almost subsumed by the huge leather strap that will no doubt dominate the wrist of the wearer. This strap comes in grainy black leather. Some watch zealots strongly disapprove of the reissuing of original watches, and there is something to be said for standing against the cynical repackaging of a brand’s history. My feelings are that the zealots should get out more and enjoy the design frisson provided at such moderate prices by watches such as these.