Budgeting sucks. For realsies. There’s nothing more boring than being sensible with money. I am a risk-taker. If I don’t leave the house and spend all my money on magic beans sold to me by a silk-tongued mountebank with fingerless gloves and a cheeky-chappy cockney accent then I’m doing life all wrong.
Alas, that attitude has left me on the fringes of bourgeois society, living in a rented flat filled with magic beans. To make matters worse, watch companies, realising we live in austere times, are releasing pieces in steel, which means prices are dropping like a stone, and that obviously triggers spendthrifts like me. Nowadays, you can pick up iconic pieces or watches from previously unobtainable brands for way less than HK$100,000/US$12,800. What a time to be alive.
For a company that makes, reportedly, a million watches a year, Rolex has an uncanny ability to still appear exclusive, and the introduction of more affordable steel watches in recent years has seemingly had zero impact on its luxe positioning. It doesn’t make sense, if you think about it, but it’s best not to question these things. Instead, we are happy to encourage the company to make its iconic pieces available to a wider audience, as it has with the Datejust 41, which now comes in a steel version.
The Datejust 41 (the number denotes the case size) was introduced last year to great critical and consumer acclaim but was only available in Rolesor variations – Rolex’s patented mix of steel and precious metals. This year, the brand gives us an all-steel piece and, yes, the price is way more attractive.
The Datejust doesn’t really need much explaining – it’s a simple yet legendary watch with an instantly recognisable design but the 2017 edition has a top-of-the-class COSC-certified 3235 in-house movement with a thoroughbred 70 hours of power reserve. The Datejust 41 in steel (right) is priced at only US$6,300, so expect to see a lot of guys sporting this sooner rather than later.
A lot of haute horology brands introducing steel pieces have some experience with the metal but in the case of H Moser & Cie, it’s all new. The brand’s first stab at it, the Pioneer Centre Seconds Automatic (right), came out this year and it’s a gem.
For a top-end brand with a cultish following, pushing out a steel watch is a bold yet welcome move, and the Pioneer represents everything that’s great about H Moser & Cie but at a price that won’t make you think about selling an organ.
The piece is priced at 11,900 Swiss francs (HK$95,000) and what you get for that money is a classically styled dress watch, with the signature H Moser fumé, or smoke-effect, dial in gorgeous and on-trend midnight blue.
Inside is a stellar HMC 200 movement that has a power reserve of three days. The watch is water resistant up to 120 metres – you’ll never ever take it under water, but it’s reassuring nonetheless – and comes with a sporty rubber strap.
Finally, we have the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel, a statement watch now available in more affordable steel from Rolex’s more affordable sister brand. It’s a meaty piece from the popular Black Bay collection that has made Tudor the hipster’s choice (although linking up with Lady Gaga might kill its hard-won sense of cool).
A fully functional dive watch, this Black Bay has a 41mm steel case and a unidirectional rotating steel bezel. The design is clean and simple, as per dive-watch traditions, and the water-resistance figure is an impressive 200 metres.
Inside beats an in-house MT5612 calibre movement with a 70-hour power reserve. It looks great, but what’s likely to get you to open your wallet is the price – the Heritage Black Bay Steel is priced at US$3,800 for the steel-bracelet version (above).