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Things To Look For In Affordable Luxury Watches

Many of us would love to complete the overall style package with a nice watch to look the part. On the other hand, many of us also don’t have thousands of dollars to spend. But before you give up your goals on nice watches that you’ve been eyeing for as long as you can remember, there are options that shout style without burning a massive hole in your hip pocket.

Having said that, buying an affordable luxury watch is no different to any other purchases. There are some fundamental elements that one should look out for in order to get the best value that your money can buy.

Sapphire Crystal

Even though the price point may be on the lower end of the scale, you should not have to live with a watch where the face of it is more scratched than a cat pole. Most watches nowadays come in one of two crystal guises: mineral glass or synthetic sapphire crystals. Mineral crystal is the cheaper alternative of the two. It does offer one advantage and that is when struck hard, it cracks but does not shatter. However, shattered mineral crystals are rare unless you really put effort in making it break. A better quality watch will thus use thicker sapphire crystal on its face instead so there is less likelihood of cracking. Also another advantage of sapphire crystal is that it is incredibly scratch resistant. Often you’ll see well worn watches with ‘perfect’ faces, so when choosing an affordable luxury watch, sapphire crystal is the way to go.

Hamilton American Classic Jazzmaster (Image: Hamilton Watches)
Hamilton American Classic Jazzmaster (Image: Hamilton Watches)

Swiss movement in a Swiss Watch (Or Japanese movement if it is a Japanese watch)

We all know that the Swiss make the best timepieces, upholding their reputation in precision and intricate engineering of watch movements and parts. The Japanese does not lose out either since they were the first to commercialise the quartz movement into everyday watches. However, watches that come from either one of the two countries doesn’t necessarily mean the movements inside the watch also comes from same point of origin. Most Swiss watches use movements from either ETA or Ronda. Japanese watches will typically use movements from makers such as Seiko, Citizen or Casio. One thing that you will have to be mindful is to avoid Chinese movements as much as possible. This is not a signal of bad quality per se, but more the fact that Chinese movements are still unproven when it comes to the quality department. All in all, at the affordable luxury watch price point, it will be very unlikely that you will come across mechanical movements so don’t worry too much about placing your focus on a sub-par mechanical watch when a well-made quartz movement watch is far superior.

Sound mechanical engineering is pivotal to accurate operation. (Image: Tag Heuer)
Sound mechanical engineering is pivotal to accurate operation. (Image: Tag Heuer)

Solid Metal Construction

Metal is metal right? That is in fact not true when it comes to luxury watches. With the pressures of high profit margins and lowering costs, not all metal casing is made the same. Steel watches should have it’s casing made from grade 316L stainless steel and the bracelet links should be made from solid pieces rather than folder or hollow metal. Finally the watch should be made with the most amount of metal, with the least amount of pieces possible.

Raymond Weil Maestro. (Image: Raymond Weil)
Raymond Weil Maestro. (Image: Raymond Weil)

Designed by an Actual Watchmaker

People tend to think that proper watchmakers are not focused on the affordable end of the luxury watch market. The truth is, there are plenty of well-known watchmakers that makes a myriad of styles on this end of the pricing spectrum. Instead of focusing on buying a watch from a ‘branded’ clothing label that outsources their timepieces to an external provider, consideration should be placed on purchasing a watch from a proper watchmaker who values style, function AND form. The last thing that you want from spending a good portion of your money is having a timepiece not being able to do the standard things properly, such as missing chronograph subdials, funny markets on dials, seconds hand not striking the proper mark and hands that are the wrong size.

Tissot T-Race (Image: Tissot)
Tissot T-Race (Image: Tissot)

Locking Deployment Clasp on a Metal Bracelet

It may seem fairly obvious but you may be surprised on how many watches only have the cheaper single locking clasp for its securing mechanism. The better watches will use a double or triple locking clasps. This is when the upper joining area locks via clicking down when it is attached to the bottom securing area, followed by a second, smaller part that ‘locks’ the overall area in place. The triple lock also incorporates a push-button mechanism into the mix. Having such a locking mechanism means you can be certain your watch will stay on your wrist, no matter what you do to it.

A secure locking mechanism will ensure your newly acquired investment will not get accidentally damaged. (Image: Tag Heuer)
A secure locking mechanism will ensure your newly acquired investment will not get accidentally damaged. (Image: Tag Heuer)

Consistent Pricing

You may be thankful to know that even on the affordable end of the luxury watch market, a profit margin is still placed on the various styles that watchmakers sell on the market. Having said that, a good affordable luxury watch usually has its pricing fairly consistent, due to a set bottom-line pricing benchmark. This means that retailers can only charge so much margin on top when they on-sell to retail customers. If for example a watch that you have set your mind on has a buying cost of $800 through official channels, but you spot the same watch being sold for $400 through unauthorised dealers – then you have to question the intrinsic value of the watch as it has inconsistent pricing.

Baume and Mercier's Hampton range is one of the more consistently priced models when it comes to affordable luxury watches. (Image: Baume & Mercier)
Baume and Mercier’s Hampton range is one of the more consistently priced models when it comes to affordable luxury watches. (Image: Baume & Mercier)

So there you have it, a short guide on what to look out for when you a buying a luxury watch from the affordable end of the market. At the end of the day, a smart buy will always be a good buy.

Got some brands that you think are in the  affordable luxury market? Leave a comment below.

Till next time,


About Johnny

A typical car nutter that likes to get his hands dirty. Skyline and Silvia fanatic not to mention trak-life's own personal tuner and mechanic. Doesn't mind sparing a few days at the gym to stay fit and definitely likes to eat to keep the balance right.

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One comment

  1. Nice guide guys. Well said

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