Five Great Watches That Won't Break The Bank

Every man wants a Tag or a Patek Phillipe, but with the world the way it is, it's not happening. Check these beauties out...
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Every man wants a Tag or a Patek Phillipe, but with the world the way it is, it's not happening. Check these beauties out...

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No gentleman should check the time on his phone and while a Rolex, Omega or Patek Phillipe are lovely things, you don't need to spend thousands of pounds to get a properly nice wristwatch. Here's five that it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to include in your letter to Santa.

Swatch Charcoal Suit

You can’t really go wrong with a Swatch. They’re sort of the (original) Mini Cooper of the watch world. Truly class-less, totally classy; a Swatch watch is just as happy in a trendy independent coffee shop with a MacBookPro that the person using it can’t really afford as it is on the wrist of a pro snowboarder or in the Ivy Lounge.

The Charcoal Suit is simple day/date quartz, slim but with a fairly large 43mm case. A great everyday watch.

£66.50 from the Swatch shop

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TW Steel Icon

Basically the complete opposite of the Swatch, this TW Steel is strictly for those who like their watches to fall into the ‘big fuck off’ category of time piece design.  Taking the idea of large cases almost to the point of reductio ad ridiculum, the Icon is not for those who like their shirt sleeves to reach their wrists. That being said, you’ll struggle to find a better ‘impact’ watch than this for less than two hundred notes – even ‘in real life’ it has the look and feel of a much more expensive piece.

The Icon (aka TW622) has a date quartz movement, genu-ine leather strap and a whopping 50mm case. They also sponsor the Renault nee Lotus Formula One team, so buying one basically makes you an F1 driver…

£175 from Goldsmiths

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Mondaine Retro

You might not have heard of Mondaine, but these are the chaps who make the clocks for the Swiss Railway network – The Most Reliable Public Transportation System In The World™, so they know what they’re doing. A lovely, simple design, with a fantastically clear face – this is a Proper Swiss Watch. Unusual (how many have you seen?), accurate (I have one of these, and it’s not lost a moment in nearly a year) and with proper sapphire crystal glass, at a smidge over two hundred quid it’s a proper bargain.

The Mondaine Retro has a day/date quartz movement (you can get a very similar automatic for another hundred-or-so quid) and a leather strap. Also available with a black face.

£225 from John Lewis

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Christopher Ward C11 MSL MK1 Chronograph

Ok, we’re moving up a bit in the price range here, but as far as bargains go, this is the daddy. Christopher Ward has only been around for seven years, but has made a huge impact on the watch scene with their Swiss-made time pieces at bizarrely low prices. This chronograph with a surgical stainless-steel case and sapphire crystal glass sells on the Christopher Ward website for £350. Yes, it does crib the design of the Bell&Ross BR chronograph a bit, but that costs exactly ten times more so let’s not complain too much. CW has a huge range, and they’re basically all gorgeous. Check out the site.

£350 from ChristopherWard.co.uk

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Harold Pinchbeck Edward

You want classy? Well, this is fucking classy. It will go beautifully with those hipster brogues and that new pair of cords you’ve just bought, if you’re that way inclined. More importantly though, this is a British-built time piece from a company that has roots dating back to 1732 – history doesn’t come a great deal richer that. This is a watch for connoisseurs; people who fancy something a bit different. Yes, it’s the bottom of the range, yes it’s not an automatic, but it is rather lovely, it's rare and it comes in a variety of colours. My personal favourite is the pictured parchment dial and ostrich strap, but you can get it with a green, white or yellow face with brown or black Italian leather strap.

The Harold Pinchbeck Edward houses a date quartz movement in a fine (7.9mm deep), fairly compact 35mm case and is all hand made. No one will know what you have on your wrist, and that will make you very smug indeed.

£449 from HaroldPinchbeck.co.uk

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