There are times I am besieged with recommendation requests –
They usually go like this, “I have a budget of $____ and I want a watch that looks ____” (fill the $ blank with 200 or less and the ..that looks blank with good, expensive, classy, dressy, non-digital, non-plastic, etc.). Despite the fact that this blog mostly features G-Shock and other technically advanced watches, the on-going coverage here of affordable dress, utility and fashion products makes people think that there could be an answer here to their selection quandry. “What would you buy?” is often asked: that’s a compliment that I can’t let pass without response.
So, let’s get down to business..
I have done my shopping and can recommend some prospective products in three ranges.. under $100, under $150 and around $300. As I always do, I suggest that you check around the net for best prices. And, often (this is a warning frequently disregarded) the prices that I quote here may become invalid because on-line pricing often goes up as soon as it is recognized that the items have become popular again – amazon.com is particularly adept at this.
Stuhrling Original Men’s 601.33152 Classic Swiss ‘Ascot’ Watch
Minamal elegance at it’s best, the Ascot line from Stuhrling Original is a delight. At the discount price of $76. it presents a better than avarage value. It is Swiss quartz, stainless case and back, real leather buckled band and water resistant enough to be safe in the shower.
If you want a dress watch, this one could fill the need. Stuhrling Original is not percieved as a cheap brand like Timex invariably is, nor is it a product that would be found in one of the stores at the mall (Seiko, Casio Timberland, Kenneth Cole, Fossil, Citizen, et al) so it has a better chance to be regarded as the premium product that it emulates.
There is a delightful rose-tone / black face version of this watch (601.3345K1) for a couple dollars more (and a few other colorway variations you can check out on amazon.com in the same price range – search: Stuhrling Ascot).
Skagen Men’s 906XLTTM Titanium Titanium Chronograph Watch
If you are not familiar with the Skagen line, you can go to any mall and check them out. What you’ll find is a very wide selection of similar watches at very reasonable prices. Of course you should hold off buying from the big box stores if you want to get a great deal – like forty to fifty percent off. Amazon, MrWatch, and Newegg always seem to have marvelous discounts.
This model that is being featured here is available for under $125 with shipping. You get a chrono, date, second hand, lume on the hands and markers. The materials used sweeten the offering: titanium case, titanium mesh band and carbon fibre dial – beauty, that! At 9mm, and with the mesh band that is continuously adjustable, you can get a dead flat fit and the watch will stay exactly where you want – unlike almost every other watch in the world. (while I’m on the subject – a short rant. All you watchmakers out there with your resin bands, stiff leather bands, rubber bands and poor fitting metal bracelets – your shit sucks, your watches are a nightmare to wear!) Reviews of the Skagen watches with the mesh bands are unanamously favorable; comfortable counts!
Swatch Irony Chrono Your Turn Black Mens Watch YOS440
Swatch is one of the many companies in the Swatch Group that include an astounding list of prestiegious watch and watch parts manufacturers. Not that anyone should care about such things, except that the Swatch products benefit tremendously from the myriad associations: Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Omega, Tiffany & Co., Longines, Rado, Union Glashütte, Tissot, ck watch & jewelry, Balmain, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, Swatch, Flik Flak, Endura and Tourbillon. And ETA.
So, when I recommend this particular chronograph, I do so without reservation about it’s quality, technical innovaton, cosmetic flair, or anything else that could be critisized, for that matter. This is a good looking piece – for only $137 it’s a load of watch value.
It’s big and not so flat (47mm X 13mm) so it fits in the style of “oversized” and if you’re wearing a sweater or other tight fitting sleeve top, expect to deal with “the cover-up” whenever you check the time. The dense markings on the face, white on black are an elegant mix of time, tachymeter, and subdials. Hands and hour markings are luminous. Fit and finish in general is remarkable: stainless case and back, real pigskin band, and mineral crystal. The ability for the user to replace the battery is a nice touch.
Victorinox Swiss Army SAF Airboss Mach 5 GMT
Well the name of this one is a mouth full of model identification (and would be longer if SAF meaning Swiss Air Force were spelled out), but it’s ok since the watch is a majorly cool product. It is only available in very limited supply at the dump price of $330. and If you like what you see, you might want to make the purchase leap right away. I found one on Amazon with free shipping thrown in. It is quite a bargain!
What makes it a swell choice? It’s a genuine Swiss watch, manufactured like only the Swiss are able to from the right list of materials – sapphire crystal, an ETA 2892 21-jewel automatic movement (also used by Omega, Breitling & Rolex, among others), a beefy stainless case, generous lume on the hands and numerals, and a calfskin band. (As are a lot of automatics) the back is presentation (or skeleton, as they say), which is always cool. and the watch stands out from the crowd because of the extra crown whose funtion is to set the (under the glass) GMT chapter dial. On it’s gray dial and consistant with it’s theme are four rings of useful numbers and the cities which make the dial a bit busy and military looking. It has a date in window and sweep second hand.
Torgoen Swiss T10103
Another Swiss Quartz watch in a lovely brown IP coated stainless steel case with screw-down back and a heavy duty pig-skin leather band; buckle and crown are signed. It features sweep second hand, date in a window, and generously lumed hour markings and hour and minute hands. The Torgoen name has garnered a lot of higher quality cache these last few years in the pilots’ watch category. This particular watch, at $190 from amazon, is an excellent buy.
And, here’s an investment (in yourself) suggestion:
Hamilton Jazzmaster Thinline (H38511733-blk)
You want an impressive watch on the conservative side with branding that indicates masculinity and good taste, style that is much more dress than sport, and absolutely reliable.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Thinline (H38511733-blk) fulfills this list and then some. Minimalist to the extreme, without a hint of ostentatiousness, It looks very expensive, and with the sapphire crystal, surgical stainless case, heavy duty leather band, and a little user care, this timepiece will continue to maintain it’s classy image for life.
The case on this one is only 8mm thick so (once the strap is broken in) it will fit very flat on the wrist and it will fit under the sleeves of any shirt or jacket without catching. At 42mm, the case is tastefully large but not bulky – what in today’s men’s fashion world would be considered medium size (37mm = small, 40mm = standard, and 44mm and up = large).
It is a (Swiss) quartz movement inside, an ETA 955.112 that is as efficient and rock-steady as you can get. A lot of watch elitists blatantly eschew the notion that a Hamilton watch without a mechanical movement is any kind of good idea – but then those same critics are the sort that will invest in watch display cases, watch winding machines, will have the phone numbers of watch repair shops in their rolodex, and will usually spend an hour or so a day blabbing with their on-line buddies in a watch blog chat forum. But since the watch does not outwardly identify it’s engine, there’s a good chance those same watch snobs will stop you in line at Starbucks and say, “nice watch, dude, Hamilton, ummm!”
Hamilton has been around forever and has always been a solid player in the watch industry. Here’s a video from them in 1949 that explains the workings of the mechanical movement using some excellent special effects (for it’s time).
Thanks for asking, guys. I appreciate the chance to assist in your quest. These manufacturers all crank out a lot of different models at as many price levels and it can be confusing – just trying to pick one Hamilton, for instance, out of the dozens in each feature/price tier (and further complicated by a glut of discontinued pieces still on the shelves of re-sellers) can be an adventure in comparison consumer research that only the most hearty, seasoned shopper could bear. These posts are written with that in mind. I’d love to hear from any of you that have read my articles and have proceeded onto purchasing. Did I help you?
Personal notes: RIP Michael Clarke Duncan. We enjoyed your work, big guy, we’ll remember your spirit.