There are those amongst us who believe a watch is simply a tool for telling the time and that form is definitely secondary to function. They would caution us that as soon as we preface anything with the term “luxury” the only guarantee is that the price will be inflated beyond reason and that our desire for such “aspirational” goods is the root of all evil within the free market economy.
Conversely there is a well tested maxim that we get what we pay for, and it is no coincidence that many of the best watch brands have been plying their trade since long before these detractors first drew breath!
With that said there are people who would love to own a luxury watch (or half a dozen) but are perhaps put off by what they perceive to be an unjustifiable expense. Let us consider for a moment that by definition a luxury watch is almost certainly a long-term investment and likely to give years of faithful service. In contrast many of us think nothing of spending £2000 (or considerably more) on an overseas holiday which will be little but a memory in the blink of an eye.
So, if we were to forgo that 10 days in the sun, what could that £2000 get us if we were to dip into the luxury watch market instead of that hotel pool?
Here we look at just a few of the excellent alternatives available.
TAG may not be the first brand to come to mind when it comes to luxury watches, but their reputation for producing robust yet stylish timepieces has seen them getting pretty close, behind only Rolex and Omega in terms of brand popularity amongst the top manufacturers. The surprisingly modest price tag of many of their models belies the fact that this is an exceptionally good brand committed to offering a quality product. We are actually rather spoiled for choice when looking for a TAG Heuer within our £2k budget, but in our opinion the Aquaracer Chronograph is the pick of the bunch.
Retailing at around £1750 it features a high precision quartz movement in a fine-brushed steel case with screw down case back and crown to ensure water resistance to 300m. It even includes a diving extension (for use over a wetsuit) and comes backed by TAG’s 2 year warranty.
As an alternative, if you like your watches in limited edition form, you could do worse than keeping an eye out for the TAG Heuer Formula 1. You may need some luck getting hold of one, with a production run of just 200 pieces this stunning watch may be hard to come by, especially as it had an initial RRP of just £1250 which is little short of astonishing for a limited edition luxury watch.
Longines are another Swiss manufacturer who have been perfecting their art for over 175 years and their Heritage range pays homage to that illustrious history. The Heritage 1951 is an automatic, 3 dial chronograph offering 48 hours power reserve and typical Longines styling, so that whilst it is unmistakably a chronograph this watch also embodies everything required of a classic dress piece.
The company has made a real effort of late to prove exceptional quality does not always mean excessive price, and to this end the Heritage 1951 comes in at around £1200, which is phenomenally good when you consider what a classic looking design this is.
To reinforce Longines’ claims, there is also their Master Collection Chronograph. Whilst distinctly chunkier than it’s “Heritage” cousin, the vintage styling of this automatic is very much in demand at the moment and this model packs in plenty of functionality alongside the style. Finished with a brown alligator strap and blue steel hands the Master Collection Chronograph will still only set you back around £1850.
For those wanting a bit of Rolex quality and style without worrying about being accused of wearing a “fake” Tudor are the perfect answer. Their Heritage Black Bay is a clean and stylish homage to both the Rolex Submariner and Tudor’s own variant which was first introduced in the 1950’s. The Black Bay features a robust but not overly bulky 41mm steel case and interchangeable straps, making it both adaptable and practical at a very reasonable £1890.
Breitling are another brand intent upon proving themselves against the big boys, especially with a new CEO at the helm. Priced at around £1690 the Breitling Colt Skyracer is one of the their more practically styled pieces, designed for durability and originally intended for use by the armed forces. The latest version of the Colt features Breitling’s SuperQuartz movement, which boasts accuracy 10 times greater than a standard quartz movement.
So there you have it. In truth we could have populated this rundown with a surprisingly large array of watches from a plethora of manufacturers but these are the models that we think represent the best “bang for your buck.” Hopefully we’ve helped illustrate that £2,000 can actually buy you an excellent (or even iconic piece) and that there is such a thing as affordable luxury without having to compromise on quality.