You just saw your company’s CEO wearing a gold Omega Constellation Globemaster that costs more than your car. That level of style and horological brilliance is enviable for sure, but there’s no way you’d be able to purchase a timepiece anywhere near that price point right now since it costs what you make in one quarter at your job. But it’s still possible to buy a high-quality watch from a luxury brand without going into debt. The good news is that every luxury watchmaker has at least one timepiece that falls into the “affordable” category (or at least “more affordable”) so you can more easily have a watch for every occasion.
In watch circles, affordable generally equates to anything around the ballpark of $500, but when it comes to luxury brands, that asking price swings upward to a range of a few thousand dollars, give or take. You might balk at that, but the most affordable watches from high-end brands pale in comparison to the top-tier models that can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consider these entry-level luxury watches the gateway to becoming a more serious collector further down the line when your budget is considerably larger.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professionial 200 Date
It’s hard to overstate the significance this new timepiece in the TAG Heuer collection. Not only is it just as wearable for work as it is for date night, but it also delivers a Swiss automatic movement, near perfect 40mm case size, and a unique dodecagonal bezel that’s positively stunning. Equal parts beautiful and sporty, the steel bezel, textured blue dial, and the subtle date window at six o’clock make it an affordable automatic timepiece that’s the perfect start to your collection.
You can’t have tiny wrists and wear a Panerai, but the Radiomir might just work for those who don’t have forearms like Dwayne Johnson. The 45mm case is big, but the slim wire lugs keep the wrist overhang to a minimum. It’s an elegant Panerai that still exudes the bold flavor of the Italian Naval watch brand, as exemplified by the bold sandwich dial and the polished steel cushion-style case. The movement is a hand-wound mechanical with an Incabloc anti-shock device and three days of power reserve.
Breitling Superocean Automatic 42
There’s no question that the Superocean is dive watch icon, and it’s now been redesigned with more colors, a high-style dial, and three different diameters to meet the needs of various wrist sizes. The 42mm version hits the sweet spot with its manageable 12.5mm thickness. The Superocean Automatic 42 gets a tough and handsome ceramic inlayed bezel, chunky hands and markers, 300-meters of water resistance, and shock protection in case you decide to actually surf something other than the web.
Bremont Supermarine S300
Bremont might be a relative newcomer to the watch scene, but it has certainly made a mark for itself. Although the brand’s focus is on pilot’s watches, the diver is worth a look for its features and price. The S300 has all the makings of a premium dive watch and then some. It has 300-meters of depth rating, AR-coated sapphire glass, screw-down crown, and hands and indices made with Super-LumiNova. To top things off, it has a unique scratch resistant DLC treated case barrel that provides added toughness, color contrast, and visual depth. The modified calibre 11 B2AE automatic movement is housed under the S300s decorated caseback.
NOMOS Club Campus 38 Night
Almost no company does modern clean design like NOMOS Glashütte, and you can plunk down $20,000 for its top-tier Lambda or you can get your foot into the NOMOS door with the very affordable (and still automatic) Club Campus 38. The dark Night model with its matte black dial and a vibrant polished stainless steel case is a manageable 38.5mm in diameter, and the Arabic and Roman numerals use a beige SuperlumiNova that glows blue in the dark. The manual-wound movement provides an impressive 43 hours of power reserve, and its small seconds dial has a contrasting red hand.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M
The Aqua Terra 150M represents one of the best dressy sports watches in the premium segment. What Omega packs inside this 41mm beauty is hard to believe. First of all, there’s the stunning green textured dial that shimmers in the light. Secondly, the Co-Axial automatic movement anti-magnetic to 15,000 gauss and chronometer certified based on stringent testing requirements. The lumed and rhodium-plated hands provide beautiful visibility by day or night, and you can dive with it to 150 meters (maybe swap it out to a rubber strap first, though).
It’s difficult to get your hands on a Rolex from an authorized dealer. Yet Tudor, Rolex’s less expensive, but still luxury-focused, sibling brand, is another story. You’d be surprised how approachable it is, especially the redesigned Ranger. It’s super-legible, unlike some timepieces, and it’s built to last. The new Ranger gets styled after the late 1960s Tudor Rangers and measures in at a modest 39mm wide by 12mm thick. The unique 3/6/9/12 markers look like nothing else in horology today, and they’re painted in a yellow-green Super-LumiNova along with the hands. Perhaps most impressive for the price is the in-house, COSC-certified MT5402 automatic movement.