LIST: The 11 best watches of 2016 – $2000 to $3000

For our third instalment we’re entering a slightly different echelon of watches. Some buyers will just dive right into their first watch at this price bracket, whereas others will have whetted their appetites on more entry-level pieces, and are now ready to step up their game. You’ll notice a lot more familiar names on this list, as well as a few surprises. Overall it’s a healthy pack of contenders with a nice mix of  divers and dress watches.

Oak and Oscar Sandford


On the heels of the much-loved Burnham three-hand model, the Oak and Oscar Sandford continued to impress fans by offering a well-executed and stylish Soprod automatic-powered GMT in a compact and comfortable 40mm case. Though quite task-driven in terms of design, this piece is all about the details. A colour-matched date wheel, bright BWG9 Superluminova, a crisp sandwich dial, and American handmade Horween leather straps are just a few key points that help it stand out. The production run of the steel Sandford is limited to 300, though the black PVD model (100 made) sold out in a hurry. RRP $1850 USD

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Green Dial

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The 42mm version of the Oris Divers Sixty-Five has been going down as one of the hottest vintage-inspired divers of the year, and with each addition to the collection we find a variant we love even more than the last. If you like the colour green, this is one of the best out there at the moment. The warm, rich tone works perfectly with the beige faux-patina lume, and like all of the collection, it comes with a great matching NATO strap. RRP from $2800 AUD

Ball Engineer II Genesis


While many of Ball’s recent releases have included Chronometer certification and a much heftier price tag, the Engineer II Genesis hit the market in 2016 with an entirely different goal in mind — to bring a more entry-level offering to the market that still boasted the brand’s well-executed finishing and heavy-handed use of tritium lume. The new piece is available in both 40 and 43mm case sizes (at the same price), and is available with either a black or blue dial on your choice of calf leather or steel bracelet. And yes, the tritium still rocks. RRP $2595 AUD

Longines Heritage 1969


Longines has had a really good run with reissues in recent years, including the Heritage 1918 we covered back at Basel, but this new model is one of the best. The design speaks loud and clear to the glory days of ’60s dress watches, right down to the case dimensions of the day. The 36mm cushion case is 9mm thick and houses the Longines L888.2 (a rebranded ETA) with a respectable 64-hour power reserve. In an era where corners are frequently cut, Longines paid extra attention to all the key details enthusiasts care about, and it definitely paid off. RRP $2625 AUD


Alpina Alpiner 4 GMT Business Timer


Alpina’s latest variant of the Alpiner GMT is a little quirky — listing the words ‘Ice Legacy’, ‘Believe’, ‘Preserve’ and ‘Transmit’ on the dial in support of an expedition team focused on exploring 20 of the largest glaciers on earth  — but it’s still worthy of your consideration. The chunky 44mm tool watch adds a pepsi inner 24h track, giving it a hint of vintage charm, and it maintains the 360-degree bezel from other GMT 4 and Chronograph 4 models. As sister-company to Frederique Constant, you do get a taste of in-house movement goodness here, though not the whole shabang. Alpina uses a base Sellita SW-200 for timekeeping and then adds an in-house GMT module that allows for independent jumping-hour setting of the home time – extremely convenient for frequent travellers. RRP $3000 AUD

Meistersinger Phanero


Known for their sleek one-handed watches, Meistersinger’s lineup has quite a few cool pieces in it, though for the longest time it didn’t include anything sub-40mm. With the launch of the Phanero, you can now get a properly compact 35mm single-handed dress watch that’s just 7.5mm thick. With dress watches trending smaller and smaller, this new Meistersinger is a solid pick if you’re wanting something that’s a little out of the ordinary. RRP $2100 AUD

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Bronze


Modelled after Zodiac’s early dive watches, the Super Sea Wolf 68 was already a hit in stainless steel, but adding bronze to the equation for 2016 really pushed it over the top. The chunky 1000m diver uses a spring-loaded locking bezel to ensure it can’t be knocked out of position when in use under water (or while desk diving at work). The new piece is limited to only 82 pieces worldwide, and having witnessed how good Oris’s Carl Brashear looks after a few months in the Aussie sun, we’re genuinely eager to see how these bad boys will age over the next few years. RRP $2100 USD

Tutima M2 Seven Seas Diver


On the list of tool divers out there, the M2 Seven Seas was easily my favourite of 2016. Their smaller DI300 divers were much-loved for no-nonsense design and sturdy construction prior to their discontinuation, and I was thrilled to see the case size drop back down from the current 46mm size seen in the rest of the M2 lineup. And though 44mm might seem big on paper, these divers wear a smaller due to their lugless design. The matt blue dial on titanium bracelet is the smartest option in my opinion. As an added bonus, the AR on its 3mm thick sapphire crystal is noticeably improved too. RRP from $1900 USD

Doxa Sub 50th Anniversary Limited Edition


On the topic of tool divers, Doxa is a hard brand to ignore, given that the bright orange beasts have been involved in more diving expeditions than just about any dive watch on the planet. They were the go-to diver for the Cousteau family from the early days of Jacques exploring the world’s oceans aboard Calypso, right through to Fabien’s recent experiments living 31 days underwater. Creeping up on their 50th anniversary in 2017, the brand has released a very true-to-the-original version of its classic orange sub. The new model will be just as slim as the original, powered by a COSC-certified ETA 2824-2, and most notably it will be produced in a limited 300-piece run, all for less than $3k. RRP $2490 USD

Dietrich OT-1 Luminous Carbon Bezel


Remember mid-last year when we showed you the supremely awesome Franck Muller Vanguard Carbon Krypton that added luminous material into its forged carbon case? Well, it seems they’re not the only ones playing with this clever use of lume. Sure, it serves no functional purpose, but if you’re looking for a real statement piece we’d still encourage you to have a look. Dietrich watches are all about the clever, well-executed design details, relying on bulletproof Miyota movements in order to spend more on their outlandish dials and cases. RRP $1950 USD

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Steel


If simple and understated is more your speed, we haven’t forgotten about you. Montblanc’s slender dress watch ticks ALL the boxes. The compact gem is only 5.8mm thick and 38mm in diameter thanks to its wafer-thin hand-wound movement, and its silver dial and rhodium-plated hands and indices will look great with just about any office attire you choose to throw its way. RRP $3030 AUD