LIST: The 8 best watches of 2016 – under $1000

“What watch should I buy for ___ dollars?” is the almighty question we hear day in and day out. And while there’s no simple answer, we thought we’d point you in the right direction with a ‘best of’ hit list in every thousand dollar interval from one to five over the next few days. We can’t possibly hit every single watch in each segment, but our goal is simple — to give our fellow enthusiasts a healthy set of options that fit a wide range of tastes and budgets. With that in mind, let’s kick things off with eight of the best for under a grand.

Seiko Turtle Reissue SRPA21K

Seiko PADI diver

OK, so this guy’s a total no-brainer – a reissue of Seiko’s classic (and now quite collectable) 6309 series day-date divers. The originals were in production from roughly 1976 to ’88, and this past year saw countless fans shouting “Shut up and take my money” as the numerous variants of the Turtle reissue sold out, time and time again. The line includes something for everyone, including a gilt-dial variant, all black, all blue, a very cool grey made-for-the-Thailand-market  Zimbe Turtle, and of course this one, the limited-release SRPA21K PADI-partnership blue-dialled model with pepsi bezel. RRP $699 AUD

Zelos Hammerhead

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For the second cab off the rank we’re staying in the dive family, but going obscure with the Zelos Hammerhead. Here, Elshan Tang of Zelos (and Ventus) watches brings another rare material down to the entry level. Previously we saw him playing with carbon on the ultra-affordable Ventus Black Kite, and now we’re treated to the first meteorite dial at this price point — a material we previously loved in Omega’s funky Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite, as well as the JLC Master Calendar Meteorite. The Hammerhead delivers a chunky ’70s diver-inspired case, 1000m water resistance, ceramic bezel, monster lume and a tried-and-true Seiko NH35 automatic movement to boot. RRP $629 USD

Hamilton Khaki Field Auto 42

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At the more classic end of the spectrum, Hamilton’s Khaki Field watches have been part of their line-up for decades, paying great tribute to the military issues the brand produced back in the day. This year saw a handful of colour ways added, including this brown dial with faux-aged lume, which wins its brownie points for playing up the vintage game just the right amount. Of course you can still opt for a classic black dial, or an on-trend PVD black quartz model for far less coin. RRP $745 USD

Swatch Sistem51 Irony Arrows


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The launch of the original Sistem51 threw the watch world into shock. An automatic movement completely assembled by robots? How was that going to work? Well, the original series stood the test of time, and new for 2016 the whole line received a healthy little upgrade. The Sistem51 Irony collection drops these movements into steel cases, and most importantly the line includes this VERY cool take on a B-dial pilot. Who’d have guessed a brand like Swatch would go so far to appease the watch geek community? RRP $270 AUD

Bulova Moon Watch Reissue

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One of two interesting launches from Bulova this year is their somewhat controversial Moon Watch re-issue. Yes, Omega owns the “first on the moon” claim to fame, but Bulova’s Speedmaster-esque Moon Watch also hit the surface when Captain David Scott’s officially issued Omega suffered a failure. After the original timepiece fetched north of a million dollars at auction, we weren’t one bit surprised to see Bulova step up and create a tasteful re-release. Much like the Speedmaster, Bulova’s new moon watch wears a little on the hefty side, but it’s a mighty fine looking piece at a reasonable sticker price. RRP $550 USD

Raven Trekker TR40

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A good compact diver in the sub-$1K range isn’t that hard to find, but tracking one down that’s well-finished and doesn’t leave you trying to ignore its weak points can be a bit tougher. Raven has been in the game for quite some time (it’s the sister company to Stevral, previously known as Benarus until a relatively recent name change), and the Trekker is their latest in the category, boasting a sandblasted case, a domed sapphire crystal and bright BGW9 Super-Luminova. Powered by the bulletproof Miyota 9015 automatic movement, this compact 40mm diver is good for 300m of depth, and has enough of its own personality that it’s by no means your average homage watch. RRP $715 USD

Stowa Antea Back to Bauhaus

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We couldn’t clear this list and not include something a little more minimal and dressy along the way. Stowa’s dress watches are often a hit, but there’s something particularly appealing about the Antea Back to Bauhaus models. Available in 35.5, 36.5 and 39mm cases, and powered either by a top-grade ETA 2824-2 automatic or a Peseux 7001 hand-wound movement, these could easily be a stepping-stone for a future Nomos collector. White and black are the classic choice, but if you’re feeling brave, give the pastel shades of green, blue, brown or pink a try. RRP 798 Euro (ex. tax)

Laco B-Dial Flieger ‘Leipzig’

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Last but certainly not least, we had to get some classic pilot action into our list. Laco builds a healthy range of logo-less pilot watches, and this B-Dial would be our pick of the litter. Now it’s not strictly a 2016 release, but between its blued hands, satin/blasted case finish, and bright C3 luminova, how could we say no? RRP 850 Euro (inc. tax)

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