LIST: The 9 best watches of 2016 – $4000 to $5000 (and a bit more)

Time for the final leg of our tour of the best ‘affordable’ watches of 2016. We’re now at the upper end, at that fun little sweet spot where things start to get really interesting, with some serious in-house movements on offer, and amazing solid designs. It’s the upper limit for many people, so a lot of these options are less disposable and more ‘one good watch’. We’ve snuck a few pieces in that are priced just north of 5k, because we’re devious like that. And of course, if you wanted to spend a few (hundred/thousand) dollars more, the sky’s the limit, but we had to end this somewhere.

Longines Avigation Type A-7

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The words ‘value’ or ‘bargain’ don’t frequently come up when talking about a watch that’s getting close to $5k, but they’re totally applicable in the case of the Longines Avigation. It takes the heritage charm we loved in their 1918 model from Basel last year, and adds a monopusher chronograph in an offset case similar to the Vacheron Historiques American pieces – but for about a fifth the price. That’s a big win in our books. The darkness of the faux-patina indices might be a little heavy-handed, but overall it’s a killer piece that’ll grab attention every time you throw it on. RRP $4500 AUD

Tudor Black Bay Bronze

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Man, we’ve got a hot topic with this one. It’s been getting attention from every corner of the watch world ever since it was shown at Baselworld and we all went, “They made it out of WHAT?!?” As a lover of the original Black Bay, it took me some time to get used to the size – though Felix fell right in love with its larger-than-normal Black Bay case and its casual charm. But if you’re a fan of watching a watch evolve over time (and you missed out on the now sold-out Oris Carl Brashear) this is pretty much THE bronze watch to buy. RRP $4750 AUD

Bell & Ross BR 123 Aeronavale

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Bell & Ross has always had a fairly liberal take on the phrase ‘historical inspiration’, and it’s been known to get them in trouble – but dammit, they do it so bloody well. The two new watches in their Aeronavale line are a gorgeous shade of blue with vintage-style gilt indices — though be warned: its 100m dive rating, fixed bezel and blue alligator strap make it more of a desk diver than anything. RRP from $4200 AUD

Ball Fireman Storm Chaser DLC Glow

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For those looking for something towards the dark and tactical end of the spectrum, Ball delivers on all counts. The Storm Chaser is powered by a modified Valjoux 7750, uses a screwed-down crown and pushers to allow for 100m of water resistance, but where it really wins is its heavy punch in the face of tritium lume. Using a mix of green, blue and orange tritium tubes it’s one of the funkiest (and brightest) doses of illumination you can get your paws on. It also comes with a silver dial, but in our eyes the black-on-black is easily your best choice. RRP $4795 AUD

Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture

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In September, Frederique Constant added a little Champagne Supernova to their Slimline Moonphase Manufacture with this killer ivory sunburst dial. We’ve seen this oddball colour pop up in a few places including Rolex’s new 41mm Datejust, Eterna’s latest slim Granges 1856 and the vintage-styled Girard Perregaux Heritage 1957, and we’re not complaining. We were sick of all the brown dials, and blue has been bludgeoned to death by every brand under the sun so we’ll welcome any change of pace we can get. We’ve also been spotting a handful of green dials recently, begging the question of whether we’re going to see a Muddy Waters inspired ‘Champagne & Reefer’ year at Baselworld for 2017. Just remember, you heard it here first. RRP $4999 AUD

Bremont Solo/CR

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Though the Bremont Solo line added a new polished case variant for 2016, it’s the earlier classics that’ll keep you from spending more than five grand. This black dial with cream indices is the one that always tugs at our heartstrings for combining classic vintage pilot charm with Bremont’s badass Trip-Tick case design and hardcore overengineering. It’s COSC certified, and still good for 100m so it can handle a day at the beach if you so wish. RRP $4960 AUD

Nomos Tangente Neomatik Nachtblau

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Nomos launched four new Nachtblau (which crudely translates to ‘night blue’, FYI) models a few months ago that add a tasteful dose of colour to the otherwise blissfully understated repertoire. The Tangente has been a part of the Nomos catalogue since 1992, and to this day it’s a staple whose design is instantly identifiable. While other iterations of the Tangente are available in 33, 35, and 38mm, the in-house automatic powered Nachtblau only comes in a 35mm case that’s a mere 6.9mm thin. RRP $5110 AUD

Montblanc 4810 Day Date

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Day dates aren’t for everyone, but Montblanc’s latest entrant into the niche segment is an impressive one to say the least. It’s the star patterned guilloche spreading like ripples from the Montblanc logo above the six o’clock mark that gives its dial a real stand-out vibe. If you’re in the market for something dressy, well finished, and most importantly a fair bit different than your average sub-$5k dress watch, this Montblanc is a fine contender. RRP from $4310 AUD

Mühle-Glashütte ProMare Chronograph


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And now for something completely different. It doesn’t really get more ‘tool watch’ than Mühle, but rather than opting for one of their divers, the new ProMare chrono is my kind of charming. By using a carbon coating, its dial gains a great textured look to it — like a more subtle take on meteorite. As with all things Mühle, what started as a base Valjoux 7750 has been extensively modified before being fitted into the ProMare. At 44mm this is no svelte tuck-under-the-cuff number, but if you’ve got the wrist real estate it’s a comfortable piece that’s built like a tank. RRP $5615 AUD

 

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