Editor’s note: There’s real weight behind the phrase “Swiss Made”, which is, in many ways, synonymous with quality. Oftentimes it’s also synonymous with expensive. But that doesn’t need to be the case, as these six watches, all of which were released in 2018, come in under $1500. Bonus, they all come from well-known, respected brands.
A Swiss watch is a near-universally recognised symbol for quality, precision and tradition. And while that’s all well and good, there’s another thing that fine Swiss watches tend to be synonymous with — and that’s high sticker prices. And broadly speaking, that perception is true — I constantly find myself uttering phrases like “this $60,000 watch offers tremendous value”, and Justin recently went into a little bit of detail as to why that’s the case. But, let’s be real here, that sort of watch is for the very few. But you know what? Just because the median price of a Swiss mechanical watch is the equivalent of a decent car, that doesn’t mean there aren’t outliers. So, we’ve rounded up six quality mechanical offerings, mostly from large, established brands with storied histories, all offering watches at under $1500. So if you’re looking for your first good watch, or are just a sucker for great value, check these out.
Mido Commander Shade
If there’s one valid complaint to make about watches offered at the more accessible end of the spectrum, it’s that they can tend to look a little samey. That’s one accusation no one will be throwing at the Commander Shade, from Mido. Inspired by some seriously out-there watches from the brand’s past, the big block indices, incredible dial and lugless case design, with mesh bracelet, is funktastic. $1075
Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80
When I saw this new take on the Tissot Seastar at Basel, I was a little blown away. Not only does this watch have all the bells and whistles you want in a modern diver — long power reserve, ceramic bezel, etc — it’s also got some seriously good style with that funky dial text and smoky dial. $1000
Certina DS PH200M
If Certina is known for one thing, it’s awesome dive watches. In its heyday, the brand made dive watches to rival the best in the business, and — fun fact for the Aussies reading — supplied watches to Australian Navy divers. This reissue, the DS PH200M, speaks to that legacy, with its clean dial, broad sword hand and bright seconds hand. At 42.8mm, it’s a bit bigger than the original, but it’s still a whole lot of good-looking watch for the money. 695 CHF
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Mechanical
Best known for the (also Swiss-made) Army Knives, it turns out Victorinox can also make a pretty great watch. Their I.N.O.X. is a purpose-built tool watch, tough enough to be able to withstand tank tracks, multi-storey drops and even the dreaded washing machine. The I.N.O.X. also looked the business, too, with its chunky case and bold bezel. Well, this year the brand dropped a mechanical movement into the model, and added in a fancy textured dial for good measure. Of course, the automatic calibre means it’s not quite as tough as its quartz cousins, but it’s still plenty badass. $1275
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Hamilton is perhaps best known for their military-issue ‘Field’ watches, which were standard issue to American military personnel, and has the sort of rugged, spartan style you’d expect from the genre. It comes with a few on-point vintage touches, like the faded lume and the khaki nylon strap. It also comes with a compelling price tag. $475 USD
Squale 50ATM Dive Watch
Squale is a name that might not be as well known as some of the other watches on this list, but the brand’s dive watches have a strong cult following. And with bold colours, classic design cues and rock-solid build quality, it’s easy to see why. $899 USD