Don’t Miss This: Our team debates the best watches from $1K-3K USD Don’t Miss This: Our team debates the best watches from $1K-3K USD

Don’t Miss This: Our team debates the best watches from $1K-3K USD

Zach Blass

After debating the best watches under $1,000 USD, the next tier we are going to tackle in our Don’t Miss This series is the $1,000 – $3,000 USD segment. To recap, the team was challenged to nominate a watch, within or under a given price point, that they believe serves as a gateway benchmark for a collectors’ hunt within that price bracket.

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To be considered, each nominated watch must prescribe to the following rubric and tick multiple boxes. These include:

  • Value for price visually and technically.
  • Excellence in aesthetic – great case shapes and dimensions, high wearability and ergonomics, well executed finishes. Intriguing dial textures and tones or power in simplicity (nailing a timeless classic look).
  • Robustness – up to the task of daily wear. with a high degree of scratch-resistance, shock-resistance, resistance against magnetism, and water-resistance.
  • Thinness/elegance – if a dress watch, how is the watch compelling enough to divert the gaze away from sportier pieces.
  • Movements – in house versus mass produced, level of decoration/finishing, accuracy, balance cock versus bridge, length of power reserve, level of complication.
  • Emotional connection – heritage-driven quality that speaks to iconic designs collectors love

With these points in mind, here is what the team believes are requisite watches to look into if you are hunting with a $1,000 – $3,000 USD budget.

Ricardo’s pick: Cartier Tank Must High Autonomy Quartz

The Cartier Tank Must High Autonomy Quartz features one of the most timeless designs in watchmaking. From the roman numerals on the dial to the blue sapphire cabochon crown, these design cues provide instant brand recognition to anyone wearing a Tank. The fact that you can get something so prestigious, whether in a small or large size, for under $3000, is extremely rare in today’s watch market.

Even with all that being said, I know there are those who find the price of the Tank Must to be a bit exorbitant. Much of that is down to the Quartz movement inside. But I strongly disagree with this viewpoint.

There is a ton of value here. First, barring a dip in a swimming pool, this watch is at home in any occasion. Wedding, office, night on the town; the Tank is never a faux pas and infinitely versatile. Second, its 29.5mm x 22mm size in the small and 33.7mm x 25.5mm size in the large means there is a version out there suitable for most wrists. And finally, the high autonomy quartz movement inside means you needn’t worry about a battery change for at least six years. All together, these qualities easily place the Tank Must as a strong contender for anyone’s wrist.

Price (on leather): $2610 USD for the small, $2740 USD for the large

Zach’s pick: Longines Spirit Titanium 40


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It is not breaking news to say the Time+Tide team are all big fans of the Longines Spirit Titanium 40. We recently stacked the watch up against the original Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, a watch that many have declared one of the best watches at its respective price point – and for good reason. Both watches have all of the qualities a “one-watch collection” would require, but the difference is that, at least on a bracelet, the watch is almost $1,000 USD less even though it serves up a near-identical specs sheet.

It ticks off a lot of boxes outside and in. The gilt-inspired heritage aesthetic of the watch is extremely versatile, with an anthracite dial that pops with its hints of gold and red. The diplomatic nature of the colour anthracite, as well as its golden tones, allow it to equally pair with brown accessorized wardrobes as it would with black. It also speaks to vintage sensibilities, its hues harkening back to sports watches found over 50 years ago. Its case dimensions are very wrist-friendly, coming in at 40mm in diameter, 12.2mm thick, and 49mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. This means the watch has a modern stance that will not get dwarfed on larger wrists, but is compact enough to suit smaller wrists as well. It is also important to note the benefits of titanium, a metal much lighter than steel but equally capable of resisting against the scratches of daily-wear. With its 100 metre depth rating, and gilt-driven aesthetic, the Longines Spirit Titanium 40 works just as well in the ocean as it would in the office.

Inside it is powered by a very technically compelling COSC certified automatic manufacture caliber L888.4 , with 72 or hours of power reserve and monocrystalline silicon balance-spring for high-resistance against magnetism. This level of technology is not always found at higher price points, so it is a very welcome and compelling point of value-differentiation for the $1,000 – $3,000 USD segment.

Price: $2,950 USD

Luke’s pick: Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961

In January 2018, I was in Shanghai for an event to celebrate Mido’s 100th birthday. On display were glass cases full of Mido’s greatest hits, and one watch, in particular, shone out.

It was unlike anything I’d ever seen – a riot of candy-hued pastels and concentric rings. This was the Powerwind 1000, ref. 5907, from 1961, a Mido dive watch that was waterproof to 300m and whose colourful flourishes were, in fact, a decompression table to help divers time their ascension back to the surface. The watch was only available for four years, which made it pretty hard to get hold of. When I tried to track one down, I found that in 2018, the watch’s rarity value meant they now cost about $10,000 USD on the vintage market.

So I was delighted to see the revival of this watch last year in a stainless-steel, 40.5mm case. Mido is one of the watch world’s true value propositions, so the head-turning looks are backed with functional competence – there is a screw-down crown, one-way turning bezel, 200-metre water resistance and a whopping 80-hour power reserve. Price-wise, it was an absolute steal for $1750 AUD, although with the supply limited to just 1961 pieces, it quickly became just as inaccessible as its predecessor.

Now it’s back once again in 2021, only this time with a perky blue bezel. It’s still limited to 1961 pieces so you’ll want to be quick.  But in terms of value, functionality and singular looks, the Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer is hard to beat.

Price $1800 AUD