Sometimes you’ve got to face the bitter truth. Between small children, a house needing urgent renovation and a woeful inability to pick the winning lottery numbers, I can’t spend big on a new watch for the foreseeable future. Luckily, right now the “premium economy” end of the market is stronger than ever. Here are five watches that collectively add up to $18,740 from my $20K fantasy budget. The remaining $1260? That’s getting lumped on Powerball tickets to hopefully swell next year’s coffers.
DOXA SUB 200
I’ve got a hankering for a no-nonsense diving watch that I can wear to the beach and this is top of my hit-list. A finalist at the GPHG awards in the “Challenge” category for watches under 4000 Swiss Francs, this sturdy diver boasts DOXA’s iconic beads-of-rice bracelet and highly contrasting lume-filled hands and hour markers. But the real deal-clincher for me is the cheerful yellow dial that’s guaranteed to nudge serotonin levels into a happy-clappy wonderland.
Longines Heritage Classic
You know those guys who end up dating a succession of alarmingly similar looking women? Well, personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – they just know exactly what they like. So, yes, this retro reissue does look uncannily like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control. But then I had a soft spot for that watch, too. Here, the addition of the small-seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock pushes this watch’s proportions into perfect-ratio territory.
Mido Multifort Patrimony
Mido deserves far greater recognition in Australia. The Swatch Group brand celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018 and continues to roll out cracking watches at a bafflingly reasonable price. Last year saw the arrival of this retro-flavoured stunner with a subtly graduated dark blue dial that’s bedecked by a pulsometer scale and inner minute track. Under the bonnet, the movement delivers a not-to-be sniffed at 80 hours of power reserve, too. One of the absolute steals of the year.
Rado Golden Horse 1957
Dress watches can be a bit like your accountant. They’re sober, well-reasoned and absolutely necessary, but they don’t often make your heart sing with joy. Thankfully, Rado’s Golden Horse is a real wild stallion. Smouldering from vivid red at the centre to black at the edge, the fumé dial oozes with decadent glamour, sharpened by the chromed dagger hands and date wheel also boxed in chrome. Personally, I’m also mesmerised by the logo just above 6 o’clock with the two seahorses conjoining to make what looks spookily like a gorilla’s face.
Zenith El Primero A384 Revival
Panda-dial watches were on the rise last year, with this being my overwhelming favourite. It’s a faithful reworking of the 1969 original, right down to the angular tonneau case and 37mm dial. Back then, the El Primero made headlines for its ground-breaking movement that was accurate to one-tenth of a second. This remix matches this horological feat, but ups the ante with a 50-hour power reserve. Stark monochrome looks offset by the brilliant red second-hand complete a head-turning package.