ZACH’S MAILBAG: “My watch budget is $1,000 – $1,500 – what brands should I look at?” ZACH’S MAILBAG: “My watch budget is $1,000 – $1,500 – what brands should I look at?”

ZACH’S MAILBAG: “My watch budget is $1,000 – $1,500 – what brands should I look at?”

Zach Blass

Often we receive questions via email and social media from our readers, and we always strive to respond to each and every one. But we recognise that many of you, even if you have yet to reach out, may be pondering the same questions. So each week we’re starting “Zach’s Mailbag” where I will endeavour to answer a reader’s question. First up, we have Jason and his head-scratcher regarding the best brands and watches between $1,000-$1,500…

Hey Zach …  I realise it is completely subjective but I would greatly appreciate your advice on what brand of watch you’d consider for $1000-$1500.

I really appreciate the timelessness of a classic, stainless steel look. Could you point me in a direction?!

I’d really like to get this purchase right as I don’t have a ton of money to waste on a watch that is over-hyped but doesn’t hold up. I figured you’d be the one to trust!

– Jason

To better answer Jason’s question, I did reach out to him for clarification on currency – but unfortunately I have not yet received a reply. So I am going to work within what I know best: US dollars. After a bit of thought, here are some great brand suggestions, as well as specific reference picks for each, within and even below his budget. As per his request, all of the watches below are in stainless steel and, in some form or another, tick the box of a classic look.

Tissot: Zach’s Picks – PRX Powermatic 80 or Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium

When it comes to classic, and dare I say iconic, stainless-steel aesthetics, the Rolex Datejust and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak are hard to top. Whenever anyone asks me about a watch that delivers value beyond its dollars, Tissot is always top of mind. If you prefer the integrated aesthetic, the PRX Powermatic 80 delivers Royal Oak vibes at a much lower price point. While it is a mere fraction of the cost of an AP, what you get for your money is quite outstanding. The case and bracelet are solid and well fabricated, it does not have a cheap feeling on the wrist. The 40mm stainless steel case is also very sporty slender at 10.9mm, and while it can have a dressy elegance to its sporty look it is also 100 metres water resistant. Its blue clous de Paris dial only furthers the allure of its aesthetic, but internally it really delivers as well. The Powermatic 80 caliber offers 80 hours of power reserve – more than what you would find in a Royal Oak.

If a Datejust aesthetic is more your vibe, well Tissot still has you covered – and at a great price. The stainless-steel Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium has a similar dimension to the Datejust 41, a tad more compact at 40mm in diameter and 11.5mm thick. The finishing style is slightly different than a smooth bezel Datejust on an Oyster bracelet, opting for a brushed case with polished accents. The bracelet, however, follows the familiar format of polished centre links with brushed links flanking them. Like the PRX Powermatic 80, it offers 100 metres of water resistance and has a robust caliber which offers 80 hours of power reserve. But the Powermatic 80 caliber in the Gentleman takes things a step further, upgrading the patented Nivachron hairspring to a more anti-magnetic silicium hairspring. There are plenty of dial colours to choose from, but the green sunburst really grabs me and would be my personal pick of the Gentleman collection.

Price: $650 USD for the PRX Powermatic 80, $775 USD for the Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium

Hamilton: Zach’s Pick – Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer

If you are looking for something a bit more rugged and militaristic, then the next two watches are for you. But first up, we have the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer, which is directly inspired by a World War II heritage pocket watch reference from Hamilton used by the USA military: the Model 23. The Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer is an attractive faux-tina fest, with the black countdown bezel scale, railroad minutes track, and arabic hour numerals in a sage colour tone. Its cathedral hands continue the colour trend, with a radium colored SuperLuminova® coating for legibility in darkness. The black dial has a richly grained matte texture, further driving home the vintage look as well as rounding out the high legibility of its design – no pesky reflections will get in the way of reading the time. As for its dimensions and depth rating, the brushed stainless steel case is 38mm in diameter, very wearable, and its large and easy to grip screw-down crown helps secure its water-resistance rating of 100 metres. Inside, the H-10 caliber offers 80 hours of power reserve – again showing the benefit of being in the Swatch conglomerate like Tissot, which is access to top-notch ETA bases.

Price: $995 USD

Sinn: Zach’s Pick – ref. 556 A

watches between $1,000-$1,500

If you like the pilot’s look, but prefer to steer clear of a faux-aged tone, the Sinn ref. 556 A offers a crisp cockpit instrument aesthetic with a black dial and highly legible hour and minute markers, along with hour Arabics at 12′, 3′, 6′, and 9′. Sinn is known for its utility-driven designs, so in this instance they have opted for an entirely brushed case. The case is fashioned from surgical grade 316L stainless steel, and has very approachable dimensions of 38.5mm x 11mm x 45mm lug-to-lug. It beats out the other watches on this list in terms of water-resistance, with double the depth rating at 200 metres further secured by a crown guard protected screw-down crown with dual seal crown lock. While some are not particularly fans of a date aperture between 4′ and 5′, it seamlessly blends into the dial with a white on black disc – the square aperture large enough to read, but also small enough not to disturb the dial. Where a tradeoff comes into play here is its caliber. Its Sellita SW 200-1 does not have 80 hours of power reserve, instead a more basic 38 hours of power reserve. But the caliber sourced is within Sellita’s top-grade level, and is regulated within chronometer standards. The watch is also available on a bracelet, but that stretches a hair past your budget at just over $1,500. Fortunately, though, you can purchase the bracelet separately if you wish later when the time is right, or even explore rubber options. At a 20mm lug width, there is plenty of experimentation to be had.

Price: $1,290 USD