10 Watches That Even Snobs Will Respect
As the year comes to an end, so does the season of big discounts. It's a great opportunity to pick up a classy watch for yourself or as a gift, one that looks much more expensive than it actually is. Certainly, if you're not constrained by financial resources, you can splash out a tidy sum on a sophisticated and prestigious chronograph from a renowned Swiss manufacture - the cost of such a timepiece starts from several thousand and can go up to tens (and sometimes hundreds) of thousands of dollars. But if you're not a Hollywood star, an Arab sheikh, or a sanctioned Russian oligarch, our list will help you feel confidently in the company of all the characters mentioned above.
For Retro Elegance Enthusiasts
If you've ever wanted something like a Cartier Tank on your wrist but hesitated due to the price ranging from 3 to 7 thousand dollars (if it's a steel case), consider affordable and quality homages. A hefty price tag shouldn't deprive you of feeling like a vintage star. The Tank has been proudly worn by Princess Diana, President Kennedy, boxer Muhammad Ali, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" author Truman Capote, and many retro celebrities. In our times, actors Rami Malek and Catherine Deneuve continue to popularize this legendary watch. A great unisex alternative to the Tank is the stylish and elegant homage by the Japanese brand SEIKO – model SWR052. Its usual cost is around $215, but during the discount season, the price often drops by half.
For Contactless Surrealists
The Swiss watch SWATCH model SVIZ103-5300 features a striking print reproducing the iconic painting "The Son of Man" by Belgian surrealist René Magritte (in case you forgot the name, his sophisticated autograph is proudly displayed on the trench coat). The self-portrait of the artist with an apple covering his face extends beyond the dial along the entire silicone strap. Although SWATCH stands for "Second Watch," you won't be keeping this quartz beauty for some secondary occasion. You'll wear it every day and everywhere, as it comes with the SwatchPAY! feature (MasterCard certified). It has an NFC chip embedded in the winding head, allowing you to make contactless payments by simply bringing your wrist to the cash register. The price for this is $120.
For Those Who Wear Three-Piece Suits
The 'BAMBINO' series from the Japanese brand ORIENT is the epitome of classic elegance. For example, the second-generation model FAC00008W preserves its antique look but has been modernized with a 22-jewel automatic movement with manual winding capability. Roman numerals, a calendar, a standard 40mm stainless steel case, stylish domed mineral glass, a leather strap, and reliable protection against rain splashes – what else do you need to present yourself as a decent member of society, a true gentleman, and a business person? Just wait for the price to drop a bit during the discount season, and you can get it for $189.
For Divers and Beginner Billionaires
How often do you see divers plunging into the depths with a Rolex Submariner worth 10+ thousand dollars? Probably not so often, but here's a fact: one of the most popular choices for professional divers is the CASIO 'DURO MARLIN' for $50. Stainless steel case, water resistance up to 200 meters, polymer strap, mineral glass, hands and markers with fluorescent fields, and a rotating bezel – this set of features will answer all your questions about diving, whether it's in the backyard pool or near a coral reef in the Red Sea. Well, and yes – this affordable and quality watch is occasionally worn by Bill Gates.
For Those Who Disassembled Everything in Childhood
A true watch enthusiast can endlessly admire three things – the polished case of his chronograph, the precise second hand ticking, hitting the marks on the dial, and how flawlessly the gears of the automatic movement rotate. To enjoy the latter spectacle, the watch must be a skeleton – meaning it has special windows in the case designed for observation. The SEIKO SNK809 has a completely transparent case back, showcasing a Japanese movement with 21 jewels and a power reserve of 40 hours. The watch currently costs $198, but in previous years, its price regularly dropped below a hundred during discounts.
However, there are watches where, on the contrary, there's simply nothing to scrutinize, and that's their charm. "Less is more" is the philosophy embraced by the German brand BRAUN, which produces its popular minimalist watches in China. The BN0021BKG model has a simple dial, a sleek 38mm stainless steel case with a water resistance of 5 ATM, a leather strap, a quartz mechanism, and the only accent being a yellow second hand. The price of the watch is $122.
For Spies and Special Agents
The best beater watches that you can wear when heading to the gym, pool, garage, or even a pub where often intoxicated men fight with other intoxicated men, are CASIO models DW290-1V. Firstly, the price of the watch often drops below $40, so if something happens to it, you definitely won't have a heart attack. Secondly, it will be very, very difficult to put this sturdy one out of action. It's not a G-Shock, but it's almost a G-Shock – a shock-resistant digital chronograph that withstands 100 meters underwater. And how else, when Tom Cruise himself ran around the screen with this watch in the first installment of the "Mission: Impossible" spy franchise. There are, however, two serious issues. The design, which was a real hit in 1996, may not be liked by everyone in 2023 (but the watch is still actively sold and has many fans worldwide). And the massive size – this bulky guy will definitely not fit a slender wrist.
For Field Expeditions
Recently, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhny addressed Western countries, writing an article in The Economist, where he hinted that without increased assistance from allies, Ukraine's defensive war against the Russian onslaught would increasingly resemble trench warfare akin to the First World War. Well, if this bloody déjà vu of a century-old past has returned to Europe, then it's not surprising that personal "gadgets" of trench infantry from that time – the so-called "field watches" – are back in fashion. If you want one, take a look at the DX3 from the American company Bertucci. It has the classic design of a field watch, a patented fiber-reinforced poly-resin case, mineral glass, a winding head at 4 o'clock (to avoid wrist pressure), a Japanese quartz mechanism, a durable Zulu nylon strap, luminescent hands, and water resistance up to 50 meters. Relevant, utilitarian, durable, and affordable – $90 and less.
For the Very Active
G-SHOCK by CASIO, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023, is the world's most popular shock-resistant watch and one of the most popular watches overall. As a result, athletes, extreme sports enthusiasts, divers, tourists, and just very active people wear them, and this brand is especially favored by the military – almost every other NATO, IDF, or Armed Forces of Ukraine soldier has a robust and reliable G-SHOCK on their wrist. There are countless variations of this watch, but the GA-2100 model is interesting because it has the thinnest case among all (usually quite massive) representatives of the legendary series – only 11.8mm. In addition, this watch is characterized by an original octagonal bezel and combines both analog and digital displays. The price varies around $100.
For Those Who Always Mourn and Nostalgize
The Marlin from the American company Timex was a hit in the 1960s, but from 1982 it was discontinued as cheap and accurate quartz movements from Japan flooded the market. However, in 2017, Timex unexpectedly resumed the production of its mechanical watches. Although the internals of the Marlin are now Chinese, their appearance mitigates this unfortunate drawback. For example, the TW2T18400ZV model has a satin-finished dial with a "sunburst" pattern, golden numerals and art-nouveau-style indices, a beautiful domed acrylic glass, and a lizard-embossed lacquered strap – all very reminiscent of the original Marlin and evokes the spirit of old Manhattan. Moreover, the watch stands out among the realm of 40mm men's divers and 43mm chronographs by having a diameter of 34mm – making it perfect for a slender wrist. The price for this "time machine" is $109.