Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection.
Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection – 2019 Seiko 5 collection (£250 – £300)
Anyone who gets to witness me divulge my history of watch collecting will soon realise I am a massive Seiko fan, from my top of the tree SLA025 1968 re-edition down to my Seiko 5. Utilising the expression “down to” in association with the magnificent Seiko 5 collection introduced in 2019 sounds slightly derogatory, but it is merely a reflection of the Seiko 5s position within the pricing of the current catalogue.
This leads us, conveniently, to the most impressive aspect of the Seiko 5s: Their price point. Starting at just £250 and going up to £300 (March 2020) I’m not sure there is a better bargain in the entire world of horology. All Seiko 5 timepieces come with a surgical grade steel case, an automatic in-house designed 4R36 movement (although manufactured in Asia), complete with, manual wind, hacking seconds and quick-set date, an exhibition case back, water resistance to 100m, hardlex crystal, uni-directional rotating bezel, crown guards and Seiko’s proprietary Lumibrite© material applied on the hands and hour markers. Prices vary depending on which strap/bracelet is chosen and whether a PVD coating of black, anthracite or gold has been applied.
At the time of writing, 27 different models are available. This eclectic assortment does, however, create the only issue with this incredible family of watches: Which one do you choose? However, at this price point why would you simply select just one? What is unique about the Seiko 5 collection is that they are suitable as a very first watch and also to sit amongst an existing comprehensive collection, as mine does magnificently.
Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection – Elliot Brown Canford (£350 – £485)
Elliot Brown are a UK based watch manufacturer that are fairly new to the horological block having been conceived in 2013 by Ian Elliot and Alex Brown. Their aspirations were to amalgamate their love of horology and extreme sports to create “the most wearable, affordable and toughest watches on the planet”. They have already established themselves within the bloated tool watch market by offering unique, well thought out and useful details within their incredibly robust timepieces. Just recently Andrew Michaels Jewellers (amjwatches.co.uk) has the pleasure of working with Elliot Brown to create a unique collection of 2000 pieces for one of our special clients. We received positive feedback from all recipients.
Offered within their current catalogue are lady’s timepieces, a quartz chronograph and an automatic with power reserve indicator. However, I would recommend the Canford: A utilitarian timepiece with a Swiss made 5 jewel quartz movement. Prices range from a very reasonable £350 to £485, depending on strap/bracelet choices and case finishing options. What I love about the Canford is the complete impression of confidence derived from the build quality, the strictest of testing regimes and the clever unique elements pervading this exceptional timepiece, including a patented crown system that remains fully water resistant even well pulled out. You do wonder why other high-end watch brands have not invented something similar. All Canford watches include a compressor style case which allows for an internal bi-directional rotating inner bezel, surgical grade steel cases, an elastomer damped shock absorbing movement holder, water resistance of 200m, ISO1413 certified shock resistance, sapphire crystal, screwed down caseback and Superluminova© applied to hands and indexes. My personal favourite is the Mountain Rescue Edition.
Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection – Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic (starting at £465)
I love Hamiton watches. I respect their history, their integrity and their honest pricing structure. The fact that they create highly desirable, beautifully finished and detailed timepieces with, more often than not, an interesting story, is a bonus.
The Khaki Field Automatic collection is the most accessible amongst the current catalogue and incredibly easy to recommend with sincere virtuosity. The Khaki Field watch was, historically, used by the US and UK armed forces. This fine compilation of utility timepieces embodies all the attributes of Hamiton without costing anywhere near what you may expect them to do. Available from just £465, with 38mm or 42mm cases these handsome timepieces are ridiculous value for money with their pseudo in-house automatic H-10 movement with a class leading 80 hours of power reserve. 40 hours is the norm. Doubling this significant attribute is achieved by reducing the cadence of the balance wheel. This can result in a loss of accuracy. However, my very own Khaki Field Automatic 38mm maintains a very impressive 2 seconds per day regulation, despite being mistreated as I indulge in my chosen past times of climbing and mountain biking.
Other attributes you wouldn’t expect at this price point include: Sapphire glass front and rear, high density stainless steel, 100m water resistance and Superluminova©. It is truly baffling to me how Hamilton can offer this quality and specification for less than £500.
Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection – Junghans Max Bill Manual Wind (£620)
Junghans are little known outside the horophile fraternity, but you ignore them at your peril. Their illustrious history commenced in 1861 when Erhard Junghans established the company. Incredible historical facts include Junghans having the largest clock factory in the world in 1903, becoming the third largest manufacturer of Chronometers in 1956, being the official timekeeper of the Olympics in 1972 and creating the first radio-controlled watch in 1990.
The Max Bill range is their most recognisable and well-known and was so-called because of its highly respected designer back in 1961. It has since become a design classic in the Bauhaus mould and I will openly hypothesise that it will remain in their catalogue forever. The dial is unique in its presentation. The elegantly simple case and historically pertinent domed hardlex glass add further to the glorious aesthetics.
The larger 40mm automatic version is available for £870 and the quartz version is available for £490. However, if you can wear the 34mm case with suitable aplomb I would recommend the manual wind (or Handaufzug) Max Bill at just £620. As you venture into the almost infinite world of watch collecting you should indulge yourself in the manual winding process in the knowledge that you, yourself, are harnessing the power of your own movements and transposing this into your timepiece, in a much more tactile discipline than an automatic watch.
Everyone should keep their first high-end watch, in my opinion. So, why not choose a watch that will be forever in style.
Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection – Tag Heuer F1 (starting at £895)
Tag Heuer are so called because TAG (Technique d’Avant Garde) took over the family run business started by Eduard Heuer in 1985. The highly intelligent and innovative grandson, Jack Heuer, was one of the first to utilise product placement, which is so ubiquitous within the industry now. He had a love of motor racing and predominantly chose Formula 1 stars as his ambassadors, who were happy to be involved in this high end watch manufacturer. When TAG took over, they honoured Jack’s foresight by creating the F1 family of watches. These soon became best sellers and contributed to Tag Heuer being where they are today.
For your £895 you get a superb looking timepiece created from high end materials with the assurances of being manufactured by one of the largest and well-respected brands in the industry.
The specification for this model comprises a stainless steel version on a stylised rubber strap, a Swiss made high grade quartz movement, sapphire glass, a uni-rotational PVD bezel and 200m water resistance.
The Formula 1 family is by far the best selling collection of timepieces, and it’s easy to see why.
What are our thoughts on our Five Affordable Watches to Start Your Collection? Want to see more of our content on incredible timepieces? Take some time to look through our men’s style editorials.