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Affordable watches - Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Affordable watches Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Finding the hallmarks of fine mechanical watchmaking in value proposition watches is getting a little easier.

The saying “Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes” took on new meaning for many this year due to the Pandemic. In the United States, the April 15 tax filing date was pushed back to July, giving some folks a small break, but in other countries good citizens still paid their dues. This, coupled with the difficult global economies right now, may have watch lovers a bit buy-shy for the big luxury watches, but there are still a good number of affordable watches that tout fine-watchmaking accents to give you some pretty good bang for your buck.

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

The Longines Master Collection © Longines

While watch connoisseurs know that luxury timepieces are worth their hefty sums due to the incredible craftsmanship (and materials) that goes into their making, many people don’t realize that  attainable watches also have certain hallmarks of the craft that make them highly desirable. Just because a watch retails for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars doesn’t mean the brand producing them isn’t focused on innovation and performance. Some of the finest opening-price watches that sell for under $5,000, for example, have a lot to offer when it comes to watchmaking and design feats.  Top on the list is superb attention to detail. If you look at a Longines  or Baume & Mercier watch, for instance, you immediately notice a clean and sophisticated style.  Much of this is due to the small details. A dial can boast applied markers, a strap can be of fine leather with color-coordinated stitching, the lugs can be curved for ergonomics and the case can boast a variety of finishings.  Even the markers or numerals can flaunt chamfered (beveled) edges for a smooth overall appeal.  Whether it is a chronograph or a classic watch, the devil is in the details – at all price points.

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Hampton Dual Time © Baume & Mercier

Another thing that signals watchmaking prowess is the technology behind the watch. Just because a brand doesn’t charge 100 times as much for a watch, doesn’t mean that brand isn’t sinking a lot of money into innovation and technological advancements.  From smart watches to hybrids and even hi-beat movements, affordable brands can boast cutting-edge technology. Just look how far TAG Heuer has come with its smart watches.

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Connected watch © TAG Heuer

Technical advancements can also translate to patents. At Eberhard & Co., for instance, the brand has a patent for its four horizontal counters on the Chrono 4 watch.

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Chrono 4 © Eberhard & Co.

Many of the mechanical watches in the value-oriented segment of the market today also have the distinct advantage of being offered by genuine manufactures – watch brands that make their own movements, cases and more. Because of this vertical integration, the watch can be priced more reasonably but still boast a manufacture caliber. Such is the case with Frederique Constant and Alpina. In fact, in its sort 30+ years in business, Frederique Constant has invented and built more than 15 different calibers.  Having an in-house-made movement is an important hallmark of fine watchmaking.

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Slim Line Automatic Heartbeat © Frédérique Constant

Just as the watches in the haute horology segment boast top-notch materials, so, too, do affordable watches --  they just use less expensive yet durable materials. Even at these prices, watches can be built of steel, titanium and ceramic.  Crystals can be sapphire or mineral, and with today’s hardened mineral processes, this is acceptable. Screw-down crowns and cases that offer better water resistance are also attributes to look for, as are luminous substances for markers and hands. Don’t think that you can’t get a good mechanical movement in this range, either. Granted you won’t be getting a hand-made caliber, but modern mass production yields impressive quality.  

Fine Watchmaking Hallmarks For Affordable Watches

Startimer Pilot Chronograph Big Date © Alpina

In short, just because a watch costs a few thousand instead of a few hundred thousand, it can still be a an excellent, precise, stylish and performance-oriented score. And it won’t hurt your wallet too badly.

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