Top 11 Watches Under 1000 Euros from the perspective of design, technique and heritage by Jorg WeppelinkJanuary 03, 2020 MIN READTop 11 Watches Under 1000 Euros
Creating a best-of list is always a nice challenge, especially when making a list of affordable mechanical watches. The number of watches that could be on the list is enormous, so we have set up a list of 11 of the best watches under 1000 Euros currently available.
We made a Top-13 list in 2016 that you can find here and a lot has changed since then. Several new brands have popped up that have made some serious watches within the 1000 Euros price bracket and some of the top watches on our previous list have gone on to have list prices that are now above the 1000 Euros mark. So we had the chance to update the list to give you an idea of the many options that are out there under 1000 Euros. The principle of this list has stayed the same over the years, however. As Robert-Jan stated in 2016: ‘A mechanical watch doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Although one could say anything above 50 Euro for a watch is ‘luxury’ anyway. According to some studies and reports on (Swiss) watches, everything above 500 Swiss Francs is considered to be a luxury watch. I don’t like the term ‘luxury’ very much; I just like to see – or own – a good watch. Preferably a mechanical watch.‘
Top 10 Watches Under 1000 Euro
Although all of the Fratello team members have watches in their personal collections that are way above 1000 Euro, we all love wearing a cheaper watch if it is a fun and good watch. It is about love for watches, not the love for money. Hence, 11 watches under 1000 Euro. Compiling the list wasn’t always easy because of the abundance of options. Do you focus on technique, design or do you go for a proven classic? It’s all a matter of personal opinion really and it’s what makes discussing watches so much fun. We have mixed things up to come up with a list of 11 watches that could all be yours under 1000 Euros.
1. Seiko Prospex ‘Sumo’ SPB103J1
The first on the list is a Fratello favourite and what many of the Fratello team members would probably consider the best buy under 1000 Euros. The new Seiko ‘Sumo’ was introduced earlier this year at Baselworld 2019 and the new generation Sumo has improved significantly in both looks and specs as you can read in detail in our review. Seiko has updated the overall design of the Sumo and especially the updated looks of the numerals look a lot better. Seiko has fitted the Sumo with their 6R35 movement, which is a step up from the 6R15 movement that powers the previous generation Sumo. The new movement has an impressive power reserve of 70 hours compared to the 50 hours of the previous generation Sumo. The 45mm watch also comes with a sapphire crystal and the attractive green version has become a standard model in the collection. Although the new Sumo has an increased price compared to the previous model, for the 830 Euro price tag this is the best sports watch out there.
2. Sinn Spezialuhren 556 A
The previous list from 2016 featured the iconic Sinn 104 St Sa I but the price of that watch has increased to over 1000 Euros. But this list would not be complete without including a watch from the German brand. Although Sinn does not have a lot of watches left in their collection that fit within the 1000 Euro price bracket, the Sinn 556 A does. The 556 A has been part of the Sinn collection since 2011 and is one of the ‘familiar faces’ in the collection. I have always liked the looks of the 556 A better than the 556 I, which also could be an option. The 38,5mm watch is powered by a Sellita SW200-1 movement that is anti-magnetic and is water-resistant to 200 meters (~20 ATM). The watch features sapphire glass both in front (anti-reflective on both sides) and the case back (anti-reflective on the interior) and is available with a wide variety of leather straps for 960 Euros. I especially like the 556 A with the grey Alcantara strap that gives is a nice stylish look.
3. Swatch Irony Sistem 51 Sand
Ever since the first Swatch Sistem 51 was introduced in 2013, the brand has introduced a great variety of models under the Sistem 51 flag. For this list, we have chosen a model that is a lot less futuristic in looks than the originally released Sistem 51 model. For the Sistem51, Swatch filed 17 patents. The watch consists of 51 parts – hence its name – over five different modules. The Sistem 51 Sand was introduced in 2017 and is part of the Sistem 51 Irony collection. I like the fact that this Sistem 51 has the looks of a ‘traditional’ watch but with the recognisable Swatch twist. The steel case, gold sunburst dial, black hands and markers, and grey suede leather strap give this Swatch Sistem 51 Sand some serious presence without losing the typical Swatch appearance and all for a very affordable price of 185 Euros.
4. Meistersinger Neo Schwarz
The Meistersinger Neo was on our list three years ago and it is on our new list as well. It still is a remarkable watch to see with the Meistersinger single-hand design they use for every one of their watches. Although I like simplicity as a design principle for watches, I had to get used to seeing one hand on the Meistersinger watches when I first saw them years ago. Nowadays it’s what I have come to expect from Meistersinger and I respect them for the bold choice to create single-hand watches only. The Neo’s very recognisable design comes in a variety of colours. Still, the version with a black dial and tan leather strap give the Neo Schwarz a beautiful and elegant look. As Robert-Jan also mentioned in 2016, you have to be able to handle the 36mm size, which is on the smaller side compared to other watches on the list. But if you can handle 36mm, it is an excellent choice. Based on availability, you either get this watch with an ETA2824 or a Sellita SW200 and the Neo stays just within the 1000 Euro price bracket with a list price of 998 Euros.
5. Gorilla Watches Fastback
As a former head of design at Audemars Piguet, Octavio Garcia knows how to develop a watch that is far from your regular watch. Together with partner Lukas Gopp – who also worked at Audemars Piguet as a product designer – they have created an extensive collection of Fastback and Fastback GT models. I own a Gorilla Fastback Phantom Black (the one with the camo strap) and from the moment I put the watch on my wrist, I have always been impressed by how comfortable the Fastback is at 44mm. It’s a combination of clever design and the use of light materials that have allowed Gorilla to come up with a really light and wearable watch that has a lot of details that are great to discover. As Robert-Jan also mentioned in his article about the Fastback, the forged carbon case with an anodised aluminium “pinstripe” and a ceramic bezel, combined with a sapphire crystal and an easy-wearing rubber strap make for a really comfortable daily wearer. Technically the Fastback isn’t the best in class with the entry-level Miyota 8215 movement that powers the Fastback. Still, at 760 Euros this is a watch you choose if you like something that wears really comfortable, is really well designed and especially, looks different from anything out there.
6. Squale 1521 Diver
Squale might not be a brand that is well known with a big audience but watch enthusiasts know there is actually quite a bit of history behind the Squale name. The brand is known for producing diver’s watches from the 1950s up until the 1980s when the quartz crisis arrived. Michael wrote a longer piece about the brand you can read here and ten years after the relaunch in 2010, Squale has a solid collection of affordable diver’s watches. The Squale 1521 Diver is their iconic diver’s watch and is available in a wide variety of models. The 1960s looks of the watch and especially the rubber straps make the 1521 Diver stand out from the crowd. The 42mm 1521 Diver is powered by the ETA 2824 movement and is water-resistant up to 500 meters. If you are looking for a classic diver’s watch from a brand with a bit of history, the Squale 1521 Diver could be your choice for 990 Euros.
7. SevenFriday T2/01 Revolution
As I have been working in design for over a decade, I love seeing brands come up with new approaches to watch design. And that’s exactly what SevenFriday have done ever since they entered the watch industry back in 2012. The brand focuses on developing watches that look completely different from anything else out there and are instantly recognisable as a SevenFriday watch. The only problem I have with most of their watches is that they are too big and that makes them hard to wear, especially because of their square shape. That’s why I was happy to see the introduction of the SevenFriday T-series, which sees the size reduced from 47mm to 45mm. It’s still a big watch, but the slightly reduced size makes a big difference. The 45mm stainless steel watch is powered by the automatic skeletonised Seiko NH70 movement, which is a very basic automatic movement with a power reserve of 40 hours. Next to the smaller size, I also like the relatively basic looks of the T2/01 compared to some of the other SevenFriday watches, with its stainless steel case and green canvas strap. For a little under 800 Euros, you can choose this SevenFriday T2/01 Revolution if you are looking for a design statement and something that looks different from many of the other watches in this list.
8. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
This list would not be complete if there weren’t a Hamilton watch on it. Partly because many of the Fratello team members have a soft spot for the historical value of the brand and partly because Hamilton simply produces some amazing watches at very affordable prices. One of the recent Hamilton introductions that could also have been on this list is the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical that we discussed here. We chose to go for the Khaki Field Mechanical because at 445 Euros it’s substantially cheaper than the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical and offers an even bigger bang for the buck. The 38mm Khaki Field Mechanical is based on a watch manufactured by Hamilton, under the military spec of GG-W-113, for the United States Army between the years of 1967 and 1986. The recreation Hamilton has made with the Khaki Field Mechanica stays true to the original watch although it does see an increase in size from 34mm to a still modest 38mm. The military-inspired watch is powered by the Hamilton caliber H-50 movement which is based on the ETA 2801-2 hand wound movement that features an 80-hour power reserve. Read more in detail about the watch here, but if you are a fan of vintage-inspired watches that offer great value for money, look no further than the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical.
9. Tissot Heritage Petite Seconde
The Tissot Heritage Petite Seconde is a good option for people that love to spend their 1000 Euros on a more stylish statement. The Heritage Petite Seconde was inspired by the original Petite Seconde dating all the way back to 1943 and proves that the clean and elegant looks have lost nothing of their power over more than 70 years. Read all about its history in our review here. I personally love the clean looks of the watch and could see myself wearing this. The only thing you have to be aware of is the 42mm size which can be a bit intimidating for people with a smaller wrist. The 42mm size is a direct result of the ETA 6498-1 movement that powers the watch. It’s a 17-jewel hand-wound pocket watch movement with 46 hours of power reserve that measures an impressive 36.6mm size. Another one of the great features of the watch besides its beautiful looks, is that you can enjoy seeing the pocket watch movement in action through the case back, which is one huge display window. If you are comfortable wearing a bigger sized watch that looks very stylish, the Heritage Petite Seconde could be the perfect choice for exactly 1000 Euros.
10. Certina DS PH200M
Another vintage-inspired piece but not by a brand that is known to release a lot of watches inspired by their vintage models. As Balazs mentioned in his review of the Certina DS PH200M, Certina mostly creates contemporary watches, so we were surprised to see the DS PH200M that pays tribute to the legendary Certina PH200M from 1967. I have to say I really like the overall looks of the watch and I love that it looks almost exactly like the 1967 original. The main difference compared to the 1967 PH200M is the 42.9mm case size which is almost 3mm larger than the vintage version. There is a lot to take in when you first see the watch, but somehow it all makes sense. The busy dial and bezel complement each other perfectly and the trademark red crosshair in the middle and red seconds hand are a nice hint of colour. Technically the watch features the Double Security system Certina is known for, hence the DS in the reference number. Its main feature is a thick rubber seal that surrounds the movement inside the case. Serving as water seal and shock absorber it deadens any impact the watch should suffer. The movement it is protecting is the ETA Powermatic 80 (.111) movement, a very well-made automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve. If you are a fan of vintage-inspired pieces that are a true tribute to the original, the Certina DS PH200M could be a serious option at 695 Euros.
11. Farer Beagle II
The last watch that completes our list is the Farer Beagle II. Farer is a relatively young English watch brand that released its first watch to the public in 2016. In the short time the brand has been active, they have made a name for themselves by creating some very affordable watches that feature amazingly colourful dials. The Beagle II is a bit of an exception to that rule, but it doesn’t mean the dial of the watch is not stunning. The vintage-inspired design of the Beagle II looks very elegant and is defined by the ceramic white dial that is contrasted by the apple green hands and the numerals and a bright red outer track. A very nice detail is the red Farer ‘A’ tip on the end of the curved sweeping second hand. The combination of colours gives the overall familiar design characteristics enough ‘zing’ to make it stand out from the crowd without being too colourful. The 39.5mm Beagle II is powered by the Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement that features a date indication at 3’o clock and is visible through the glass case back. The watch also features a sapphire crystal domed glass and a solid bronze crown as a nice quirky detail to finish it off. If you like vintage-inspired pieces with a modern twist from a young brand, then this Farer Beagle II could be a serious option for 995 Euros.
There you have it, our Top-11 of watches under 1000 Euros. It’s been a challenge to put together as there are so many great options for 1000 Euros. Whether you are looking for a unique design, a great story or the best technical watch for your money, there is something suited for everyone. Now let the debate begin and let us know what you think is the best watch for 1000 Euros.
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About the author
Jorg has been working in marketing & communications for 15 years. He is specialised in developing brand strategy, brand portfolio, brand design and brand communications. Besides, he loves watches and the stories that make them worthwhile. He can be spotted… read more
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