• December 31, 2014
  • Watch Gonzo
  • 0

Ask any watch buyer his preference (we are keeping ladies out of this discussion) for an all-time wear and most shall vote for a budget timepiece. That would take away the fun of watch-wearing – you’ll say – but the point is, budget can be another name for entry-level luxury or affordable luxury or whatever you might call it. It’s common with watch pro-s, so you are not sending your pride (no pun intended) to vacation. Instead, your precious pieces shall find more relevant usage and are going to dazzle brighter under the bright lights. Give your budget watch most of the belting instead.

In my case, the first affordable watch was the first step into a continuing passion. But unfortunately, it’s not quite possible procuring every affordable mechanical watch in the market and by affordable I mean renowned brandnames selling for under $1,000. That could be Swiss, Japanese, American, German, French or English, but definitely not Chinese.

When the question of ‘top 3 watches under $1,000’ came up, I preferred to stay mechanical. Not that I’m blind towards the exotism of the Astron and Grand Seiko Quartz, Citizen Promaster or the Casio Sky Cockpit, but there’s something about gears and trains and a coiled spring that draws me like the proverbial moth to the flame. Some think mechanicals are an expensive breed hence run for quartz; to them, some mechanical watches that sell for under $1,000 are as good as (if not better) than more expensive brands like IWC, Omega and Rolex.

So how come these brands offer for under $1,000 while the average Omega, Rolex or IWC costs way higher?

Let’s be honest here; higher price tags bring higher levels of finishing. But that high level of finishing must be preserved and maintained; it is not to be exposed to situations where it may gather blemishes. Other than that, the cost also includes the price of the contributions the manufacturer has put into the field of horological ideas, innovation and developments – please note those names we read above rose riding the nascent technology; it was not the digital age of fine precision. So the glory clings on.

Today, the same can be achieved at a lesser price and effort for technology comes easy and cheap. Even the painstaking efforts towards improvement are less painful than before, so those who started bit later can offer things equally good at a much lesser cost. The questions on inferiority and affordability answered.

The reason I hold some of these Jap affordable mechanicals higher in regard than their Swiss cousins is they have one thing for sure – An in-house movement! Pertaining to the Swiss laws on the definition Swiss-made, I consider them safer. I don’t like to get ripped-off for something that’s not entirely what it claims to be. There’s difference between 100% Swiss and 60% Swiss, the latter with a chance they are born in the shady factories of Korea and China, with components that might be manufactured elsewhere. Or maybe, foreign-sourced components receiving Swiss treatments. Either way, they don’t satisfy completely.

But oh, say an Orient Automatic Sports or an Orient Semi Skeleton Power Reserve Automatic . I know what they are and they are asking a price for what it is. Or, a Seiko 5. There’s nothing into it that was made in Korea or China; them I consider true manufacturers who design and make their own main and balance springs, wheels, gears and trains. Even the crown that basically moves them all