The sad fact is that we don’t all have 10k to drop on every watch that catches our eye. That would make collecting a pretty expensive habit. Not to worry though as ‘value for money’ is something more and more watchmakers are aiming for. You can still get the same quality of movement, level of finishing and cool looks as many of the prestige brands, just without breaking the bank.
Don’t believe us? Let us prove you wrong with our five best new automatic watches under £3,000.
1. Rado Tradition Captain Cook MKIII, £1,990
The first of the modern Captain Cooks in 2017 showed that Rado were onto something good; the latest version shows that they’ve found it. The MKIII still has the same retro 70s vibe, but the sandblasted 46.8mm titanium case is a whole lot more modern. The same goes for the bright yellow highlights that dominate the otherwise monochrome dial. It still has the 3 stamped seahorses of Rado’s old divers, but this is anything but vintage – and anything but overpriced.
2. Seiko Prospex SLA019 Limited Edition, £2,900
When it comes to bang for your buck Seiko is a Cold War deterrent, which means that when it’s coasting this close to 3K you know it’s a serious piece of kit. This is a better diving watch than most, hitting the 300m water resistance mark of professional standard equipment. The 8L35 automatic movement is intensely accurate (Seiko are obsessed, after all) and it even comes with a ceramic bezel worthy of a Seamaster. The handsome green also helps matters; green is the new blue is the new black, after all.
3. Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic, £2,900
Another watch coasting just below our limit and another watch that should, by rights, be up there with the big players. It’s Baume & Mercier’s first in-house movement, which is cause enough for celebration. It’s on the classical side for Richemont’s entry-level watchmaker, with an elegant bi-colour 40mm case and an easy to read, immaculate white dial. You’re paying for quality over Avant Garde design, but that money is going a long way.
4. Longines Heritage Military, £1,460
Getting your hands on a vintage military watch without spending too much is pretty easy; getting one that hasn’t been beaten to crap by the decades is another matter entirely. Longines’ Military Heritage is a modern watch with its L619 Swiss movement, complete with 64 hours of power reserve, but designed to look as close to a vintage piece as possible. A refined 38.5mm case, a fluted crown and a mottled silver dial all give it the feel of age without… you know, being old.
5. Farer Cobb Chronograph, £1,675
So far, we’ve kept things pretty traditional; it’s easier to compare the watches with their pricier counterparts that way. If you’re desperate for a breath of fresh, colourful air though, there’s always Farer. Their dials are always playful, and the Cobb Chronograph takes more liberties with Aqua colouring than Dougal and the Blue Cat. A flash of red and yellow finish of proceedings above, while the automatic chronograph calibre keeps things moving behind the scenes – accessible through Farer’s signature bronze crown.