A good friend once told me that if you want to get a good deal in a car dealership; polish your shoes, get a haircut and wear a decent watch.
Apparently, these three items are the most obvious signs of the quality of customer and character. If you go in with scruffy hair, DM’s and a G-Shock, don’t blame me if you fail to get a decent discount on your new Merc.
As awful and elitist as this sounds, I’m not surprised to hear it, so here are ten watches that should help get you a ride, without breaking the bank. (The hair and shoes are on you.)
1) Zeppelin 100 jahre 76401 –£160 amazon
Cast aside your Grandfather’s Christmas lunch ramblings and prejudices, a watch from German makers Zeppelin may be one of the classiest budget offerings out there.
Created to celebrate the genius of lighter-than-air flight from our efficient, sensible cousins over the channel (and a bit further) this watch stands out next to watches ten times it’s price. Very much of the same ilk as Longines’ beautiful Master Collection.
Clean white shirts all round, show that lump of metal off. However, you may have to put on a home counties accent to match its 40’s charm.
2) Junghans Classic Quartz – £140 eBay
This fabulous piece of late 70’s style says to the world, ‘yep, I wear a vintage watch, and what?’ while pulling off the clean, classic look somewhat similar to a Rolex Datejust. Matching the simple German face with a chainmail strap adds to the ‘bling’ factor without being too flashy. Some might say, just enough to catch the eye, but not enough to make you violently sick.
The Quartz movement, now seen as mainstream, was a real technological feat when this was created, not needing constant winding or expensive back-to-factory services anywhere near as often.
Put simply, its a classic watch for a man that enjoys the alternative route. I’m only disappointed that it doesn’t come with a free copy of Dark Side of the Moon and a brown velvet shirt.
3) Casio A163WA-1QES – £20 watchshop
In the right place, at the right time, this is the watch to wear.
The moment you shut the flimsy steel clasp and see those primary coloured graphics smile up at you, you’re transported directly into a late 80’s, early 90’s music video, perhaps some upbeat offering from Wham, bopping away to synth tones, neon lights above you and those plastic echo microphones everywhere. Not to mention the leotards.
The great thing is, the people that matter think that too when they see it on your wrist.
Yes. at some point you’ll be in a meeting at work with ya’casio and your boss will pull back his shirt cuff to reveal a Breitling (or similar) and the piercing gaze of judgement will fall on you. But who cares? You’ve got George on your iPod and a ‘Zig and Zag’ lunchbox in your bag.
As far as drive in the new Merc goes, forget it. Get a 1990 SL500 and crack out the Huey Lewis. You’ll have much more fun. And money.
4) Danish Design IQ62Q975 – £210 notonthehighstreet
Classic Danish minimalist style meets Olympic stopwatch detailing in this, the Danish Design IQ62Q975 (catchy, right?)
Like the vintage Junghans above, this watch has just the right amount of ‘Pop,’ with an ultra fine chain-mail strap that bounces light and focuses the eye to the clean white dial.
Two neat little chronograph complications break up the vast expanse of white, and the right-side button controls make you sure you’re wearing something sharp.
Expect comments left, right and centre from this one, as it really is hard to miss. Think turtle-neck jumpers and thin, rimless specs. Certainly not Mercedes… more Saab Convertible. If only they still made them.
5) Carnot Riviera £180 Carnot online
Well, this should certainly help out with that test-drive. Everyone around you is thinking, ‘you so classy’ and what’s more, you can explain how you got it without making them want to rip it off your wrist and drop it in their vodka-lemonade.
A brand new company, Carnot watches are currently only available by pre-order, directly from the talented craftspeople that set it up.
This, therefore means that you’re fuelling a group of exciting, fresh start-up entrepreneurs directly, which pumps up the classy, exclusive factor without inflating the price tag.
Just look at it. Guilloche turned dial, a flash of colour from the day/night complication, croc-skin strap, Spartan warrior sword-shaped hands. Its fabulous.
Get one. Wear it with a tuxedo. Every day.
6) Autodromo Veloce £257 Autodromo
Aside from telling the world, ‘I like cars, I am into cars,’ this offering from Autodromo hangs just on the right side of the classy/tacky cliff. That’s if, and only if, you don’t saunter round the party telling people, ‘you know, my watch is designed like a rev counter.’
The super-thin hands and neat little date wheel are blended into the design with subtlety and skill, while the matte black surround means this watch is one to wear in more casual surroundings. Think t-shirt, sleeves rolled up, maybe a jumper and jeans. And put those string-backed driving gloves down.
7) Skagen SKW6216 £157 watchshop
Skagen have upped their game with the SKW6216, putting aside their usual slip-on shoe, regular fit shirt wearing computer analyst vibe, by matching the black and white face (with dabs of colour) with a rustic and casual brown strap.
Perhaps a little less formal or grand than some of the others on the list, but no less sharp. Go casual with this.
It takes a certain kind of person to make this watch seem up-market, and it has the chance to feel a little childish. Especially with the primary coloured details on the second dial, which for me at least, makes this more than just a run-of-the-mill Scandinavian minimalist watch.
I look up to the daring, break-the-mould characters who wear this watch, It’s just a shame that the very thing that makes them different is making more and more common.
8) Junkers Bauhaus 6060-5 £199 eBay
I know what you want for Christmas this year…
Junkers has cast an eerie shadow across the luxury watch market with the Bauhaus Series, urging me (at least) to question, ‘why spend more?’
To be honest, all of the Bauhaus series have the same harmonious blend of German purpose, classic British colouring, Swiss precision and Scandinavian cleanliness. In my humble opinion, the 6060-5 is the pinnacle of the range, moving just far enough away from the typical 2 or 3-chronograph layout, yet staying comfortingly recognisable.
Many watch makers claim that every detail adds a purpose, but Junghans can truly claim it, without making a half-baked excuse about it being used to navigate a light aircraft, or dialling an SOS rescue call when you leave your 9-Iron at home. the Power Dial is readable and relevant, while the simple hands and dials quite simply tell the time.
Test Drive guaranteed.
9) Tommy Hilfiger Luke £145 watchshop
Now, I feel like I need to clarify something before I persuade you to order a Tommy Hilfiger watch. I would never wear a gold (rose or otherwise) watch. I find that they try too hard to show your wealth, and if they succeed, the most you’ll get is a judgemental and envious scowl from all that notice it. With it being gold, that will most likely be everyone.
However, many people do indeed enjoy donning a piece of glitz on their wrist from time to time, and if so inclined, Tommy Hilfiger’s Luke collection is definitely one to consider when on a shoestring.
The subtlety of the rose gold, blending with the ice white dial and oversized navy blue surround is surprisingly classy, and if I may say so, it really benefits from having the company’s logo in colour, which really ‘pops.’
I shall put it this way; if I were to buy a gold watch, this is what I’d choose. Just expect the Mercedes sales assistant to be wearing the same thing.
10) Bulova Accutron II Snorkel £225 Amazon
The final watch on this list was a difficult one to narrow down. However, seeing as we have minimalist, classic, oversized, retro and vintage offerings, it seemed best to give fans of the ‘divers watch’ a budget alternative too.
Hence, the Bulova Accutron II. Classic diving watch shaped case, deep-dish face and enough holes in the strap to give Leerdammer a run for their money. It couldn’t be more typical. Even the burst of colour, in this case flame orange, on the face and second hand adds to it’s diving credentials.
Expect people to take a second look at your wrist when wearing the Accutron II, it really does catch the eye for the best reasons. normally its a bit more pricey, but bargains can be found. Just don’t hold your breath on the price. (Insert canned laughter here)