Power at a Premium: 6 Watches Under $3,500 with Great Power Reserves

This article is from the WatchTime Archives and was originally published in 2021.

Of the various ongoing trends in the watch world, ever-improving power reserves in mechanical timepieces are among the most practical. With collectors often owning a variety of pieces they like to change in and out on a daily basis, owning a mechanical timepiece that’s still running after it’s been put down for a few days is a luxury that many appreciate.

For a long time, exceptional power reserves were frequently reserved only for watches within the mid to high range of manufacturing and pricing, but in the past few years especially, that is beginning to change. There are now plenty of watches in the sub-$3,500 price category available with three-day or better reserves. We put together a list of six of these pieces, which includes offerings from Baume & Mercier, Christopher Ward, Certina, Hamilton, Tissot, and Oris.

Certina DS-1 ($650+)

Certina is a brand best known by most for its popular dive watch, the Certina DS PH200M, which we recently went hands-on with last month (and which you can read more about here). In addition to that popular diver, however, the brand also has some hidden gems in its catalogue, one being the 80-hour power-reserve-equipped Certina DS-1.

The DS-1 is available in a number of different colorways, in all-steel or two-tone cases, as well as silver, black, gray, and blue-accented dials. All of them share the same movement: the 3-day+ Powermatic 80. The automatic mechanism is derived from a base ETA 2824-2, which by slowing down its frequency to 21,600 vph from the standard 28,800 provides the movement an almost doubled reserve, at 80 hours.

The brand currently prices the watch at about $650; depending on the dial color it can frequently be found via an authorized dealer for a couple hundred less. Certina.

Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium ($775+)

Certina’s Swatch Group sister brand, Tissot, uses its own application of the Powermatic 80 movement in the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium, the first in Tissot’s extensive collection to use that movement.

It was actually through the initial news of this Tissot watch that we learned the Powermatic 80 caliber not only has a reduced frequency, but also makes use of various silicon parts, including for its spring barrel which, according to the brand, results in more efficient operation without a major sacrifice to the ultimate timekeeping ability of the watch.

Like the DS-1, the Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium is available in an array of dial colors and case materials, though it is the steel, blue-dial model and two-tone crème-dial edition that seem to most frequently catch the eyes of collectors. Pricing begins at $775 for steel models on leather straps, and rises up to $1,495 for two-tone examples on metal bracelets.

You can find this watch and a number of other more recent releases containing the Powermatic 80 in Tissot’s online store here. Tissot.

Hamilton Jazzmaster Power Reserve Auto ($1,245+)

The final Swatch Group watch we have on our list is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Power Reserve Auto, which like the previous two watches also features a 3-day+ power reserve (aka 80 hours), though in this instance accomplished via the Hamilton Caliber H-13.

Like the previous two models, the Jazzmaster is a relatively classical-looking timepiece, though with some additional features accounting for its higher price tag. Among these, we find a number of new dial colors including sunray silver, black, crème, and blue, all with a power-reserve indicator on the dial in addition to the date window.

While not confirmed by information from the brands, it has been speculated the H-13 automatic movement inside the Jazzmaster is a Hamilton-modified Powermatic 80 (itself, as mentioned, derived from the ETA 2824-2), especially because Hamilton also falls under the Swatch Group umbrella. Nonetheless, with classic looks, an 80-hour reserve, and a price point just topping $1,000, the Hamilton watch can surely draw attention to itself in its own right.

The Jazzmaster Power Reserve Auto is offered directly through the Hamilton website here, with prices starting at $1,245 for a steel model on a leather strap, and only going up slightly to $1,495 when the watch is placed on a five-link metal bracelet instead. Hamilton.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition ($2,170)

British watchmaker Christopher Ward might not be the brand you think of first when it comes to timepieces with great power reserves, but the brand’s in-house Caliber SH21 movement with its 120-hour power reserve and COSC-specification timekeeping ability is nothing to scoff at.

The caliber comes standard in a handful of Christopher Ward’s watches since its initial release in 2014, including the racing-inspired C1 Morgan 3 Wheeler Chronometer ($2,050) and C1 Morgan Aero 8 Chronometer ($2,685), as well as the Bauhaus-style C1 Grand Malvern Small Seconds ($1,540).

Our choice for this list is the C65 Trident Diver SH21 Limited Edition, which is a luxurious take on the brand’s signature C65 Trident Diver design, and one highly limited to only 150 pieces. Equipped with a five-day power reserve, chronometer certification, 150-meter water resistance, and a solid vintage-inspired design, all in a 41-mm steel case and a blue dial — there is a lot to like about the model.

While currently stock is very limited as a result of its limited production run, some models are still available directly through CW, here, priced at $2,170. Christopher Ward.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic ($2,990+)

The Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic was much discussed upon its release, and for good reason. With a COSC chronometer certification, a five-day power reserve, magnetic protection, extended service intervals, and a very classical design, the watch has had a lot to offer since its initial introduction in 2018 and subsequent expansion in 2019.

Pricing for the standard Clifton Baumatic — that is, a time-and-date model — begins at $2,990 for either a dégradé blue, dégradé grey, or silver dial on a leather strap, and climbing slightly to $3,190 if you prefer it on a five-link metal bracelet. Depending on the case material and additional complications, prices on Baumatic models range up to $12,200. Baume & Mercier offers a number of models for purchase now directly though its online store, which you can find here.

Want to learn more about the Clifton Baumatic? We had one in for a watch test last spring; you can read the results here. Baume & Mercier.

Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 ($3,500)

If the previous models each generated discussion upon their releases, then Oris’ unveiling of its Calibre 400 movement — and shortly thereafter the new Aquis Date models that contained it — sparked serious conversation throughout the watch community.

Not only was Calibre 400 the first self-winding in-house movement produced by Oris, but the movement, and thus the new watch that contains it, come equipped with a five-day power reserve, serious antimagnetic properties, a 10-year warranty, and an astonishing 10-year service suggestion. All of this came together with the already widely praised design of the Aquis Date and its 300-meter water resistance, culminating in a high-value proposition that is likely to find its way into the collections of collectors young and old.

The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 costs $3,300 for the 43.5-mm version on a rubber strap and $3,500 on a metal bracelet, though it is highly anticipated other sizes and models containing the movement will become available in 2021. The watch is available both directly through Oris, here, and via authorized dealers globally. Oris.

What do you think of our list, and would you want to add any of these watches to your collection? Are there any watches we’re missing that fit this category? Let us know in the comments below!

No Responses to “Power at a Premium: 6 Watches Under $3,500 with Great Power Reserves”

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  1. Mario da Silva

    Although we dont need numbers for the time markers, as we get older the number in the date window gets harder to see… Which nice gold watches below US1000 have bigger date windows? (I have only a Citizen GW-4W-S Eco-Drive two tone gold/steel)

  2. Scmidty

    My Ball Marvelight M cost $2400 and is good for 80 hours and glows thru the night.

  3. Philip Sherman

    One other Swiss Watch maker belongs on this list. Ball Watch Company has its in-house Caliber 3709c with an 80 hour power reserve and COSC certification. It is available on several watches in their premium Engineer III
    Marvelight collection.

  4. Leonard Martinez

    The Oris wins hands down. In fact, I’m wearing the 45.5 mm dat/date iteration as I type. Five-day power reserve is as good as a power reserve needs to be. Nice fit and sweet to look at. Well-worth the price.

  5. Edmund B.

    Thank you for your insightful article on well built watches less than $3500 with long power reserves.

    I know this may not be considered a premium watch but the metal cased Swatch Sistem 51can be a good looking with a long power reserve for the person on a limited budget.
    There fore, It is my candidate submitted for honorable mention.

  6. George Kages

    What about the Mido Ocean Star/Decompression Timer? Under $2K and an 80-hour power reserve.

  7. My Ball Engineer Marvelight M has an inhouse movement that is good for 80 hours.

  8. Oops you forgot to mention my Ball Marvelight M. Good for 80 hours at a sweet $2600. Includes Tritium always on, too.

  9. J. A. Hagen

    The Tissot Gentleman Automatic version that you call “two-tone” has a bezel made of 5.5 g rose gold. Meanwhile versions with yellow gold are available, too. “Two-tone” might indicate that there is gold-coloured PVD used but it is actually gold. That is why the so-called “two-tone” watch is much more expensive that the steel version.

  10. Steven Daniel

    The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 hits all my check marks and is my dream watch…..

  11. Frankie W Gibbs

    I ‘LOVE” The Oris Aquis Date. Are there other Oris models in this category?

  12. Frankie W Gibbs

    I ‘LOVE” The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400. Are there other Oris models in this category

  13. Slam! My Ball Engineer Marvelight M has an in house movement good for 80 hours.

  14. The Baume & Mercier Baumatic (Clifton) 5 days pr i go to buy this year.
    I am curious how the watch wil be on my wrist.
    I want it as my weekend watch, so during the weekdays my watch winder can put some extra pr into the mainspring.
    A Tissot Gentleman Swissmatic i have for almost 3 years. An error free daily beater.

    In the list i miss a Longines. They offer also powermatics of 80 hours. Conquests i do not know, but maybe Longines have a powermatic available in an automatic Conquest.

  15. Nice watches, but I don’t see the point of these extended power reserves. 40 to 48 hours is more than enough for me, given the trade off on durability of the the movement.

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