As 2017 comes to an end, the WatchTime editors wanted to cover some notable watches of the year in a variety of price ranges. We’ve already covered a selection of timepieces under $500 and under $2,000. Now, here’s our guide to watches under $5,000 that you may have missed throughout everything that 2017 had to offer. — The WatchTime staff
If the sub-$2,000 range had an abundance of options this year, then the sub-$5,000 range offered an even greater wealth of timepieces to choose from. This is where you come if you’re looking to make a serious watch purchase, but don’t quite have a large enough budget to break into the ultra-luxe territory. Worry not, because there are still plenty of stellar examples of horology to be found in this range. In fact, this might be one of the more versatile pricing tiers in the entire industry.
First, a few favorites that were priced a little too high to make this list but still offer plenty of value for the price. The TAG Heuer Autavia comes in right over our budget although it was quickly a fan favorite after appearing at Baselworld this year. Kudos to TAG for executing a vintage Heuer favorite in such an appealing way. One of the biggest announcements coming out of Basel this year was the rebranding of the Grand Seiko line. Grand Seiko watches now appear without Seiko branding and, for the first time, the brand basically functions as a separate entity. But, unfortunately, basically everything they released this year was priced above our $5k mark. The mouth-watering Grand Seiko Snowflake comes in at $5,800 and the re-released steel version of the first Grand Seiko model at $5,700. Finally, the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph, which deserves all of the attention it has received and more, presents an incredible value for a vertical clutch, column wheel chronograph at $5,050 on a bracelet. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date deserves a shout-out as well, coming in at $5,750.
Honorable mentions that are under the $5k mark and barely missed this list have to include the Eterna Kon-Tiki Bronze Manufacture (2,990 Euros), the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer-01 ($4,950), the Sinn EZM 12 Medical ($3,340), and, one of my personal favorites of 2017, the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Worldtimer ($4,195).
The first watch on this sub-$5,000 list is the Longines Avigation BigEye, which made its North America-premier at WatchTime New York in October. This, like the fan-favorite Legend Diver, is a part of the growing Heritage collection for the brand. A modern re-issue of a chronograph that Longines produced in the 1930s, the watch is distinguished by its extra-legible, semi-glossy black dial with big luminous Arabic numerals, and an extra-large 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock — presumably, the “big eye” referred to in the model name. Powering the watch, albeit hidden behind the engraved case back, is Caliber L688, an ETA A08.L01 modified exclusively for use by Longines. The self-winding movement has a 54-hour power reserve and column-wheel chronograph control. A brown calf leather strap with contrast stitching completes the vintage-aviator look. It presents a tremendous value at only $2,625.
Next up, an IWC that pays tribute to the original Mark 11 Pilot’s Watch. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI” is perhaps the most accessible way to get one of IWC’s iconic pilot watches on your wrist. This model differs from the current Mark XVIII in that the indices are thinner and the triangular marker at 12 o’clock is not flanked by two dots in typical Fleiger fashion. Like the original 1948 model, it comes on a green NATO strap. The original Mark 11 was produced from 1948 to the early ‘80s and was primarily built to be supplied to the Royal Air Force and other armed forces. Since 1994, the Mark XII and subsequent Mark models have been produced for civilians. The Mark XVIII Tribute is limited to 1,948 (for its founding year) watches and comes in at $4,150.
Montblanc has had a big year. At SIHH, the multidisciplinary luxury good producer unveiled a whole new range of TimeWalker timepieces that varied in style and price. Out of all the new watches, it was the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC that we found to offer the most value. This 43 mm wristwatch offers up three time zones as well as chronograph functionality. A central hand with a red-framed arrow indicates a second time zone on the 24-hour scale of the black ceramic bezel. A third time zone can be utilized by turning the unidirectional rotating bezel with the 24-hour hand as the point of reference. The red and black design also offers up an attractive color combination that is plenty sporty. It’s powered by the MB 25.03 caliber that offers up a 42 hour power reserve. Did we mention that it only costs $4,990?
The young British brand Bremont continually produces some of our favorite watches. This year, its take on a dive watch, the Supermarine Type 300 and 301, combined the mechanical potency and design panache that we’ve come to expect from the brand. My personal favorite has to be the 301, which comes on either a leather or NATO strap. Where Type 300 is a very modern timepiece, the 301 leans heavily on a vintage-influenced style. It’s exceedingly simple with a black dial and a lollipop seconds hand. The 40 mm case features Bremont’s patented Trip-Tick construction and is water-resistant to 300 m. Inside the watch, the modified BE-92AE modified caliber offers up a 38-hour power reserve. All the Supermarine models are COSC-certified and the Type 301 model is priced at $4,095.
Now, before I go into detail about this year’s Omega Railmaster, I want to let you down easy. This isn’t the Railmaster that is a part of the popular 60th Anniversary Trilogy collection that includes a Speedmaster, a Seamaster, and a Railmaster; rather, this is a Railmaster that I feel has largely been ignored by the horological cognoscenti since it first popped up back at Baselworld. As you probably know, the original Railmaster was first produced in 1957 for anyone that worked near electrical fields. Sixty years later, we have this new 40 mm version that boasts the same anti-magnetic properties but comes in a new, refined design that features a wonderful cross-hair with Arabic numerals at the end, curved lugs, and an eye-catching, vertically-brushed dial that really pops in person. Inside the watch, it features one of Omega’s famous Master Co-Axial chronometer movements. This is definitely one of the jewels of 2017 and it can be all yours for only $4,900 on a nylon fabric strap or right at $5,000 on a bracelet.