Opening Acts: Testing Entry-Level Watches from Rolex, IWC, and Panerai

In this triple-feature watch test our writer Alexander Krupp and photographer Nik Schölzel test a trio of entry-level timepieces from Rolex, IWC and Panerai that offer an entrance into the luxury-watch world for a relatively modest price.

Not everyone with a passion for watches also has a fat wallet. Fortunately, most of the top brands offer reasonably priced “base” models around which an up-and-coming watch connoisseur can build his collection. Our comparative test pits three of these “entry-level” models against each other the Panerai Luminor Base Logo, IWC Portofino Automatic, and Rolex Air-King (Click here for our report on other “entry level” affordable Rolex watches.) A first look at these simple but highly dissimilar models raises several questions. Is a date display more important than a manufacture movement?  Is a small watch with a metal bracelet more comfortable than a large one with a leather strap? And is the most expensive timepiece necessarily also the best of the three?

Rolex-Panerai-IWC-trio in Times Square

For the full article, with test results, download WatchTime’s digital exclusive, WatchTime E-Special: Starter Watches, for only $2.99 in the WatchTime online shop.

WatchTime TP - Starter Watches Cover

This article was originally posted in 2013 and has been updated.



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  1. romeo salta

    I am disappointed that you send me an e-mail with articles that I then have to pay to view. I subscribe to the printed copy of WatchTime, but I still do not know if that gives me access to articles like this one. I also would like to have Mark Bernardo curb his enthusiasm and send fewer daily e-mails. Some repeat the same information over and over.

  2. Sam Harris

    I value the the comments that you publish here. It brings a little sanity to the joy of collecting. I’d love to go to a watch market to by and sell without the hype. Any suggestions?

  3. Where are the Best watch fares in the World to sell or trade Watches for a collector

  4. Pat Rondilla

    A well presented article that educate people like me.. Many thanks..

  5. Excellent articles but on what planet are these three watches deemed to be ‘entry level’ watches? Most watch fans have long ago decided that most of these will be beyond their pockets so can we have more artciles on watches we can afford please? ie under £1k. The review of the Tissot in last months issue was a breath of fresh air by the way. Its OK to dream and drool but not all the time.
    Always worth reading of course. Cheers. Bill (UK).

  6. Carl Dreher

    Very good article, very thorough.

    I looked at this watch at a new Panerai boutique and was very unimpressed. If they had included the two-layer dial, I may have considered it. But a flat dial with painted-on numerals? A non-manufacturer movement and not even an automatic, for $4400? The value isn’t there.

  7. I enjoy your writings about watches. I would like to see some articles that address the
    lower price watches. IE – gshock, hi end timex, anything in the 2k and lower range.

    I do believe there are readers that might enjoy an occasional look at the lower price lines.

  8. Hugo Maiutto

    Are the kind of articles I´m very interested on. Clear, concise, useful, ande very well diagrammed.
    Waiting for nexts. Thanks a lot

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