As 2017 comes to an end, the WatchTime editors wanted to cover some notable watches of the year in a variety of price ranges. First up, we covered a selection of timepieces under $500. Now, here’s our guide to watches under $2,000 that you may have missed throughout everything that 2017 had to offer. — The WatchTime staff
The sub-$2,000 range of watches is one of the most universal in all of horology. This is where mid-tier brands get to play around and stake their ground as a value proposition, lower-priced brands get complicated, and upper-middle brands get to offer an entry-level timepiece. This year, we had so many watches to choose from in this price range that it was almost impossible to limit it to five. Did we miss your favorite purchase of the year? Sound off in the comments and let us know.
First off, a few honorable mentions. The Bulova Chronograph C was a favorite of many in our office. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Field Scuba offers a lot of value for its good looks and modified ETA movement. A personal favorite of mine is still the Alpina Startimer 99MG, a limited edition that changes just enough design-wise from the original Startimer to entice me but retains its flight pedigree. The Mido Ocean Star Caliber 80 is also one that deserves a second glance. And, of course, like I mentioned in my sub-$500 article, it’s hard to beat Seiko in this area as well.
Let’s get this out of the way: I am biased in my appreciation of the Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook. I liked the 37 mm version so much that I ended up purchasing one for myself a few months back. This timepiece is so out-of-the-box for Rado that I couldn’t help myself. Combine that with the excellent size at 37 mm — I have small wrists and other diving watches I’ve owned have ended up looking like dinner plates on my wrist — and this checked off all the boxes for me. One of my favorite things about this watch is how faithful it is to the 1962 original. The size has been upped slightly from 35.5 mm to 37, but the crown, the date window placement and style, the inward-sloping bezel, and the caseback are all identical. It embraces its vintage background in the absolute best way. The 37 mm Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook is priced at $1,900 and it also comes in multiple 45 mm versions.
The Clifton Club collection from Baume & Mercier was without a doubt the Swiss brand’s major focus for 2017. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t scroll through Instagram without finding a Clifton Club staring back at me. But, unlike with other timepieces that have gone through similar levels of promotion, the Clifton Club deserved it. Of the five watches in the collection, two of them are priced right under $2,000, making them a perfect addition to our list. The orange and black color scheme works well and, just as they advertised, I can imagine this watch making a seamless transition from the office to the gym. All the watches are stainless steel, 42 mm, powered by Sellita movements, and have a thickness of 10.3 mm, making them the ideal size to slip underneath a dress shirt sleeve. This uniformity only adds to the appeal in my opinion, meaning there’s no sacrificing substance through the variety of style options. The Baume and Mercier Clifton Club 10337 and 10338 are both priced at $1,950.
Of all the watch brands I write about, the one I probably get the most questions about from non-watch enthusiasts is Nomos Glashütte. The German brand really owns the market among millenials looking to purchase their first serious watch. It’s the combination of an impressive design that appeals to the Instagram-era as well as an intelligent marketing approach that divides each collection into bite-size descriptors. One of the latest releases from the brand that fits this trend is the Club Campus series that is targeted to, you guessed it, people about to graduate high school or college. These are fun, crowd-pleasing watches that boast an in-house caliber to boot. The three watches in the collection come in two different sizes (36 and 38 mm) and are all stainless steel. Something really interesting about all three is that they feature a California dial, meaning Arabic numerals up top and Roman numerals on the bottom. To my knowledge, this is the first-and-only time Nomos has ever made a dial like that, which adds its own sort of funky peculiarity to the mix. The Club Campus series starts at $1,500 for the 36 mm and goes up to $1,650 for the 38 mm version in the brand’s trademark Nacht blue — my personal favorite. Each model is also available with a sapphire crystal caseback for an extra chunk of change, otherwise they come with a closed stainless steel back.
Oris has really embraced its vintage side recently. From the constant churn of Sixty-Five divers, to this year’s fan-favorite addition — the ChronOris Date. The original ChronOris was actually the brand’s very first chronograph back in the 1970’s and has been produced off-and-on ever since. Currently, the ChronOris Date is the only non-chronograph ChronOris in the collection, but it’s also the one that is the most heavily influenced by its ‘70’s background. Lucky for us, the lack of a chronograph movement places it nicely into our the sub-$2,000 price range. It includes two crowns, the one at two o’clock manages the time, while the one at four o’clock controls the inner rotating bezel. You get to choose between a stainless steel bracelet or a leather, rubber, or NATO strap — personally I’m a fan of the leather. It’s priced at $1,750 for the strap versions and $1,950 on a bracelet.
Bell & Ross introduced a trio of new watches under the Vintage Collection label this year. All three jettison the recognizable B&R square case, but only the BR V1-92 comes with a military-inspired sibling. Bell & Ross — which was founded in 1992 — has no authentic military history of its own, but it leans heavily on historic defense themes to attract a wide fanbase. For this specific watch, the brand chose to use rising minute increments rather than traditional hour markers and to include a date window that is squeezed in between three and four o’clock. Finally, there’s a red logo above six o’clock that spells “MT” for Military Type. Inside the 38.5 mm case, the BR Caliber 302 — based off of the Sellita SW-200 — offers up a 38-hour power reserve. The Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Military Edition is priced at $1,990.