"Bargain" is a highly relative concept in an industry in which $3500 is sometimes considered entry level. Even so, cheap chic exists in regards to timepieces, at least if you know where to dig.
For this holiday season, six influential watch bloggers were asked to unearth the ultimate envy-inducing timepiece for less than $1400. Here are their picks.
Autodromo Group B
Stephen Pulvirent, managing editor, Hodinkee
A Brooklyn watchmaker inspired by classic mid-century European sports cars. The titanium capsule evokes the storied rally cars of the early 1980s, including the Lancia 037 and the Peugeot 205 T16.
"I honestly think this is one of the best buys in modern watchmaking. It's superslim, the combination steel-titanium construction keeps it lightweight, and it has a sort of industrial feel that makes me feel comfortable beating it up a bit. It's a design-guy's sports watch," says Pulvirent.
Ian Skellern, a founder of Quill & PadBrand
An independent Swiss company known for envelope-pushing design and customisation. Instead of hands, time is represented by rotating rings that reveal the hour, minute and second at the traditional 12 o'clock position.
"If you think you have as much chance of finding a unicorn as a high-quality, Swiss-made watch with eye-catching design and easy customisation for under $950, check out the Klok-01 by Klokers. The real magic is that you can quickly swap straps and watches using the patented quick-release dock, so that your accessories complement your mood and social context."
Price: From $570
Mr. Jones Watches, the Accurate
Ariel Adams, founder of aBlogtoWatchBrand
A whimsical British company known for playful, often inscrutable, pop art dials. Based on the medieval memento mori, the watch offers a sobering message, "Remember you will die," across its hands, along with a mirrored dial to remind its wearer that life is fleeting.
"This boutique London-based watchmaker offers expressive, artistic watches at accessible prices normally associated with much more boring products. The Accurate, for example, entertains the form of a daily-wear watch, but with a message that reminds people not to sweat the small stuff."
Price: About $240
Baltic Bicompax 001
Zach Weiss, executive editor, Worn & WoundBrand
This Parisian newcomer specializes in 1940s-style timepieces assembled in France. The "neo-vintage" design features a two-register chronograph, column-wheel movement and a calfskin strap.
"A near-perfect example of why affordable watches can be great. Based on 1940s step-cased chronographs, the 38-mm case exudes vintage style while their dials exhibit a restraint typically found in Patek Philippe Calatravas."
Price: About $837
Weiss Standard Issue Field
Matt Hranek, founder, the William Brown Project
A Los Angeles startup inspired by nautical gauges and pocket watches from the early 1900s. A 42-mm sport watch that features a mechanical movement, a sapphire crystal and case back, and a hand-painted dial.
"Weiss was trained in Swiss watchmaking techniques, and honed his craft with Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. He then set up shop in Los Angeles to make a watch exclusively on American soil."
Frank Geelen, founder, Monochrome
It's Timex. Duh. A reissue of a Mad Men-era classic, it features midcentury styling, retro sizing and a hand-wound mechanical movement.
"Timex recreated an old model, the Timex Marlin, to exact specification as the original one from the 1960s. One could even say it's a straight copy-paste, but it simply looks great. A classy hand-wound watch with a diameter of 34 millimetres makes this new Timex Marlin a great dress watch."
Check out the gallery above to see the top six watches under $2000.