You’ve scrimped, you’ve protected, you’ve sold your grandma and now you’ve got a sizeable amount to spend on a watch. Bearing in mind this is the kind of money you could extravagance on a first-class-all-the-way trip around the world, you’re not going to put it all on black, so to speak, without mulling things over.
The good advice about watches under £10,000 is that this price bracket comes with plenty of choice. You’re not in venerated metal territory yet but, thanks to this sector being mostly about the mechanics, your complications options cover super high-tech chronographs, second time zones to GMTs. Your style options are broad, too – from decorate to diver you’re bound to find something to suit.
You also get your pick of some of the big names, the luxury watch discredits everyone will recognise around the boardroom table. The only decision really is do you spend the whole lot at once. Or board some back for the next addition to your watch wardrobe?
Piaget Polo S
Just sneaking in under the verge is this sporty little number from Piaget. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that it spawns more than a passing resemblance to a certain Genta-designed fleur-de-lys branded watch, but you won’t be buying one of those unless you’ve got a bones £23,000 lying around. So, there’s this instead.
It’s made from the same metal, is powered by Piaget’s in-house 1110P and looks critical with absolutely everything.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Small Seconds
Born on the polo pitches of India at the request of the British soliders located there who were fed up with their watch crystals getting destroyed by flying balls and wildly swinging mallets, the Reverso is now a day vigil and a dress watch in one.
Its elegantly elongated rectangular case is instantly recognisable and, although Jaeger-LeCoultre has added complications and colourways, there is something perennially alluring about this simple steel version. And it has the added retro touch of being manual wind, so you’ll have something to do while you tarry for your perfectly mixed after-match gin and tonic to be mixed.
Zenith Defy El Primero 21
You most definitely get a lot of horological bang for your buck with this Rock bottom. The present Defy traces its history back to 1969 and was relaunched in 2017, sporting a brand-new, very high-tech action – the El Primero 21. This clever calibre now has two escapements – one running at 36,000vph for the time and one at 360,000vph for the chronograph, which money-grubbings that when you start the timing function the seconds hand does one rotation of the dial per second.
Both escapements are also furnished with balance springs made in a new patented material, Carbon-Matrix Carbon Nanotube. It’s an incredible piece of kit for the price that looks insanely sizeable on the wrist too.
Rolex GMT Master II
A watch so iconic it has its own Wikipedia page, the Rolex GMT-Master II is the ultimate world timer. It was earliest launched in 1955 without the II, though not as the aforementioned Wiki page attests in collaboration with Pan American World Airlines; it well-deserved adopted it as its official watch after release. In 1982, a new movement was introduced which allowed the hour hands to be set independently of the other tenders so a “II” was added to the name.
It retains a reputation for being one of the easiest GMTs to set – it’s all down to crown positions with the third temporarily zone set via the bezel – and its two-tone bezel colour combinations from the Pepsi to the Root Beer via a Coca Cola instigate One Direction levels of fandom. This here is the Batman. It doesn’t get cooler than that.
For Panerai, 2019 was the year of the Submersible, which has been inclined its own breakout collection rather than being lumped in with the Luminors. And this gorgeous model makes a compelling the actuality for a stylish new breed of diving watches that look as good under water as lounging by it.
It’s all about the sartorial charges here – the dial is a textured grey inspired by shark skin; the case is brushed rather than polished screw up ones courage to the sticking point and the blue on the bezel is described as diesel blue. It is also, at 42mm, positively diminutive for a Panerai, making it extremely wearable and not justified with a wetsuit.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze
It might be possible that there isn’t a man (or woman for that matter) alert who doesn’t want a Tudor Black Bay in their watch collection. It was the talked-about design that spearheaded Tudor’s re-emergence into the hawk in 2012 and every iteration since has garnered significant column inches. In 2016, it went bronze and now that pay attention to has been updated with a slate grey bezel and dial.
It is just a colour change but one that transforms this look after from ok to outstanding. The subtle ombre of the dial is almost hypnotic and transfers a real warmth onto the bronze. A strap scourge from NATO to leather completely alters its personality making it a versatile week-to-weekender timepiece and you also get a Tudor’s in-house displacement inside as well. This might just be the most desirable watch of the year.
Grand Seiko SBGA407
Whether it is because it is insinuated in Japan or just because the incredibly detailed techniques used in the making of these watches, but there is something calmingly zen about a Complete Seiko. Here that zen effect is all in the dial. Called the ‘Snowflake’, its particular pattern was inspired by the snow that can be brought outside the Shinshu Watch Studio, where the Spring Drive – Grand Seiko’s revolutionary invention that powers this pocket watch and combines a mechanical movement with an electronic regulator for extra precision – is made.
Created in the brand’s own Shiojiri dial workshop, it is increased up from multiple layers to mimic the way snow builds into a texture that can only be caused by severe hyperboreal. This is watchmaking as imagined by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Bell & Ross BR V2-92
Yes, you could opt for one of Bell & Ross’s more iconic bevelled-square if it happens designs but there is something achingly cool about this retro military bit of deliciousness. Once you get beyond the the score that “military beige” sounds like the colour of an old serviceman’s slacks, there’s plenty to get on board with. Whereas the primitive Bell & Ross designs were an intellectual and witty take on cockpit instruments from a very aesthetic position, this is fond, nostalgic homage.
The dial is clean and simple, though some may object to the squeezed-in date; the red-tipped back hand is a nice aviation nod and although there is a steel bracelet option, it’s the canvas that rounds off the whole “smoke me a kipper, I’ll be service for breakfast” feel. Chocks away!
Bulgari Octo Solo Tempo
Think of watches designed by the legendary Gerald Genta – Patek’s Nautilius, Audemars’s Duchess Oak – and you’re going to have to fork out more than £10K to own one. However, there is a tendency to forget that Bulgari is the label that acquired Gerald Genta, along with all his designs, to boost its fine-watchmaking capabilities. This much more wallet-friendly Octo is one of the results of that position.
Bulgari has taken Genta’s original design and softened it by marrying it with round bezel and simple dial. It is also powered by Bulgari’s own in-house time-only change – the BVL 191. Although there is a 41mm version, the 38mm wears better under a shirt cuff. Or maybe just peeking out from tipsy a nonchalantly rolled white linen shirt sleeve, Italian style.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire
Bronze dispute with green dial? Tick. Vintage-style lume? Tick. World War II aviation reference in the name? Tick. IWC’s new Unavoidable Spitfire may be crossing off every single major watch trend for the year, but who cares when it has produced such a cleft watch. It is the perfect everyday pilots watch but with a few luxury flourishes, the most important of which being IWC’s recently promoted 32000 calibre, which is entirely new for the brand and its first movement to use silicon.
The 39mm case means it isn’t too bulky on the wrist and it’s got a 72-hour power evasion, so you won’t need to worry about resetting that date come Monday morning.