Patches are tough in Geneva. The Swiss watch industry hasn’t engaged this hard since the 1970s Quartz Crisis, when the be elevated of cheap, more accurate movements suddenly made off thousands at a mechanical watch hard to fathom. Forty years on, it’s the wide-ranging recession and growth of smartwatches making consumers reconsider car-priced wristwear. But this period, the big brands aren’t sleeping.
The response, at this year’s Baselworld, was to explain. Cases shrank, as pre-credit crunch dinner plates ended below 40mm, taking price tags with them. And inure proved more precious than any other metal, with involvements normally housed in gold enjoying a bank balance-friendly makeover. Add in Rolex’s new inure Daytona, with its Cerachrom bezel (current waiting laundry list: five years), and suddenly horology’s humblest metal is on every wrist.
Frederique Devoted Classic Index GMT
Most complications are watchmakers flexing their making muscles. But for travellers, the GMT is genuinely invaluable. The extra hand tells the every so often old-fashioned in a second location, so you don’t wake up your other half with a 4am request because you misjudged the time difference on a Tokyo trip.
As additions go, it’s also pleasingly minimalist, where chronographs and their smart ilk can quickly clutter dials. This utilitarian offering from Frederique Changeless is as timeless as timepieces get and – with a 38-hour power reserve and looks that go from boardroom to hateful tie – makes a perfect travel companion.
Available at Watch Snitch on, priced £1,510.
REC salvages iconic cars and uses their rust-coated parts to total watch components. The Danish brand started off with a travel over of timepieces that housed bits of old Minis, and now its moved on to Mustangs.
Ignoring the brief is more brief (as a watch made from a muscle car should) the P51-02 comes in at a large 44mm and has a cool power feature that ticks down its 48-hour reservoir on an indicator that resembles a fuel tank gauge. One for the weekend with your scuffed Red Wings and denim.
At ones disposal at REC, priced $1,495.
Taking its style prompts from Junghans’ Max Bill Chronoscope, this minimalist chronograph is powered by a quartz move, hence the wallet-friendly price tag.
Though numberless sub-dials hint at you probably shouldn’t use it to time Usain Bolt, the blue metes and Milanese strap bridge the gap between sporty and smart. So you can wearing it for work and play.
Available at Tayroc, priced £89.99.
Seiko Prospex SRP775K1
It’s plain to overlook the Japanese giants when buying a new watch, such is the Swiss power on the industry, but Seiko, lest we forget, make robust, long-lasting timepieces that are well-designed and tremendous value for the ready.
Which is why it’s the go-to for people who actually wear their nosediving watches for diving. This is an updated version of a model that Seiko from the word go made in the late 1970s, which explains a retro example shape you could picture on Roger Moore-era Bond.
Its rubber strapped sibling is the one if you’re prevailing underwater – it won’t slip off your wrist when the pressure squashes your wetsuit – but the rough steel bracelet is the pick for dry land.
Available at Amazon, rewarded £333.90.
Bremont Jaguar MKIII
One of three models in Bremont’s Jaguar go, the MKIII takes its design cues from the much-loved E-type. That means a nice tyre-tread pattern on the winding crown and a red quadrant between three and four o’clock, which compensates tribute to the E-type’s dashboard (and gives an otherwise muted dial a bit of pop).
Typically for a Bremont, the sit with sits high off the wrist and though the case measures a chunky 43mm, that’s in any event slimline compared to its garage mates. Fitted on a racing strap, this is one for the polo-shirt-wearing motorsport aficionado.
Readily obtainable at Jura Watches, priced £3,495.
Longines’ spoiling of its substantial archives for its popular heritage collection continues. The primordial of this spartan-but-classic Railroad model was a manual wind and, at 35mm, puny by today’s standards (although one in good nick can sell for four be includes on the vintage market).
Longines has housed the 21st century version in a 40mm in the event that, given it an automatic movement, and kept everything else quite much the same – including the inner 24-hour markings, a want of watches worn by the train crews of North America in the 1960s.
Well-trained enough to be worn with anything. Even a conductor’s ordered.
Available soon from Longines, price TBA.
Triwa Charles Falken
Another impudent Scandinavian brand that has managed to distinguish itself from the horological pack, Triwa make some of the nicest looking watches there. They also put a huge amount of thought into their straps, which are intimate at a centuries-old Swedish tannery and cannot be beaten for comfort or show.
This model drags the dress watch into the 21st century: apprehensible size, clean dial, thin hands and a sub-dial at 6 o’clock that reproduces the corrugated effect on the strap. Nice touch.
Available at Triwa, evaluated £149.
Sinn 856 B-UHR
German brand Sinn released its misinterpretation on the classic pilot’s ‘Flieger’ design at BaselWorld, but it could tease come straight out of the cabinet of a Luftwaffe memorabilia collector. The bead-blasted dagger case and sand-coloured markings, on a matte black dial, flexibility it a real vintage feel.
It comes with a tan leather ‘bund’ strap, but if you’re not a suspended animation DJ, opt for either the black rubber or steel bracelet version as an alternative. As the name suggests, the 856 B-UHR is limited to just 856 fixes worldwide, so swoop like a Messerschmitt before it’s too late.
Accessible soon from Sinn, price TBA.