Regular: The next tier consists of watches in the $200-$1000 range, like Seiko and Citizen, Casio G-Shocks, Victorinox, Hamilton, Fortis and Tissot, etc. These are all regular watches. If you want a good, solid regular watch, these are the kinds of watches you should be looking into. At this price range, however, I would still stick to quartz watches. Automatic watches at this price range often can’t be manually wound or do not hack, or are not that accurate. For instance, with a Hamilton or a Tissot, you can lose or again as much 20 seconds a day, and that’s not a defect and won’t be covered by warranty; but it would personally drive me crazy if my watch lost or gained 20 seconds per day.
Luxury, entry-level: Beyond that, you’re looking at the various–and nuanced–levels of the luxury tier. It starts with Longines, Oris, Ball, and the like, followed by TAG Heuer. A step up from TAG would be Omega, Breitling and Tudor. These would be the entry to middle levels of the luxury tier. These watches, for the stainless steel units, would be in the $1500-$6000 range. (Note well, Omega and Breitling owners are intensely partisan and will disagree with this positioning; but I think most connoiseurs would agree. They used to be at the same level as TAG, but in recent years they’ve tried to price themselves up a notch with a lot of gimmicks, like Omega’s co-axial movement. Omega in particular rode on the fad of popularity among mainland Chinese, who–I’m guessing–were really into Pierce Brosnan James Bond; but that fad’s dead, I think.)
Luxury, middle-class: Up from this tier would be the upper-middle level, where you will find the industry standard for the luxury tier: Rolex, along with Breguet, Blancpain, Jaeger Le Coultre, Panerai, Zenith, Glashütte Original–and, here’s an admittedly controversial claim, Grand Seiko. (Again, note well, Omega and Breitling partisans will insist that they belong within this range; but they don’t. They’re there with Tudor. Panerai doesn’t either, really, but they cost like they do.)
Luxury, non plus ultra: Finally, you arrive at the upper classes. First, you have the Swiss Trinity: Patek-Phillipe, Audemar Piguet, Vacheron Constantin; and the German superstar, A. Länge und Sohne; and, a Seiko again, Credor. You also have impudent upstarts like FP-Journe and Richard Mille, which may not survive their founders–who knows?
So there you have it: these are some good brands in the three (or four, depending on how you look at Omega and Breitling) tiers.
(Note well, this class system of watches doesn’t track actual social classes. It’s not like wealthy people automatically wear expensive watches and lesser well-off people wear the more affordable brands. This class-system of watches tracks only the often idiosyncratic opinions of WISes (Watch Idiot Savants) from all walks of life.
If you invest in a serious timepiece, you ought to know what’s under the hood. Get hip to these five watch terms and you’ll sound like an industry pro. Water-Resistant Just because a watch says it’s water-resistant doesn’t mean you should swim or shower with it on. To be safe, only do so if it’s...