The watch market is structured by price segment. Above the CHF 2,000 threshold you start to see the appearance of watches in exclusive categories and from prestigious brands. Climbing further up towards the CHF 5,000 mark, you are in the biggest, most diverse and most hotly contested price segment of all. Almost all the big names in watchmaking are here, with the exception of the purely high-mech brands.
The choice is accordingly vast, in both men’s and women’s models, and there is a plethora of tempting offers. One of the most interesting options for women is the Classic 28 mm by Chopard. This diminutive quartz watch, with a gold case (including the caseback) and a classically elegant dial (as its name would suggest), is one of the best-value gold watches available, and it doesn’t skimp on the precious metal. Another possibility is the Bulgari Lucea 28 mm, whose steel bracelet is the result of an unprecedented amount of work. Its polished, curved links arranged like overlapping scales, as well as its sunburst dial, make this watch stand out from the crowd.
The motion in this piece is your hand-wound IWC caliber 94805, which beats at a leisurely 2.5Hz and features 96 hours of power reserve. The movement could be admired through a sapphire display caseback and includes an inlaid insignia that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the brand.These two highly complex particular anniversary watches will likely be generated in extremely tiny amounts. IW504501) will be produced with a cost of $110,000. IW590202) is limited to just 15 pieces for a cost of $253,000. Founded in 1868, IWC prepares to celebrate its own 150-year background in 2018 using five restricted models from different collections, and the IWC Da Vinci Automatic Edition “150 Years” watch is the most available among them. Apart from the “150 Years” in the names, all share the lacquered dial with printed numerals — all white except that the Da Vinci Automatic you watch here in blue. This isn’t simply a “small-seconds” version of last year’s three-hand Da Vinci Automatic (hands-on here), since it signifies an in-house motion option with a fresh member of IWC’s 80000 family of movements.The Da Vinci has gone through quite a few redesigns because it premiered in 1969, home the first Swiss quartz movement, the Beta 21. IWC reimagined the Da Vinci collection a year to re-introduce a round Da Vinci case silhouette with notable articulating lugs. One thing I could say for the new Da Vinci watches is that articulating lugs are usually something that I appreciate, however — and perhaps it’s only me — it seems like the dressy, restrained character of this round Da Vinci is currently pretty well represented in IWC by the Portofino and Portugieser collections.
The sportier Admiral’s Cup Legend by Corum also exists in a 32 mm diameter for women. Its mother-of-pearl dial features the twelve pennants that are a signature of the Admiral’s Cup line, in an upmarket “sport chic” version with rose gold bezel. Staying with the sporty chic aesthetic, Louis Vuitton’s new Fifty Five in a 36 mm version is an excellent choice. The silver monochrome elegance of this all-steel watch is accentuated by the green touches on its cutout hands. The watch is meticulously executed with numerous refined details, and the added advantage of an automatic movement.
Where men’s watches are concerned, automatic is definitely the way to go. At this price point, it’s even possible to get hold of a complication or two, or a manufacture movement, as is the case with Frédérique Constant. The Geneva watchmaker has always endeavoured to provide its in-house calibres at an accessible price. The Classic Manufacture has a refined aesthetic with delicate Roman numerals and a deep black dial. The Ronde Croisière by Cartier also comes with the in-house automatic 1847MC calibre. It represents a significant gesture from the luxury jeweller, particularly in its steel version, which combines a black dial with gold accents. This sporty and affordable watch benefits from all the attention to detail that has helped to cement Cartier’s watchmaking reputation over recent years.
Looking at complications, Montblanc brings its aggressive pricing to the Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time, with two time zones and date and an impeccably understated dial. But at CHF 5,000 and even less, there are already quite a few chronographs to be found. This is the core domain of companies such as Bell & Ross, whose BR126 Aéronavale ticks all the boxes: automatic chronograph, royal blue sunburst dial, universal diameter, meticulous finishing, cool name. IWC has just redefined its pricing targets, and the new Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 is its best-value proposition. Functional to the point of being utilitarian, readable, even spartan, this small-diameter pilot’s watch is designed to fit small wrists, but wears equally well on a larger frame.
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