Luxury comes in all shapes and sizes, from fast cars to fine tailored suits to edible delicacies. It is generally understood that luxury watches are of both high quality and price – but is that truly always the case?
Luxury watches are identified as such for a few key reasons. Brand recognition certainly helps to verify the quality of a timepiece or particular collection, but more often than not, watch aficionados can sniff out a watch’s worth from its materials, make and design. For example, large watch companies typically employ master horologists to assist in production, ensuring that the watch’s primary purpose – keeping time – is executed faultlessly with the most exact precision.
Not only, then, do luxury timepieces take longer to create, but they enjoy a longer lifespan as well. Those watches being sold for upwards of $10,000 can sell at a premium rate because they will last for decades to come. Even then, their value will only increase over time; thanks to the precious metals and/or gemstones used in the design, or due to the notoriety of the brand name, collection or particular piece, which can possess a high resell value.
However, just because a brand offers its products at a lesser face value does not necessarily decrease from its worth. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these five high profile companies known for producing affordable luxury watches:
1. Stührling Original
The Stührling Watch Company has been producing memorable timepieces for over a century – since the business was founded in the 1800s by master watchmaker Max Stührling. Because Max was often discouraged by the high price of luxury timepieces offered by his contemporaries, he endeavoured to offer his customers inexpensive yet still undeniably impressive watches. Despite the company’s long hiatus, when it was resurrected in 1999 by great-grandson Max Stuhrling IV, the heir apparent continued in upholding those same values.
While many of Stührling’s parts are manufactured in Asia today, each dial is made with shatterproof Krysterna crystal – something that is unique to Stührling and considered to be the highest quality crystal available for watches. Meanwhile, their watch cases are manufactured with antimagnetic 316L surgical grade stainless steel, which can withstand heavy and hard use, and straps are made from top grain genuine leather. Stührling watches have a great reputation, and, given their low price range, are globally recognized as a steal.
Stührling Original watches: $29 – 1,061 at evine.com
Built in the humble town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Hamilton has long been considered a leader in timekeeping since their products were coined “the watch of railroad accuracy” in early 1912 – and the brand’s reputation for highly accurate timepieces only progressed from there. During World War II, the company halted production for consumers all together, in order to supply the Armed Forces with one million watches. They were rewarded with a U.S. Army-Navy “E” Award for excellence in production of military equipment. If Hamilton’s time keeping precision is good enough for our boys, no doubt it’s good enough for luxury watch collectors!
Hamilton watches embody the strong, America spirit and the precision of the latest Swiss movementsand technology. In 2003, the Hamilton Watch Company relocated its headquarters to Biel-Bienne, Switzerland, cementing its standing as one of the leading brands worldwide that offers watches at the $500-1700 price range.
Hamilton watches: $169 – 1,388 at Ashford.com
Victorinox is the brand that first introduced the world to the Swiss Army Knife, and in 1989 they created a line of Swiss Army watches of the same admirable design and functionality. The mechanisms of their timepieces are wear-resistant, thanks to synthetic rubies used within the movement, and each piece is coated with crystal that is hardened to at least twice the industry standard. In other words, there’s no scratching these watches. Durability is one of Victoniox’s best qualities – the I.N.O.X. is famed for surviving three-story falls, the crushing tires of a 64-ton tank and a cycle in the washing machine.
Most impressive of all, in 2002 Victorinox responded to an increase in productions by designing their own manufacturing facility in order to maintain full control over the creation process. Their Swiss Army watches utilize top-of-the-line materials: in fact, each movement (the engine that causes the watch to work) comes from the Swiss company ETA, who is also the supplier of top luxury Swiss brands like Hamilton, TAG Heuer and Valjoux.
Here is a watch company that defies the traditional school of thought around what defines luxury. These novelty timepieces are incredibly loud and colourful, meant to truly portray the wearers’ personality.
A good portion of Swatch’s trendy watches are also made of plastic, a decision which ignited the production of an entirely new kind of Swiss watch. This synthetic material is shock-proof, highly accurate and also quite affordable. Founder Nicolas G. Hayek began these revolutionary designs as an answer to the decrease in luxury Swiss timepieces of the day, which were being replaced with cheaper quartz watches manufactured in Asia. His big idea was that of a “second watch”; a less expensive, high quality timepiece that allowed the wearer to say who they are and what they felt.
The radical reduction of parts, known as “Revolution 51”, not only offers a thinner, lighter timepiece. It also enables the company to innovate assembly methods and packaging technologies. Inspired by popular culture, a lot of their past timepieces can be bought for a pretty penny at present – especially those designed by premier artists of their day, including Keith Haring, Spike Lee, Kiki Picasso and Akira Kurosawa.
Swatch watches: $23 – 1,380 at Amazon.com
While very few timepieces are assembled by hand nowadays, Bernhardt maintains that hard-to-find feeling of devoting loving care and attention into every watch. They are an incredibly new company whose first watch line, “The Binnacle,” was only launched a few years ago. Since then, the company has expanded to include eight designs, all hand drawn by Owner Fred B. Amos and his son, Phillip, who dreamt up their flagship Binnacle Driver at the ripe age of 12! This small family business in High Point,
North Carolina is joined by Frank Lazimi, a European-trained, third generation watchmaker with over 30 years’ experience as a specialist. The Bernhardt Watch Company produces masterfully executed timepieces with an incredibly distinctive aesthetic, playing off of luxury features reminiscent of the most high calibre timepieces, yet still remaining wholly original.
Bernhardt watches: $169 – 679 at BernhardtWatch.com