Watches have always been a currency of sorts. In the boardrooms of London’s Liverpool Street and the member’s clubs of Mayfair, money is no object – whether earned or inherited. But since it’s gauche to actually discuss money, your place in the hierarchy is set by the prestige of what’s on your wrist. Your Rollie proves that you’re rolling in it.
But times are changing. Literally. Watch brands have (finally) realised that there’s a world beyond the 1 per cent: style-inclined men who want their wristwear to make a statement about something other than their bank balance. A watch that looks money, but doesn’t have to be an heirloom.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Titanium Pro
Despite sounding like a nuclear warhead, the Christopher Ward C60 is anything but a last resort.
The two-tone brushed titanium shell is light but durable, and protects the kind of handwound automatic movement you’d normally pay four figures for. Add in SuperLuminova-coated indices and hands to improve legibility, and doomsday can wait.
Available at Christopher Ward, priced £995.
Longines La Grande Classique
Longines is an expert at producing traditional watches, as evidenced by the La Grande Classique. The all-gold case, bracelet and champagne dial are punchy, but tempered by a subtle, 33m diameter. So you don’t look like a loan shark.
Available at Fraser Hart, priced £850.
AVI-8 Flyboy AV-4021-33
Watchmakers have always loved flight, but AVI-8 channels the past without going too Battle of Britain.
Instead, the Flyboy nods to aviation in its propeller hands and plane-tipped seconds, but keeps things contemporary with a dulled gold Milanese strap. Best of all, an open caseback reveals an automatic movement that means your wristwear soars.
Available at AVI-8, priced £295.
Junghans Max Bill Automatic
From football to timekeeping, trust the Germans to keep it efficient. The Max Bill Automatic is inspired by the Bauhaus graduate of the same name – think clean lines, simple features and mid-century fonts.
However, the simplicity masks a complicated self-winding movement, so you’ve got something that’s as smart inside and out.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £725.
TAG Heuer Formula 1
TAG Heuer finds influence in the likes of Jenson Button as much as Geneva – case in point, its iconic Formula 1 watch.
Mounted on a stainless steel bracelet, this piece has Grand Prix inspiration, but is still muted enough to match a business suit. Plus, the ‘Swiss Made’ stamp on the dial guarantees it won’t fall apart after the first lap. Gentlemen, start your saving.
Available at Beaverbrooks, priced £900.
Vitae London Walmer 40mm
They say charity starts at home. True, unless you shop at Vitae London. For each watch bought, the brand supplies a child in Africa with two sets of a school uniform, along with a bag and footwear for the year.
If you’re not sold on the backstory, the clean minimalist dial mirrors Swiss classics at a fraction of the cost. Nothing looks as good as doing good.
Available at Vitae London, priced £155.
Frederique Constant Watch Horological Smartwatch
The Apple Watch is many things. The main being exceptionally ugly. So, in a bid to tackle the ‘tech luxe’ craze, Frederique Constant released the Horological Smartwatch – a ‘connected’ tool housed in the chassis of a traditional Swiss watch.
It measures your fitness, sleeping patterns and day-to-day movements, all without an interchangeable Mickey Mouse dial.
Available at Jura Watches, priced £950.
Seiko Solar Titanium Men’s Chronograph
If you hadn’t already guessed, the Seiko Solar is powered by the sun, so it’s both cost-effective and eco-friendly.
The stainless steel design is made boardroom appropriate by a sober navy dial and various chronograph windows – two things that usually surpass the £1k mark if stamped with a Swiss brand.
Plus, you won’t have to face outrageous maintenance charges the next time it needs servicing.
Available at Fraser Hart, priced £249.
Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques
It may not have the prestige of Rolex or Cartier, but Maurice Lacroix always gets a nod from those in-the-know.
The Les Classiques collection is one of the manufacture’s best, taking the strengths of big names (Montblanc’s iconic moonphase and IWC’s subtlety) and producing a watch that doesn’t necessitate a Daily Express-enraging bonus.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £955.
Baume & Mercier Classima
Baume & Mercier is the go-to brand for executives worldwide. That being said, they’ve opened the Swiss-made doorway to a younger market, moving from C-suite to business school graduations.
Subsequently, the Classima has become its affordable entry-level piece, with a clean dial and luxury alligator strap meaning you can wear it throughout your journey to the corner office.
Available at Watchfinder, priced £995.