A lot of our favourite watches at Gentleman’s Journal — and most of the ones we tend to shout about — have hefty price tags. And there’s usually a good reason for this; some are crafted from precious metals such as gold or platinum, some are limited editions of already stunning timepieces, and some are constructed using techniques so complex even we can’t get our heads around them.
But many of us aren’t looking to wrap tens of thousands of pounds around our wrist on a daily basis. Instead, we want something that will look good in the boardroom without worrying us every time we take it on the tube. So we’ve rounded up six of the best watches under £2,000 that are worth your time. From a Baume & Mercier to a Bell & Ross, each of these timepieces has a fantastic movement, great provenance and the ability to catch a compliment or two around the office. And you’ll still be able to pay your rent.
For those seeking tradition: Montblanc Heritage Automatic
If you’re looking for an entry-level timepiece with a good chunk of legacy behind it, this Montblanc is a good place to start. Inspired by the historical Minerva wristwatches of the 1940s and 1950s, this collection combines the elegance of watchmaking’s past with the bold design cues and technology of today.
Our favourite, that sneaks in just a shade under £2,000, comes in a 40mm stainless steel case with a silvery-white dial and adornments including dot indexes, rhodium-coated numerals and bags of Super-LumiNova. You’ll also get a lovely leather strap for your money; a grey Sfumato alligator strap direct from the Richemont Pelletteria in Florence.
Montblanc Heritage Automatic
For those drawn to design: Longines Master Collection
Perhaps the most expensive looking watch on this list, Longines’ ref. L2.909.4.78.3 from its storied Master Collection takes the award for the most handsome dial under £2,000. Mottled in a silver ‘barleycorn’ pattern, it comes a close second in our favourite features after that moonphase display sitting pretty at 6 o’clock.
And there’s much more to enjoy. From the subtly blued steel hands and painted bold numerals to the self-winding mechanical movement ticking away under that dial, this is a highly thought-through watch — and the definition of a good deal. A triple safety folding clasp, three-bar water resistance and 64 hour power reserve complete the picture.
Longines Master Collection
For those of a practical mindset: Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Black Steel
Simply designed, monochromatic and effortlessly sleek, this all-black Bell & Ross is another throwback to classic wristwatches. But, where other watchmakers have fallen into the trap of faux-patinas and antiquing, Bell & Ross have kept things clean; and produced an infinitely better looking watch as a result.
The satin-finished stainless steel case is unobtrusive, the rich matte black dial does its job and the classic lugs curve practically over your wrist. Couple this with its unrivalled legibility and it becomes possibly the most hands-on, workable watch on this list. And don’t dismiss that as a criticism; we like nothing more than practicality.
Bell & Ross BR V1-92 Black Steel
For those sweet on sport: Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10378
Baume & Mercier has the mid-level sports watch market all buckled up. Its Clifton Club collection is a bastion of quick-ticking, athletically designed style — and this ref. 10378 is one of the best. That bright blue dial grabs you by the lapels of your tracksuit, and the Swiss-made automatic, self-winding movement behind it keeps you interested.
The urban-chic of the bracelet affords it versatility, the time-indexed blue bezel allows you to record even your speediest sprints and the Super-LumiNova hands will ensure you can stay active all through the night, if the mood takes you. What’s more, and rather rare for a watch under £2,000, Baume & Mercier offers free engraving on this model — making it an ideal gift.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Club 10378
For those charmed by the functional: Tudor Black Bay 36
There are many types of watch. Some are made to be jewellery, and shine bright from beneath the cuff of a dinner jacket. Others are made for sportsmen, with colourful cases and more subdials than you can shake a personal best at. And some, like this rugged Tudor Black Bay 36, are made to be purely practical tools.
There’s an undeniable charm in this utilitarian Tudor. Slightly smaller than the rest of the Black Bay collection, it retains the proportions and design cues — while the black no-nonsense dial and reliable aged leather strap keep things grounded. Mechanically, it’s also incredible practical; with a 38 hour power reserve, and waterproofness to 500 feet.
Tudor Black Bay 36
For those of a limited budget: Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
Finally, and by far the best value timepiece on this list, Hamilton flies into the running with its NATO-strapped, hand-winding pilot’s watch: the Khaki Pilot Pioneer. A reinterpretation of a vintage military watch produced for the British Royal Air Force in 1973, this compact timepiece is powered by the famous H-50 hand-winding movement — that boasts 80 hours of power reserve.
But it’s not just the calibre that has turned our heads. Featuring a distinctive dial pattern, robust strap and air of proud military character, Hamilton’s water-resistant timepiece is one of the best affordable mechanical watches with which to start your own collection.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
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