Between the Swiss watch industry’s fashion-world-like calendar of annual releases and the awareness boost entrepreneurs receive from crowdfunding platforms, there have never been more options for the wrist. Contrary to popular belief, a beautiful or interesting watch doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. Many of the best known brands—Hamilton, Seiko, Citizen for example—all provide options under $300. The following eight selections, however, step outside of the ordinary. They’re all well-made and, if we haven’t worn the exact model, we’ve worn something else by the brand. From one eccentric digital watch, to a smartwatch hybrid and plenty of modern, material-oriented minimal pieces, there might just be something here for everyone.
Nixon Base, 38mm
Whereas most retro watch models look back to the long history of automatic timepieces, Nixon‘s Base, 38mm ($125) goes only to the sci-fi dreamers of early electronic watches. As for functionality, the Base sport an all digital minute, second, calendar, countdown time and chronograph—with a light, as well. The gold finish falls upon stainless steel and the whole watch is waterproof to 100 meters. It’s a handsome, contoured throwback piece.
Skagen Hagen Connected Steel-Mesh Hybrid Smartwatch
Denmark’s Skagen continues to impress with thin, minimal watches. Their Hagen Connected Steel-Mesh Hybrid Smartwatch ($225) takes that traditional Danish minimalism and pairs it with future-forward technology. Beyond the traditional time-telling, the Hagen tracks activity and sleep, but through the SKAGEN LINK technology, the watch can also filter smartphone notifications, control music and take a photo (all through Bluetooth). It’s 42mm, water-resistant and comes with a navy blue interchange steel-mesh band.
As we’ve mentioned before, the face of many Mondaine watches will be familiar to anyone who has visited Switzerland. Their design is that of the official Swiss railway clock. With the EVO ($230)—shown here in its 35mm iteration—legibility is key. From the oversized hands to the magnifying effect of the domed mineral crystal, this watch is about clarity and variation on a classic. This is a Swiss-made watch, with a Ronda quartz movement, and all the materials are top notch.
Tissot Everytime Big Quartz
Another Swiss watch brand, though this time historic, Tissot’s Everytime actually comes in six variations. The Everytime Big Quartz ($245) with a green strap sets itself apart from the others, invoking a timeless minimalism. As for materials, this has a stainless steel with PVD Coating case and sapphire crystal lens. The name makes clear there’s a quartz movement within. For those seeking the ideal watch size, it also comes anywhere in the range of 36mm to 42.9mm.
Timex + Todd Snyder’s The Military Watch
We’ve made no effort to hold back on our love of this collaboration thus far. NYC-based Todd Snyder has breathed excitement into the American heritage Timex. The latest addition, The Military Watch ($138), draws inspiration from 1960s and ’70s military-spec watches—most notable in the vintage dial details. Everything here has been designed for present day functionality, however, and despite Snyder’s brilliant use of archival references, it’s certainly modern. This is another quartz watch in a stainless steel case, though this has a brushed silver tone. As with other timepieces in this collection, it is likely to sell out.
Larsson & Jennings Lugano 38mm
The latest from Larsson & Jennings, the Swiss-made Lugano 38mm ($295) bears many trademarks of the minimal British/Swedish brand. A beautiful polished 38mm silver case carries a Ronda 762 quartz movement. Crystal sapphire rounds out the superb materials, but it’s the navy sunray brass dial that makes it truly shine. Coupled with the navy leather strap, it’s a cohesive, minimal watch.
Rec Watches The Minimalist L2
The initial draw of Rec Watches’ The Minimalist L2 ($295) happens to be that its dial is composed of material recycled from a vintage Mini Cooper—and no two pieces are ever the same. There’s more here than that. First, the simplicity of design is refreshing. Two hands tick across a 40mm diameter stainless steel case. A unique VIN number is laser engraved in the back and each watch is limited in production. Further, the piece is beautifully complemented by a sand-colored leather strap. If the story hasn’t grabbed you, each watch does come with a booklet explaining the story of the car that became the watch.
Funding on Indiegogo right now, Maven‘s two lines of debut watches ($143 each) incorporate a nature-inspired minimalism. Of the two collections, The Enduring comes with a genuine marble face; The Artisan features an organized, symmetric and colorful face—millimeter size for both is 40. The watches also feature brushed stainless steel, and genuine Italian leather straps.
Images courtesy of respective brands