Fratello Favorites: The Best Watches Under €3,000 — Lex’s Picks From Nomos, TAG Heuer, And Rado
Here’s €3K, they said. Do with it what you want, they said. But you can only spend it on watches, they said. Pick three watches under €3,000 in the current collection and one “old” timepiece, be it vintage, neo-vintage, or relatively new but pre-owned. Challenge accepted! And you know what? Though it was called a challenge, it didn’t take me all that long to come up with my three + one list.
With the search for three + one watches under €3,000 fresh in mind, the first one I thought of was a watch that was once in my possession. I thought of my Nomos Club. It was a hand-wound watch with subtle color details on a shell cordovan leather strap. A lovely piece, but also not really “my” watch, if you know what I mean. I liked the subtle hint of field watch hidden inside. But something about it also felt a little underdeveloped. The Nomos Club Sport Neomatik 37, in the Glashütte brand’s current collection, sits a step higher on the ladder of evolution. And it’s still a watch under €3K.
The best watches under €3,000: Nomos Club Sport Neomatik 37
The Nomos Club Sport Neomatik is a bit less field and a bit more ballroom than my old Club. This is thanks to the fully polished stainless steel case. It’s pretty sophisticated, though, and not at all extravagant, thanks to its 37mm × 8.4mm case with a lug-to-lug length of 48.5mm. The fact that the lug spacing is a moderate 18mm helps to create a watch that shines but doesn’t blind you with its bling. Despite being visually very present, there’s still a lot of functionality to be found. The dual-gasket push-in crown, for instance, makes the Club Sport Neomatik an all-rounder that’s water-resistant to 200 meters. It does match the watch with a bracelet that gives the Club a more sporty look than ever before.
I’m going to write something wild now. If you’re dazzled by a Rolex Oyster perpetual and an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Shades makes you lust for a colorful watch, the Club Sport Neomatik Reference 745 with its radiant sunburst petrol green dial might be a (much more affordable) alternative. You also get an in-house DUW 3001 Neomatik movement for that money. Just think about it for a minute. Anyway, the Club Sport Neomatik on a three-link bracelet costs €2,680 if you want a closed case back. And if you prefer to see the movement, the version with an exhibition case back has a price of €2,980.
Free power: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
I’m an advocate for luxury solar-powered quartz watches. So I better put my (fictional) money where my mouth is. And therefore, I picked the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph (WBP1114.BA0000). This is the steel version with the black dial, not the funky black DLC-coated one with the carbon bezel. The “plain” steel version stays beneath €3K, yes, but it will also last longer. Yes, the black Solargraph is cool, but I suspect the more restrained version I picked will keep your attention way longer. And because of the subtle polar blue accents on the black dial, this iteration of the Solargraph is also not precisely middle-of-the-road.
The main reason for picking this versatile watch can be found inside the 200 meters water-resistant case. It’s a solar-powered movement designed and built by renowned Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret. The TH50-00 draws in the light it needs to run through the dial and will run for up to six months when left in the dark. It’s the distinct, edgy look of the Aquaracer because of its dodecagonal bezel—a unique, but not yet iconic design—combined with the “enlightened” watch tech inside that made me pick this TAG Heuer. The watch that comes with a 5-year warranty will set you back. €2.300.
Spend it all on design: Rado DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition
Last October, Rado released four new Rado DiaStar Original models to commemorate the 60th birthday of the flying-saucer-like watch. My favorite of the four is still the DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition designed by Alfredo Häberli (ref. R12163118, €2,300). This “designer edition” is the most adventurous and bold of the lot. The Häberli-designed DiaStar stands out with its conical bezel in radially brushed Ceramos. The matte bezel looks industrial and solid. It encircles the faceted, hexagon sapphire crystal and the facetted, circular-brushed metallic gray dial. Very nice details are the elegantly tapered hands and the off-beat day/date indicator that doesn’t specifically tell the day. Instead, it graphically shows the progression of the week.
The DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition is a 38 × 12.3mm watch with a lug-to-lug length of 45mm. It was futuristic 61 years ago, and it still is today. Futuristic with classic dimensions, that is. With its Rado R764 automatic movement featuring 80 hours of power, the watch is both a design object and a bold statement. But it’s also a watch with an indisputable historical significance.
A neo-vintage steal: Girard-Perregaux Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France ref. 8090
There was a Girard-Perregaux on my Watch Resolutions For The New Year list. But as John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” In my case, a Tissot PRX and a 22-year-old Omega Speedmaster happened. But since I have €3K to spend all of a sudden, I’m back in the market for a “GP.” And I have set my sights on a Girard-Perregaux Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France ref. 8090. This 40mm steel watch equipped with an automatic in-house movement is an archetypical chronograph. It’s a car watch, yes, but it’s first and foremost a watch made by one of the (once) most prestigious names in traditional watchmaking. I found a ref. 8090 for US$2,279 on Chrono24, but there are more affordable ones to be found on the World Wide Web.
The Girard-Perregaux Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France ref. 8090 was a limited edition of 250 pieces made in the early 2000s. The original selling price was around $5,000, so paying around half for a worn watch in good condition is more than reasonable. I know this watch is certainly not an investment piece. But it has kept its good looks over time. You can find fine examples on a leather strap—the first thing you’ll change when you receive the watch—and even on a steel bracelet—something else you would also likely want to exchange for something different. I might want to put this watch on my list for 2024.
What do you think of my picks? Let me know the watches under €3,000 that you’d pick in the comments section below.