Finding The Best Watches Under €2,000 Today — Thor’s Sweet-Spot Pick From Longines
Finding a good watch for €2,000 seems easy when you’re in the know, but it’s actually quite tricky. As Nacho experienced, it is far too easy to fall into the trap of the most popular watches of today. Actually, finding a watch that hits the sweet but difficult spot between €1,500 and €2,000 had me wringing my watch-obsessed brain. Not having €5K-10K to spend without selling off A LOT, €2K is a budget with which I’m very familiar. This is a space dominated by Seiko with its huge value props. And while I do love Seiko, this time, I’m going Swiss with the Longines Spirit 37mm.
Within the Swatch Group, Tissot does great work in the €500-€1K segment, but between €1,500 and €3,000, Longines wins it. With similar ETA-based calibers, the Swatch Group wrist-racers all have reliable engines, but the brand style is well-segmented. Rado is also a great brand coming in too high for this budget, but Longines hits a sweet spot for me. Sure, 37mm might seem too small for many of you, but with the long-lugged wearability of Longines, you should try on the Spirit 37mm.
The smallest and best Spirit?
The best attribute of the Spirit series, and probably the reason for its success, is its slight indefinability. Longines has a great Heritage line, in which the brand taps into classic factory back catalogs with an emphasis on period-correct cool. In the Spirit series though, there’s a delicate balance between a refined field watch/Explorer alternative with a heady dose of aviator inspiration. What makes it a success is found in its name. The line is imbued with a vintage spirit but keeps it contemporary. A similarly styled field watch, the revised Tudor Ranger, just came out, and to my mind, it missed its target. Watches like the Ranger are what the Spirit series is up against, even though the former starts at €2,880. The Spirit on a steel bracelet is pretty close to that price (€2,450), but for me, it is a better proposition. Yes, I can live happily without the Rolex family ties too, honestly.
One of three perfect sizes?
This is not a duel, but the vanilla-flavored Rolex cousin is larger than I’d like at 39mm. And though some people love it, its period-perfect dial, admittedly, is rather boring to me. The 37mm Spirit may be small, but if you feel like a beefier version, you can get it in 40 or 42mm, and there is even a titanium version. But while 37mm is not the best fit for everyone, remember the long lugs. A Longines of 37mm will wear closer to 38-39mm, just like watches from NOMOS, the German masters of lug-stretching. The lug-to-lug is about 46.5mm, and one reason for enjoying smaller sizes is the complete picture you get on your wrist. With the 42mm Longines Spirit, like a 43-44mm IWC, the watch head alone will dominate a smallish wrist. The straps will descend vertically, instead of being visible on your wrist. But enough about how perfect the 37mm is for anyone. The Spirit’s dial is a doozy.
A matte, detailed delight
Don’t get me wrong, the Spirit case is also Good with a capital “G”. It is very much like an IWC Pilot, but with an abruptly chopped angle at the end of the lugs. There are two pronounced polished details making the case — a strong bevel on the bezel and the sweeping chamfer of the case side. This makes for a refined tool with that big crown, especially on the 37mm model.
The charming split-level rehaut is still in place, cut into by small, diamond-shaped indices with pops of lume
The smooth black dial might be a safe choice, but lume-filled numerals lift off it with panache. There are also plenty of polished details that work to detail the quiet surface. The charming split-level rehaut is still in place, cut into by small, diamond-shaped indices with pops of lume. With its military/pilot influence, a strong red-tipped seconds hand might be a given, but it’s always a winner.
A date-window conclusion and €2K well spent
Look at the 40mm version on the left above, and you’ll see the most noticeable change (other than the size) on the 37. The date window on the smaller model is now perfectly placed at 6 o’clock. This is a small but sharp decision that aids symmetry. This has been carried onto the new Zulu Time as well. On a related note, some people question the merits of the classic five Longines stars. To me, in combination with the winged Longines logo, they do wonders for the vertical balance of the dial. Contrasting against the flat, one-dimensional print on a Ranger dial, there is simply no contest.
The 37mm Longines Spirit retails for €2,180 (or CHF 2,000 on the dot), and it houses the Longines caliber L888.4 based on the ETA 2892. This is a 72-hour powerhouse chronometer movement with easy servicing, underlining the winning meaning of those five stars under the sapphire crystal. And at 11.7mm thick, this Spirit is pretty slim. Try on one with the classic thick-stitched leather strap, and you might find I have a point. What’s a smidgen over the budget in euros if it’s money well spent?
So, do you think this packs a punch for right around €2K? And did you think my Tudor Ranger comparison was righteous or not? Let me know in the comments below.
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