Retro is still surfing a big wave of popularity, which is the unassailable truth. Though I often start articles by pondering whether or not we’ve reached peak vintage love, it’s still here, and I have nothing against it. But if you want something different, how about some futurism for less than €3,000?

Sure, I love the feel of the 37mm Black Bay 54, but there is room for tech-cool and intensely modern watches. Modern can mean €100K Urwerk genius but also affordable watches that defy outdated categories. Why stick to the codes of dress watches and pilots’ or divers’ tools? Here are 10 examples to give you a taste for modern, even avant-garde watchmaking for less.

Finding Futurism for less than €3000

SpaceOne Tellurium

With brands like MB&F, Urwerk, and Vianney Halter, there are plenty of spacecraft-like watches to dream about. But few of us have budgets of €50K–150K, right? Last year saw the debut of Argon Watches, now known as SpaceOne. Jumping-hour watches are the easiest way to create futurism or “future retro” as there’s no handset to worry about, and SpaceOne does it with sleek elegance. This year, the brand knocked it out of the park with the galaxy-inspired Tellurium, sneaking in under our budget at €2,990. And just like SpaceOne’s debut spaceship — sorry, watch — the Tellurium plays for the cameras. With a complex cushion/tonneau case and enigmatic dial depicting our galaxy, this watch looks like nothing else.

Behrens Starship II

I have an affinity for Behrens and its affordable take on very modern sensibilities. The brand has recently launched the Kung Fu, a Haute Horlogerie piece with an intricate twist. But despite this and the razor-thin 20G hogging the limelight, Behrens still offers huge value with pieces like the Starship. A conventional movement powers a futuristic visage in a black case of the same ergonomic 42mm as the Consteller and NaviGraph. The dial is skeletonized and raised with a concave center inspired by an arc reactor. In the center, the two cross-shaped hour and minute indicators are as simple in principle as they appear otherworldly. Coming in at US$1,920, the Behrens Starship II offers great value.

Casio G-Shock Master Of G Mudmaster GWG-B1000

On Daan’s 17cm wrist here, the G-Shock Master Of G Mudmaster GWG-B1000 looks like it has taken over half his arm. This is no dress watch, but any Master of G looks like you’ve strapped on half a Decepticon for a day out (Transformers, right?). I’m not even going to quote the size here because the complex construction is remarkably light. I’d sincerely consider this my new bright, colorful summer watch. And the Master of G series brings with it an obsessive attention to detail. In fact, I thought the packed features with Tough Solar power, a Triple Sensor, and Bluetooth smartphone link would be four times the €799 price.

Schofield Light

With a name that takes its inspiration from a Lighthouse, the prime inspiration for Giles Ellis’s Schofield brand, the Light looks like nothing else. And therein lies its charm, leaning hard on modern, crisp minimalism with a new 40mm case. The smooth creation marks the first time in 14 years that Giles has gone a different way from his usual big-cased charmers, and it works. You might think this watch is expensive based on the NH34 Seiko movement; I get it. But trust me, the Light is a prime example of being more than the sum of its parts. Sharp design, different thinking, and a clean-cut graphic vibe are worth £2,190. This is with UK VAT directly from the Schofield Watch Company, which will be deducted for export.

Dwiss M3 futurism

Dwiss M3 S

For just US$1,390, you can get a brawny sports watch with a similar vibe to the Behrens Starship. But the 42mm case riffs on our love of angular cool with a series of bright, semi-integrated FKM straps to match the accent colors under the dials. The dials themselves offer a skeletonized view, making the now-standard Sellita SW200 feel exciting. With its 200m water resistance and small, colorful rotating center handset, the M3 S has a charm that belies its budget price. Check it out on the Dwiss website in your choice of four colors. There’s even an integrated-bracelet version available for €1,590.

Robot Aplos

I was unaware of Robot until I did a feature on it a few weeks ago, but the Czech brand does things differently. I was quite fascinated by Robot’s customization options, and the online configurator lets you play around with lots of details. The Aplos range, starting at €2,780, is a perfect example of the brand’s modern slant on watchmaking. The model above is one of the standard iterations, featuring long and lean indices matching a minimalist handset. With its textured-dial charm and spare design, it’s a great example of minimalist chic.

Citizen Promaster Professional Diver 1000 BN7020-09E

This mad-sized Citizen diver is one of those End of Days-cast tools you know will take any punishment and shrug it off. It’s like an anti-tank missile or alien photon grenade. This jostles with the Blancpain X Fathoms for the tech crown in a world of retro diver watches. But this is simply a very solid dive tool within the spaceship hull. It has a none-too-shy 52.5mm diameter and a massive twist-lockable bezel dominating the case. Housing the solid-as-anything J210 Eco-Drive caliber, it is a solar-powered, unkillable beast with the shortest and broadest hyperlegible hands I’ve ever seen. This Promaster Professional Diver 1000 packs a big attitude for €1,995.

Kollokium Projekt 01 futurism

Kollokium Projekt 01

This is a watch I’ve noticed over the last few months. It is from a small brand with a fresh new vision of watchmaking. The case consists of a circular module within a scalloped-lug cradle and topped by a very tall box sapphire. So far, so futuristic, but it’s also about the dial. It might have three hands, but the normality ends there. The surface resembles one of those ’80s pin artboards where your hand or face makes a 3D impression. The shapes are tiny cylinders filled with Super-LumiNova, slightly raised where the indices would be. The result at night is in the feature image at the top of this article, and it is enigmatic. With an automatic La Joux-Perret G101 movement, the 40mm Variant B is available for CHF 2,666.66 from Kollokium.

Finding Futurism for less than €3000

Awake Time Travelers

The Time Travelers watches are resolutely modern in color and minimalism, and Awake is good at this. At €1,490, there’s a lot of presence for the buck here, with the eye-catching purple-colored Grade 2 titanium being a case (pun intended, not sorry) in point. Measuring 40mm wide and a sleek 11.89mm thick, it comes on a textured rubber strap and frames deep-space history. The dial is a slice of the Swedish Muonionalusta meteorite, which is the same age as Earth, and it bears a delicate criss-cross texture that is unique to each watch. This enigmatic pattern brings a poetic quality to what is, in essence, a pure watch design, and the Miyota 9039 movement inside is assembled and regulated in Besançon, France’s watchmaking capital.

Boldr Venture Singularity

Yes, I did have a €3,000 budget here, but that’s no reason to discount (no pun intended this time) a superb alternative from Boldr Supply Co. With a dial covered in Musou Black, it appears almost dark enough to suck the light straight out of its surroundings. The dial almost disappears in the shot above. But unlike its darker competitors, such as H. Moser’s Vantablack minimalism, it comes under €500 at US$449 from Boldr. Speaking from experience, the Venture is also a super light (91 grams on the bracelet) titanium watch with a neat 38mm size. And with its all-black DLC case and bracelet, it packs a stealthy punch.

What about you, my retro-loving Fratelli? Are you ready for some more futurism in watchmaking, or are you still busy vibing on ’60s skin divers? Let me know in the comments.