Fratello Editors’ Favorite Watches Under €1,000 In 2023 — Thomas’s Picks From Baltic, Seiko, And Hamilton
I get to kick off this new series of challenges set by our managing editor Nacho. The premise is quite simple. We get a €1,000 budget per watch and one condition: all of our picks must be available to purchase new on the market today. Other than that, all that matters is that each writer likes the watches and would recommend them.
I have added one little challenge for myself: I cannot already own the watches. So I went on the hunt for three watches under €1,000 that I would buy today. With those few premises out of the way, let’s get into it!
Favorite watches under €1,000 — Pick #1: Baltic Aquascaphe Dual-Crown
The first of my favorite watches under €1,000 comes from France. It is the Baltic Aquascaphe Dual-Crown. I own a titanium Baltic diver, and I enjoy it quite a bit. To me, Baltic stands out in two respects — styling and price. I struggle to think of better-looking watches under €1K. I particularly like that Baltic never bites off more than it can chew, meaning the brand keeps it simple but gets the essentials right.
The Dual-Crown is a compressor-style dive watch. The 39mm stainless steel case features an internal rotating bezel operated via a second crown. Both crowns have a historically inspired rasterized pattern, fitting the style perfectly. The narrow external bezel has a charming outward flare to it. It also features the only frivolity on the entire watch in the form of subtle rifled brushing.
I particularly like the black-dial version with its stark contrast. The classical dive-watch layout is adorned with the same handset that I have on my Aquascaphe Titanium. It is a highly legible and attractive handset that conspires with the slightly bulging triangle marker to give the watch its unique Baltic DNA. The sparse text and nice fonts complete a great look in my eyes. On a Tropic-style rubber strap, the Aquascaphe Dual-Crown comes in at €786.50.
Favorite watches under €1,000: Seiko SPB317J1
My second pick is another black-dial diver on a rubber strap. This one, however, is from Japan. And it requires every last euro of my €1,000 budget. Technically, you would have to negotiate a €0.01 discount to get it under €1,000. This is the Seiko SPB317(J1). Yes, this is the one you may spot on Daan’s wrist regularly as he owns one.
The SPB317 is a C-shaped Seiko diver housing the 6R35 caliber. Like the Baltic, its crown sits at 4 o’clock, but this time, we have a traditional external dive-time bezel. Aesthetically, the SPB317 is about a Seiko as they get. The handset, bezel insert, fonts, markers, lume, and case shape all feel very familiar in a positive sense. If you own and love a Seiko diver, chances are you will like this too.
What sets the SPB317 apart from most of its Seiko Prospex siblings is its size. Although it measures 41mm across, it wears quite a bit smaller, atypically so for a Seiko diver. It gives the watch a slightly more classical vibe that is simultaneously more versatile. If you know our beloved Daan, you know he is a bit of a classical gentleman. He is certainly not the type for bulky sports watches. It makes great sense, then, that this would be his Seiko diver of choice. And it would be mine when shopping for watches under €1,000 as well.
Favorite watches under €1,000: Hamilton Khaki Field
On to something a little bit different — the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm. This hand-wound field watch features the H-50 caliber, which is based on the ETA 2801-2. In Hamilton’s version, however, it has an impressive 80-hour power reserve. Paired with the modest 5ATM water resistance, it also allows for a nice and slim case at 9.5mm.
I like the Khaki Field’s matte media-blasted case and military-style dial. My only gripe is the rather heavy faux patina on the lume. It gives away that this is more of a fashion field watch than an actual military one. If I were actually buying, I would probably opt for an original 1970s/1980s military-issued Hamilton field watch. That being said, I would still wholeheartedly recommend this watch. It is well made, and it obviously looks neat. I get why this has been a gateway drug for many aficionados.
There are quite a few cool variations to choose from. I would have a hard time choosing between the classical model and a white-dial variant. There is one with a blacked-out case as well, which is equally attractive. Coming in at €625, the basic model is well within the €1,000 budget.
The Tissot PRX is another obvious candidate. Admittedly, however, I do not have that strong of a connection with that watch. And since many Fratello writers own one, I figured I had best leave it for them to cover. Another watch that could have easily made my list is the Farer Durham. Its cushion case and copper and gray dial certainly offer something unique. The dial is just a tad too cluttered for my liking.
I have also considered the Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver in titanium. I feel, however, that the Baltic and Seiko are just a little more refined. And yes, I could have easily opted for a list of three black divers on rubber straps. But hey, where is the fun in that?
What would you pick when shopping for the best watches under €1,000? Let us know in the comments below.
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