Five Most Underrated Luxury Watches That Deserve Your Attention — Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Tudor, and Grand Seiko
Big brands obviously create a big hype. But even these top-of-the-market giants don’t manage to hit a home run every time. And instantly labeling the less talked about watches as a “swing and a miss” doesn’t really do them justice. Some of them are an acquired taste, and some are sleepers that definitely deserve more recognition than they get. We decided to focus on five of the most underrated luxury watches from five of the watch world’s biggest brands. What are they? Keep reading to find out!
Discussing “underrated” luxury watches requires some prefacing, as it can be a rather divisive and subjective term. In my book, “underrated” means that these watches deserve as much (if not more) love than the other, more popular offerings, of that same brand. It really is that simple. You might then ask: are they underrated for a reason? Well, that’s an entirely different discussion and one which I won’t be getting into today. So with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump right into it, and take a look at five of the most underrated luxury watches from five of today’s biggest brands.
1. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Chronometer
The first watch on my list is Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra. With Omega, the focus will almost always land on the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300, and Seamaster Professional (SMP) collections. However, I still believe that the, often misunderstood, Aqua Terra is certainly underrated. It is a watch with great potential. There’s a special something that makes the Aqua Terra Omega’s strongest contender for the perfect one-watch collection. As an advocate for versatility in a collection, rather than in an individual watch, it’s an idea I am not a huge fan of. Still, the Aqua Terra is one of those watches that can take you from the beach to a dinner party without feeling even slightly out of place. Is it any wonder then that James Bond wears one?
It’s that true versatility that makes the Aqua Terra one of the best, underrated luxury watches in Omega’s collection. The Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Chronometer in stainless steel with the matching steel bracelet is the absolute winner in my book. At 41mm the size it hits the sweet spot between the smaller, traditional dress watches and larger sports or dive watches. The watch is powered by the Master Chronometer caliber 8900 which is anti-magnetic up to at least 15,000 gauss and features a very comfortable, high-quality steel bracelet.
Whereas I would typically go for a black dial, here I would pick the blue or green dials over the more subdued option any day. The brilliant shades of blue and green combined with the wooden deck-like pattern offer the exact right amount of visual pizzaz to set this piece apart. If you find yourself searching for a beautiful, versatile watch from one of the top luxury watch brands out there, it’s hard to top the highly underrated Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Chronometer.
2. Breitling Chronomat B01 42
The Breitling Chronomat B01 42 was introduced just last year. Can a watch be considered underrated in less than a year? I think that it goes without saying. Recently, Breitling also introduced the Super Chronomat. A direct result of its renewed focus on the Chronomat line. And before that, Breitling introduced the automatic models in 36mm and 32mm for women. But that’s part of this watch’s problem. With this rapid growth in the collection, the focus and appreciation for the initial Chronomat B01 42 seem to have faded rapidly. The appeal of the B01 42, lies in the fact that it takes every characteristic detail of the legendary 1980s Chronomat and perfectly combines it with a great deal of modern charm, both in design and in movement. It combines a contemporary 42mm case with the characteristic Chronomat bezel, the rouleaux bracelet, and the in-house B01 movement.
On the wrist, it’s a modern watch that makes a respectful nod to its past. It’s that past that represents yet another reason why the Chronomat is underrated. A lot of focus and praise goes to the iconic pre-Schneider vintage-inspired models. The Navitimer, Superocean Heritage ’57, and the recently introduced Premier are the first Breitling models to come up when talking about the brand. The limited-edition re-issues of these brilliant classics tend to be more popular with fans. As a result, it seems as if the Chronomat has been relinquished to the back seat. Though it wasn’t the case with its predecessors, I loved the current Chronomat B01 42 from the moment of its release. Not only is it a great modern watch, but it has given me a great appreciation for the Chronomat’s history. This is why I believe it deserves its place on this list.
3. Rolex Milgauss ref. 116400GV
Is there such a thing as an underrated Rolex? Considering the big run on anything the brand puts out, you almost wouldn’t think so. But the Rolex catalog is not without its underdogs. The most underrated Rolex, in my opinion, is the fantastic Rolex Milgauss ref. 116400GV. It was originally developed as an anti-magnetic tool watch for engineers and scientists. Unfortunately, the specificities of the model’s history have not proven to be the main selling point to the few people who appreciate the watch today. And watches marketed for their antimagnetic properties are also not the most popular. But I still believe that the Milgauss is a great piece of Rolex history that ties back to some incredibly cool previous generation Milgauss models. Starting in 1954 with the Milgauss ref. 6541.
The Milgauss’ story may not be the most exciting, and it definitely seems like Rolex felt they had to compensate for this by giving it the funkiest design in the collection. It comes in a 40mm Oyster case, equipped with an anti-magnetic shield that protects the Caliber 3131 inside, and a matching steel Oyster bracelet. These elements provide a solid base for the true stars of the show. While the Z-Blue dial is definitely an amazing option, the version with the orange lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand, green sapphire crystal, and black dial is simply unbeatable. The black dial provides a contrasting backdrop for the orange elements. Speaking of which, this particular model has extra orange-lume-filled indices at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock which the Z-Blue version lacks. It makes it even quirkier, funkier, and cooler. A lot cooler, I would say, than some of its more popular peers!
4. Tudor Pelagos LHD
If you were to ask me what the essential elements of the Tudor brand are, the first things that come to mind are the snowflake hands and the matching square and rectangular hour markers. It’s this signature style of hands and indices that make a watch instantly recognizable as a Tudor. However, none of the extremely popular Black Bay models use that style of markers; thank goodness then, for the Tudor Pelagos! Our in-house photographer Bert is adamant that this is the dial design that Tudor should use for most of their watches. He even went as far as creating a composite image of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight with the Pelagos style indices. I have to say, it looked pretty cool. But compared to the popular Black Bay the Pelagos is definitely the brand’s most underrated watch.
The Pelagos is Tudor’s true modern-day dive watch. My favorite version is, without a doubt, the Pelagos left-hand drive, or LHD. I prefer it over the regular black and blue dial versions. They look a bit cold and a little too clean. The Pelagos LHD comes with a 42mm titanium case with the crown placed on the left side of the case. It is equipped with a black ceramic bezel and a matching titanium bracelet. The matte black dial is contrasted by the characteristic hands and indices filled with cream-colored lume. The red “Pelagos” text on the dial adds a little extra zing, as does the roulette-style date disc. Add the COSC-certified Caliber MT5612, 500 meters of water resistance, and a helium-escape valve at 3 o’clock, and you’ve got yourself a serious diving tool. The Pelagos LHD is Tudor distilled to its purest form.
5. Grand Seiko SBGJ237
The final addition to this list of most underrated watches is the Grand Seiko SBGJ237. Yet another watch which was released just last year. And another that is, in my opinion, heavily underrated. First off, when it comes to Grand Seiko, most people’s focus tends to go almost exclusively to the Heritage line. Most Grand Seiko enthusiasts are drawn to the brand because of the specific appeal of that collection. But Grand Seiko’s Sport collection has some amazing pieces that certainly deserve more attention. I love the quirky SBGC201 with its oversized crown and chronograph pushers. But the one model from the collection that absolutely blew me away is the SBGJ237 GMT watch. We had it in for review some time ago, and I was totally floored by everything it had to offer.
Before you scroll down to the comment section to complain about what you’ve read about this watch on paper — the day-night split on the bezel, the placement of the date window, its 44.2mm size, and 14.4mm thickness — let me tell you: those are exactly the reasons it is so underrated. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, you really need to experience this one in the metal to truly appreciate its charm. I had my reservations as well, but once I put the watch on my wrist, they pretty much disappeared immediately.
I can also report that all of the Fratello team members that got to see the watch up-close and in person, were very impressed by it. The overall design, the Hi-Beat GMT movement, the incredible finishing, and that lume! The Lumibrite used for the bezel created a truly mesmerizing effect. It’s a brightly glowing cherry on top of what I think is undoubtedly the brand’s most underrated watch.
There you have it, five of the most underrated luxury watches that don’t get enough praise because they are outshone by other watches in the respective collections. In my opinion, they each deserve more praise than they currently get. But don’t let me have all the fun, I would like to hear your thoughts on these five watches. Also, make sure to let me know what you feel the most underrated luxury watches from the top brands are.