Which Five Watches Did Lex Pick For €1,500? The Best Money Can Buy?
I knew this was going to be fun. What would you do if the boss gave you 1.5k to spend on a watch of your choice? That was the question RJ (not Bruce Springsteen) posed me the other day. But wait until you hear this sneaky rule: I couldn’t look for a nice vintage watch. It had to be new. As such, I have spent many hours trying to compose my virtual list. Yes, I searched catalogs, magazines, websites, and social media looking for watches I could buy with my set budget AND would actually wear. Not virtually, but actually. So, what five watches did Lex (that’s me) pick for €1,500?
Splurging €1,500 on a new watch is good fun. Because a good splurge will cheer up anybody, right? And also because in this particular case I was ordered to spend the money on a watch. There was no one around to tell me it would be wiser to spend it on roof maintenance or something else sensible. No, it was a task I simply had to complete for work (woe is me).
I had to come up with five different watches for less than 1.5k each.
Before kick-off, I tried to bend the rules by arguing that the total budget was five times 1.5k so I could buy one watch of, let’s say, 7k and spend the other €500 on a G-Shock square for instance and a Swatch and a Timex and I don’t know what else. But unfortunately, the powers that be (the terrifying overlord that is Robert-Jan Broer) didn’t see it my way. I had to come up with five different watches for less than 1.5k each.
The rules of the game
So when I accepted the rules of the game and the fact that all my hard work and ample consideration wouldn’t lead to an actual watch on the wrist, but a list on Fratello, I set to work. I thought it would be best to first come up with a list of brands that would probably fit within the price bracket. And I tried really hard to steer clear of the usual suspects. That wasn’t so easy, I must admit. Anyway, I just let myself go, flow and fantasize, and I came up with a list that consisted of Maurice Lacroix, Seiko, Nomos, Zodiac, Raymond Weil, MeisterSinger, Hamilton, Certina, Seiko, Citizen, Alpina, Tissot, Frederique Constant, and many, many more. From the longlist I distilled a final selection of five.
Just to be perfectly clear, this is not a Top 5, but a random list of five carefully chosen watches that made the cut.
Casio G-Shock MTG-B1000VL-4AER “Vulcanic Lightning”: €999
As a fan of the G-Shock “Square” I was tempted to get the upcoming GMW-B5000TR-9 made of special anti-allergic “TranTixxii” titanium in red, blue, light gray, dark gray, and gold. But I didn’t want to get in the way of our own “G-Man”, Gerard. Instead, I chose a special limited-edition in the Metal-Twisted G-Shock line-up, the MTG-B1000VL-4AER “Vulcanic Lightning”.
This MTG-B1000VL boasts a striking multi-colored design that represents volcanic lightning. What is volcanic lightning exactly, I hear you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia “volcanic lightning arises from colliding, fragmenting particles of vulcanic ash (and sometimes ice), which generate static electricity within the volcanic plume, leading to the name dirty thunderstorm.”
… this MTG shows you exactly what you would see when Eyjafjallajökull erupts and lightning strikes.
Have you ever been to Iceland to see a volcano spill its lava and create a dirty thunderstorm? No? No worries, you don’t have to go anymore, because this MTG shows you exactly what you would see when Eyjafjallajökull erupts and lightning strikes.
Blue, purple, and gold are the colors of lightning caused by a volcanic eruption and Casio used a rainbow ion-plated (IP) bezel and a multi-colored dial to recreate that natural spectacle. The rainbow-colored bezel is overlaid with the image of the rare atmospheric phenomenon of volcanic lightning. It produces subtle differences in coloring and every watch is unique and I love it. Just one thing though, although I was in Iceland once, the only thing I saw was snow flying past horizontally, so I can’t state that the watch is a lifelike representation of volcanic lightning. But I sure like its striking look. I wanted something as exuberant as possible for 1.5k and I think this MT-G does the trick.
For more information please visit the Casio G-Shock website for more information about availability and/or a colorful successor of the “Vulcanic Lightning”.
Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 Future Orange: €1,200
It’s not because I’m Dutch that I like this bright orange Club Campus 38 (ref.729). No, it’s mainly because I just like the all round character of the Club. It’s more rounded than all the other Nomos models and that makes it more of a military than a Bauhaus type of watch — more sporty too and less “look I’m a designer/architect/dentist/German IT-guy.” The orange California dial with its Arabic and Roman numerals and indexes with white Super-LumiNova that glow blue in the dark makes it playful, quirky, laid-back, and fashionable all at the same time.
And there’s more about this Club that I like. The dimensions are spot on. The 38.5×8.5mm proportions kid you into thinking it is a small watch without much charisma. But you’d be dead wrong in thinking that. The Club stands its ground and has presence. Because of the brightly colored dial, but also because of its perfect proportions.
… it matches with everything you wear because it never matches anything you wear.
Inside the steel case beats the Alpha in-house hand-wound movement. Unseen, but that’s okay. A manufacture movement inside a watch with the unmistakable Nomos signature for €1,200 is a fair price IMHO. And if you want to make the Club an even more personal object, a personalized engraving on the stainless steel case back is available free of charge. To finish things off there’s a gray velour leather strap. And that’s another stylish detail that makes for a very urban look.
What I like about an orange dial is that it matches with everything you wear because it never matches anything you wear. Catch my drift? This Club is the cherry on top! Or orange, but that’s not the expression…
More information about the colorful Club is available on the Nomos Glashütte website.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Mechanical: €755
I have an I.N.O.X. but that one has a quartz movement. I love it because of its 43mm steel case that feels very over-engineered; you can also call it heavy if you like. The high-grade Swiss-made stainless steel case is topped by a bezel with an anti-scratch coating and a protective removable bumper comes with the watch in case you’re going on a hazardous expedition requiring extra gear protection. The one I have comes with a paracord strap — looks cool; wears horribly. Luckily, the watch also comes with a matching rubber strap (army green in my case). And talking about the case again, I also like the design of it. Sure, its design is inspired by the usual suspects in the ultra-luxurious sports department, but that’s okay. It’s okay because the I.N.O.X. isn’t a copycat and because of its price I would cut it some slack if it were.
Extra decoration on the dial
The I.N.O.X. Mechanical (ref. 241834) I picked has a strong, durable wooden strap crafted on a leather base. That strap feels different but surprisingly good, looks different, and definitely suits the angular shapes of the watch and the color of the dial. The deep blue dial shows an “Alox” structure, an intricate guilloche pattern with a metallic surface, similar to the handle of Victorinox’ Swiss Army Officer’s Knife. The quartz models don’t have this extra decoration.
… a high quality watch that is worthy of carrying the same name of the world famous knives.
Because I just don’t like going to the jeweler for a battery change, I prefer the newer automatic version over my quartz version. Not because of the Swiss-made automatic Sellita SW200-1 that is visible through the exhibition case back, but because I’m lazy. Neither the transparent case back nor the movement is a key purchase driver for me, but either one could be for others. The good thing about an open case back is that you can look at the movement whenever you want, or not at all if you don’t.
What I love most about the I.N.O.X is how much effort Victorinox has put in creating a high quality watch that is worthy of carrying the same name of the world-famous knives. You feel it when you handle and wear the watch and I think it shows. All in all, a proper tool watch from a tool knife company
Please visit the Victorinox website for more information.
Mido Multifort Patrimony Automatic: €780
This list of five would not be complete without a Mido. A Mido Multifort to be precise. The reason for that is a very personal one. My dad worked and lived in Liberia for seven years from the late 50’s. During that period, he bought himself a watch: a Mido Multifort. He bought it in 1959 in Liberia’s capital city Monrovia because he liked the looks of it, but also because he liked the brand’s commercial.
… Mido, a watch to dine with, to court with, and to sport with.
According to my dad, it said “Mido; a watch to dine with, to court with, and to sport with” in the commercial that played in the local movie theater. That’s what he told me when I started to become interested in watches and asked him about the watch on his wrist.
There’s a Dutch saying that says that years spent in the tropics count double. It’s a saying from colonial times when the Dutch still ruled Indonesia and for each year they spent there, they could add an extra year to add to their pension. It also says something about the suffering in hot and humid conditions. And my dad’s Mido shows just that. It’s beaten up, the plexiglass is scratched, and its tropical patina galore all over the dial. So in honor of that retired Mido, I sought a new one: not one to virtually buy for myself, but as a gift to my dad.
No patina anywhere
The new Multifort Patrimony (M040.407.16.040.00) does the trick. Okay, it doesn’t have the creamy dial like the watch I’m slating it to replace, but that blue dial is very nice as well. And since blue is my dad’s favorite color, I don’t see a problem in choosing this version. The domed dial has a radiant sunray satin finish. And just like the old one, the case is quite sleek and shows satin-finished and polished surfaces. The 40mm case is enormous in comparison to the original’s 34mm. The box sapphire crystal looks vintage and so do the retro-shaped, flat diamond-cut hour and minute hands. There is no patina on this brand new Multifort; not even faux patina. The white Super-LumiNova on the hands and indexes make it a modern timepiece.
Those courting days are long gone
Inside the new Multifort beats the automatic Caliber 80 — the Swatch Group’s latest workhorse movement. The movement is visible through a transparent case back and shows a rotor decorated with Geneva stripes and the Mido logo. The natural-look leather strap lends a final vintage touch to this Multifort. The latest Multifort may be only water-resistant to 50 meter, it’s still “a watch to dine, to court with, and to sport with”. But probably my dad will skip the courting since he’s been happily married to my mum for 57 years.
Please find more information about the Multifort on Mido’s website.
Seiko Prospex SPB185J1: €1,250
To be completely honest, I wanted to put the Citizen Series 8 831 (NB6010-81E) on this list. But alas that watch is not set for release until autumn. But it wasn’t that hard to find a replacement for the Citizen since I have had my eyes on the Prospex SPB185J1 for quite some time. It’s the Seiko that competed in the Sunday Morning Showdown: Seiko Prospex Dive Watch Edition some time ago.
For me, the Prospex SPB185J1 was the clear winner. Why? Because of its looks. I’m a sucker for crowns at 4 o’clock that’s why. I also could have picked something like a Squale 2002 Black Round Dots, but not the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk II — because it is both way outside the price bracket but also out of production — that is at the very top of my imaginary diver’s watches list. So I picked the Prospex.
Three millimeters do make a difference
Does this watch need any further explanation? I’ll be brief. The Prospex SPB185J1 is 3mm smaller than a 45mm “Sumo” and therefore much easier to wear; from both a comfort and a style perspective. The automatic caliber 6R35 with its 70 hours of power reserve and an accuracy of -15/+25 seconds per day is a good argument for this piece, in my opinion. But in the end, it’s the overall look of the Prospex SPB185J1 that saw it land on my list.
You can find more information about this Prospex on Seiko’s website.
What Five Watches Did Lex Pick For €1,500?
Well, now you know. There were a few close calls I have to say, but I’m not going to elaborate because I really don’t want to have to explain myself to brand X why I picked brand Y over it. I picked an exuberant watch for a night on the town (G-Shock), a colorful fashionable critter (Nomos), an upgrade of a current watch (Victorinox), a nostalgic gift for my dad (Mido), and an allrounder I can wear anytime I please (Seiko).
… what is missing from my list …
But what is missing from my list is a mechanical chronograph. And that’s because I really couldn’t find one for less than 1.5k that I really liked. But luckily from the total budget of 7.5k I could have spent there’s still €2.516 left! Therefore I can add a bonus watch to my list of five. Can I though? Finding a mechanical chronograph below 2.5k is more difficult than I’d imagined. Eventually, I found one to my liking.
YEMA Rallye Andretti Limited Edition
With my leftover 2.5k, I’m getting the YEMA Rallye Andretti Limited Edition. It was just outside of my budget with a price of €2,699 but I found out it’s on sale now in YEMA’s online shop and now costs €2,294 — it was released some time ago and they want to get them out of their warehouse I guess. When I was a kid I was a fan of Mario Andretti when he raced for Lotus — the über cool black and gold John Player Special livery of the car played a role too.
I like the fact that YEMA has a history in motor racing and that Mario Andretti wore a Rallye chronograph from the French brand in the past. You can read more about that right here and also here. This particular new execution of the Rallye celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s historic win at Indianapolis in 1969. It’s a reissue of the watch Andretti wore during the race and it comes in a limited edition of 1,969 pieces.
… the very distinct dial give it a wild retro racing look I like.
Inside the limited chronograph, you won’t find an eight-cylinder Ford Cosworth, but rather a trusty ETA Valjoux 7753. That’s a solid base. The domed sapphire crystal, perforated leather rally strap, tachymeter scale on the bezel, and the very distinct dial give it a wild retro racing look I like. If I’ve done my calculations right I now have €222 left. I could get an extra strap for that kind of money or I could buy you all a beer. I know I need one right now. You decide.
You can find more information on the YEMA Rallye Andretti Limited Edition on the brand’s website.
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