Feature: 3 Eye-Catching Watches For Less Than £1,000
Let’s say you’ve got £1,000 to spend, and you want to blow it on a watch that’s going to turn some heads from fifty paces. Endless budget, no problem; you’d grab yourself a Jacob & Co., or a Richard Mille perhaps—with £1,000, however, the task is a bit more difficult. Not impossible, though…
TW Steel CEO Canteen CE1027
If you want your watch to be seen, 45mm and bright orange is going to be a good start. If that sounds up your street, TW Steel is happy to oblige with the CEO Canteen. Whilst that sounds like a lunch break room for company heads, canteen is actually in reference to the unsubtle crown guard arrangement, which threads a secondary crown over the top of the primary one, that’s prevented from being lost with a flexible link a bit like the pens at the bank. The ‘CEO’ part is perhaps a bit more optimistic a naming convention on TW Steel’s part.
These canteen watches—so-called because of the similarity to the way an inversely waterproof military drinks canteen secures its cap—were originally used by navy frogmen in World War Two before the more complex screw-down crown mechanism was fully developed. This crown guard serves to protect the watch from water more than it does from knocks, although it does help with the latter, sometimes in conjunction with a grille over the crystal, a bit like a diver’s helmet. It was featured for a short period on military issue Hamilton and Elgin watches, then later popularised with the 1943 Cartier Pasha.
Although the likelihood of this TW Steel ending up on the wrist of a frogman is about as likely as it finding its way onto the wrist of its CEO namesake, its bold, colourful persona and vintage-inspired design—matched with a military-esque vintage style riveted strap—is sure not to go unnoticed.
Oris BC4 643 7617 47 64 LS
A good shout for a striking watch would be the BR-01 collection from Bell & Ross, great big square watches styled in the vein of aircraft cockpit instruments. Those cost a significant portion more, however, so for our sub-£1,000 budget, they’re a no-go.
But what if you could get a similarly styled watch with an aviation flavour from a brand founded before Rolex for a significant amount less? Sounds like the work of fiction, but this is a tale that’s not only true, but also doesn’t end after a long-awaited finale with confusion and disappointment. No—this is the Oris BC4.
The instrument theme is definitely strong with the four bolts in each corner of the squared-off case, but the Oris doesn’t outright ape the Bell & Ross—it brings its own style to the table. Well-defined white markers and hands on a matte black dial are classic aviator’s watch, and the seconds sub-dial and layered chapter ring bring further instrument flavours to the BC4’s look.
Despite the relative affordability, there’s still a Swiss automatic in the back, and the just-shy-of-44m case size will certainly do an adequate job of looking imposing on the wrist. The fact that Oris is over a century old, was one of the largest watchmakers in Switzerland and was run for a time by Jacques-David LeCoultre—yes, the very same man who joined forces with Edmond Jaeger to form Jaeger-LeCoultre—is all just a nice big bonus.
TAG Heuer Micrograph CS111B.FT6003
If you know anything about TAG Heuer, you’ll know that the brand has a bit of an obsession with timing things—mostly racing cars. Heuer, as it was then known, cut its teeth making dashboard timers for rally cars, and later became the first non-motorsport sponsor of F1—opening up a whole can of worms with it. The lineage is abundantly clear, even without the plethora of watches named after famous race circuits like Monaco, Silverstone, Monza etcetera.
What’s less well known is TAG Heuer’s pursuit of technological advancement—again, in the name of timing things that go really fast. Obviously, the difficulty with attempting such a thing is that things that go really fast need to be timed down to very small fractions, and for the most part, a watch movement can’t even accurately record a tenth of a second.
Enter the 1916 Heuer Mikrograph, a pocket watch with the ability to not only record a tenth of a second, but a hundredth as well. A 360,000vph beat from the calibre 601 was impressive at over twelve times the accuracy, but equally so was the rock-bottom price of 100 Swiss francs.
Affordable, innovative performance was still the name of the game in 2002 when TAG Heuer honoured the Mikrograph with a new, digital Micrograph—now with a C instead of a K. But the spelling variation was far from the biggest change, because this 999-piece limited edition with its inverted display looks like nothing ever seen before. The award-winning design treads a line between retro and futuristic now, and with the continued one hundredth of a second timing functionality and sub-£1,000 price, is an intriguing choice for those looking to make a statement.
Three watches, three ways to make your wrist stand out from the crowd. Okay, so they’re not going to be for everyone, but then not everyone wants to look the same. If you want something different, something that shouts instead of whispers but doesn’t cost the Earth, these three will do all that for you and more.
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