Buying Guide: Best modern dress watches under SGD 3,000

Previously, I talked about the best modern dress watches below SGD 1,000 here.

If you happen to have a little more cash, then you’ll be able to have a little more fun as the options have just increased (ain’t that always the case, sigh).

Here are my picks if you have 3 grand to splash: 

Longines Conquest Heritage

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Longines is a Swiss watch brand commonly associated with equestrianism – the sport and art of horseback riding. Whether you appreciate horses or not is irrelevant and does not dampen the fact that Longines makes some excellent timepieces across a  range of prices.

 

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The Longines Conquest Heritage is a reissue of the original Conquest model first launched in 1953. What is outstanding (and bold) about the relaunch is that Longines has kept it remarkably similar to its older brother; most notably in its 35 mm case diameter. Now, modern dress watch preferences (and hence, modern watches) hover between 39 mm and 43 mm so Longines deserves bravado points for sticking true to the Conquest‘s roots at the expense of potential commercial viability.

If you have a small wrist or a preference for smaller watches or just have admiration for what Longines has done, I invite you to read on.

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There are 2 quirks on the dial that deviate away from the conventional.

First, the printed minute markers are actually on the inner portion of the dial framed by applied yellow gold markers. This reverse application creates an illusion of a bigger dial which helps to add built to its small case. Using double markers instead of one also enhances the ‘weight’ on a watch bordering on the feminine. The markers exhibit a nice polished finish and its shine is further amplified by the ‘V’ angles cut into them.

Secondly, the ‘date’ window sits at 12 o’clock. While this is at odds with the usual 3 or 6 o’clock placement, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it; it’s just a design we are not used to seeing. This ‘unusual’ placement adds a tinge of modern edginess in an otherwise very conservative watch and I personally love it. 

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The 3 hands are coated in a similar yellow gold tone and are of the right length, width and thinness. One little detail I fancied was how the seconds hand ends directly on the minute markers and watching it sweep across the dial is an activity of pleasure.

The polished stainless steel case is elegantly slender with a small serrated crown at 3 o’clock bearing the Longines logo. Its lugs have a modest curve and the proportion is just perfect and I liken the look and feel of the case to a gentleman dressed in a perfectly cut slim suit.

Staying true to its vintage roots, hesalite crystal is used instead of sapphire. Hesalite is a synthetic plastic crystal that is not as hard as sapphire and scratches more easily (though it can be polished away easily). On a positive side, the chemical composition of hesalite greatly reduces glare so time telling under the sun will be easier and it is also shatter-proof.

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Caseback from a vintage Longines

The caseback has a beautifully engraved fish centrepiece (a hallmark of vintage timepieces) in gold and green. The picture above is taken from an older Longines as I was unable to find one for the watch we’re talking about.

Calibre L633, a automatic movement based on the ETA 2892-A2, is housed within. It has a beat of 28,000 and a 42 hour power reserve.

The Longines Conquest Heritage in stainless steel retails at SGD 1,750 and can be found in Longines boutiques located in Marina Square, Marina Bay Sands and T Galleria by DFS.

Prominent authorized dealers include Watches of Switzerland (https://www.facebook.com/Watches-of-Switzerland-Singapore-787940021216516/), All Watches (www.allwatches.com.sg), Dickson Watch and Jewellery (http://www.dickson.com.hk/) & Cortina Watch (www.cortinawatch.com.sg)

TUDOR Style 38 mm

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TUDOR is a personal favourite of mine. Their willingness to challenge the ‘true and tested’ has resulted in some very original (not to mention great) looking pieces over the recent past. For some years now, their launch models unveiled at trade shows have garnered the approval of watch critics at large.

I selected their upcoming Black Bay Bronze as a top pick from the recent Basel World 2016. You can find out more here: Top picks from Basel World 2016: Tudor Black Bay ‘Bronze’

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With that said, the watch we’re talking about here is a lot more conservative: the TUDOR Style 38 mm in black or silver (ref. 12500)

The TUDOR Style series was launched in early 2015 and is a collective part of TUDOR’s overall strategy in drawing inspiration from its archives to reintroduce vintage models with a modern twist. For this series, the reference used is the TUDOR Prince Oysterdate from the 1960s.

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A model from 1968

The Tudor Prince Oysterdate has an avid modern fan base and one of its most notable features was the usage of a Rolex crown (with Rolex’s logo engraved on it).

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Many features of Oysterdate are present in the TUDOR Style as is clearly evident when you do a quick comparison of the pictures above. The most striking difference would be the silver dial sporting a sunburst pattern which reflects light from all angles.

A lot of minute detailing work has been executed onto the dauphine hour and minute hands. Look closely and you will spot that the surface has been cut and faceted into 3 distinct portions, further increasing the light bounce.

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Applied index markers of varying lengths lie around the dial and these markers also get the same bevelling treatment, combining well with the hands and mirrored bezel for a superbly polished appearance.

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Thankfully, TUDOR has kept the number of words present on the dial similar to the Oysterdate and it works like a charm – uncluttered generous space so the magnificent dial is amplified. While the TUDOR logo sees a size reduction, which was probably done to up the dressiness, it features more prominently in a contrasting dark colour. 

The logo on the crown is also TUDOR’s which is good since they’ve been trying to shake away the comparison people often make with Rolex, its parent company.

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If you prefer black dials, the Tudor Style comes with a lacquered one while retaining all the same notes as the silver version. Understandably, there will be no shine due to the matte finish so choose whichever appeals to you.

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Case size is a moderate 38 mm across both models. There are smaller (28 & 34 mm) and bigger (41 mm)  options within the TUDOR Style family but the 38 mm featured fits nicely into the SGD 3,000 budget.

TUDOR’s venture into producing in-house movements in 2015 was big news but you’ll have to settle for the ETA 2824 in the Style series. 2824 is by no means a subpar movement; it is well known for its accuracy and all round robustness with a power reserve of 38 hours.

Both models come with a choice of either a leather strap or a metal bracelet but I’ll pick the bracelet as it heaps some ‘beefiness’ to the 38 mm case. Not to mention that the bracelet looks fantastic with a mixture of polished and brushed links.

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The TUDOR Style (38 mm) retails at SGD 2,860 (leather strap) and SGD 2,990 (metal bracelet).

TUDOR’s flagship boutique in Singapore can be found at Marina Bay Sands.

Prominent authorized dealers include The Hour Glass (www.thehourglass.com), Watches of Switzerland (https://www.facebook.com/Watches-of-Switzerland-Singapore-787940021216516/and All Watches (www.allwatches.com.sg)

To find out more about TUDOR: www.tudorwatch.com

NOMOS Tangente 38

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I’m a big fan of NOMOS and what they do. And what they do best is to create watches with timeless designs packed with innovative in-house movements at unbelievably good prices. NOMOS Glashutte was previously featured in my article 3 ‘true’ watch brands that won’t empty your bank account.

NOMOS’s attraction lies in its simplicity and its design elements reflect the German Bauhaus philosophy of minimalism: clean lines, clutter-free and symmetry.

 

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Based on the budget we’re working with, I’ve selected the Tangente 38. Take a look at the watch, there’s really nothing not to like about it. Some might say that it looks too simple but remember that we’re looking for a dress watch and the Tangente 38 works in every sense of the word.

There is a neatness and order to the dial that speak to our inner senses in a world where chaos prevails over peace. Index markers for odd hours and Arabic numerals for even, this balance extends to the minute and hour hands which show the time with great clarity despite being of identical shape and form; NOMOS truly nailed this one.

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Colour palettes are kept to a sombre black and icy blue on a stark white face but there’s just a speck of detailing over the small seconds dial at 6 o’clock with its circular ‘ripple’ design. It’s expectedly subtle and primarily meant just for the wearer to derive pleasure from knowing its presence, much like collar stays hidden under the seams to give a necktie its perfect prop.

The watch comes in a 38.3 mm stainless steel case and bears the right thickness with an unassuming crown quietly echoing its brand name placed at 3 o’clock.

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It is worth mentioning that while 316L stainless steel (industry standard) is used in the case, NOMOS has lowered the nickel content so people with a sensitivity to stainless steel should have less or no adverse reaction to wearing their watches.

The black strap is also a notable mention, being made from high quality Horween Shell Cordovan which comes from a selected area of horsehide. Producing a batch takes up to 6 months as the straps are tanned, stuffed, shaved and then polished.

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One of the most amazing achievements of NOMOS (as mentioned before) is their expertise in creating their own movements for such a young (26 years) company while assembling more than 90% of their watches in Glashutte (the legendary home of German high end watchmakers) while yet being able to offer it at prices like these.

imageThe ‘alpha‘ manual winding calibre, their first in house movement, is used in this model and if you get the version with the clear caseback, you’ll get the privelege of studying the magnificent pearlage and ribbing NOMOS has done to it. Power reserve level is at a respectable 43 hours for a manual wound watch.

The NOMOS Tangente is a true classic – it is the crisp white shirt and navy blue pants of the watch world and will never look out of place in the next 100 years.

There are 2 versions of this watch: the one with a sealed caseback retails for SGD 2,610 and the clear caseback version (as featured) retails for SGD 2,990.

NOMOS does not have a boutique in Singapore yet but their watches are sold through retailers.

Prominent authorized dealers include The Hour Glass (www.thehourglass.com) and Watches of Switzerland (https://www.facebook.com/Watches-of-Switzerland-Singapore-787940021216516/).

To find out more about NOMOS: www.nomos-glashuette.com

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