Affordable Luxury Watches Myth Or Reality
Affordable luxury is what it’s all about here at discount watch stores, so I want to take time to investigate the market asking if the idea of affordable luxury watches is myth or reality. The criteria are that all watches must be Swiss Made, by a Swiss brand, and carry an entry level price of $3000 or under.
What’s in a Name?
You don’t need to look very far to find fine Swiss names that exemplify the traditions and values of luxury watch making, for example, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, the list goes on. Although it’s easy to track down the top shelf brands the price ranges as you can imagine, are far from comfortable for the majority of us.
This list alone commands an entry level of at least $4000 and significantly more for others. Jaeger LeCoultre start around $4000, while Patek Philippe rrequires$10000, and Vacheron Constantin don’t let you through the door with anything less than $11,000.
Audemars Piguet $8,000 to $250,000.
Patek Philippe $10,000 to $780,00
Jaeger LeCoultre $4,000 to $1,474,070
Vacheron Constantin $11000 to $1,538,160
Don’t be disheartened though, there are some well-known brands with equally well known and respected Swiss names that might offer some hope in our search for a true luxury Swiss Watch for $3000, making it a genuinely affordable luxury watch.
The Luxury Contenders
If we leave the idea of owning the most expensive watches in the world for another time, perhaps after winning the lottery or coming up with the solution to providing clean renewable energy, we should lower our sights to something a little more down to earth.
What if we look at the most iconic of the aspirational brands known to everyone and sort after by the masses. The obvious choice is the Rolex Submariner worn the likes of Sean Connery’s James Bond, Steve McQueen, Owen Wilson, and from the world of music Iggy Pop, and Adam Levine just for starters.
So, what can we get for our $3000 from the Rolex collection? Well, the Submariner will set you back a cool $14,705 from Rolex.com or $7,195 from a well-known discount store so we’re not getting very far with this idea, let’s move on shall we.
International Watch Company (IWC)
Let’s take a look at IWC to see if we get any further. For those of you who aren’t familiar with IWC, they are a luxury Swiss watch manufacturer located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland since 1868, making them a true luxury product.
The IWC Pilot’s Mark XVIII Automatic Silver Dial Men’s Watch
Looking on the IWC website the best price you will find for this Pilots watch is $3.950 which takes it out of our budget but not to be stalled by such technicality, a quick search for the same piece on the discount watch sites revealed the same piece available for $2,895.
It’s a stainless steel 40 mmmm case housing the IWC caliber 30110 automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Above the movement is a silver dial with luminous black hands and Arabic numeral hour markers and minute markers around the outer rim, with Date display at the 3 o’clock.
This piece has a screw down crown, scratch resistant sapphire crystal with at 60 meters or 200 feet water resistance, secured with a black Santoni calfskin leather strap this is a perfect everyday wear.
Looks like we have a contender, right? Let’s not stop here, we need to push on to find more luxury bargains.
I can hardly contain my excitement because the IWC really surprised me, so I wonder what awaits us with Zenith? You will no doubt know Zenith is another luxury watchmaker with its headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland who’ve been around since1865 so they know their onions.
Ultra Thin Silver Dial Men’s Watch
More good news for us bargain hunters because this Zenith Ultra thin although not available on the Zenith website can be found on a well known discount site for $2,850 placing it firmly within our budget, offering a classy design and rich brand history for a low low price.
ZENITH Elite Ultra Thin Silver Dial Men’s Dress Watch
The Elite Ultra case is a 40mm stainless steel case with skeleton back is only 8.3mm thick so they are not lying when they say it’s ultra thin. Inside is the Zenith elite caliber 681 automatic movement giving hour, minute, second functions to the silver dial with silver-tone hands and index hour markers plus minute markers around the outer rim. The seconds is presented as a sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position and the scratch resistant sapphire crystal offers water resistance to 50 meters. On a black leather strap, it presents itself as a perfectly refined Dress Watch.
The entry level watch from Omega is the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41mm. The Omega website places a price of €5,100 or just over $6,000 for this entry level piece but of course, things don’t stop there because a similar, although not identical piece can be found for considerably less from a discount store. Just look at the difference in price here.
OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra Men’s Watch
The discount model is a 38.5 mm stainless steel case with screw down crown and stainless steel bracelet. The movement’s Quartz offering date, hour, minute, second functions, the dial is gray with silver-tone luminescent hands and stick hour markers. Additional minute markers can be seen around the outer rim and the Date complication sits at 3 o’clock under the scratch resistant sapphire crystal, offering water resistance to150 meters. All in all a nice entry level piece that looks the business.
So, it’s good news all round and looks like we’re heading to a really good conclusion about finding genuine luxury Swiss watches for $3000 and under, so let’s push on and check two more big names.
BREITLING Superocean Heritage 46 Automatic Black Dial Men’s Watch
The Superocean is a 46 mm stainless steel case with solid back, Uni-directional rotating bezel, screw down crown, scratch resistant sapphire crystal, and water resistance to 200 meters or 660 feet.
Housed in the case is an automatic movement giving date, hour, minute, second functions and Date display at the 6 o’clock position. The black dial has luminous hands and index hour markers and minute markers around the outer rim, secured by a black pro diver rubber strap.
This is a true luxury watch from a monster in the luxury watch world and picking one up for this money is surely a good result and worth every cent. It doesn’t get better than this!
TAG Heuer Watches
Okay so just one more brand for luck, right?
Looking on the TAG website it was a mixed bag and I can tell you the entry price point was as low as $2000 for the Carrera 100m 36mm, but after that one model the price points shoot to $5000 + so I didn’t feel this represented a stable price point to draw a favorable conclusion other than TAG being out of our $3000 budget.
That’s not to say it’s the end of the game for TAG because I still had the discount sites to check out and that’s when a sense sudden realization hit me. Although the price points are uniformly too high on the TAG site, when we look at the discount site the complete opposite is true.
If a picture paints a thousand words then the picture below really sums up the availability and low price points on TAG Heuer if you’re open to the idea of discount stores.
The Take Away
Before writing this piece it wasn’t clear if the outcome was going to be positive and if anything I thought the entry level at $3000 position might go to Omega, but it just goes to show how things can fool you.
The reality is, all the brands surprised me with IWC, Zenith, Omega, and Breitling all coming in under budget, but the biggest surprise winner in this is TAG Heuer offering countless sub $3000 pieces starting from as little as $950.
An equally important take away is one that invites the great debate about discount watch stores and authorized retailers.
While we all want to be able to afford the luxury of shopping in the best stores and pay full price that comes with its own prestige, the great majority of us may have to take a slightly less salubrious route and use the discount store option.
What ever your view on the gray market, one thing I am sure we all agree on is the need for transparency and trust between the retailer and customer. It’s for that reason I would always advocate the customer does their homework before parting with their money.
Always know who you are dealing with and always ask question s of the retailer, and read all the buyers guides you can possibly get your hands on.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect Watch at the perfect price, from a trusted source, you know it can be a stressful experience, with the right help and advice, you too can find your dream timepiece. As I’m considered an expert in my field and I write for other publications like Wrist Review I know you’ll benefit from my experience and avoid the pitfalls.
Did you like this post? If you did, please share or like it so others know about it. If you don’t like it please tell me why. I’d love to know what you think.