The festive season is nigh and with it the desire to please others, to please oneself – and sometimes without spending a fortune. Watchmaking quality undoubtedly comes at a price but this does not necessarily have to be exorbitant if one knows where to look.
The WW1 by Bell&Ross harks back to the pioneers of pursuit aircraft. Its large case with its simple shape makes it an affordable model, even when it has a bead-blasted finish, such as the limited-edition Guynemer series. A tribute to one of the greatest French pilots, it demonstrates that the term ‘limited’ can apply to both the edition and the price.
Onward and upward in the sporting field, while dipping down on the price scale, Hamilton offers a consistently astonishing range of chronographs. While the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Auto Chrono features a sandy colour and Nato strap, its real strong point is its automatic chronograph movement with an 80 hour power reserve, Calibre H-31 – and all at a price that may make you rub your eyes in disbelief. Just be sure not to get sand in them.
In a dressier, more original style, Longines continues its quest for affordable yet sophisticated watchmaking. The Heritage 1968 is one of the rare, truly square watches available. Thanks to its well-proportioned size, and despite its very thin caseback, it suits both the smallest and largest wrists in search of a vintage look as well as shapes that are more unusual than they might appear.
The new Bohème by Montblanc made its dramatic – and diamond-studded – entrance as a watchmaking line that established a new and accessible benchmark for gem-set self-winding watches. It nonetheless lacks nothing in terms of a proud name, good taste or sparkling gemstones. While some brands may be tempted to skimp on the setting of the bezel or dial, La Bohème is unstintingly generous.
The Liens jewellery line is one of Chaumet’s most sought-after and its extension into watchmaking has not gone unnoticed. Featuring a case surrounded by an intertwined steel wire that extends to form its lugs, the Liens succeeds in moving beyond the style of a round watch without actually taking on another shape. It also manages to remain within an acceptable price range despite the prestige of the company whose signature it bears.
Louis Vuitton is a travel brand and the Emprise certainly shows this heritage. Square like a boxy kind of trunk, it also features lugs shaped like trunk corner-pieces. Its bevelled glass, pure black dial, as well as the leather strap embossed with a gros-grain motif reminiscent of luggage straps, combine to give it a geometrical look serving as a metaphor of an elegant suitcase. While small in stature, it can also metaphorically ‘accommodate’ the requirements of any purse, bag or other receptacle designed to carry liquid or other assets.