Perpetual calendar, ultra-thin, large power reserve or tourbillon watches are just a few of the prestigious, sought-after types of timepieces that are usually accompanied by tags covered with figures… that are not their reference numbers. By definition, every increase in complexity entails additional costs and thus has repercussions on the price. However inexorable this rule may appear, there do happen to be some notable exceptions.
An ultra-thin watch is not necessarily the exclusive preserve of ultra-thin movement specialists. Longines offers one of its oldest models, the Grande Classique, in a self-winding version at an unbeatable price. This modestly sized timepiece houses a generic movement that is pleasingly compact and slim, enabling this reliable excellent value-for-money timepiece to measure up at just 7 mm thick.
While Frédérique Constant’s Slimline certainly lives up to its name, its tourbillon version is the one that attracts the most attention. This is in fact by far the least expensive tourbillon on the market and has been since its launch. This performance may be attributed to its steel case, which is unusual for a complication as prestigious as this, as well as its ‘motor’. Manufactured in Geneva by the brand itself, its movement has a silicon escapement of which the rotations may be admired through the now traditional dial opening.
The perpetual calendar generally resists any form of democratisation. Montblanc decided that there was nothing inevitable about this, and its Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar has become an emblematic piece. By far the least expensive perpetual calendar on the market, it is equipped with a basic ETA movement coupled with a Dubois-Dépraz module in a streamlined steel case. But if the recipe were just as simple as these ingredients, others would have done the same thing. Montblanc therefore probably decided to apply extreme frugality to this model in order to make an impression.
Fans of the automated calendar will love the annual calendar. The perpetual knows the length of every month, including all the months of February. The annual regards February as a 20--day month and requires but a single, modest adjustment to get the month of March going on the right foot. Zenith offers an extremely competitive version, and yet, the brand has not skimped on what it has to offer. The Captain Winsor Annual Calendar features the inventions of Ludwig Oechslin. The watchmaker/historian/inventor has simplified the mechanism and Zenith has mounted it on an El Primero movement, resulting in an elegant, very comprehensive watch.
Eight days. A number that conveys a special meaning in watchmaking. It is the magic threshold of truly comfortable running time, which means you can change watch every week without having to wind it. For years, Eberhard has been using a reworked version of the 7001 ETA movement equipped with an XL barrel that lasts this long without causing too much damage to the wallet.
Its name is somewhat deceptive, but the Vintage PW1 Répétition Minutes by Bell & Ross is the most affordable chiming watch on the market. This statement comes with just a couple of asterisks. The first is that PW stands for Pocket Watch, meaning that this model with its silver alloy case is designed to be worn in the pocket. The second is that as far as minute repeater is concerned, it is actually a five-minute repeater. But it definitely chimes!
This one also rings, and loudly at that. In fact, very loudly. Vulcain has long since made the alarm its trademark. Thanks to this long-standing practice and clever industrial organisation, it offers the most effective alarm watches on the market – in terms of both price and intensity. Top of the list – the 50s Presidents’ Watch line offers very appealing aesthetics as well as a range of diameters, colours and unrivalled functionalities.