But to be honest, in a sense, given ample financial resources and expertise enjoyed by the largest watch companies, it shouldn't be a tall task or something out of line to ask of them to deliver the absolute best products they could muster. When we are talking about watches that set people back for north of say a million HKDs, we really do expect nothing less than perfection - the consumers have offered their patience and money and the watchmakers should fulfil their demands.
Because of that, I feel even more excited when I witness new offerings from that market that are modestly priced but nonetheless, promise to deliver exceptional quality and value within pre-defined financial headspace their makers were given. Anybody could create a perfect watch given unlimited financial support (and time), yet it is an even more respectable feat to dish out a great watch within realistic economic constraints. And in this episode of Analysis, we introduce to you three relatively budget new releases in 2016 that more than hold their own in the face of their higher-priced counterparts.
#1: the Mido Baroncelli Heritage
The Baroncelli Heritage is a vintage-inspired extension of the company's mainstay Baroncelli collection that comes with a sub-7mm thickness (valid for both the 39mm and 33mm versions). First and foremost defined as a sleek, thin dress watch, the Baroncelli offers so much more than just a slimed-down profile upon scrutiny. The dial is finished in such a way that it appears eggshell-like (especially for the white-dial version) with slightly uneven surface, which I found truly extraordinary and visually enticing. The hands are not actually faceted (although they appear to be) but rather, sand blasted and polished half-half, respectively, giving the appearance of faceting which nonetheless, doesn't bother me at all - the hands look great. Period.
Powered by the reliable and decently finished ETA 2892-A2 movement, the Baroncelli Heritage should give its wearer a good deal of comfort by keeping good time and a relative ease of servicing. Overall, we consider the Mido Baroncelli Heritage an instant winner in the ultra-thin, accessible dress watch category that really packs a punch. Everything you see in it (or on it) makes you feel you're getting a watch for much less than what you should actually pay for. Price is around HKD9,000 (for rose gold-PVD version; we believe the price is even lower for the steel-cased version).
To learn more, go here.
#2: Longines Heritage 1969 Automatic
It's latest assault at this particular market segment has been in the form of a cushion-shaped, automatic watch called Heritage 1969 that reminds us of the bygone era underlined by watches with funky case shapes and an overall experimental spirit embraced by so many watchmakers from a product design perspective. The 36mm, square case with round edges is very much to my liking. After all, vintage pieces were generally smaller, so it makes little sense to blow up the proportion and make a 42mm piece out of it. The square-ish profile further exudes the kind of nostalgic, throw-back kind of vibe rightfully found on a vintage reissue - you just don't see watches cased like this anymore these days.
Moreover, the Heritage 1969 is powered by calibre 888.2, a rebranded ETA 2892 movement with extended power reserve of 64 hours. This could really be the ultimate, affordable take-me-off-on-Friday-pick-me-right-back-up-on-Monday beast of a watch. The Heritage 1969 retails for around HKD16,000.
#3: Swatch Sistem51 Irony
Introduced in 2013, Swatch Sistem51 was the first ever attempt to offer its clientele a collection of mechanical watches by Swatch the brand (not the Group), which has been cranking out cheap, fun, colourful quartz watches since forever. Bold move from Swatch from a corporate strategy standpoint but its execution was the real reason why people were awestruck: the Sistem51 movement comprised of only 51 parts, all centrally held together by a SINGLE screw and guess what, they are all manufactured, put together and adjusted by robots! This represents a truly remarkable milestone in watchmaking history and Swatch being Swatch, innovation has been its trump card and once again it played it well with the introduction of Sistem51. One problem persists though, at least for semi-serious watch lovers like me: the original Sistem51 simply looks a tad too playful. I mean, I'm more than happy to pay the meagre price and own a piece of horological history, but it probably won't get much wrist time. The Swatch Sistem 51 Irony (don't ask me why Swatch named it this way; just because it has a steel case doesn't justify a quirky name as such) could turn things around for collectors at large.
Until next time.