By Punit Mehta, Founder RedBar Bombay
The given consensus is that collecting watches certainly is a hobby but an expensive one. I know of many enthusiasts who shy away from collecting watches as it is always perceived as an unattainable hobby and reserved for the elite. When you read about watches on social media, seeing others casually flashing their expensive wrists always made me wonder, will I ever get anything substantial within my budget? I am an enthusiast like others, but I do have limited resources to explore my hobbies—which made me put together a list of watches I recommend are good buys and additions to your collection around Rs. 5,00,000.
But first, here are a few points to be noted:
- Watches which are available in India
- The retail price is considered
- It’s a list by an enthusiast (yours truly), so brace yourself for some which may not be too ‘hyped’!
1.The Daily Beater
Watch: Tudor Blackbay 58
Dial Size: 39mm
Price: Rs. 2,88,000/-
The Tudor BB58 with its guilt hour markers and hands gives it a warm vintage feel with a modern strong build. Often termed as the ‘strap monster’ this watch can be mixed with almost any strap. When put on a steel strap, this watch becomes your ‘beater’ in the true sense. The Rolex cousin does the job of what its big brother (the Sub) can do at almost three times the price, thus also fondly termed as the ‘Sub Killer’. The 39mm case with 20mm lug width is just the ideal size for almost all wrists. When you don’t know which one to pick, you will pick the BB58 from your box.
2. The Diver
Watch: Seiko Prospex SPB149/143 62 MAS Radiation
Dial Size: 40.5mm
Price: Rs. 1,05,000/-
The famous 62MAS (automatic Self feeder) from 1965 has been an inspiration for many dive watches and some say is the base of the entire Dive watch world. This piece of history is now too expensive to have, but Seiko gives us a chance to own something very similar in its multiple editions. The watch with a dial size of 40.5mm and height of 13.2mm gives the wearer a chunky but a snug fit due to the shape of lugs. The Stainless steel watch with Super Hard Coating (a Seiko specialty) will ensure you do not scratch the watch during your time at the beach. The date window at 3 o’clock, the super luminova hands and hour markers, unidirectional divers bezel and sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating all makes it a perfect divers watch.
3. The Quintessential Dress watch
Watch: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso (REVERSO CLASSIC MEDIUM THIN)
Dial Size: 40.1mm x 24.4mm
Price: Approximately Rs. 4,97,000/-
The classic Jaeger-LeCoultre design, unmissable when on the wrist the Reverso with its rich Indian history from over 90 years is poised as an all time favorite and classic in the watch world. Art Deco in style, with straight hour numerals and blue baton hands with a center guilloche dial is one of the most subtle but affirmative presences on your wrist. One can wear this watch not only while playing polo (which it was originally made for), but for the more practical board room meetings or that special wedding day too. The reverse side of the ‘Reverso’ can be engraved to make it even more special for you.
4. The Classic
Watch: Rolex Explorer
Dial Size: 36mm
Price: Rs. 5,44,000/-
The King of Watches, the crown has many amazing watches, but this one is a hidden special gem. The Explorer comes with a rich history of Edmund Hillary summiting Mt. Everest, although not a very similar reference or model, the modern explorer is based on the original one. It houses the inhouse caliber 3230 with high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers for those ‘sporting’ jerks. Not many of us would really wear a Rolex while scaling a mountain or riding a bike, but that doesn’t stop us from getting something which can actually withstand those pressures and movements. The dial size is very versatile, fits under the cuff, but the oyster bracelet gives a nice robust look when worn with a t-shirt too. The 3,6,9, hour markers in white gold and the signature Rolex lume is perfect for the evening; Rolex is also the king when it comes to wrist presence, the Explorer won’t disappoint you there.
5. The Globetrotters Vice
Watch: Grand Seiko SBGM221G (GMT)
Dial Size: 39.5mm
Price: Rs. 3,90,000/-
Grand Seiko, one of many Seiko offerings, itself has a huge catalog of products. The SBGM221G with his blue GMT hand, ivory dial and stark hour markers has one of the most legible watch dials in the market. The sharpness of the Japanese finishing is evident and for all who are picky about finishing, this one won’t let you down. The 9S66 movement with about 72 hours of power reserve can be observed in all its beauty with the exhibition case back.
6. The Weekend Watch
Watch: Bvlgari Aluminum Watch (Bvlgari Aluminum Ducati Special Edition)
Dial Size: 40mm
Price: Rs. 4,23,000/-
‘Red’ I do have a bias for the color! Often known for the infamous Octo or the Sepentis, Bvlgari as a brand has a lot to offer. The aluminum watches are a clean and crisp design with an interesting rubber strap to give the simple dials a sport effect. The red color in this watch has a charm to be a conversation starter along with hiding under the cuff with its slim profile and small dial size. The movement is a robust B130 caliber with a 42 hour power reserve housed in an aluminum case with a DLC coated black crown.
7. Bang For The Buck
Watch: Oris Big Crown
Dial Size: 40mm
Price: Rs. 168,000/-
Oris is a brand which has been consistently releasing watches which are termed as ‘honest’ in the watch collecting fraternity, which means the pricing and product are a near perfect match; in other terms one of the best bang for the buck in the market. The Big Crown collection is no exception, the legible hour markers with the pointer date complication and with a subtle contrast of colors makes it a perfect daily watch.
In my opinion, the watch collecting passion should be fueled by two aspects: the love for the piece and knowing your own limits when it comes to spending. Once you are deep into this hobby, you will go deaf to all the social media noise and the peer pressures, focussing on the most important part—You.