Life Style

The Best Watch Brands by Price: A Horological Hierarchy

From $30 to $30,000, find the best watch brand for your budget.

My first watch brand was a two-tone Seiko with a quartz movement, a mineral crystal face and a solid link stainless steel bracelet – and I loved it, not only for its crisp silver case with the gold bezel, the dark matte grey dial with the day/date window, but because it symbolized a coming of age for me. I wasn’t wearing a digital watch or even a plastic camp watch anymore. It was real metal and it made me feel grown up. I wore it every day and then later passed it on to a good friend who was just getting into watches.

My next watch was an Oris TT1 Chronograph, a beast of a watch — and it was a Swiss automatic. My very first. It was another major milestone for me after getting a coveted job in the telecommunications industry. My next men’s watch was easily a few notches up, an Omega Seamaster Professional Automatic that I’d fallen in love with in a magazine with Pierce Brosnan sporting it as the next 007. That was twenty years ago, and I still have it.

Then came a stunning Omega Railmaster Automatic Co-Axial from my wife on our wedding day. What the next watch will be remains a mystery, but I have my eye on an IWC Pilot Chronograph. Maybe for my 50th birthday.

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That may not be your path along the progression of timepieces in your life, but it’s almost inevitable that if you’re serious about wristwatches, you’ll find yourself upgrading every so often because your watch sensibilities change and grow as you get older and as you get wiser about what watch brands have to offer. We’ve selected the progression of timepieces, explaining why each watch brand commands a certain price point. And we provide fine examples in each watch brand, from the bottom tier all the way to the top.

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