You don’t need tens and thousands of dollars to score an excellent watch today. In fact, the watch industry has numerous brands flying under the radar with history and heritage of fine watchmaking that it’s a shame they don’t have more traction. If you’re looking for an impromptu gift, consider buying one of these brands.
Here are 8 of the Most Underrated Watch Brands
Constantly rated as one of the most overlooked Swiss luxury watchmakers; that’s Zenith. In a class of its own, not just because it solely makes all of its watch parts in house, it’s also a company that values a singular aesthetic language in their timepieces. This is a brand to get acquainted with when you’re looking for your next Swiss watchmaker to get a mini collection from.
Notable timepieces from the brand include the Chronomaster collection. With an avant-garde design in innovative materials, the Zenith Chronomaster is a cut above the rest of its contemporaries. The tri-color chronoscope in the dial is iconic on its own, plus you also get one of the best automatic chronograph movements in a watch. Trust us when we say that you’ll never go wrong with this classic.
Another underrated Swiss watchmaker, Hamilton is the king of affordable luxury. With an American heritage and a history of Swiss watchmaking in its belt, the brand constantly churns out some of the best everyday watches anyone can buy. American Classic, Khaki King, and Jazzmaster all come to mind when talking about this exceptional brand.
Orient is the perfect watchmaker to browse timepieces from, if you’re on a budget but want a good-looking automatic watch that can compete with luxury brands like Rolex, Patek, and Omega. The Bambino collection is constantly rated as one of the best budget-friendly automatic watches on the planet.
The Mako line from the brand is also an excellent collection. Orient is a Japanese brand, a subsidiary of Seiko, which introduced the world to the quartz movement. For watch connoisseurs, Seiko is the brand to go when you want the most bang out of your buck, and Orient, by association, clearly followed its mother company’s approach.
Girard-Perregaux is known for its simple yet artistic take on wristwatches. In fact, one of its more popular watches, the Vintage 1945, is a collector’s item because of its rich history. The art deco design, the self-winding mechanical movement, and the open heart dial set up are features that are to die for! If you’re going to get a Girard-Perregaux, please make sure you wear it all the time!
One of the oldest watchmakers in the world, Blancpain is another Swiss watchmaker that’s often put in the backburner for more popular watchmakers. But since its conception almost a century ago, the brand has manufactured quality and top of the line timepieces. Fifty Fathoms, Villeret, and Metiers d’Art are exceptional collections of watches.
The Metiers d’Art line, in particular, is so wonderfully unique that even looking at one will make you automatically think of the word artisanal. Every dial in this collection is an art piece – there’s The Great Wave, the 8 Joures Manuelle, and the Shakudo. These are just three of the nineteen watches under the line-up, and you best believe every single one is a wonder of horological mastery!
6. Seven Friday
Seven Friday is unlike any of the featured watch brands here. While most of them are over 30-40, even 100 years old, Seven Friday is a new and small watch company that focuses on watches that’s popular with the younger crowd. It doesn’t build its own in-house movement, opting to buy from companies like Seiko instead.
A Seven Friday watch is a great addition to any watch collection because it brings in diversity. The Q-series are not only futuristic-looking, but it’s also outfitted with top of the line materials. Under the hood, you get an automatic Miyota movement, mineral glass as crystal, and sandblasted stainless steel. Oh, and did we mention the watch has a built-in NFC?
Jaeger-LeCoultre arguably is the most luxurious Swiss brand in this list, alongside Breitling and Blanpain, of course. But what sets this watchmaker apart is the extra attention to detail that it puts into its timepieces. Search for any Jaeger watch right now, and you’ll probably be looking at an extremely sophisticated piece of horological wonder. There’s also a sense of exclusivity that comes with owning a Jaeger, so if your loved one is into this then this brand is perfect to buy!
Breitling is not a name that you often hear tossed around in watch talks. And that’s fine because the brand is seemingly okay with its place in the industry. Breitling is a luxury Swiss brand, known for its aviation watches and as the originator of the circular slide rule. The watches from this brand can compete toe-to-toe with timepieces from Rolex and Omega any day.
While most of the brands featured here are Swiss brands that fetch thousands of dollars in prices, don’t fret because they’re actually some of the most affordable as well. If you’re new to collecting watches, these are the brands you can opt to start in.
Watch this space for updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.