The life of a watch enthusiast can actually prove a bit tricky from time to time, pun intended: There are only so many hours in a day, and there’s only so much budget you can devote to your hobby of tracking down the best men’s watches, you know? That’s part of what makes the annual luxury watch trade show and extravaganza, Watches and Wonders, so much fun. After virtual events last year, the much-loved watch lover’s paradise made a stunning return to Geneva in 2022.
Here’s the scoop: A cross between, say, fashion week and a global auto show, the top watch brands in the world show off flashy, next-level out-of-this-world watches. The catch? Many of these watches are extremely rare, exclusive, highly complicated and yes, pricey. In fact, pricey is an understatement. If you’ve been looking for tips on how to buy a new watch, Watches and Wonders is a difficult place to dive in — unless you’re super-wealthy, let’s say.
The giants of the watch industry are all accounted for (Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Panerai), as well as some of the longest-running Swiss watch companies on the planet. All of this is to say, it’s an arms race to show off the latest and greatest watches, with price tags to match.
But that’s why we’re here, after all. There are, believe it or not, there are more affordable watches from Watches and Wonders than you might expect, and from brands that are even bigger names than you might expect, too. Sure, it’s fun to daydream about wearing an incredible, investment-level work of art on your wrist, but there’s a difference between your vision board and reality. What might we consider affordable or accessible, in this case?
The Most Affordable Watches from Watches and Wonders 2022
Well, you’re not going to find anything for under a grand, sad to say. And companies like Rolex, which changed the game with the new Rolex Air-King Sport Watch this year at Watches and Wonders, are still peddling quite pricey timepieces (a guy can dream though, right?).
As we said, there’s a difference between your vision board and reality. However, look a bit more closely and you’ll discover some hidden gems among a visually stunning array of simply incredible timepieces.
Take Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier, renowned for its clean, subtly stylish dress watches and unusual dial and strap color combinations.
The new Baume & Mercier Classima 10694 retails for under two grand, is described by the horology company as an “everyday companion” watch and uses a very unique, precise sun-satin finished burgundy dial alongside a handsome blue strap. The effect is as appealing as any, and it’s a surefire wrist game upgrade.
Baume & Mercier Classima 10694
It’s hard to pick favorites when the overall lineup at Watches and Wonders is so stellar, but reliable brands you know and love tend to shine through. TAG Heuer’s heritage of road-ready, sporty watches precedes itself, and they’re not exactly resting on any laurels this time around, either.
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph, announced at this year’s event and available later this fall, is described as the brand’s first-ever solar-powered watch.
The brand, in a similar manner to Baume & Mercier, describes this rugged, go-anywhere timepiece as a “perfect companion, from the crack of dawn to nightfall and ever after.”
It charges up and runs off any light source, and it joins an already impressive lineup of Aquaracer watches, the sort that are well-suited for days and days of wear. In fact, some of those watches also clock in at under two grand, a price that’s more than fair considering how well TAG Heuer blends performance and style.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
Among fiercely competitive Swiss watch brands, the bells and whistles on any given watch can escalate quickly, as can pricing along the way. Oris, like TAG Heuer, knows how to deliver highly useful watches that blend a powerful, sporty appeal with classic style, and they’ve not let their foot off the gas, so to speak, this year either. The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 boasts a power reserve of five days — yes, five days — and is water-rated down to 300 meters.
It’s a watch made to go off-grid without missing a beat, and it’s also priced agreeably, given what you’re getting: The latest from Oris will set you back $3,500, but all things considered, that price makes it an affordable watch from Watches and Wonders 2022.
Oris Aquis Calibre 400
As you climb the proverbial ladder at Watches and Wonders, prices soar ever higher in turn — but it’s like we’ve said: A guy can dream, right? And if your dreams center around a watch that’s at once an heirloom and yet not exactly priced like one, perhaps it’s a Tudor watch you’ve got on your mind.
The legendary watchmaker introduced three new models this year at Watches and Wonders, but none cooler than a new Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G made from — you guessed it — stainless steel and gold. It’s getting up there in price (it’ll set you back more than five grand), but once more, compared to other timepieces at Watches and Wonders 2022, it comes off as a downright steal. It’ll get better with age, and believe us when we say you’ll want to wear it plenty.
Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G
It’s also hard to fault brands that do an extraordinary job at helping you round out your everyday carry in ways you never thought possible — like Montblanc, well-known for its precisely crafted writing tools and its impressive, built-for-adventure timepieces. Montblanc watches have scaled mountains and gone all over the globe, and the icy blue, seriously cool Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic is designed to carry on that legacy in impressive fashion.
It’s the first-ever sports diving watch from the famed brand, with a dial that’s been fashioned using a nearly forgotten gratté-boisé effect to give it that memorable look. Better still is the fact that it won’t cost you the price of a new home — it retails for $3,190. Go ahead and get a Montblanc pen while you’re at it because this is a surprisingly affordable watch from Watches and Wonders 2022.
Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea
Hunting down affordable timepieces is a tough (yet fun!) quest at the best of times, especially when it involves sorting through and selecting from a wide array of styles from the coolest, priciest watchmakers on the planet. It’s about the journey, not the destination though. OK, it’s also about the destination — the watch you end up with on your wrist is a reward in and of itself.
Until next year’s Watches and Wonders, we’ll keep dreaming about exceptional timepieces aplenty, and we’ll maybe even get around to wearing one or two more affordable watches listed here. We hope you’ll join us.