To wit, and in spite of the omnipresent glow of smartphones — a modern day working essential — which also just so happen to conveniently keep time, the truth of the matter is that the humble wristwatch is well primed to eternally remain a highly cultivated style staple within the wardrobes of the finest sartorially-inclined modern gentleman for good reason — it is at once a practical device , a status symbol and an irreplaceable sartorial accoutrement of peerless merit.
With that in mind, herewith are 6 of the best accessible — modern cottage industry (read: direct-to-consumer) — watchmakers whose timepieces proffer an appealing horological parallel between affordability, design, heritage and style — albeit at an economically sensible price point.
And first upon the (alternative) docket rests…
“A watch that can flip your style with a simple change whilst ably functioning as a classic centrepiece that suits your lifestyle”.
That was the design principle driving the creative ideation of the two Swedish gentlemen who formed this unique U.K. watch brand in 2013.
The byproduct: Distinctively minimalist watches designed to both make an immediate impact and leave a tasteful lasting impression erstwhile functioning as a notable refined and subtle stylish statement of characteristic intent defined by an elegant ultra thin 6mm case and sleek 40mm face that arrives in either a wholesome and warm rose gold or an icy yet pristine classic silver casing. However, what truly sets Birline watches apart from their competitive quartz counterparts is their uniquely crowning and definitive trait: the iconic Harris Tweed strap.
Scottish in sourcing, British in heritage, dignified beyond sensible monetary measure in character, and famed for its longevity, Birline’s contemporary — Harris tweed accentuated — timepieces seemingly have one-foot firmly planted in the aesthetic opulence of the days-of-yore and the other in the reliable modern quartz-driven horological realm.
Divinely tactile and hardy yet elegant and eminently versatile, Birline timepieces make for jack-of-all trades utility players worthy of your all due consideration..
"The Preppy Masters of Effortless Refinement"
Daniel Wellington is the pioneer of the financially accessible, direct-to-consumer (Kickstarter funded) watch industry.
Definitively classic and minimalistic in its basic Scandinavian design, with an evident touch of militaristic ethos captured in its famously interchangeable NATO straps, DW watches truly have a universal appeal whose (seemingly) enduring charm and intrigue is fancifully matched by the brands unique tale of origin (read up on it here).
Often regarded as the undisputed champion of preppy, understated (fiscal) elegance, DW became renowned for its aforementioned classically designed, thin and round military inspired NATO-straped timepieces that — in a few scant years — all but created (and cornered) the market for striped-back timepieces that culminated in a steadfast following of enthusiastic admirers and loyalists within both the fashion and blogging communities alike that persists to this day.
Suitably versatile for every (and any) occasion — be it a black-tie soiree, a touch of tennis, or simply relaxing upon a beach — every DW watch arrives with an interchangeable strap that creatively renders it a timepiece that will take you anywhere you could ever want it to: from day to night and from the office straight through the weekend.
Visually striking and elegantly poised, their timepieces have become modern classics that deliver a characteristically understated, nonchalant look that is effortless and highly sought after by many a man.
"The New Era of Transparent Luxe Watchmaking"
Upstarts Brathwait pride themselves upon “creating iconic wristwatches dedicated to the world’s first gentleman, Richard Brathwait.” Unwilling to besmirch just such a good name, the brand is driven by a core policy of providing “genuine quality at a great price, as a true gentleman might go about it.”
To that end uncompromising in their pursuit of faultless end-product quality, yet always cutting costs, one would think their watches would suffer as a result…but they would be gravely mistaken. For you see, Brathwait’s approach to radical production transparency — being perhaps the Everlane of watch brands — offers up detailed industry insight into the “true” cost of every step of the production process so as to best educate its customers on the otherwise (luxury) industry-wide policy of excessive retail price markup and sparing no details in the process.
The result: With Brathwait, you will know precisely what you are paying for, why, and whether or not you want to make an informed purchase at the end of the day. And with watches manufactured in the same factories — constructed using the same materials — as those retailing for $500-$3000, but with prices starting as low as $150 (available to be paid back in monthly instalments as well if need be), it is easy to see the draw this brand holds over many.
Strictly minimalist in design and style, Braithwaite’s timepieces have garnered praise from every corner of the globe and from both industry stalwarts and common consumers alike as both their website — which displays thousands of perfect reviews — and strong social media presence and engagement are a testament to.
Their take on modern horological wrist wear is decidedly minimalist, classic, and seething with pared-back nonchalant class; their approach to marketing fresh and honest. With a Braithwait timepiece you are not only investing in fine quality (in comparison to watches within its competitor bracket) but also a new era of refreshing brand integrity.
Truly an exquisite watch brand whose timepieces routinely punch well above its (monetary) weight class.
"Keep it comfortable, minimal and classy".
ARVO's idea of style is classically driven and simple, which is why — from a design perspective — this up-and-coming brands (which hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.) timekeepers have an essentialist's draw. Tack on to that enticing aesthetic proposition a commendable brand philosophy that entails adhering to a heightened social responsibility — they donate no less then 10% from every sale to a wide variance of charitable organizations — and a buy-in pricing that often has many doing a double-take (being the most financially accessible brand in this feature) and what you have is a surefire winner with a sensible heart of stylish gold.
Definitively smart, fashionably sleek, and notably philanthropic, ARVO watches check off all the requisite (and not so requisite) style boxes.
And while their slogan may read as “Be good, Do good!”, one could certainly add "Look Good" to that equation given they are creatively buoyed by a collection of watches that simply go with everything.
“Classic design, quality construction, and styled minimalism.”
That is how GQ (magazine) described the horological pieces offered by MVMT (pronounced “movement”).
The creative byproduct of two friends who dropped out of college to establish the brand in 2013, MVMT timepieces are an amalgamation of classic styles teamed with modern designs. Which means that whether you fancy a watch that adds class to your look or a sporty, casually-inclined piece for your days off, MVMT will surely have something that will appeal to nearly every sort of man out there — from the streetwear enthusiast to the style-conscious professional.
From bold chronographs to sleek slimline classics with fully interchangeable straps, MVMT is the most avant-garde and fashion forward of brands featured within this post.
"Build it simple, beautiful, and fair."
Timeless designs — both classic and nautical in their respective heritage —with clean modern lines, all Leonard & Church watches arrive tailor-made with a luxe (scratch-resistant) sapphire crystal lens, reliable quartz movements (either Japanese Miyota or Swiss Rhonda calibres), an authentic genuine leather strap (source from South America), and a 10-year guaranteed promise of quality.
Moreover, the brand has formed a grassroots working partnership with some of the most highly regarded watch manufacturers world-round; those who have a hand in building timepieces for the likes of L&C as well as some of the worlds leading luxury brand companies (which retail theirs for between $600-$1000) that use identically sourced materials and components. The byproduct: truly luxurious watches at an almost criminal entry point price vantage.
Touted as the $95 watch set to win over the luxury market (Fast Company), Leonard & Church timepieces have slowly gained traction, notoriety and recognition as being one of the most revered and sought after entry-level watch brands by both fashion insiders and those on the industry fringes alike.
Sleek, sophisticated, understated, and seething with an easy going, magnetic charm, these watches often make for the choice pick of the lot for many a gent for good reason: they provide the highest form of luxury for the lowest possible price (ie. the R.O.I.is astronomical)
And a notable mid-tier luxury selection…
Modern timekeeping is an essential practice for many which often entails almost exclusively peering at a smartphone or tablet so as to identify the time of day (amongst other indications), but for the style-conscious gentleman there remains no present option that is more self-fulfilling nor capable of characteristically distinguishing oneself from the sheepish crowd amongst us than that of the classic wristwatch — a timeless wardrobe staple and nonnegotiable accoutrement for any gentleman of style and substance.
And while many a gent fancies of one day owning an iconic haute piece like a Rolex, Hublot, or Patek Philippe, for most that dream will simply never materialize.
But, that does not mean he cannot own a timepiece of impeachable quality, a watch that not only looks like but also performs as well as its status driven luxury cousins albeit without the overly exorbitant price that is — quite honesty — difficult to quantify for some.
It is for that set whom I've ventured to curating this list of sensible alternatives for; a grouping of quality brands that have managed to streamline the production process — cutting out the middle man and being radically transparent about the "true cost" of their products — in due course of presenting appealing, quality driven watches at accessible price entry points.
TSOVET SVT-LS47 ($250); TSOVET JVT-TV35 ($250); Mondaine Simply Elegant ($240); SKAGEN Hagen ($90); SKAGEN Rungsted ($90); SKAGEN Grenen ($155)
Collectively, these brands have made it possible for one-and-all to indulge in a touch of horological heritage and luxury without the need to inauspiciously leverage their home as collateral to do so…
Did I miss your favourite brand? If so, who would you add to this list? Perhaps Timex, Orient, Seiko…
Chime in below with your stylish two-cents…
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