For most Swiss watch brands, the prices you will find below constitute “entry level”, yet for many people these sums might still seem excessive for a timepiece. If you’re looking to offer a quality Swiss timepiece for Christmas this year without breaking the bank, here is a selection of watches to satisfy a variety of tastes.
Alpina Startimer Pilot: CHF 950
The pilot’s watch has a distinctive style that derives from its historical use, which required large (Arabic) numerals and clear legibility, as well as an oversized crown that could be manipulated when wearing gloves, as the early pilots did to battle the freezing cold conditions in cockpits.
Among the numerous versions of the Alpina Startimer available, there are small date, big date, quartz, automatic, chronograph and GMT versions with a choice of brushed steel or black-coated case and leather or rubber straps and stainless-steel bracelets. We have chosen the Startimer Pilot Automatic in titanium-coloured steel. Aside from its self-winding mechanical movement with a power reserve of 38 hours, this 44mm pilot’s watch comes with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, applied hour markers with luminescent material, water resistance to 100 metres and a genuine leather strap.
Startimer Pilot © Alpina
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Anonimo Nautilo Bianco: CHF 2,190
The new Anonimo Nautilo Bianco bears all the hallmarks of Anonimo’s Italian heritage in the production of robust diver’s watches. The cushion-shaped 44mm case is in brushed stainless steel with a partial black DLC coating and has a graduated bezel with black ceramic insert that can be rotated anti-clockwise for safely recording dive times. Its Sellita SW 200-1 self-winding movement offers a power reserve of 38 hours and the watch is water resistant to 200 metres. As the model name suggests, the dial is in opaline white and, like all Anonimo watches, it comes with a leather strap that is hand made in Italy.
Nautilo Bianco © Anonimo
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Emile Chouriet Ice Cliff: CHF 1,120
The Ice Cliff takes some beating among Swiss Made watches with self-winding mechanical movements. Although not a sports watch per se, it is inspired by Switzerland’s alpine peaks, to which tribute is paid by a jagged motif around the edge of the dial, evoking shards of ice, craggy outcrops, or maybe even the teeth on the gear wheels of the EC9316 calibre self-winding movement that powers the watch? A power reserve of 38 hours puts it on a par with the two preceding models in our selection, while water resistance to 30 metres ensures that it can cope with everyday wear. The design of the Ice Cliff models has been reworked for this year and they now come with a choice of blue or brown dials and steel bracelets or rubber straps.
Ice Cliff © Emile Chouriet
Maurice Lacroix Aikon Bronze: CHF 1,350
Bronze watches are all the rage at the moment and the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Bronze is undoubtedly among those that offer the best value for money, mainly thanks to the use of a quartz movement. It is a limited edition of just 388, which gives it extra collector’s value and the aged appearance of the smoked brown dial, with its horizontal lines, will complement the patina of the bronze as it ages. Gold-plated hands and hour markers complete the warm look, while SuperLuminova inserts ensure optimum legibility.
Aikon Bronze © Maurice Lacroix
Seiko Presage Cocktail Blue: €420
If you are looking for a reliable self-winding mechanical watch with classic appeal from an established name, then the Seiko Presage “Cocktail” collection takes some beating. Presented earlier this year at Baselworld, the collection has made it to the shops just in time for Christmas and includes two different movements: one with a centre power reserve indicator and one with three hands and date. Our choice is the latter in blue, inspired by the Starlight cocktail created by Hisashi Kishi at Tokyo’s Star Bar. With a stainless-steel case, Hardlex box-shaped crystal, transparent case back and water resistance to 50 metres, this model is practically unbeatable on price.
Presage Cocktail Blue © Seiko
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition: CHF 1,350
TAG Heuer produced three special editions this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time. We have chosen the quartz-three hand version with its 43mm brushed steel case with black PVD coating and SENNA logo. The black look continues on the dial, which has an opaline black background, black flange and black hour markers, with contrasting red hands.
The luminous hands are a slender, curved sword design with a stick seconds hand that once again features the red Alpina Watches Hodinkee Replica triangle, this time for a counterweight. Dial printing of the Alpina logo and touch is large, though given the 44mm case and ample dial real estate, it isn’t overpowering. Overall, the dial is effective and attractive. Among the vital components of any pilot’s watch is instantaneous legibility and the Startimer Automatic has that in spades given its clear and clean design. Some may take offense at the replica of Alpina’s triangle that looks no less than three times in the dial and hands but, quite honestly, that is simply how Alpina rolls and you see their logo everywhere in their own collection. The inclusion of an anti-reflective sapphire crystal ensures unfettered viewing of the dial despite varying lighting conditions.Moving to the circumstance, which is 44mm by 10.7mm in size with a brushed finish and an extremely minimal utilitarian design, we see again how Alpina are paying homage to significant pilot’s watches of times long ago. Absent are any intricacies in alternating finish or complicated circumstance shapes or bevels. The tool watch feel is clear here and gives the watch a no-nonsense aesthetic that plays into the pilot’s watch concept. A straightforward but neatly engraved case back increases the utilitarian concept. A minor problem for me is the use of instance plating on two of the four variations of the Startimer Pilot Automatic. While I know the drive to produce a “golden” and also a “titanium” version, I believe the notion of case plating is a bit distasteful for some who know this plating can easily wear off with use, particularly on a tool watch.
Formula 1 Senna Edition Spéciale © TAG Heuer