Fashionably Telling Time for Less Than Two Grand

A few weeks back I was talking with a friend at happy hour about a new watch that I had recently acquired. My friend is a bit of a fashionista but, has never popped for a more upscale watch that would complement his fashion sense. As we talked it became apparent that the reason for this is the misconception that you have to shell out a huge sum of money to get a luxury level watch that will appreciate over time. 

With that said, I ask him what his criteria was for a nice watch. His budget, style, movement, etc. It came down to this. $500.00 to $2000.00 max. It had to look stylish and compliment his wardrobe. The movement was, to him irrelevant. ( I told him that he should look for an automatic ).

While sitting at our table enjoying our cocktails I busted out my iPhone and did a quick search for timepieces and showed him a handful of watches he could get that wouldn’t break the bank and met the rest of his requirements. And that got me to thinking. What are ten stylish, well-designed watches that come in at $1500.00 or less that could appreciate in value, or at least hold their value? A timepiece you would want to pass on to your kid. That you could wear every day and know that it complimented what you had on. 

Here are the criteria I set. 

$2000.00 or less in price

Stylish and well designed

An automatic movement if possible

Limited edition if possible (helps keep the watch value)

Nothing too flashy or gaudy

Here is my list, in no particular order.

Bravur Geography GMT Limited Edition Watch

This is a beautiful limited edition automatic in gold and forest green. It’s powered by a rhodium-plated Sellita 3301-1 with a decorated rotor. The Geography GMT comes in at $1850.00. There are only 25 of these that are going to be made. Each watch is built to order by hand. 

Zodiac Jetomatic Limited Edition

The Jetomatic Limited Edition is a homage to the original Zodiac Pilot watch from the 1960s. This watch features a 40mm stainless steel case and black leather strap. The large numerals and Super-LumiNova print allow readability in all conditions and an oversize crown for time setting even with gloved hands. This COSC-certified chronometer watch is limited to 82 pieces and features an automatic movement. Don’t be put off by the fact that Zodiac is owned by Fossil. These are great watches. This tips the scale at $1495.00

Oris Aquis Limited Edition Ocean Blue

This limited edition floods the Oris Aquis with design details like a gradient blue dial and an aqua-blue ceramic blue insert. In addition, there’s a token made from recycled PET plastic on the case-back. 2,000 of these watches will be made and presented in a box made from algae with plastic inlays. This can be found at websites like Watchmaxx or Jomashop for between $1500.00 and $1995.00

Nomos Glashutte Orion 33 Duo

Nomos makes some amazing watches with some pricing out as high as $10,000.00. You don’t have to spend that kind of money to get a nice luxury watch from them. The Orion 33 Duo is a beautiful timepiece. It’s stylish, minimalist, and elegant. The stainless steel backed watch comes in at $1600.00. If you want something a bit more, you can get the sapphire crystal backed watch for $1900.00. This is a brand I really like. The Autobahn is on my list to acquire at some point in the future.

YEMA Superman Heritage GMT Watch

You want a Rolex Submariner but you don’t want to spend that kind of money. There are plenty of watches that reflect the styling of the classic Rolex but one I like is the recently released YEMA Superman Heritage. This French brand has been in business since 1948, located in Morteau just five miles from the Swiss border. This watch features a GMT complication which means the wearer can set the watch up to display one, two, or even three separate time zones, making this an exceptionally useful watch for people who travel frequently. It’s available in three color schemes, red and blue, red and black, or blue and grey. At $1499.00 it’s a nice entry-level alternative to that Submariner you want.

Shinola Vinton 38mm Stainless Steel

Shinola makes a ton of watches. Most of them are not really my taste or style. Most of them, in my opinion, seems a bit chunky or they are just too large for my wrist. The Vinton, however, works for me. The 38 mm case is a solid choice. The styling is simple, clean and easy to read. It’s distinctly American. All Shinola watches are hand-assembled in Detroit using an Argonite 715 quartz movement with Swiss and other imported parts. At $550.00 this is a nice daily driver.

The Bulova Oceanographer Limited Edition

With the bright orange dial, you are definitely going to make a statement with this watch. Bulova even says on their website “Designed to be Noticed”. This is a tribute to the 1970s Bulova Oceanographer and is limited to a production run of 666 pieces. It comes with limited edition packaging and at $1495.00 it gives you the opportunity to show off a bit without busting your budget. I love the black and white unidirectional bezel, over that orange three-hand dial. Well done Bulova.

Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage

I think this watch is absolutely stunning. Underneath the boxed sapphire crystal sits the Startimer’s blue sunburst dial. The hands remind me of the Omega Speedmaster’s, and the 42mm stainless steel case is handsomely sculpted. The back of which has a really nice engraving of the Alpina logo and a jet aircraft. The watch is finished off with a black leather strap that just goes with the stainless and blue of the case and dial. At $1395.00 this would be a great entry-level collectors watch.

Zodiac Super Seawolf

The Zodiac Super Seawolf is an homage to the original dive watch from the 1960s that has been updated to the 21st century. The Super Seawolf features a stainless-steel case and uni-directional mineral crystal top-ring, matte blue dial, stainless-steel 5-link bracelet with a C3 SuperLuminova hands and indexes. The Sea Wolf conveys Zodiac’s commitment to definitive style with timeless roots. I am so happy that Fossil bought this company and is helping to breath new life into them. By the way, Zodiac releases limited editions of their watches on a regular basis so keep a lookout if you are into collecting. The Seawolf can be had for about $1395.00

Dan Henry 1964 Gran Tourismo Chronograph

Dan Henry is a world-renowned watch collector. He is well respected in the industry and is sought out for his horological expertise so it’s no surprise that his collection of watches feature impeccable styling.

The 1964 Gran Tourismo Chronograph is directly inspired by a mashup of vintage Heuer Carrera references. I love the look of this watch, especially with the Panda dial. Inside the watch is Seiko’s ever-reliable VK63 meca-quartz movement. Yes, I know it’s not an automatic but at $250.00 who cares. This watch is limited to a run of 1964 pieces and is still available on the Dan Henry website.  

So there it is. 10 watches ranging in price from $250.00 to $2000.00. All of them look good on the wrist and some will definitely become collector’s items and probably appreciate in value. You don’t have to sacrifice style, design or quality just because your budget is limited. Start with an entry-level watch and a goal in mind go from there. If you like the way the watch looks and how it makes you feel, go for it because that is what is most important.


Mill+ and Phillip Stein Watches.

The video below was produced by Mill+ for Phillip Stein watches and bracelets. Directed by Ivo Sousa and Kwok Fung Lam, this is a breath of fresh air that takes the overused “Sketch Book” metaphor in new a new direction. The look was created by drawing each sketch by hand on paper in order to keep the aesthetic of classic draughtsmanship. Each Sketch was scanned and animated to create a a time lapse of the finished hand drawn page. The drawings were animated using After Effects where typography, ink blots and other effects were added in. The finished result is a nice blend of 3D, and 2D animation, with hand drawn elements, and solid post work to tie it all together.

Design & Animation Studio: Mill+
Post-Production / VFX Company: The Mill
Executive Producer: Luke Colson
VFX Producer: Luiza Cruz-Flade, Niamh O’Donohoe
Animation Director: Ivo Suozo, Kwok Fung Lam
3D Artists: Anthony Fieldsend, Stephanie Dewhirst
2D Artists: Kwok Fung Lam, Ivo Sousa, Diogo Pinheiro
Design and Illustration Artists: Kwok Fung Lam, Ivo Sousa, Hilary Kennedy, Freya Barnsley, Rachel Bungey
Typography: Alexandra T. Pelham
Sound Design: Brains & Hunch


The Helvetica Watch.

I know a lot of designers that hate Helvetica. I also know a lot of designers that love Helvetica, and respect it’s timeless qualities. I fall into the latter group. Watch maker Mondaine has introduced a new watch that champions the font, the designer. The video was produced by Frame Eleven and depicts the story how the world famous typography made its way to the wrist. This is a really nice blend of live footage, 2D and 3 D animation.

Oh and if anyone is interested, you can get me this watch for Christmas.

Creative Director: Marc Haas
Director / Art Director: Oliver Aemisegger
DOP: Silvio Gerber
Inhouse Producer: Livia Hächler
3D animation: Fabio Quaggiotto
Motion graphics / 2D animation: Oliver Aemisegger
Edit: Cyril Käppeli
Sounddesign: Cyril Käppeli

The Animated Movement of Time.

I’ll admit it, I’m a watch guy. I like the art, craft, design, and engineering that goes into a nice looking time piece. I’ll also say that I am not a watch snob. I’m the guy that appreciates the quality of a Patek Philippe Calatrava, but also appreciates the understated design of Braun watches designed by Dieter Rams. I think the second half of that statement is the heart of it for me. The watches I own, are all fairly simple in the way they look. Nothing to flashy, nothing that shows off to much. All of this leads me to California-based designer Matt Johnston (no relation to me) who also loves watches,, clean design, and author of the website Wrist.


Wrist began as a sideline project to help Johnston improve his illustration skills, and eventually morphed into it’s own world of animated watch graphics collaborating with other designers. Wrist is a website / project featuring animated watch illustrations modeled after some of Johnston’s favorite watches. For Johnston watches are the perfect medium for design since they combine typography, color and movement to create a functional work of art. Wrist posts a new animation bi-weekly and if you are a designer interested in collaborating with Matt, he is looking for talented help with his project.