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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for an engagement gift for me, and I've decided to get a watch :-d.

Some background - I've been wearing a Seiko 5 (7S26) for the last 9 years, and before that I had a few comparable citizen watches (day/date display waterproof, metal strap) and an assortment of digital Casio watches. I also own a citizen eco-drive that has been running on its original battery for 12 years now (I leave it on the windowsill so it gets enough sunlight daily).

I've been dreaming of having a Seiko Spring Drive ever since they came out, but with current prices at €2400 and above, that's just out of my budget. So now looking at options around €1200.

I'm a mechanical engineer so what I really appreciate is a watch's movement. I'm not impressed by brands that slap their name on a run-of-the-mill quartz movement and charge a premium because of branding. I would much prefer the money to go into complications and features.

If I had to make a list of what I'm looking for, this would be it:

Power source
- automatic, kinetic, spring drive, any new more exotic developments etc. As long as it will run theoretically forever without maintenance (in other words, pretty much anything except watches that run on a non-rechargeable battery)

Strap: Metal (Titanium and stainless steel are great; Leather and plastic never last longer than two years for me)

Size: Smaller/thinner preferred since I have small wrists.

Appearance: The more complicated the better. For me the ultimate watch is a skeleton where I can see the balance wheel, escapement and mainspring without taking it off my wrist. However this might conflict with the next point - I don't know if anyone makes a skeleton with date display?

Features: One or more of the following (the more the better, but I know that at my budget I will probably have to sacrifice something):
  • Date Display (I use this many times a day because I never remember what date it is)
  • Day Display
  • Power Reserve indicator

I also wouldn't mind having one or more of the following (but at this point I'm just dreaming): Tourbillon, alarm, stopwatch (ahem, chronograph :-d), perpetual calendar, moon-phase indicator...

Lastly, the smoother the sweep of the second hand the better (i.e. high-beat preferred. My current watch runs at 21,600 bph). This is what allured me the most in the spring drive - the non-stop sweep of the hand (well, that and the fact that it uses quartz regulation but stores the energy in a mainspring, which will remain serviceable far longer than any battery ever could).
 

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Check out the new Farer Chronograph. It's a little over your budget but it's a beaut!
No day nor date nor PR indicator.

OP, what about a Damasko DA36? Automatic, day, date, hardened steel, the cross hair adds a bit more complexity to the dial, right on your budget. Sadly no PR indicator. Many colours available.

DA-36_Schatten_600x600.jpg

I don't know any watches with day date and a PR indicator too...
 
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Might look at some Stowas and Muhle Glashutte as well for some different suggestions.

Otherwise if you keep your eyes open, you might get lucky with a good used Spring Drive.

Congratulations and good luck.
 

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The Oris pro pilot X or seiko presage spring drive would probably be ones to consider, but both are outside your budget

Have a look at the Oris artelier Skeleton or Seiko presage models
The seiko is nice, has enamel dial, PR indicator/date and a high beat Seiko movement (6r25) Doesn't come with bracelet but shouldn't be hard to find one that fits.

Edit: check out Casios Oceanus line too.




 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thank you for the suggestions so far! Some nice suggestions. The Oris Pro pilot X looks awesome, but for €7-12k I could start a spring drive collection 😂. Are there more watches like that (i.e. "modern" looking skeletons with complications)?

The Damasko DA36 didn't really strike me. Hard to describe, but it kind of looks too clean and simple - in the sense that nothing about it (that's visible from the front anyway) says "this watch is worth €1k" to the layperson.
 

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Save your money for a wedding watch and get something amazing instead (like that Spring Drive).
Sounds like you're just settling here and have an itch to scratch. Not a good idea from my own experience.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Save your money for a wedding watch and get something amazing instead (like that Spring Drive).
Sounds like you're just settling here and have an itch to scratch. Not a good idea from my own experience.
In my culture the valuable gifts are bought for the engagement - for the wedding we just do a pair of simple rings. So this watch is the only one haha ;).

I know what you're saying with regards to settling, but truth be told as an engineer I can kind of estimate what it costs to produce something, and the logical side of me ruins the joy of owning something awesome but expensive because I get the nagging feeling that I've overspent. I get the impression that past a certain price, you seem to be paying for prestige more than anything. Take the spring drive. If I had to estimate the bill of materials to build one movement, I'd wager a few hundred dollars would cover it. It's a mature movement which shares a lot of working principles with automatic, quartz and kinetic movements. Sure the finish and the case is high-end, but considering that Seiko can produce an entire automatic watch for $100 (the Seiko 5 series), I thought the spring drive would cost less than €2600. Maybe one day they'll release a more "bare bones" spring drive without the fancy case and high-end finishing for people like myself who want to have that technology for around €1000. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks that and this market doesn't exist.

This thread has helped me refine my priorities. I'm going to target my search towards looking for a stylish, modern-looking skeleton watch with as many complications as budget allows. Unfortunately most internet searches for skeleton watches with date display yield the same 2 or 3 Chinese movements that I don't want. I bought a Chinese skeleton automatic which lasted approximately 8 months before the metal of the gears started to rust from water getting past the "waterproof" seal. So it's Japanese, Swiss or European watches only for me.
 

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Give Sinn the once over. The DA36 may look a little plain but if it’s comfort and toughness you want then there are few to rival it.
 

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This thread has helped me refine my priorities. I'm going to target my search towards looking for a stylish, modern-looking skeleton watch with as many complications as budget allows.
In that case, you have...

Rado True Skeleton. Fully ceramic case and bracelet, meaning it's highly scratch resistant (but also prone to shattering if hit badly! In other words, good for everyday and desk diving, not good as a beater when gardening). I tried a fully ceramic Rado some weeks ago and it left a lasting impression. There's nothing like it tbh. They also have other skeletons in the Centrix and Diamaster lines

r27510152_s.png

Oris Artix Skeleton (01 734 7684 4051-07 8 21 77). An older model, maybe you can find it somewhere.

oris-artelier-skeleton-dial-stainless-steel-men_s-watch-01-734-7684-4051-07-8-21-77_7.jpg

Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Skeleton H42555751

H42555751_7.png

Tissot T070.405.16.411.00

tissot-t-complication-squelette-men_s-watch-t0704051641100_5.jpg

Likely many more options out there, and even more if you include open heart dials.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In that case, you have...

Rado True Skeleton. Fully ceramic case and bracelet, meaning it's highly scratch resistant (but also prone to shattering if hit badly! In other words, good for everyday and desk diving, not good as a beater when gardening). I tried a fully ceramic Rado some weeks ago and it left a lasting impression. There's nothing like it tbh. They also have other skeletons in the Centrix and Diamaster lines

View attachment 14642493

Oris Artix Skeleton (01 734 7684 4051-07 8 21 77). An older model, maybe you can find it somewhere.

View attachment 14642497

Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Skeleton H42555751

View attachment 14642503

Tissot T070.405.16.411.00

View attachment 14642505

Likely many more options out there, and even more if you include open heart dials.
Those watches are very nice! I'm actually drooling over the rado right now. Also looking through Hamilton's skeleton lineup - some very nice watches there too :). The tissot is nice because I have a soft spot for blue, but it's a leather strap and I generally prefer a full-size second hand not an off-center one (except on watches with a stopwatch function where the full size second hand does the seconds for the stopwatch and the subdial does seconds for the main time).

OK, let me try and further refine my requirements. Any skeleton watches within budget with at least one complication? Power reserve indicator, date indicator, anything?
 

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Any skeleton watches within budget with at least one complication? Power reserve indicator, date indicator, anything?
OK, if you're determined to get a watch, here's my suggestion and what I would personally get. It is not exactly a skeleton watch, but it has an open heart and is Japanese made.
It also comes in a white-dial and a blue-dial and sells for about $1200US online. The Orient Star Rk-am0004b (Mechanical Moonphase):

s-l640.jpg
 
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Orient Star Retrograde. Great watch for around $400 from Joma. Many variations, here are two. I had one and thought it was really well made for the money.


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Tissot Squelette is a cool skeletonized watch, but doesn't have the complications you want.


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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
OK, if you're determined to get a watch, here's my suggestion and what I would personally get. It is not exactly a skeleton watch, but it has an open heart and is Japanese made.
It also comes in a white-dial and a blue-dial and sells for about $1200US online. The Orient Star Rk-am0004b (Mechanical Moonphase):

View attachment 14642777
That seems to hit all the requirements - power reserve, date, visible balance wheel. Great find. The only thing I don't like is the general look of the watch - it's too "classic" looking, with the serif font of the Roman numerals and the elliptical hands. And not as impressive-looking as a full skeleton. I know being a skeleton conflicts with having a date display, I guess I might have to decide whether I can live with an open heart to get a date display within my budget.

The DK05002B appeals to me more as it looks more modern, but then doesn't have a date display. Decisions decisions...
s-l640.jpg
 

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I think theres very few watches in this price range I would consider to be wedding / lifetime gift type quality.

Maaaaaybe an entry level nomos...
 

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I'm curious about the idea of getting engaged and buying something for yourself, rather than the person you're marrying? And I agree with the above sentiment, at that price all you're going to be buying is trouble if you're looking for complications. You'll end up spending a lot more getting it serviced than the initial cost. I'd go with a solid three-hander. Sinn would be a great choice. You could buy a solid Seiko as well.
 

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I'm curious about the idea of getting engaged and buying something for yourself, rather than the person you're marrying? And I agree with the above sentiment, at that price all you're going to be buying is trouble if you're looking for complications. You'll end up spending a lot more getting it serviced than the initial cost. I'd go with a solid three-hander. Sinn would be a great choice. You could buy a solid Seiko as well.
Not once in this thread has he said he's buying it
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I'm curious about the idea of getting engaged and buying something for yourself, rather than the person you're marrying? And I agree with the above sentiment, at that price all you're going to be buying is trouble if you're looking for complications. You'll end up spending a lot more getting it serviced than the initial cost. I'd go with a solid three-hander. Sinn would be a great choice. You could buy a solid Seiko as well.
The custom here is that the guy buys the girl a diamond ring. In turn, the girl buys the guy an engagement gift - typically a watch since it's the most common jewelry men wear (I personally don't wear rings, necklaces or bracelets, and I love watches so it's a given). The ring is selected by the guy and presented as a complete surprise to the girl (typically at an engagement party that's also kept a surprise until the last moment - though her family is informed and help keep the event a surprise by pretending it's just a normal family outing). The watch is bought and given later. In my case, since I have particular tastes in watches and she is not technically inclined, the choice of the watch is up to me.

To respond to the general sentiment, it appears this forum is geared towards Swiss watches, which honestly I perceive as being expensive for what they deliver. I'm always comparing to my daily driver - a Seiko 5. I bought this watch on eBay, new, for €70 in 2010 and have never had the back opened. Not for servicing nor for any other reason. For €70 I got a waterproof automatic with day and date display and a metal strap. It runs slightly slow, to the tune of -5 minutes every month, but otherwise flawless. I wear it every day so it's got quite a few scratches and scuffs - and whatever I buy for the engagement will be my new daily driver, so I'm not too focused on the quality of the external finishing.

I have had one bad experience with a watch - an automatic skeleton watch bought on eBay for about €20 with the very common Chinese movement. It was marked as waterproof but water entered after swimming with it one day (possibly after I had opened the case back a few times to poke around inside and didn't replace the gasket), after which the gears started to rust and the friction increased until eventually it wouldn't run even with a fully-wound mainspring.

I'm actually shocked at how little you get for the money with Swiss watches. Just yesterday I was browsing through TAG Heuer's lineup. €1500 gets you a plain quartz watch with a date display. A Casio, Citizen or Seiko with similar features (but presumably not the same level of "finish" or "quality") is 1/10th the price. Can you honestly say the TAG is 10 times better? Or are you literally just paying for the brand recognition/bragging rights? I'm sure if you let the battery run down in the TAG and leave it for a few weeks, the acid will seep out and corrode the movement and render it useless, same as it would in a cheap €10 Swatch watch with a quartz movement.

I know this is an unpopular opinion on these forums, but I'm not particularly swayed by branding or finish. I use the brand name to ensure I get a minimum baseline of quality (i.e. fitness for purpose, or "working as advertised"). If I get a Seiko with "x" number of complications I know that they will work, and that I can rely it to work reliably for many years.

In this vein, I absolutely will not buy a no-name Chinese watch because I can't stand the blatant outright lying in adverts which the Chinese do. I'm sure you've seen the listings on eBay where they have a standard open-heart movement and advertise it as a "tourbillon". Seems that the word tourbillon improves the ranking of their listings so they just stick it in to each of their adverts. And some things you see on Chinese movements are just silly. Like the watch that displays the date with two single-digit wheels, where after "31" the watch keeps going to "32" then "33" etc... - all the way until "40"... because it would be too complicated to get it to advance the first wheel after "31"... so every month you'll be pressing the button 9 times to advance the date from "32" to "01".

Oh, and there is nothing more tacky to me than fake watch hands that are glued to the watch face. It's better to have no sub-dials than fake ones. My colleague actually has a replica "Panerai" with fake watch hands on the sub-dials. Ugh.

So you see, I'm after a balance of value and quality. I know if I wanted the best possible value, I could just buy a Casio Edifice, or spend €300 on a Samsung Smart Watch which, in a sense, has more complications than the world's most complicated $10 million pocket watch... but like everyone else here, I appreciate the workmanship and operation of a good mechanical watch and would rather pay more money for less features if they're good features and/or they make the watch feel "special". I swoon when I see JLC's gyrotourbillon, and given the choice I'd have one of those - but that watch costs more than my house ;).

Point is, when someone says it's hard to get a good watch for under $2000, I have to disagree. My collection of Seikos, Casios and Citizens are good examples, and they can't be the only exceptions to the rule. There have been plenty of nice watches listed in this thread so far (for which I am very grateful to the posters suggesting them). Generally speaking, maybe Swiss watches cost what they do because they provide value in a way that I'm not perceiving - if so I would like to be enlightened.

Maybe it's also a cultural thing. The GDP per capita in my country is €27,000 so most people live on less than €2000 per month and actual disposable income after taxes and fixed expenses is about €1200. Maybe in a country where people make on average $50,000 per year, spending $5k on a great watch isn't a big deal, but here $5k will buy a reliable used car, or the furniture and appliances for an entire kitchen - and being in that stage of life where one has to pay for a wedding and a house really puts one's priorities in order ;)
 
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