Recommended Mid-Tier Brands
As we move up in tiers, the prices go up. The mid-tier brands focus on anything between $500 – $1000, which is where their most popular timepieces lie within.
It’s this range where the fit and finish steps up a bit, quartz movement is much less common, and automatic movements become slightly more complex.
Features also are elevated; specifically, water resistance. Most brands of this caliber can provide water resistance of a minimum, 100m, especially if they’re sport-focused or have associations with active lifestyles (like diving).
While we love Japanese movements and what they have done for the watch industry, the Swiss are still known for providing great timepieces with elegant styling.
Expectations and standards go up with the price tag and few flaws should be tolerated in this price range. You worked hard for that money, and you want the best that your money can get. Rightfully so, and this is where details should be paid more attention to.
If you see a dial crooked, or something isn’t as finished, or certain finishes don’t look sharp… It’s hard to explain but if something doesn’t look right, just walk away. While nothing is a guarantee, watches in this price range are subject to stricter quality assurance so the error rate is significantly less than our entry-level counterparts. So what can we expect for $500 – $1000? Here’s the fun part.
With historical ties to the American railroad, Hamilton is known for pioneering watchmaking in America. Not only it helped the trains arrive on-time, but also helped the fight in World War II, focusing on serving military requirements for wristwatches during wartime. Hamilton was also known for being a popular watch to movie stars and famous entertainers.
Elvis Presley was seen wearing a Hamilton Ventura in the movie, Blue Hawaii, which was the world’s first electric wristwatch.
Hamilton continued to produce stellar timepieces until stiff competition coming from the emerging Japanese market and several company movements turned Hamilton from an independent firm into being a part of a brand portfolio under the world’s largest wristwatch company, The Swatch Group.
Today, Hamilton is part of over 20 brands to capture the hearts of enthusiasts like you and me.
While owned by a Swiss conglomerate, the Hamilton design philosophy is to embrace their American upbringing and the heritage that comes with it. That means an homage to art deco movement, traditional model names like ‘Jazzmaster’, and focusing on classic motifs for the majority of their lineup.
With various selections available, the Viewmatic Auto is a great selection from Hamilton. Featuring an H-10 automatic movement and a dressy, elegant, multi-textured face design, it’s a unique option to add to a dressy watch collection. It’s not as versatile in terms of value-added features and water resistance, but more focused on design and classic, simple motif.
At 44mm, it’s a big watch and needs a lot of wrist presence to make it yours and can be an entry to what upscale market has to offer to the consumer. The polished steel case with a minimalist design are positives for what would be a great watch to have in your collection.
Tissot is another brand part of the Swatch Group portfolio, meant to capture the hearts of the active watch enthusiast. While they do have storied traditions in Switzerland, their main focus is being an official timekeeper for sporting events such as the NBA, the Fencing World Championships, and are heavily involved in sporting contributions such as a major sponsor of the Swiss National Team.
With Tissot playing a big part in sporting events and sports in general, their watch lineup reflects a lot about what they believe in and what they’re focused on: Active living.
Tissot has various watches in their lineup but a prominent watch in their collection is the T.Touch Expert Solar. It’s a great piece for the active watch enthusiast, which features 100m water resistance, a chronograph, an altimeter, meteo, compass, regatta, countdown timer, chrono split and lap (logbook), 2 alarms, backlight, second time zone, perpetual calendar with day and week indicator, accumulator charge indicator.
The best part is that the T.Touch Expert Solar, as the name suggests, is a tactile watch with solar functionality, which is a technological marvel on its own. Each functionality has a specific tactile spot within the bezel, giving the user quick access to any feature he or she wants while being energized by the sun. Whether you hike, or you like to go mountain climbing, this watch would be a suitable partner to your energetic lifestyle.
Finally, a change of scenery with an independent company! Founded in 1904, Oris is one of the few watchmakers left in the world that is independently owned or not part of a brand portfolio.
This gave the company freedom to move about and create timepieces that spoke to them and catered to their loyal fans, and not dictated by market share and price points. They let the market dictate where they should stand, as what it should be. Their mantra is ‘Defining My Own Path, Going My Own Way’ and being independent helps them achieve that goal, day in and day out.
Being a private firm gives you the option of trying out different tactics without answering to any executive board of directors, which is a nice way to try out new designs to the masses. One particular piece that caught our eye is the Artelier Pointer Date. With an automatic movement, and a specific pointer date complication all designed by Oris themselves, it provides you with an opportunity to own something different and unique.
While the other brands we talked about have different motifs, their insides are essentially the same ETA movements owned by The Swatch Group. Owning an Oris piece is owning a piece of their company and what they stand for. You are a supporter of the independent movement, and want to stand out from normality. If that’s more you, then Oris is the right watch for you.
A Swiss brand who’s not afraid to push the boundaries on what can be done in a wristwatch, Rado is an innovative company that is always curious on what materials can be used to elevate their place in the market.
A brand that innovated usage of exotic materials, Rado is known for taking advantage of ceramic technology to add into their watches either as a bezel, a bracelet, or both. The ceramic coating provides a scratch proof surface that is also resistant to color fade. What you bought in day one will look the same for many years after, which shows great value in your investment. With various collections in the brand, there’s a Rado that’s right for you.
Our selection from Rado would be the R28888172, which is a square design that has a retro silhouette. With the usage of ceramic, it gives the wearer a deep black bracelet that will shine in any situation. With gold accent to soften the all-black motif, it provides a balancing contrast to give you a well-balanced view. With contrast hour markers to finish the watch design, it has a great visual impact, with a black dial and contrasting gold hands, and a date window at 3 o’clock. A square case gives the retro bracelet look, which makes it a classic nod to great days of the past.
Another heavyweight within The Swatch Group conglomerate is the luxury brand, Longines. A Swiss brand built from the ground-up with heritage and craftsmanship in mind, Longines has been a world-renowned brand since the 1800s.
1878 gave the world a glimpse of chronograph technology with Longines developing the first simple chronograph movement, dubbed the 20H calibre.
1912 was also Longine’s time to shine, being involved in the first electromechanical sports timing in Basel. This association with sports timing became a norm with Longines, being a part of gymnastics, Formula One, and alpine skiing to name a few.
When Longines was bought out by The Swatch Group in 1983, the brand positioning has been focused on capturing as much of the mid to upper-tier markets alongside Rado.
With Longines, our pick of the litter is the HydroConquest, which is a diver-dedicated timepiece. Featuring a quartz movement, the 39mm timepiece is quite adept at being a trusty, dependable watch. It has a stainless steel case, 300m water resistance, a rotating bezel for diving time tracking, and a sapphire crystal. The HydroConquest will be a great diving companion that has a legible, easy-to-read watch with white markers and contrasting black dial for an overall conservative silhouette.