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Feature: 3 More Great Value Watches

For many of us, we can only dream of owning a Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC or Rolex, and that’s a shame. But there’s another way, sort of—buy a more affordable alternative. With that said, here are three more affordable alternatives to expensive watches.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date 1548420 vs Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Automatic 112520

The Master Control is perhaps the epitome of the Jaeger-LeCoultre collection, simple, elegant, classic—and also £5,500. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth every penny, from the polished markers to the sunburst silvered dial and the exquisite calibre 899/1 in the back—but that doesn’t really matter if you can’t afford the thing in the first place.

For two-and-a-half times less, however, you can get yourself one of these instead: the Montblanc Heritage 112520. You’re not getting that beautiful Jaeger-LeCoultre movement, but then you’re saving over £3,300, and the bit that faces you looks just as good—perhaps, maybe, just maybe, a little better.

While both share that blued central second hand, the Montblanc gets a dash more colour from its mix of Arabic and baton markers, and also situates the date nice and symmetrically at six o’clock—compared to the Master Control’s three. Being so similar, however, it really is nip and tuck between them.

Of course, any kind of scrutiny reveals where the extra spend went, but unless you’re planning on getting both together and analysing them side by side—and what kind of a person would do that—then you’re not going to be in a position to notice the superior finishing of the Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The Master Control has been dubbed ‘Master’ for a reason, but not having the budget to get one shouldn’t mean not being able to enjoy a simple, classic, well-made dress watch—and thanks to Montblanc, it doesn’t.

IWC Pilot’s Chronograph IW377704 vs Alpina Startimer Classic Chronograph AL860X4SP6

The International Watch Company, IWC, is the kind of name bestowed by an engineer—and that’s because it was. American Florentine Ariosto Jones founded the company off the back of the notion that he could combine American manufacturing principles with artisanal Swiss craft, such as designing products with interchangeable parts and developing efficient assembly procedures.

That’s an attitude that’s been reflected in IWC watchmaking since the beginning, the driving force behind the crisp, clinical, functional aesthetic of an International Watch Company product. From the wrist-worn chronometer to the pilot’s watch, like this IW377704, every design has presented an engineering perspective to the art of keeping time.

Take the clasp on the IWC’s bracelet, for example. There’s a button either side to unlatch it, fine, but only press one and the mechanism doesn’t budge, preventing it from being accidentally knocked off your wrist. And say it’s got a bit warm out and the watch is feeling a bit tight, simply push the IWC logo and the ratchet mechanism allows the bracelet to be expanded without even having to take the watch off. And that’s just the clasp!

But this kind of ingenuity comes at a price, and if that price is out of reach, then you can always fall back onto this, the Alpina Startimer Pilot. You’ll see a lot that’s similar, but there’s also a lot that’s unique as well. The Startimer is a bi-compax chronograph for a start, flanked by feuille hands—an unusual choice for the style—big mushroom pushers and a conical crown.

As with the Montblanc and Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Alpina lacks in the ultimate build and finish of the IWC—but then it is half the price.

Rolex Submariner 116610 LN vs Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook XXL R32501153

If the watch to have is a dive watch, then the dive watch to have is a Rolex Submariner—at least, according to the numbers. Rolex’s 1953 foray into the underwater world of diving may not have been considered much of an occasion back then, but today it marks the moment the legend was born—and legends come with a price tag to match, £6,550, to be precise.

Your £6,550 does get you a ceramic bezel dusted with platinum numerals, a gloss black dial with white gold hands and markers, a 904L steel case and bracelet and an in-house 3135 movement—as well as the cachet of wearing a Rolex—but that doesn’t stop the price being a big ask. Perhaps something more than three times cheaper instead?

Rado is happy to oblige with the HyperChrome Captain Cook XXL, and what you lose in Rolex-ness, you gain elsewhere, because the XXL is fashioned almost entirely from lightweight titanium. At 45mm, the absence of mass comes as a surprise, albeit a welcome one considering how much this beast would weigh if it were made from steel instead. Rado claims it to be hardened as well, for extra scratch resistance.

And speaking of scratch resistance, it wouldn’t be a Rado without the material that made the company famous in the first place, and that’s ceramic. It may not have platinum numerals, but the Rado’s bezel is made of scratch resistant ceramic, tipped sharply inwards to mimic the original 1960s Captain Cook diver.

So, there you have it, three more affordable alternatives to consider next time you’ve got a hankering for a watch that’s just out of reach. Either that, or you could have all three for the price of the Submariner …

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