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09/24/2021
 5 minutes

5 Great Beginner Watches Under $2,000

By Donato Andrioli
Longines-Hydroconquest-Magazin-2-1
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Have you been bitten by the watch bug? Ready to treat yourself to your first luxury timepiece? Have you been searching for that perfect watch for hours on end? Is your YouTube account overflowing with watch channels? Have you read all the articles and are wondering whether you can even afford a “real” luxury watch on a budget of $2,000? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this article is for you! Read on to discover a whole host of exciting options that fit your budget. 

A Highly Anticipated Watch: The Tissot PRX

The Tissot PRX caused quite a stir in the watch world at the start of 2021. This timepiece is a reinterpretation of a model that dates back to 1978. At its release, it was only available with a quartz movement. Members of the watch community couldn’t wait to get their hands on an automatic version powered by the popular ETA Powermatic 80. Tissot has now finally released the PRX Powermatic 80. The watch boasts an automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve and date complication. It also features sapphire crystal, water resistance to 100 m (328 ft), a beautiful sunburst dial with a honeycomb pattern, a display case back, and an integrated stainless steel bracelet with a butterfly clasp. This is quite a lot, considering its price tag sits around $1,000. An added bonus: The 40-mm size ideally suits most wrists. The PRX is a great everyday watch for novices and experts alike. If you aren’t a fan of the vintage design, check out the Tissot Gentleman, an equally great watch with a more modern look. 

The Tissot PRX: now available as an automatic watch.
The Tissot PRX: now available as an automatic watch.

An Affordable Diving Icon: The Longines HydroConquest

When people talk about watch icons, watches like the Rolex Submariner or Omega Speedmaster usually come to mind. Still, the Longines HydroConquest proves that owning an icon doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. This diver has a tried and tested design that has long been respected in the watch community. It boasts a 41-mm case, sapphire crystal, 300 m (984 ft) of water resistance, and a date complication. In short, the Longines HydroConquest offers everything you’d expect from a modern diving watch for a price of just around $1,500. 

Depending on the color, the unique Longines dial features a beautiful sunburst effect that is very easy on the eyes. The diving bezel is made of ceramic, making it more scratch-resistant. I would personally opt to wear this watch on a rubber strap as opposed to a steel bracelet. The clasp on the rubber strap is not only more visually appealing than that on the bracelet, but it is also worlds apart in terms of quality, in my opinion. If you’d prefer something a little less sporty, check out the Longines Conquest. This is an underrated and slightly more formal version of the HydroConquest that would likewise make a great entry-level timepiece. 

An affordable, iconic diving watch with a proven design: the Longines HydroConquest
An affordable, iconic diving watch with a proven design: the Longines HydroConquest

The Perfect Hulk Alternative: The Oris Aquis Date

Thanks to its green dial, the Oris Aquis Date has caught the attention of many watch fans – novice and otherwise. It’s not all that surprising; after all, it’s hard not to notice a high-quality alternative to the Rolex Submariner “Hulk” that costs less than $2,000. Beyond the green dial trend, the Oris Aquis Date is also a high-quality diving watch that benefits from the expertise of a traditional Swiss watch brand. Oris is an entirely independent watch manufacturer with a long history. They have exclusively produced mechanical timepieces since 1904. 

Oris clearly got some color inspiration from the Rolex “Hulk,” but this watch is a far cry from a Hulk replica. First of all, Rolex didn’t exactly invent the color green. Plus, the Oris’ design is completely its own. The watch boasts a sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, and water resistance to 300 m (984 ft). A date function at 6 o’clock completes the package. While the automatic movement’s 38-hour power reserve leaves a bit to be desired, once you’ve seen this watch on your wrist, you won’t want to take it off. You can choose between a 41 and 43-mm case size. If green isn’t your thing, Oris also offers the model with more conventional dial colors like black and blue. 

A far cry from a Hulk replica: the Oris Aquis Date
A far cry from a Hulk replica: the Oris Aquis Date

A Dress Watch Made in Germany: The NOMOS Ludwig 38

If you’re looking for a watch to wear on special occasions, NOMOS has something interesting up their sleeve. The Ludwig 38 is the archetypal dress watch. The watch exudes restraint and class, from the white enamel dial with Roman numerals to the small seconds at 6 o’clock and the slim case. For just under $2,000, you can call a genuine “Made in Germany” luxury watch your own. 

If the Ludwig 38 piques your interest, be sure to check out the version with a display case back. This edition is also available for less than $2,000 and offers a view of the in-house caliber at work. The manual-winding movement has a power reserve of 43 hours. Seeing as it’s a dress watch, the Ludwig is only resistant to splashes of water (3 ATM). But do not fear, the watch has plenty of other attractive features going for it, such as tempered blue hands and a porcelain white dial. There is also a slightly cheaper 35-mm version that would be perfect for those with slimmer wrists. Given its generous lug-to-lug measurement, however, the watch appears larger than that. 

The NOMOS Ludwig 38: a dress watch "Made in Germany"
The NOMOS Ludwig 38: a dress watch “Made in Germany”

An All-Arounder From Tudor: More Than Just a Black Bay

When most people hear Tudor, they probably think of the Black Bay, but it is worth looking beyond this popular diving watch series, especially for watch novices. In the Tudor line-up, you’ll also find a great luxury watch with proven Tudor quality for around $2,000: the Tudor 1926. This entry-level Tudor comes in your choice of a 36, 39, or 41-mm case. It has a slightly more elegant look but still boasts 100 m (328 ft) of water resistance, making it ideal for everyday wear. The case design is vaguely reminiscent of a Rolex Datejust or Tudor Prince Date. 

It's worth looking beyond the Black Bay series. The Tudor 1926 is a great entry-level choice.
It’s worth looking beyond the Black Bay series. The Tudor 1926 is a great entry-level choice.

The stainless steel bracelet is strikingly similar to the Datejust’s famous Jubilee bracelet. I personally love the clasp on the Jubilee bracelet. While the clasp on the Tudor 1926 has a unique design, I can’t help but think of the incredible hidden clasps found on older Rolex Jubilee bracelets. Despite these similarities, the 1926 is hardly a copycat. Tudor embraces its history, which dates back to 1926 when Hans Wilsdorf officially registered the brand. The dial surface features some fascinating details that give the watch its unique style when paired with the Arabic numerals and indices. I like the version with a silver-white dial and blue indices. The Tudor 1926 could offer an excellent induction to the wonderful world of watches for any beginner looking for a solid all-arounder. 

Read more

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The Holy Trinity of Watchmaking: Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin

James Bond Watches: A License to Keep Time


About the Author

Donato Andrioli

With the purchase of my Tudor Black Bay 41, I discovered a passion for mechanical watches. I am particularly drawn to iconic watches with long and exciting histories.

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