First and foremost, what do we mean by underrated?
In the watch world, we often discuss the most ‘hyped’ watches on offer. What typically drives ‘hype’ is scarcity, brand, provenance and investment potential, as we discussed with Eric Wind.
Whether we like it or not, in the watch community, watches are becoming alternative investments. On the secondary market, you will find most of the Rolex professional models reaching, in many cases, extortionate premiums. This is, of course, the case with Patek Philippe and much of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak offering.
But I find real beauty in looking past the hype and trying to find some hidden gems, to try and discover a future mainstay brand or model.
So that’s what we’re trying to do today. Underrated by no means signifies a lack of quality in comparison to other watches or undervalues the work involved in creating the timepieces. It simply means that the watches we cover today deserve more credit, offer great value for money and could, without a shadow of a doubt, become very popular in years to come.
Image Credit: WatchGecko
Although underrated doesn’t have anything to do with monetary value, we will begin with the most affordable of the watches on the show today, the Baltic Aquascaphe. This particular watch comes in below £500 but certainly has the visual appeal of a watch above £2000.
The Aquascaphe is an ode to the 1960s and 1970s divers, you can instantly see that Baltic has taken a rather paired-back approach to design. The dial seems unfussy and refined. I do, on this occasion, like the ‘fauxtina’.
I think perhaps where this particular watch may become more contentious is the bracelet. Baltic has combined beads of rice as the centre-links with regular brushed outer links. I personally think it adds something to an area which can often become rather bland on many watches. It makes the Aquascaphe stand out, it pops out and will surely prove to be a USP for many of Baltic’s future customers.
Under the hood, the Aquascaphe boasts a Miyota 9039 movement, a very accurate movement, with a 42-hour power reserve.
I see the Baltic as being the perfect summer companion. You can wear this on holiday or to the beach but it won’t look out of place in a more formal setting either.
You have a very similar visual appeal to Breguet’s Fifty Fathoms and a Rolex Submariner, but I do actually find the design language on the Aquascaphe slightly more paired back. I really do think Baltic’s trajectory is up and for below £500, there are very few timepieces that will be able to compete with the Aquascaphe.
Longines Spirit Collection
Image Credit: Monochrome Watches
Longines is a brand which has gone through many phases of transformation over the past few decades. But I feel as though they are now slowly finding their true identity in a very crowded end of the industry.
The Spirit Automatic is, in my opinion, a real player in the Pilot watch arena. Of course, IWC, Bremont and the likes are the true heavyweights in this fight, but Longines, with this introduction, have made themselves serious contenders.
This model has an understated charm to it, it is simple and legible and uncomplicated. At 40mm this watch is well-proportioned, and the dimensions only add to its legibility and form. Wearing this on a leather strap is a wonderful combination and really elevates this watch, giving it a greater sense of versatility.
Much like the Baltic, there are vintage tones to the watch. The slightly patinated numerals and the matte dial really make this watch seem even more classic and refined. This is a very well-produced and well-engineered watch at an accessible price point that has bags of old-school charm.
Grand Seiko SBGK005
Image Credit: Hodinkee
So, hands down one of my all-time favourite brands in Grand Seiko. Although popularity is on the rise, there are certain models in the Grand Seiko range that will never get the deserved level of plaudits. The SBGK005 is one such model.
Despite being a dress watch, as classified by GS, this watch is decidedly more than just a dress piece. It’s sporty and versatile and will certainly feel at home in most settings with the most attires.
What I think is most dramatic about this watch is how the sunburst pattern draws your eye from the centre to sub-dials to the numerals and then out to the case. The case itself, due to the tapered lugs, sits very comfortably on the wrist, making it a perfect everyday piece.
This watch feels dramatic, dynamic and very considered in its design language and is one of the most beautiful releases from Grand Seiko to date. Let’s not forget what Grand Seiko is recognised for either, beautifully crafted movements.
This watch houses the 9S63 manual wind calibre, which is so well finished and such a reliable engine. The attention to detail involved in this movement goes well beyond any other watches at this price point.
And the idea that the Grand Seiko is punching above its weight is consistent in most elements of this watch. I think you will struggle to find a watch so understated, yet so well manufactured at this price point.