What self-respecting watch nerd hasn’t spent countless hours trolling eBay for that elusive vintage treasure that no one has discovered? The Pre-Moon Omega Speedmaster, the MilSub, the Cosmonaute — the names alone are enough to get palms sweating and the heart racing. While the thrill of watch collecting is in the hunt, enough foiled plans and missed auctions will make anyone gun shy. We feel your pain. The best salve is this guide to vintage watches on eBay, featuring a strong mix of underdogs — those timepieces that fly under a lot of collectors’ radars. Not only do you stand a better chance of scoring one of these collectible tickers, once you do make the final bid, you’ll end up with a legitimate piece of horological history.
Special Watches Under $1000
It’s easy to become numb to the incredible prices of fine watches. But being a watch enthusiast doesn’t mean choosing between a good watch and a decent used car. By looking in the right places, you can avoid bland fashion watches in favor of well-made, unique timepieces that scratch the watch nerd itch while protecting your post-college pledge to never subsist on ramen noodles again. Here are a few examples of what can be found for less than $1,000.
The Best by Far from the Far East
When it comes to dive watches, many immediately think of iconic Swiss watches like the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms. Of course, the story doesn’t stop here. In fact, there’s another country that can credibly lay claim to a long and storied history with the dive watch: Japan. If you need evidence of Japan’s dive watch prowess (or just a road map to buying yourself one), read on.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
The new Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron ($638) is a wild upgrade over the original that launched the Citizen Promaster series in 1989. The new piece has appropriate updates for the new millenium — color, size, Citizen’s Eco-Drive tech — but it continues the tradition of looking (and proving itself) every millimeter a tool watch. We break it down.
Most Japanese dive watches are the best suited for real-world use. Their simple movements have legendary durability, even if they aren’t the most accurate. Designs that forgo adornment in favor of readability and functionality win out over fancy locking bezels, helium release valves and shiny slim hands. Of course, their affordability makes them not only more accessible to divemasters that live on tip money, but also more bearable should they be lost of broken.
In short, if you want a real dive watch, look to Land of the Rising Sun. We recently did just that, procuring three of Japan’s best dive watches representing different brands, styles and price points for a real-world shootout below the waves in the Caribbean.
Uncomplicated, for your wallet
Watches that simply tell time are a dime a dozen, and sometimes close to a dozen a dime. But start adding more functions and things can get complicated — and expensive. While we’re just starting to forgive the quartz watch for dealing a near death blow to our beloved mechanical timepieces, there’s no denying that when you want more bang for the buck, battery power is the way to go. You’ll pay dearly for dual time zones, flybacks, alarms and tide trackers on the mechanical side of the fence, but if you’re willing to put up with a tick-tick-tick seconds hand, we’ve found five watches that are happy to complicate your life for under (or around) five hundred dollars.
Jump in, the water's fine
You’ve been bequeathed plenty of hard-earned watch knowledge from Gear Patrol’s Timekeeping team. So, what’s taking you so long to get out there and buy your first real timepiece? A diving watch is a great way to start — a good one can toe the line between dress and active, suit and wetsuit, and they certainly follow the current large diameter trend. Before your wallet gets intimidated (some timepieces tend to do that), remember that you don’t have to take out a loan or hit the jackpot to get a great dive watch. Gear Patrol shows you seven great watches, all under $1,000 — many well under. Who knows, maybe strapping on a dive watch will get your dormant mojo going this summer and get your certified for the beautiful open water.
The Everyman Dive Watch
By Guest Writer and Outdoor Enthusiast Roger Dawkins The Citizen Promaster Aqualand is the everyman dive watch. It’s cool to lust after a Breitling Superocean, a Blancpain 500 Fathoms, or even an Oris TT1 Carlos Costa LE, but it’s way cool to get a watch like this and keep it real, too.
If you need to measure 1/1000th of a second then you’re likely involved with a sport I know little about. Last I checked seconds weren’t measured in golf. The Eco-Drive Super Chronograph Calibre U700/U70 from Citizen is the second company after TAG Heuer to accomplish this according to our friends at Professional Watches. But the…