New Rolex Models at Baselworld 2018
In this article, we focus on the 10 best wristwatches priced under 3,000 EUR. Our picks are based on the market value on Chrono24 and can include new as well as pre-owned watches. We selected the 10 watches we personally love best in this price range, but you can easily compile your own list on Chrono24.com using the filters in the search function.
We used the 3,000 EUR limit because we believe it is an interesting price category, as it is still an accessible price tag for many watch enthusiasts. With the ongoing annual price increases (inflation and just plain mark-ups), it will only be a matter of time that a number of the watches mentioned won’t be included in future Top 10 watches under 3,000 EUR overviews. Now might be the time to strike. In any case, here we go:
Can you hear the James Bond theme already? Ever since 1995, James Bond has been wearing Omega Seamaster watches, and the famous Seamaster (Professional) 300M models have been featured quite often. This model, introduced in 1993, was Omega’s first step into getting back into the arena with Rolex at the time. Even though it was one of Omega best selling watches, the first models (reference 2531.80) are difficult to find at a decent price. However, they can still be found below 2,000 EUR.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 EUR, you can buy a more modern Seamaster Professional 300M version with Co-Axial escapement or one of the chronograph editions. However, you also might want to have a look at one of the other Seamaster family models, like the Aqua Terra or Planet Ocean models. These can all be found under 3,000 EUR to start with.
The Speedmaster Professional was the watch on the wrist of NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin when he set foot on the Moon in 1969 (Armstrong left his watch on board of the Lunar Module as the board clock broke down). Perhaps even more importantly, the Speedmaster Professional had a crucial role during the return flight of the nearly fatal Apollo 13 mission and received the famous NASA Snoopy Award for that.
Now, 3,000 EUR won’t bring you one of the Snoopy Limited Edition models or an Apollo XI commemorative edition and certainly not one of the very early models with column-wheel chronograph caliber 321, but the basic Moonwatch can be found for less than 3,000 EUR for sure. Perhaps that is also the version to buy first, the regular stainless steel Speedmaster Professional with stainless steel case back and the famous plexi ‘Hesalite’ crystal.
You might want to invest your money in a vintage model from the 1970s, with caliber 861 movement and ‘stepped’ sub-dials while they are still in this price range. It won’t take much longer before they will sell for (much) more than 3,000 EUR.
Breitling is well known for its pilot’s watches like the Navitimer, but what about their divers watches? The Breitling Avenger is a tough looking divers watch that can be found under 3,000 EUR. Even with a nice GMT complication or with a titanium case. All chronometer-rated, they are very accurate performers.
We even found a couple of Breitling Avenger Chronograph models in this price range. You might want to consider buying a titanium version of this chronograph, as these are not for the faint hearted.
This watch can be considered the mother of all modern wristwatches, the Rolex Datejust in 36mm and with Jubilee style bracelet. Since 1946, this watch has been seen on the wrist of many leaders of the world, artists, explorers, and so on. Even today, the Rolex Datejust is a watch that goes with just about everything, from jeans and a t-shirt to a tailored suit.
In the price range up to 3,000 EUR, you have to go pre-owned / vintage with the Rolex Datejust. Perhaps you miss out on the new 41mm sized case or the Parachrom hairspring, but watch aficionadas will agree with us that the classic 36mm models with plexi crystals have a bit more soul. What about a vintage reference 1600 (smooth bezel), 1601 (white gold bezel), 1603 (engined turned steel bezel), or a slightly more modern reference 16030 with Tapestry dial?
There are lot of configurations to choose from and you never can go wrong! We prefer the Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet, due to the looks and comfort, but you can also opt for a sportier Oyster bracelet.
One of the most iconic models from the IWC collection, the Fliegeruhr or Pilot’s watch. We are not talking about the Big Pilot or the chronograph models but about the original Mark series Pilot’s watch. These pieces represented IWC when they were still considered to be a manufacturer of tool watches. The Mark series are now at XVIII, but we remember the Mark XII (the Mark XIII and Mark IV do not exist due the ‘unlucky’ character of these numbers) as the last one to have a small case and a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement inside.
The Mark XV model was the first of a new breed, with ETA movement and a larger case (39mm). The current model, the Mark XVII, has a 39mm case and a fancy looking dial with large date aperture (showing 3 days, so the hands never block all numbers). If you love vintage watches and don’t have a problem with a smaller diameter case, you might want to search for that Mark XII models from the 1990s.
TAG Heuer’s Carrera is based on one of the original collections from the 1960s, when Heuer was just Heuer. The Carrera model (1963) was introduced by Jack Heuer, and he used the name from the famous Pan-American race. You could say it was Jack Heuer’s baby, this Carrera model, which was also the reason TAG Heuer dedicated a special Carrera model to Jack Heuer for his 80th birthday just a few years ago.
Whatever model you choose, you can’t go really wrong with a Carrera. Unless you are after one of those 1960 models, the 3,000 EUR budget will give you a lot to choose from. We consider the TAG Heuer Carrera to be one of the most iconic chronograph watches, together with the Rolex Daytona, Omega Speedmaster, Zenith El Primero, and Breitling Navitimer.
Zenith was among the first to introduce an automatic winding chronograph movement in 1969. They chose a perfect name for it as well: El Primero. Ever since, Zenith is using this chronograph movement for many watches in their collection and as a base for more complicated movements as well.
Whether you have, a new El Primero or one from 1969, Zenith is capable to service or repair them all and in a timely manner. They produce the movement entirely in-house and can also quickly produce necessary parts from older models. In the pre-owned market, you might not end up with the famous Zenith El Primero reference A386, but you will find a nice Zenith Rainbow El Primero from the late 1990s under 3,000 EUR.
Tudor used to be Rolex’ kid-brother for a long time, using the same cases and bracelets but with ETA movements. This changed a couple of years ago. Ever since, Tudor has become a rising star and the favourite of many collectors and watch enthusiasts. Their Heritage line-up grabs back to their “Submariner” ancestors of the 1950s and 1960s. The Heritage Black Bay, available with a red/brown bezel and faux-patina hour markers and a Midnight Blue version with plain white markers, is a top selling Tudor watch and has a lot to offer for the money.
You can find these Tudor Heritage Black Bay models well below 3,000 EUR, and you can either buy them on a bracelet or with a leather strap. A NATO-style strap is always included. These Heritage Black Bay models use modified ETA movements, but that might change in the future as Tudor introduced their own in-house developed movement this year.
Longines is a brand that operates mainly below the 3,000 EUR mark. This means that a budget of 3,000 EUR will give you a lot of choices. You can even get several (new) Longines watches with a 3,000 EUR budget, including the wonderful and much appraised Longines Legend Diver.
If you want to stretch it, you have to take look at their Master Collection, in which you will find a couple of interesting models with nice complications. The Longines Master Collection Retrograde Moonphase, for example, is a combination of multiple complications and has a classic look. Another Longines watch with moonphase complication is their Master Collection Chronograph Moonphase. Most of these complicated Master Collection watches use exclusive ETA movements only made for Longines.
Tudor’s Heritage Chrono comes in two flavours, the blue version as well as a grey version. These watches are also often referred to as Tudor Heritage Chrono Monte Carlo. The ‘Monte Carlo’ nickname was given because of the resemblance between the dial and a roulette wheel.
This Heritage Chronograph from Tudor was inspired by the early 1970s chronograph reference 71×9, a two-register chronograph with a hand-wound Valjoux 234 caliber movement. These original models fetch well over 10,000 EUR, so Tudor’s re-edition is an affordable and interesting alternative for those who have a 3,000 EUR budget. Inside, the Tudor Heritage Chronographs use an ETA movement with chronograph module. Just like the Heritage Black Bay, the Heritage Chrono also comes with a NATO style strap.