The Best Watches Under £3,000

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The Best Watches Under £3,000

Words by Mr Chris Hall | Photography by Ms Rebecca Scheinberg

26 May 2023

Buying a luxury watch doesn’t mean spending enormous sums: there are plenty of brands with outstanding pedigree creating beautiful, solidly-built watches that won’t require you to take out a second mortgage. Of course, if you are looking for a mechanical watch that’s made in Switzerland (or Germany, as it may be), then you are inevitably going to spend a couple of thousand pounds. We’ve spent a bit of time in the past explaining why a luxury watch costs what it does. But whether you’re buying your first watch, second or 22nd, it’s as much about value as price. The eight watches listed below are our considered choices for watches under £3,000 – each comes from a respected brand and goes about its business with a certain style.

Value has been at the heart of NOMOS’ ethos ever since it was founded in the early 1990s. The brand has invested heavily in its own family of in-house automatic movements – the neomatik calibres – and has one of the most refined aesthetics at any price. With its tapered lugs and slender case, the Orion is a smart watch in the old-fashioned sense, perfect for work but usable in more casual situations, too.

The Clifton Baumatic has a spec sheet better associated with watches more than twice the price: enhanced magnetic resistance, five days of power, chronometer levels of accuracy. But it would all be for nothing if it didn’t also look the part, with mid-century-modern details on the elegantly shaded dial and a well-judged 40mm case size.

Designed in Italy, UNIMATIC’s dive watches take their inspiration from classics of the genre, but remove all extraneous features to deliver a stylised, ultra-minimalist result. Cased in titanium, the 40mm Model One limited edition is water-resistant to 300m and limited to just 500 pieces. The movement is a reliable Sellita SW200-1 with a 38-hour power reserve.

Montblanc added a dive watch to its 1858 collection for the first time in 2022. All the familiar criteria are present – ceramic bezel, 300m water resistance, sturdy steel case – with some unique features: the 1858’s signature “cathedral” hands, and a dial designed to look like the deep, cracked ice of an alpine glacier, whence the watch gets its name.

One of the biggest success stories of the last decade, Oris’ retro-styled dive watch brings fun and flair to a classic template. Upgraded in recent years with Oris’ in-house calibre 400 movement, this model now has a five-day power reserve and a sapphire display case back. It stands out from previous examples thanks to the 12-hour bezel, which can be used to track a second time zone. It measures 40mm across and is water-resistant to 100m.

It may not be a brand name you’ll find in your local town, but that’s a positive. The ability to own something rare, unusual and sought-after for less than £3,000 is not to be overlooked. The Massena LAB Uni-Racer is styled after Universal Geneve’s 1960s chronographs, with a contemporary twist in the form of a glow-up colour scheme. The movement is a Sellita SW510, with a 58-hour power reserve.


Bamford Watch Department B347

The first chronograph to emerge from London’s Bamford Watch Department is a head-turner – not often do you see a forged carbon case and monopusher chronograph at this price. Available in several bold colourways, we’ve opted for the classic monochrome “panda” as the model with the most universal appeal.

Following designs set down by the legendary 20th-century product designer Mr Max Bill, Junghans’ Chronoscope could hardly be more minimalist, with its stick-thin markers, complete lack of ornamentation and simple, flat dial. The bezel-free case adds to its pared-back appeal – as does the fact that this is one of the most affordable mechanical chronographs on the market.