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Affordable Watches: Six Best Mechanical Watches Under S$5K

These mechanical watches won't burn a hole in your pocket. Well, not a big one anyway. 

So you’ve done your research and decided you’re ditching team quartz for team mechanical. The only problem? A mechanical watch will most likely set you back more than a quartz one. But as always, we aim to please. So here are some perfectly legit mechanical tickers you can have for under five Gs. You’re very welcome.

SEVENFRIDAY M1/03 – S$2,088

Do you read Kinfolk, drink artisanal coffee and travel with a lomo camera slung around your neck? If so, a SevenFriday timepiece may be just the accessory you need in your life. The M1/03 is a fine example of the brand’s aesthetics with its signature cushion case in polished stainless steel and round display featuring three discs (one each for hours, minutes and seconds) with numerals in powder print gold. It’s also the first watch in the series to come with an NFC chip in the caseback, which allows owners to register their watch on the SevenFriday app and guarantee authenticity. At its heart is the Japanese automatic movement, Miyota 8215, a popular and reliable engine with a power reserve of over 40 hours.


This year’s version sees an increased dial size at 43mm, up from 41mm previously, so it’s good news for those of you who like your dials bigger (or need reading glasses, perhaps). As with all good diving watches, you get a uni-directional rotating bezel. This one, like last year’s model, comes in ceramic with engraved silver lacquer numerals for better visibility. The same Calibre 5 automatic mechanical movement drives this watch, which, in a deviation from the previous model, features the new TAG Heuer logo—slightly wider and without the overlapping TAG font. If you’re a fan of the Submariner, this watch should tick the right boxes for you.

RADO HYPERCHROME 1616 Ref. 764.0172.3.101 – S$4,200

In one word, this watch is handsome. Like the type of guy you’d find in a classic romance novel: strong, masculine and rugged. A reinterpretation of the Cape Horn collection launched in the late 60s, the Hyperchrome 1616 is a tribute to the 400th anniversary of Cape Horn’s discovery in 1616 (hence the name) by two Dutch merchants. This 46mm oversized watch has a decidedly vintage feel, thanks to the yellow gold applied indices and hands against an off-white dial. A hardened grade 5 titanium case houses the automatic movement equipped with an 80-hour power reserve. And just like the Cape Horn models, the Hyperchrome 1616 features a day/date display at six o’clock. A brown vintage leather strap completes the ticker’s manly look.


There aren’t many watch brands who can profess to make their own escapements but NOMOS has done just that. Their in-house Swing system made headlines when it was launched at Baselworld 2014 and continues to ensure accuracy in their new timepieces like the Metro 38 Datum here. Featuring a cleaner dial without the power reserve indicator in the previous model, this 38.5mm timepiece has the same curved sapphire crystal glass over its galvanised, white silver-plated dial. Its minimalist look appeals to those who appreciate a fuss-free yet stylish timepiece. And for a watch with an in-house escapement, this price is a pretty sweet deal.


When the German watchmaker designed the U1 range, indestructibility must have been a top priority. Made with high-strength seawater-resistant German submarine steel, the watches also come with a scratch-resistant bezel hardened with TEGIMENT technology, rendering them virtually unbreakable. They’re also pressure-resistant up to 1,000m diving depth, which is deeper than any submarine can go. The new camouflage version sees a camo-print dial with an olive drab textile strap and complementary green silicone strap for interchangeability. Definitely more an outdoorsy sort of watch rather than something you’d wear to the office but it has a rugged charm that’s hard to resist.


This fella is a multi-tasker. He tells you the day, date, month, moon phase, and indicates if it’s day or night. And just in case you need more mundane details like the time, he gives you that too. Powered by the Calibre L678 self-winding mechanical movement, the hardworking timepiece has a chronograph function with a 12-hour totaliser at six o’clock and a 30-minute totaliser at 12 o’clock. A transparent caseback offers a look at the mechanism while, on the front, the brand’s signature ‘barleycorn’ pattern embellishes the dial. Pair with a dapper power suit for maximum results.

Ex Managing Editor

Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".

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