With so many options available on the market these days, it can be difficult to decide which luxury watches fit your needs and budget the best. Though some luxury watches will set you back tens of thousands of pounds, there are affordable options too that still exudes quality. If you’re looking for a real bargain you should also consider shopping second hand; not only is it more environmentally friendly, but pawn shops and auctions are a great way to access rare collections too. Today we’re outlining what you need to look for in a luxury watch before listing our top 5 options.

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How much should I expect to spend on a luxury watch?

Prices for luxury watches vary greatly and quality watches don’t come cheap, some can cost hundreds of thousands. Having said that, there are affordable options out there. For brands like Rolex, Omega, Cartier and TAG Heuer, £5000 is a great budget and while some watches can be purchased for as little as a couple of thousand pounds, some can go as high as £30,000 to £40,000. Rare timepieces, like those from Patek Philippe, have sold in auctions for millions.

What should I consider when buying a luxury watch?

First and foremost you must consider your own style. Secondly, you need to consider which materials will work best for you too. Over the years, many brands have transitioned to stainless steel as an alternative to precious metals like gold because it’s not only cheaper for them, but it’s also just as durable. You also want to consider the type of movement you’d like, the style, your budget and ensure you’re using reputable dealers.

How do I know the watch will stand the test of time?

All the watches we’ve featured in this roundup are proven to be high-quality items that stand the test of time. Regardless, you should always do your own research. Read customer reviews and check that they’re for verified purchases. Speak with your peers and always ensure you purchase your watch from a reputable brand as many come with a guarantee. Rolex watches, for example, come with an international five-year guarantee which was given at the point of original purchase.

Which movement is the best?

The movement of your watch is the powerhouse behind its functionality so this is something you need to pay attention to, especially when investing in a luxury brand. There are three types of watch movements; mechanical (or manual), automatic and quartz. Mechanical movements are long-lasting and don’t require a battery but they’re expensive and need winding often. Automatic movements are similar except you don’t have to wind them, the watch does this itself through your wrist movements and kinetic energy. Finally, quartz movements are inexpensive, accurate at telling time, and are low-maintenance. However, they do require a lot of battery changes and some might consider them a little too “mainstream” for a luxury brand.

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Top Five Most Affordable Luxury Watches

With all the above in mind, we’re now going to run through what we think are the best affordable luxury watches you can purchase in 2021.

1. The Rolex Air-King

Rolex watches are known for their luxury and the Air-King is a fine investment that’s priced relatively low for the brand. It offers an automatic, self-winding movement which is also waterproof to 100m. Inspired by aviation, the Air-King is designed with a black bezel that has a large 3, 6, and 9 as well as distinctive minute scales to help you log time easily when navigating. It’s encased in a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal cover and offers a perpetual mechanical self-winding movement which is also protected by a magnetic shield.

2. Omega Seamaster

Omega is a great alternative to Rolex as it’s similar in style and usually comes in a lot cheaper. You’re not sacrificing quality either. The Seamaster is perfect for anyone who has somewhat of an active lifestyle by the ocean; whether that’s swimming, sailing, or diving, this watch will be able to keep up with your way of life thanks to its water resistance, screw-in case back and helium escape valve. The Seamaster is available in several variations and whilst a model like the Co-Axial 300m can set you back upwards of £25,000, there are far more affordable options circa the £4000 mark which is a great alternative to Rolex Submariner.

3. Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The Oyster Perpetual is one of the most famous Rolex designs and is one of the more affordable ones with prices starting at less than £5000. The successor to the Oyster (which was the world’s first waterproof watch) this is great for those of you who are in search of a timeless classic that still has all the sought after qualities of a Rolex watch like Oystersteel casing and bracelet, waterproof capabilities, and a perpetual self-winding mechanical movement.

4. Rolex Milgauss

For those wanting something a little different to your average luxury watch, the Rolex Milgauss has extra features that make it stand out from the crowd. It boasts a standout green watch crystal that is scratch and fade-proof and gives off an almost glowing green effect on its outermost edges. Teamed with the contrasting orange hands and blue dial it’s sure to start a few conversations. The watch is also water-resistant, has an Oystersteel casing and bracelet and Rolex’s perpetual mechanical movement.

5. Cartier Tank Solo

Finally, the Cartier Tank Solo is another classic favoured by many and it’s priced at around half that of Rolex. So, if you’re looking for something that costs a little less this could be the option for you. It comes in both a smaller and larger variety with the option of a calfskin strap that’s slightly cheaper than the stainless steel option. This watch also has the quartz movement as opposed to the mechanical ones you usually see on Rolex. Nevertheless, it still offers great craftsmanship and blue steel sword hands which provide beautiful contrast on the crisp white dial.

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Which luxury watch should I buy?

From the above options we curated, we love the Omega Seamaster as it seems to deliver the most value for money. If you’re the kind of person who leads an active lifestyle who wants a watch that can keep up with you this is the one. Nevertheless, if Rolex is your thing, you can’t go wrong with the timeless design of the Oyster perpetual. If the budget is truly dictating your purchase, then go for the Cartier Tank Solo or consider a second-hand Rolex.