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Bonus time: Top 10 classic watches

If that bonus is burning a hole in your pocket, Insider Engage can help with a list of classic watches to spend it on…

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You’ve had a good year and been paid a generous bonus -- now, what are you going to do with it? Sure, you can pay it into your pension – retired you will thank you later. You can use it to give your home some much-needed maintenance. Or you could even put the money into an education fund for your children, if you have any.

But surely you should allow yourself an indulgence?

If there’s one thing you must buy with an annual bonus at some point in your life, it’s a luxury watch. One that says: you’ve made it, so it can’t be just any old thing. Not a £20 Casio. Not a £150 Seiko. Not a fashion watch that is all style and no substance.

Instead, think of something more special, maybe Swiss or German. Think mechanical not quartz. Think expensive enough that your tight uncle will wince when he hears the price. If you tick all three of these boxes, then you’re doing it right.

So, what to buy? Read on.

Nomos Tangente [Unisex]

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Nomos isn’t a household name, but in the watch world it sets hearts racing. Clean, Bauhaus-inspired design, German engineering and classic styling that is as much at home in shirt sleeves as it is shorts. The Tangente may be one of Nomos’s more accessible offerings, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy. Available in classic 35mm or a more modern 38mm, it has an in-house manufactured hand-wound movement and a sapphire crystal. Available with a stainless steel or sapphire crystal glass back.

Nomos Tangente (35 or 38), from £1,460

Tudor Clair de Rose [Women]

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Credit:
Marian Gerard

Often overlooked in Tudor’s line-up is the Clair de Rose, which was released in 2017 and harks back to the brand’s historic timepieces. Those who know Tudor will likely think of it as Rolex’s younger sibling, mostly turning out more affordable carbon copies of the more famous marque. But the brand has been rejuvenated and is differentiating itself. The Clair de Rose has vintage appeal, an automatic movement and a look evocative of a certain French jeweller’s famous round watches.

Tudor Clair de Rose, from £1,660

Tudor Black Bay 58 [Men]

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It used to be that everyone wanted a Rolex Submariner or an Omega Seamaster. After all, both have been James Bond’s watch at one time or another. However, the Submariner has become almost impossible to obtain new without being placed on a lengthy waiting list and, well, you either love the Seamaster or you hate it. Enter the Black Bay 58. Measuring in at 39mm and costing less than £3,000, it punches above its weight on price and looks good on most wrists.

Tudor Black Bay 58, £2,760

Rolex Oyster Perpetual [Unisex]

Oyster Perpetual 34
Credit:
Claude Bossel/©Rolex

It was a given that Rolex would appear on this list, but the one that made the cut may surprise you. Elegant, timeless and understated, the Oyster Perpetual is the real sleeper of Rolex’s line-up, appealing to all genders. Available in a range of sizes from 26mm to 39mm with multiple dial colours, it can be as understated or vibrant as you desire. With 100 metres of water resistance and a sapphire crystal, you can wear it every day with confidence – and swim in it too.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual, £4,300 as pictured (36mm in red grape)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds [Men, but there are women’s variants]

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Credit:
© StudioCruchon

When you have nearly £10,000 burning in your pocket, you are spoiled for choice. Sure, you could buy a Rolex or an Omega. But why not buy from the watchmaker’s watchmaker? You get exactly that with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Originally designed so that polo players wouldn’t damage their watches, the Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds features two dials so that you can change the look to suit your mood or keep track of two time zones.

JLC Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds, £7,850

IWC Portofino Automatic 34 [Women, but men’s versions are available]

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The Portofino has been in IWC’s line-up since 1984, but for many years it was only available in larger sizes. It’s for this reason that many of IWC’s offerings have seemed be targeted at a more masculine audience. However, with the IWC Portofino Automatic 34, the company has recognised that there is a large market out there for watches suiting smaller wrists. This variant has an 18-carat solid gold case, measures 34mm in diameter and boasts a 25-jewel automatic movement.

IWC Portofino Automatic 34, £11,250

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms [Men]

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The Fifty Fathoms is credited as the world’s first modern dive watch, which is why it earns a spot on this list. Sure, the Rolex Submariner is the current king of this category. But the Blancpain, long forgotten by many, is the real head-turner. Introduced in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was built to be hard-wearing, easy to read in the dark, and capable of being submerged in water for long periods of time. This version of the Fifty Fathoms is made of lightweight titanium and is powered by Blancpain’s in-house automatic movement.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 5015 12B30 98, £14,730

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur [Men]

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Never heard of Ulysse Nardin? You’re not alone. But it’s a brand you really ought to know. Founded in 1846 in Le Locle, Switzerland, this watchmaker has some serious pedigree. And while many of its modern offerings can, how shall we say, ooze a bit too much modern machismo, its more traditional watches are the ones to pick. Here, the Marine Torpilleur taps into the company’s heritage as a maker of marine chronometers. This version in rose gold is 42mm in diameter and sports the company’s in-house manufactured movement. It also has the added benefit of a power reserve indicator on the dial.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 1182-310/42, £15,300

Breguet Reine de Naples [Women]

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As far as looks are concerned, the Breguet Rein de Naples may be a bit of a marmite watch – you either love it or you hate it. But this one is not to be snubbed. Breguet has some serious watchmaking might behind it and, for a brand that many view as being the byword for traditional, this model can almost be considered avant-garde. With a white gold bezel containing 117 diamonds, this automatic watch is nothing short of haute horology.

Breguet Reine de Naples 8918BB/5P/964/D00D, £29,900

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon [Men, but women’s area available]

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There is the best and then there is the best. At this price, you can buy anything you want, but what to choose? Patek Phillippe? Sure. A Lange & Sohne? Of course. Audemars Piguet? Well yes. But Vacheron Constantin is something special, something even better than the others. When Patek was just getting started, Vacheron was already marking its centenary. Which is why this watch is worth a look. The case is made of solid 18-carat rose gold, but that’s not what makes it special. Within the 41mm case is a finely built tourbillon, viewed as the ultimate in watchmaking achievements.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon, £127,000

Please note: Price and availability of models may vary from the above

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