There are so many indie brands doing great work right now that it’s hard to imagine the major Swiss brands won’t be impacted by this democracy of design and manufacturing at some point. Yes, a Swiss prestige brand has collector/investment value, but in terms of tool watch ability for under £500, it is hard to beat the hundreds of indie brands out there.
One of them is Raven, based in the USA and making a competitive automatic, powered by Seiko’s NH35 movement, from $430 retail. You get a 40mm steel case, a 300m depth rating and three rubber gaskets protecting the screwdown crown. That’s crucial because in my experience, that is exactly where the water can sneak inside on a typical fashion watch.
There’s an ETA powered Deep Tech model too, which costs $1100, but has upgraded dive features, like a 2500 metre depth rating. I mean that’s rescue-the-Titanic type depth, for the sort of cash that Rado wants for an entry level quartz. Let that sink in.
A case width of 42.5mm is arguably the perfect balance between size and comfort on the average wrist, and you get Superluminova, double gasket caseback, domed sapphire crystal, helium valve – all that good stuff.
Rivals from the Indie marketplace include the Deep Blue Bronze, which has a modest 500m depth, but at $899 is worth a look. Then there’s the Helberg CH1 Bronze, which has that Jules Verne vibe for 1426 euros – 6000m depth rating by the way. In case your submarine trip under the North Pole is going ahead with social distancing this summer.