Tag Archives: best

Our Top Five Watches of 2021 Under £500

Everyone would like a Rolex Sub, Daytona, or a Sea Dweller – better than money in the bank and a great watch to wear on special occasions. But in the real world, lots of people cannot afford to splash over 10K on a nice Rolex.

So if you like beautifully made watches and have a more modest collection budget than Ryan Reynolds, here are five watches under 500 quid that we spotted in 2021, the Year Of The Whitty in the Chinese calendar.

Yeah we made that up. Sounds plausible though.

5. Brew 8-Bit

This 80s arcade game themed watch is destined to be a collectors item. Like Miami Vice, Duran Duran or rah-rah skirts, the arcade machines like Space Invaders or The Firebird, defined the 1980s.

Pixellated graphics are an extra touch that shows Brew loves the 80s.  Retails at $395.

4. Boldr Supply Freediver 40mm

At $519 the Freediver in vibrant orange or mint green is a proper 300m tool watch. Miyota automatic movement true, not Sellita, but if you love the quick-change strap,  bright colours and the sheer value this offers, then this has to be on the wish list.

3. CIGA Design Z Series Skeleton Automatic

What a spec for £189. Sapphire crystal, Seagull 25 jewel auto movement customised by CIGA, plus 18K gold plated case. QR strap fitting too.

CIGA are a Chinese brand to follow in 2022, with big ambitions and this model will be a collectors item one day when CIGA are deemed cool by various watch websites more famous than us.

2.  Tissot PRX 80 Auto

Hard to go wrong by paying tribute to the great Gerald Genta, watch designer supreme. Tissot really hit the spot with this one. The PRX has those classic, elegant lines, a Powermatic 80 hour reserve movement, tapering bracelet links and we found it online at £508.

  1. Zeitgeist H1

Sorry who?

OK, you’ve never heard of Zeitgeist, the Singapore watch brand who showcased this beauty on Kickstarter earlier this year.

But look at the spec; 500m of depth ability, bronze case, 13mm thickness, helium valve. Miyota movement or you can upgrade to an ETA if you prefer. Ceramic bezel, superlume, plus that Harrison H1 chronometer engraving on the caseback.

Brilliant value at $499 on pre-order. No wonder they raised over $90,000 on this one.

Watch Shopping: St Anns Square Manchester

St Anns Square in Manchester is one of the best places that watch fans can shop this Christmas. Within a few hundred metres you have nearly all the authorised big name Swiss dealers, plus independent watch shops and pawnbrokers.

Bremont has just set up a shop-within-a-shop franchise with Signet, better known as H Samuel and Ernest Jones to UK shoppers. You can also find official dealers for Duckworth Prestex, Ikepod, Junghans, Norqain and QlockTwo – and that’s just at Mappin & Webb.

If you like the luxury watches then Watches of Switzerland’s amazing shop on the main square is a good starting point. Here you’ll find Patek, Rolex, Omega, IWC, Cartier, Vacheron and Zenith. There is usually a burly security guy on the door by the way, checking people in and out, which is good to know if you have just bought a 40K watch.

If you love Rolex then official dealer David Robinson is across the way on the corner and they also have a wide range of pre-owned Rolex models. Very well trained staff in my experience, which is something worth your time if you like collecting a particular genre of Rolex, such as Subs, Daytonas or Sea Dwellers etc.

Walk towards Deansgate and you’ll see the separate Omega and TAG boutiques, plus a large Goldsmiths, multi-brand store. If you duck down that alleyway you will find Boodles on your left at the end as it joins King Street. Not my cup of tea, but undeniable high end watches and jewellery if that’s your thing.

On the way back along Police Street to St Anns Square, you might want to check out Rockefellers jewellers, which has a selection of pre-owned Rolex, Cartier, Breitling etc. Before you do, check Harrington & Hallworth on the corner of King St/Police St as they sometimes have some vintage pre-owned watches under 2K that are really nice quality. Very strong on knowledge at this shop, they know watch history which is a rare thing.

OK, now cross the square and head to the Exchange Arcade, where you will find Mays Pawnbrokers and Jewellers. This has about 15-20 watches in store but it’s part of a bigger chain of shops so they can search their database for you. All pre-owned stuff, they don’t stock new brands.

Neither does the Swiss Watch Shop opposite Mays, which has a big selection of pre-owned Swiss watches, with Rolex, Omega, TAG, Breitling etc being well represented. They will look at PX watches too.

Further along the arcade you’ll find Jenny Jones, who sometimes has the odd ladies vintage watch in store. They don’t really know much about watches tbh there, so skip it imho.

Hope you enjoyed that little watch heaven tour.





Addiesdive 44mm & Sub Homage on Special Deals

The Addies Dive watches are known for value and this NH35 powered automatic, with 200m depth resistance, steel bracelet plus a beefy 44mm case diameter is an attractive watch. Then add the wave effect blue dial – nice.

Previously listed at just inder £200 it’s now down to £160.79

We love the teal coloured lume on the hands and markers, plus the numbers on the bezel – nice extra touch there.

There’s Free shipping to the UK as well, just thought you should know. Plus we spotted a sunray blue dial model, with the crown at 4pm, for just £124 or so – that makes a nice base for a MOD watch, as there so many dials and hands that fit that 44mm case/crown combo, plus NH35 engine inside.

Fancy a Rolkex Submariner homage? They have a quartz powered Sub look-a-like for just over fifty quid. Sweet.

As you were.

More at; addiesdive website

It’s Lit: New Dive Vibe From Deep Blue

We just found an email from Deep Blue buried in the Inbox and there’s a handy `BLUE’ code you can enter at Checkout to get some dollars off their latest DayNight Diver Tritium T100 model.

Featuring the multi-colour gas tube lume so beloved by Ball watch fans, this retails at $189 with the discount code. Big case watch, 200m depth and a Seiko NH35 automatic movement.

The discount code expires today by the way.

More here.

Timex Falcon Eye Makes UK Debut

Timex UK are adding to their Q range in the UK with the Falcon Eye model, which has been around in the US market for a year or so.

Two dial colours; blue and green, vintage 70s style battery compartment ready for a 20p piece to slot in, plus steel case, and an adjustable sliding clasp on the bracelet.

These can be fiddly to set up, but you only have to do it once and then the clasp folds down in the perfect spot.

We like that sleek, multi-link bracelet too.

Quartz movement, 70s styling, and that classic day/date layout at 3pm too. Pricey at £159 though. Alternatives in the retro quartz field include the Accurist Retro at £78, or about £90 for the bracelet version. How about a Ben Sherman Ronnie Original, which we also spotted online for £78.

Budget Watches: TPW Field Watch, Reviewed and Rated

What kind of watch can you get for just £6.50 these days? Yes, that includes postage.

Well the answer is quite a good one, and no shortages, no panic, just a smooth Royal Mail delivery 8 days after payment. Yes this Field watch from TPW on Ali Express shows you can get a basic timekeeper for even less than Argos money. I mean, you could spend £6 in fuel and parking just driving into town to visit a few watch shops or a local Market Hall.

OK, it’s packaged in bubble wrap, no box and the only paperwork is a tiny leaflet explaining how to pull out the crown to adjust the time. Also, there is a slight rough cast effect on the black paint adorning the case. But this lightweight quartz tells the time, has a classic black/white dial and a decent crystal too – feels like mineral glass.

The NATO strap is perfect for many wrist sizes and it has two little loops for the end of the strap, so it isn’t left hanging there. Tidy.

At 41mmm across and 11.3mm in height, this is an ideal size for most people too, not too big, not too small.

Verdict: Another budget winner from TPW and no, we aren’t on commission or an affiliate scheme – we just love top value watches. We say why pay £40 for a Sekonda, or even £20 for a Limit, when you can get bargains like this from China?

Reviewed: Anthony James Skeleton Dress Watch

Every now and then we actually buy a watch online to review it, so you don’t have to. Nah, we ain’t got Rolex money lying around in Batcoin, so instead we review cheaper Ali Express and budget models.

So, ever heard of Anthony James? Nope, we hadn’t either, but a Secret Sale email promised us a rosy gold plated skeleton watch with 80% off the RRP or something. So yep, at £37 including post, we clicked on the bait.


You get a box, which is nice. It isn’t a great quality box, with a little cushion inside, plus an Anthony James g’tee card, but to be fair, some budget watches have zero boxes at all.

You also get a little tag tied round the watch as well, just for that quality vibe. Generally the watch feels OK, nice and smooth, with a see-thru caseback, flat mineral crystal.


Then you realise the bracelet is too long, so you get your link adjustment tools out.

Now you discover that this watch has never been on sale at 600 quid anywhere. The link pins and the clasp are cheaply made, finish is poor, the pins required a light hammer time session to budge.  They did not want to go back in either. If you don’t have a vice with a flat surface, plus a small hammer, and experience fitting/removing watch links, then I suggest you shop elsewhere because this watch is not designed for easy adjustment.

Yeah, any jewellery should be able to do this job, but many will send it away because once you look at the problem, you just think…all this pi**ing about for a tenner? Nah.

If you look at the clasp you can see that things don’t align 100% true. Crown feels nice to turn though.


Probably Chinese. In fact, yeah, non-specific, bargain level Chinese, which you can get going by winding the watch. It has a decent looking rotor, bit of gold plating here n there. But some other details inside the caseback look a bit poor, badly finished metalwork basically.

The mainspring seems to housed in an open barrel, with just a few strategic bits of bridge work stopping it escape under tension. In theory, no dust should get inside, but I can’t see how any watch oil around the mainspring winding column is going to NOT dry out over a year or two. Which should ruin it as effectively as an open wheel bearing on a Transit van.

Note mainspring under tension when fully wound, not a sealed unit as in most watches but a bit of a convertible roof.

OK, I tested it by fully winding it, then wore it all day. It ran continously for the next 28 hours, timekeeping matched  my smartphone too. Impressive, I have to say.


It has a 40mm case excluding the crown, with a height of 12.8mm. It feels just right for my slim wrist and once I forced the clasp home onto its little spigot, then the bracelet felt secure enough. Just stiff with new-ness I reckon.


This is an OK value watch for £37.  I mean, you don’t find many automatics at under thirty quid anywhere. Yes, it will most likely run for a few years without trouble and it has a certain Meccano-esque appeal, with all its guts on show. But the bracelet feels really poorly finished, the clasp in particular feels rough cast. Not nice.

Compared to the Black Bay look-a-like from Ali Express, or the Paulareis turquoise auto I bought recently, this one doesn’t offer any real advantage, despite being almost twice the price.


Secret Sales: Our Top Picks On Mens Watches

The Secret Sales website is a good place to hunt if you like fashion brand watches, often quartz, but at hefty discounts. Why pay more for Boss, Armani, Kors, Stuhrling or other brand names than you have to?

So what’s new?

Well we spotted a Stuhrling Aviator at £85, which is a decent price for this 44mm wide, military style khaki green watch. Generally it’s priced at about £100-£120 online.

If you like the Roberto Cavalli black dial watch, which is $1100 on their website, then you can buy it here at £355. Still seems a great deal of cash for a Ronda powered quartz chronograph to us though.

If you like the chunky 48mm Hugo Boss Ocean Edition Chronograph then SS have that at £380, slightly cheaper than we found elsewhere – typically £400 or so. This PVD coated black watch has a nice blue dial and certainly makes a statement. If you like big quartz watches then this will float your boat.

More at Secret Sales website here, and we are going to review an Anthony James automatic that we bought a few weeks ago soon.

Braun Chronograph: Get 50% Off

The Braun watch brand has a Sale on right now and you can get the all-black chronograph for £275, which is half price. This is a high spec quartz watch, with a one-piece case construction and sapphire crystal. Here’s the press blurb;

The case of this Braun analogue watch is carved of one single block of steel. This one-piece’ construction eliminates the need for a case-back and in turn removes the element of potential leakage.

The Swiss movement is mounted into the case from the top before being covered and sealed by the sapphire crystal. This allowed the Braun designers to taper the bottom part of the watch more elegantly and attach the band lugs in such a way that would not be possible with conventional watch construction.

The simple screwdown battery cover means that replacing the battery is easy-peasy too – a definite bonus.

We also spotted a classic three hand ladies Braun for just £24. Considering the build quality that is a bargain.

More here.

Ali Express Watch Reviews: Paulareis Automatic

Seiko and Citizen know it to be true; a turquoise dial watch is actually very cool, the choice of those who dare to be different. You can still buy a Seiko 5 or Presage today with a mix of blue and green on the dial and we are big fans at NWC magazine.

But can you get the same joy from an Ali Express budget automatic from Paulareis, at just £19.15? Well, yes and no.


Let’s start with the positives on this one, which was bought from Timerunner store. There were some random polystyrene protectors in there, but the watch was packed inside a basic plastic sleeve – no box.

To be fair, this is bargain basement level watch buying, so no fancy box is fine.

The steel case and bracelet feels good, nicely polished, no sharp edges. The clasp has a foldover strap and presses down with a satisfying click. Feels secure. I took out one link and moved the clasp in along for a perfect fit. This watch is 40mm across which most enthusiasts agree is the ideal size.

The dial colour is stunning, it really stands out. There is a touch of lume on the quarter hour markers as well. Solid caseback, with a Rolex style splined backing plate. pretty certain our old friend the Chinese DG movement is inside there.#

Pull out the crown to position one and you can wind the watch. It ran for 27 hours left alone on the workbench. Wearing it all day, even mainly deskbound, put enough extra in the balance spring to power it through the night a day later.

Feels like a mineral crystal, which sits a little bit high by the way. Not sure if that’s a good thing or whether it might be vulnerable to little nicks and scratches.

The bezel is almost the same as a Seiko SNK series watch, it has that chamfered smoothness that’s just good to touch. Plain n simple, classic design.


The crown is difficult to align on the tube when pressing in, before screwing it down. It doesn’t realy want to screw all the way on the thread. On the upside, it’s a fairly small crown so it doesn’t dig into the back of your hand like some watches do.

Most irritating was the condition of the watch. It was dirty underneath the protective stickers, especially inside the clasp. I took it apart to clean up properly as I adjusted the clasp, but still, not a good indicator as regards quality control at the Timerunner outlet.

It sits a bit high on the wrist at around 14mm, but I don’t really mind – it isn’t a huge lump of a thing like the 43mm Pulsar quartz chronograph I bought last year.


You cannot complain too much for the money. Yes, a turquiose Seiko 5 is a far superior timepiece in terms of build quality, resale value and you get all that lovely box, paperwork n guarantee. But it’s also £250. This thing is under twenty quid – you know, a chippy tea price for the family on Friday.

I’m amazed that the factory in China is making any money and even more impressed that overall, this Paulareis offers everyday automatic timekeeping for a car boot sale price.