Lip, Junghans, Tissot, Seiko, Raketa: 5 automatic watches under €1,000
Finding a brand new stunning, high-quality, automatic watch under €1,000 is a real obstacle course. Still, a few respectable brands manage to release some compelling pieces. Let's travel around the world with five beautiful – and affordable – watches from Switzerland, Japan, France, Germany and Russia.
Switzerland, Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 – €650
Tissot is reissuing a signature sports design straight out of the seventies with the launch of its emblematic PRX watch.
The different versions of the new references – which look almost identical to the original versions – are powered by the Powermatic 80 calibre.
This release deserved far more than a quick presentation! Click on this link to read an entire article dedicated to Tissot’s PRX.
Japan, Seiko Presage Cocktail Negroni automatic watch – €450
The arrival of Seiko’s three new (unlimited) “Cocktail” special editions within the Presage collection came as a very nice surprise.
Indeed, the meticulous Japanese manufacture found inspiration in some of the greatest classic drinks to design the striking Negroni, Old Clock and Mojito pieces.
The Negroni version was the one featured in Frank sans C’s video. The red and amber-coloured dial elegantly reminds of the chromatic colour palette of the Negroni cocktail. Which must obviously be made using the Generous Gin Purple to get a deep red shade.
Seiko chose to decorate the piece in a way that reminded of how the light streams through old cocktail glasses. The font of the numbers on the dial reminds of the writing on alcohol bottles’ labels. The blend is a real success.
And what about the back? A see-through case back displays the cogs of the 4R35 automatic calibre which has already proven its reliability.
Seiko Presage Cocktail Negroni technical specifications
Stainless steel case
38.5 mm diameter
See-through screwed-in case back
Domed Hardlex crystal
Water resistance to 50 metres
Leather strap with a three-fold clasp
France, LIP Himalaya Calendar Automatic – €699
The Himalaya (1954) is the LIP collection comprising the most models. On top of that, it is also the brand’s most successful line.
The name of the instrument is a tribute to Maurice Herzog’s incredible feat: climbing the Annapurna in 1950 while wearing the original watch on his wrist.
Among the many references, the Himalaya Calendar Automatic is the high-end model of the collection.
It features: 316L steel (surgical steel), a domed sapphire crystal, a dial with a railway-track-style chapter ring, lighter days and months counters – in French – and a full-grain French leather strap.
Let’s let our French pride speak for a second: this is a very nice watch featuring small complications for this price range.
Inside the timepiece, there are no Swiss Made calibre in sight, but a Miyota 9122 adorning “Côtes de Genève” is displayed on the back.
The only thing left to explain is what the 2 o’clock push-piece is for. It enables to quickly set the months, as all the other indications are set with the crown.
LIP Himalaya Calendar Automatic technical specifications
Made in France in Besançon
Case: 40 mm diameter, thickness: 13.6 mm
Water resistance: 50 metres
20 mm width, grey crocodile style, cowhide leather strap
Three-fold steel clasp
Automatic Miyota 9122 movement
Size 13″1/2 – diameter 26 mm
vibration frequency: 28800 per hour
40-hour power reserve
Warranty: 2 years
Germany, Junghans Max Bill Kleine Automatic – €995
The very old German manufacture Junghans – founded in 1861 in Schramberg in the Black Forest – collaborated with the Swiss Max Bill in the 1950s.
The painter, sculptor, graphic designer and architect was part of the Bauhaus movement and was also known for advocating for classic and minimalist designs.
After designing a kitchen clock, he started designing Junghans’ refined watches in 1961 which became one of the brand’s most famous collection.
The Max Bill Kleine Automatic watch faithfully represents the refined style of the artist. There are three different models, including the steel one and its singular character conveyed by the grey PVD-coating.
It also stands out because of its very simple signature dial, its segment indices, its inner ring hour markers and its railway-track-style chapter ring indicating the minutes, which reminds of the dial of old military watches.
When it comes to the dial, the name of the Max Bill Kleine Automatic is perfectly appropriate: its diameter is only 34 mm, just like the original 1961 model.
Moreover, its bracelet deserves some attention too. Though it looks like textile, it is actually made from recycled PET (plastic): a good deed for the environment which must be pointed out.
Junghans Max Bill Kleine Automatic technical specifications
Automatic calibre J800.1, 38-hour power reserve, date
Grey stainless steel PVD-coated case
34 mm diameter, 10 mm thickness
Convex hard plexiglas with coating for enhanced scratch resistance
Full case back screwed in four places
30 metres water resistance
White matt dial featuring luminous (Superluminova) dots and hands
Olive green strap made from recycled PET
Grey matt stainless steel PVD-coated tang buckle
Russia, Raketa Classic Big Zero – €990
Raketa is a very old stonecutter’s Russian workshop founded by the Tsar Peter the Great in 1721 near Saint Petersburg. After World War II, the Kremlin decided to turn it into a watchmaking manufacture.
First called Podeba, it was renamed Raketa (Russian for rocketship) in 1961 in tribute to the first human spaceflight achieved by Yuri Gagarin.
The watches of the Soviet manufacture were resistant and trustworthy and quickly made their way onto pilots, cosmonauts, soldiers and politicians’ wrists – such as Brezhnev, Gorbachev…and even Fidel Castro.
Raketa is manufacture which makes all the pieces for its own movements, including the balance spring of the regulating organ which is actually made of a secret Soviet alloy.
Raketa watches stand out because of their 0 index at noon instead of a 12, but also because of their very visible red logo on the dial: Pakema – and not Raketa – which is the name of the brand in Latin.
The perfect watch for fans of vintage designs and military-inspired watches
Some signature elements of the Classic Big Zero watch are revealed on the set of the Frank sans C’s video. You can only find this exclusive instrument at the Fréret-Roy boutique in Paris (30 rue Danielle Casanova, Paris 2e).
Its 38.8 mm case is water resistant up to 100 metres and its silvered square pattern dial comes with golden hands and indices. An Avtomat 2615 calibre – specific to this edition – is displayed on the case back: here the automatic movement adorns a stunning rose gold colour and a delicate spiral decoration which could be kindly nicknamed “Côtes de Saint-Pétersbourg”.