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my favorite watches

my favorite watches

I know that in the world of watches, fifteen hundred euros is not much, but let's face it, most people can't or don't want to spend several thousand euros on a watch. for me, right now, this is a nice sweet spot between affordability and value, and since I have been digging into the watches I want for myself in this price range, I thought if I am going to write about watches, then this is a good place to start.

I started making a long list of twenty or so watches, then shrunk it down to ten, and then five, and in the end I came up with the two that really tickle my fancy. I will give a couple of honorable mentions, since it wasn’t easy to let go of some, and in the end, you can scroll through the full list I came up with when I started this thing, because all of them are great, the tricky part is to choose…

I dress casually most of the time, my left wrist is about 18.5 cm in circumference, and I tend to wear medium-sized watches. refinement in the form of some polished bevelling or the like is a welcome addition, but too many shiny surfaces are already too much bling for my taste. 

enter the nomos club campos 36 ref.708

nomos is a german brand founded in 1990 known for combining bauhaus design principles with nicely decorated in-house calibers at very reasonable prices. the club campus is a very simple looking watch, with an all-polished case, a lovely off-white dial, and a nice grey suede strap. the profile is thin at just 8.2mm, from the screw-down caseback (that allows 100m of water resistance) to the top of the domed sapphire crystal, so it can slide under any cuff easily. the lugs are long, making the watch wear bigger than the 36mm diameter measurement might suggest, and for me, with an 18,5 cm wrist, that is a good thing. for people with smaller wrists might not be though, so trying it on before buying is always recommendable. the dial is classy but cool, with its inverted california layout and some orange pops of color in the small seconds hand and on the borders of the applied lume on numerals and markers.

the alfa manual caliber within was made to replace the eta 7001, when eta's supply channel began to exhibit inconsistencies. it was nomos first in-house movement, now producing over a dozen manufacture calibers. unlike some of their more original calibers, the alpha manual follows the architecture of the eta 7001 it replaced, presenting a higher level of decoration including glashutte waves across its surface, blued screws and rhodium plated surfaces. it is a looker, especially for the price. I like this piece because of its less is more kind of look, its classy and comfortable set of dimensions with a twist (that are those long lugs) and since it has a very well made, great looking in-house movement, instead of one of the usual suspects one can find on most watches in this price range. and for an extra 200€, you can have a sapphire case back to admire it, or if you prefer, for no extra cost nomos will engrave the back of your watch if you order straight from their website.

if you don’t fancy the white dial, nomos offers the same watch in a series of fun colors too, such as deep pink, future orange, cream coral, electric green, blue purple, and absolute gray.

nomos club campus  

the next of my two favorites is the serica 5303 cosc crystal blue:
serica is a small french brand founded in 2019. being such a young brand they have only three models, a field watch, a GMT, and this diver we are taking a look at. to my eyes this is an absolutely gorgeous watch, having some references to other watches design-wise, it looks very original in the big sea of dive watches out there. for me it feels very new and fresh, despite being a retro inspired piece.

size wise we have 39mm in diameter, 12,2mm in thickness, 46,5mm lug to lug and 20mm between the lugs. this set of dimensions is right up my alley, following the trend for smaller watches and being relatively thin to fit under long sleeves. the case is mostly brushed with wide polished bevels on the lugs, additionally, there’s an 8mm oversized polished crown which gives it some late 1950's flair.

the bezel is very interesting, presenting two scales. on the inside, we have a brushed stainless steel ring with hour markings, allowing us to track elapsed hours or another timezone, and on the outside we have a beautiful light green ceramic insert (that reminds me of faded bezels of vintage dive watches) indicating minutes, that allows timing elapsed minutes by aligning the lume dot with the minute hand. you still have an additional function that times a 15-minute countdown by aligning the lume dot on your target time. very untraditional, but also very clever.

the dial design is pretty unique, there’s no big logo on the dial. instead, the serica name has been subtly placed beside the 6 o’clock marker. we have rectangular hour markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock and dot-shaped markers for all the remaining hours further toward the center of the dial. the minute track and the outlines of the markers are printed in white over the very dark blue dial, and the creamy-colored lume plots are very thick. the broad arrow hands and the 12 o’clock marker with the two dots on the sides remind me of the original omega speedmaster, but the whole thing is still very original and different from anything else I am aware of.

to continue, the originality in the design serica opted for a milanese mesh bracelet with fitted end links that tapper from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp. it is a bit tricky to put on but looks very cool and new, despite the retro style, like the whole thing in general.

the previous generations of the 5303 used the soprod newton movement, but due to some issues, serica decided to update to the soprod M100 caliber. this means the watch is now cosc certified and with the new movement being thinner, they increased magnetic resistance, which is always a good thing. hopefully, the reported problems of the old newton movement were left behind, and with this newly added accuracy and magnetic resistance, the 5303 cosc is even better than the original.

serica gives us the chance to choose what side we want the crown in, which is a nice and well-appreciated touch, especially if you are left-handed, I would go for the crown at 9 o'clock despite wearing the watch on my left hand because I think It fits the quirky look of the thing, and that way the crown won’t be digging in the back of my hand whenever I fold my wrist. besides this crystal blue color, the watch also comes in enamel black and porcelain white if you want a different look.

serica 5303 cosc crystal blue 

as it wasn’t easy to get to the top two, I have to mention some of the watches that didn’t make the cut.

as you might have noticed, none of my chosen favorites came from a well-known, mainstream watch brand, and that is because I find that microbrands, sometimes present more bang for the buck and a fresher design language than the well-established ones. that being said, one of my next choices would be the seiko spb 143. if I made a spec list of my perfect watch this one wasn’t even close, it’s too thick for my liking, there’s no on-the-fly adjustment to the bracelet, and with a 21.600bph movement on the inside the hole thing seems too expensive (although you can find it discounted at around 1000€ new on chrono24). but then it strikes back, with the legacy of seiko and the legendary 62mas it gets its design cues. the watch looks elegant and timeless, and for what it’s worth I've seen it on some instagram photos in the company of blackbays and submariners.

seiko spb143

next we have the sinn 556i. already a classic for many watch lovers, with a well-proportionate 38mm case, high legibility and the all-around great quality sinn is known for. it is the archetypal gada (go anywhere do anything) watch. if only sinn updated that clasp and gave us a proper over-engineered on-the-fly adjustment

sinn 556i

and last but not least, we have the twelve from cristopher ward. the twelve is their take on the integrated sports watch genre. and they pass the test with flying colors, being very well made with intricate finishes on the dial and hands, and a beautiful faceted brushed and polished bracelet and case. just lovely.

christopher ward the twelve 40mm glacier blue

the rest of the list:

baltic aquascaphe gmt

farer resolute 36mm


formex essence thirty nine


yema urban field

hamilton khaki field titanium auto

junghans max bill automatic


marathon steel navigator

mido multifort tv big date


joão vicente is our in-house photographer. born in ‘83, studied architecture in the early 2000’s in universidade of coimbra and in the early 2010’s moved to lisbon to study photography in ipf. loves fighting sports, cars, bikes and watches. works for cinco since the early days of the brand. still loving it.

we independently evaluate all recommended products and services. if you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation.

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