Understated watches are a realm of their own. They often require a connoisseurs eye to recognize them as something special, but special they are indeed. They please their owners with refined movement, subtle details and the knowledge that they have something exceptional around the wrist. They are the ‘sleeper cars’ of the watch industry, and these are four of the most desirable.
A.lange & Söhne Saxonia Automatik
When you don’t know much about watches, you might consider this Saxonia by A.lange & Söhne a nice watch but will probably have no idea that it represents one of the best watches one can get. While its classical demeanor is refined, it is its movement where it really shows its top-class pedigree. There a beautiful, full-size rotor turns over the three-quarter plate made of German silver, which provides a tantalizing contrast with the hand-engraved balance cock with a swan neck regulator. In many ways, this is as good as it gets, explaining the popularity of this model among connoisseurs.
Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153R
The Calatrava by Patek Philippe has long been the go-to watch for people who want the best yet in a discrete package. With its date and central sweep seconds, hand combines the 5135R everyday practicality with a timeless classic look. With a diameter of 38mm and a height of only 9.7mm, it fits easily under the cuff of a shirt, and the only ‘frivolity’ that the watch allows itself to is the beautifully textured center of the dial. The back shows however that this is a creation that represents the finest in Swiss watchmaking, where a sapphire crystal case back is hidden by a hinged dust cover with underneath automatic caliber 324 S C.
In the world of understated watches is the Piaget Altiplano a legend. Its discrete white gold case gives no hints of what lies inside, although the word ‘automatic’ on the dial makes clear that caliber 1200P, which powers this watch, is a direct descendant of the legendary automatic ultra-thin Caliber 12P that the brand launched in 1960. With a diameter of 43mm, it is a contemporary creation, while experts will recognize by its beautiful blue dial, that this model was launched to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Altiplano-collection.
Blancpain Villeret Grande Date
The Villeret-collection, with its signature double stepped bezel, has been for decades now a classic in the Blancpain collection. Even when fitted with a ‘Grande Date’ is remains quite the understated watch. While Blancpain offers this watch with gold cases, they also have it in steel. This not only adds to its understatement but also to its practical use. With a diameter of 40mm is its size balanced, while at the back owners are delighted with a view at caliber 6950. It might be a watch that doesn’t draw a lot of attention when wearing it, but aren’t private pleasures often the best anyway?