With the euro and the dollar at near parity, Americans are finally at an advantage when purchasing watches from the EU. This is especially true with a number of German brands selling directly to consumers, with their end prices not affected by retail mark ups. With that said, this is likely only a temporary reprieve. With the Swiss National Bank removing the minimum exchange rate on the Swiss Franc, prices for Swiss exports are expected to rise. This will not only affect the bigger players, but also smaller manufacturers who rely on Swiss movements and parts for their watches. Some smaller firms have already raised prices to compensate the dramatic currency exchange rates.
But for the time being, if you’re an American buyer there are still some great deals to be had, especially when you consider that brands selling direct from the EU will also deduct VAT tax upon purchase. Plus, if you use a credit card that forgoes a foreign transaction fee, you can get an even greater bargain. Below we’ve rounded up some of our favorite brands and deals for your consideration. I’ve excluded shipping costs (though they are mentioned separately) and brokerage fees when pricing each watch, but in my experience these fees are often minimal enough so as not to make too large a difference in the final pricing of the watch.
First up on the list is Sinn. WatchBuys is the official North American distributor for a number of smaller German companies, Sinn included, and they recently responded to the exchange rate situation by slashing prices on most of the brands they carry. In the past few years, Sinn has steadily moved up market, with both pricier releases and price hikes pushing that move. With the current situation, we’re seeing some Sinn watches at price points that existed before the last few hikes, which certainly makes them more appealing for budget conscious consumers.
The Sinn 103 St acrylic chronograph with bracelet is currently priced at $1,880, and with a leather band it’s a very reasonable $1,640. The 856 UTC on bracelet is $2,080–a great value for a watch boasting a lot of proprietary Sinn tech. And finally, there’s the Sinn U1 on bracelet, the hyper masculine diver that has been a crowd favorite since its inception, available for just a hair north of $2K.
Shipping: $35 for $1,500-$2,999
Stowa is a perennial worn&wound favorite. The small brand out of Engelsbrand maintains a tight catalogue that has always presented an incredible value in the watch world. With the weak euro, those values have gotten even better.
The Partitio is an oft forgotten member of the Stowa family, but it’s a great little watch that’s surprisingly versatile on the wrist. I especially like the white dial with parchment lume, currently priced at $626. There is an option to get either an automatic version or a handwound variant with an ETA 2801.
Then there’s the flieger series, Stowa’s bread and butter. The classic flieger has always offered an incredible value, featuring SCHÄTZLE-made dials and hands blued by UNIVERSO in Switzerland. Today, one of Stowa’s fliegers can be had for $760 for the logo-free version with a handmade rotor, and for the $708 for the version with a logo and a standard rotor. Both feature a top-grade ETA 2824 with high finishing.
For approximately $790, you can get the Antea KS, a Bauhaus classic in its own right. It’s the perfect little dress watch with vintage minimal styling and a top-grade Peseux 7001 at its core. If you prefer an automatic movement and a slightly larger case, Stowa also offers the Antea 365 with a Soprod A10, priced at $980.
And finally, there is Stowa’s line of beautiful chronographs. Both the Marine chronograph classic and Flieger chronograph classic come in at around $1583 for the automatic versions, both featuring a beautifully decorated Valjoux 7753, and $1890 for in-house modified handwound variants.
Defakto is an Ickler brand manufactured in Pforzheim, Germany focusing on producing watches with a minimalist design. We reviewed the Akkord Modular late last year and were wholly impressed with the execution of this understated piece. At the time of that review the Akkord Modular was approximately $710. Now it’s $613 for the bronze/pvd edition, and $454 for the standard stainless steel version.
The Inkognito is another great watch from the brand. It’s a modern single-handed timekeeper with a clean and austere design. If you wear your watches on your right hand, the Inkognito can be flipped around and worn destro. The stainless steel model is approximately $476.
Steinhart has always been a purveyor of solid bang-for-your-buck watches. The Ocean series divers are often the most touted watches in Steinhart’s repertoire (namely the Ocean Vintage Military), but the brand offers plenty more in way of well-priced original pieces. Despite a recent price increase, Steinhart pieces remain wholly attainable. The Nav-B chronograph, for example, is one such watch. At the time of writing, on leather it’s just shy of $800, and should you prefer the bracelet it’s just $20 extra. That’s quite the deal for a watch packing a Swiss-made Valjoux 7750.
Another member of the Ickler family, Archimede has made a name for itself with its variety of well-priced pilot watches. Last year, Archimede unveiled a great vintage inspired line of dress watches aptly named the 1950’s, a reference to the era from which the line pulls its stylistic influences. This beautiful Miyota-powered timepiece was already a great value at the time of its release, and now it’s practically a steal priced a shade under $500.
For those looking for a sportier option, Archimede also makes one of the most underrated pilot chronographs on the market. If the previously suggested Steinhart Nav-B isn’t to your liking, the Archimede Pilot Chronograph Automatic is worth your consideration. It features a 42mm stainless steel case and one of the most balanced chronograph dials I’ve ever seen on a flieger-inspired piece. It’s just north of $1300 for the option with a leather band, and $1430 to get one with a steel bracelet.
For a great watch that can taking a beating, the Archimede Outdoor Protect is the way to go. Featuring a hardened case with 200 meters of water resistance, it’s the perfect “one-watch” that covers a number of bases and needs. At $700 for the variant with a bracelet it’s one of the cheapest hardened watches on the market, beating out similar watches by at least $500.
Tourby isn’t a brand that gets a lot of coverage, which is certainly a shame because the brand produces excellent watches. Based out of Hagen, Germany, Tourby has been in business since 2007, providing customers with customizable timepieces that don’t break the bank. For $1188, you can get one of Tourby’s most attractive models, the “Argentum” (previously known as the Marine Enamel). This gorgeous silver-dialed marine-inspired timepiece comes with a decorated Unitas movement, heat-blued hands, and a genuine Louisiana alligator strap.