British brand Farer is inspired by travel, so all its watches share a moniker with an iconic explorer. The Carter is named after Howard, the man who cracked open Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
Though you don’t get much in the way of mummy memorabilia, it does feature a GMT dual time – so you can tell the time on an Egyptian dig and back home in the UK – and the brand’s signature bronze crown.
Available at Farer, priced £420.
Nixon Sentry SS SW
Last year, Nixon celebrated the return of cinema’s biggest franchise with a collection of watches that joined the Dark Side. Now, for those who’d rather rep the Rebel Alliance, they’ve come over a touch lighter.
This C-3PO-inspired timepiece taps into the enduring trend for gold cases and keeps the Star Wars references subtle – the rings on the dial are taken from the droid’s chest detailing, with exposed wires below – so you can wear it to work even if your office isn’t a comic book store.
Available at Nixon, priced £210.
Uniform Wares C35 With Milanese Strap
The ubiquity of minimalist timepieces is largely the fault of London brand Uniform Wares. Eschewing any fripperies, be that complications, hour markers or even a logo, the only marking on the C35’s dial is a call to quality, not branding – that it’s Swiss made.
(Related: The best affordable minimal watch brands)
The 35mm case is equally restrained and positions the brand at the forefront of another trend – away from alarm clock-sized timepieces and back to watches that don’t dwarf your wrist.
Available at Uniform Wares, priced £500.
Frederique Constant Slimline
It’s galling to drop Swiss timepiece money on a dress watch you only wear when you’re in black tie. So don’t. Frederique Constant’s Slimline offers everything you’d get in a four-figure watch – classic styling, a Geneva-based brand name and a low-profile case that fits under a shirt sleeve – but leaves enough in your budget to finally buy yourself a tuxedo, rather than renting. Again.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £390.
Triwa Charles Falken
All-black watches are trending. But if the murdered-out look is a bit glum for spring, then set inkiness against something that will catch the occasional glimpses of sunshine.
(Related: How to pull off all-black-errthing)
Triwa’s watches are – as you’d expect from a brand headquartered in Sweden – typically pared-back. Which means even subtle pops of contrast, like the ridged black subdial that echoes a vegetable-tanned, black leather strap, stand out. Less is more, after all.
Available at Triwa, priced £149.
Bulova Accutron II Precisionist Alpha
You can’t often buy a piece of horological history for under £300. But Bulova’s Accutron technology was a bona fide groundbreaker when it launched in 1960, replacing springs with a tuning fork that exponentially increased how accurate a wristwatch could be.
The latest version uses a quartz crystal instead, but that drive for precision remains; where most quartz watches lose around 15 seconds a month, the Accutron II slips less than that a year. So you’ve no excuse for ever being late.
Available at Beaverbrooks, priced £299.
Hamilton Khaki Field Officer Automatic
Appearing on screen does wonders for a watch brand’s pedigree (just ask Omega why they keep paying to be on the wrist of James Bond). Doubtless why Hamilton agreed to create a pair of bespoke watches for Christopher Nolan’s time-bending Interstellar.
(Related: James Bond’s favourite menswear brands)
Though the precise model that appeared on Matthew McConaughey’s wrist never went into production, it was based on the brand’s Khaki range. And while this particular timepiece may not help you communicate through space-time, the fact that you can get an automatic movement from a watchmaker with this pedigree, with change from £500, is just as incomprehensible as the film.
Available at Chisholm Hunter, priced £480.
TW Steel Canteen Bracelet
Dutch brand TW Steel used to market itself as being, ‘Big in oversized watches’. Though that strapline disappeared as watches trended smaller, the hefty designs remain.
The 50mm CEO Canteen is an oversized case in point, and flouts the idea that the best things come in small packages. Here, the chunky steel case packs in a chronograph, a crown cap more commonly seen on equally chunky U-Boat watches, and an on-trend brilliant blue dial. Just make sure you’ve got the Arnie wrists to strap it onto.
Available at TW Steel, priced £419.
Frankly, the only thing you need to know about Victorinox’s tank-proof watches is that that description isn’t hyperbole; as part of the INOX’s testing, the brand ran over it with a 64-ton tank. Which means you can rest easy if you ever catch it on a door handle.
It’s also built to withstand everything from a 10m fall onto concrete, to a two-hour run in your washing machine’s spin cycle. So despite its price, it’s an heirloom watch by default. Because there’s no way it’ll break before it’s time to hand it down your kids.
Available at Watch Shop, priced £359.
Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding
OK, so we’re busting our budget slightly. But if you can spare the price of a Nando’s then you can own one of horology’s most iconic designs. The Junghan’s Max Bill collection is named after Germany’s master of minimalism and the Hand-Winding version puts an automatic movement in the same price bracket as quartz.
(Related: The 8 best watch brands you’ve never heard of)
In keeping with its mid-century roots, the case is a gossamer 34mm, with an all-black dial and white Bauhaus numerals. When all your friends are rocking minimalist watches from brands just a few years old, rep the less-is-more OG instead.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £525.