I'm trying to find a sporty, race-inspired chronograph to replace my 20 year old daily watch. My three essential criteria are (1) an automatic or solar, (2) a sapphire crystal, and (3) around $3k or less (new or used). The two other options I'd like to have are an exhibition case back and a perpetual calendar.
So here's what I've come up with so far and my thoughts on each one:
Tag Carrera Cal 16 Day Date.
I think this is a beautiful watch. I like both the stainless and the titanium models. Although it's priced a little outside of my budget, I can find a used one very easily. It uses the same ETA-7750 movement that some of my other choices use. It does not have a perpetual calendar, and I have read that the lettering can come off the dial over time.
Tag Monaco Cal 12.
I love the blue Steve McQueen version of this watch. It does not have the perpetual calendar, but it satisfies all of my other criteria. There are lots of these on the new and used market. This watch, because of it's unique shape and popularity, is one of the only watches that I might spend more than my budget to acquire.
Tag Grand Carrera Cal 17 RS2.
This is a very unique looking watch. I actually didn't really consider this watch until I had seen it several times. After looking for three or four months, I have really come to appreciate it more and more. My one very big concern with this watch is the longevity of it's titanium carbide coating. I have had my current daily watch for 20 years. It has scratches all over it by now. But I could have it polished tomorrow and it would look fantastic again. This watch would be a nightmare to preserve that black coating over many years. Perhaps it's a good thing that this watch is the biggest stretch for my budget and would be the hardest to acquire.
Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial "Legend".
In all honesty, I'm not a very big fan of Omega. I respect them as fantastic, quality timepieces, but I have never warmed up to their style. But I happen to see this watch at a my AD and I was really impressed. I can't remember if this one had the exhibition case back or not, but it's a sharp watch.
Christopher Ward C40 Speedhawk.
What can I say about this watch? It's an attractive timepiece that meets almost all of my requirements, and is VERY reasonably priced. That being said, I have never seen one "in the wild". I've also noticed that they come up for sale fairly often. Without the ability to try one on and inspect the fit and finish, I'm just a little reluctant to buy this watch or this brand. That could change if I ever find one.
Tissot PRS 516 (T044.614.26.051).
Tissot was actually at the top of my list when I first started looking for a new watch and my budget was only $1k. I think this watch, along with the Speedhawk, represents a huge bargain for the money. Unfortunately, it seems that over time, this watch's appeal has softened. First of all, I don't think Tissot uses an anti-reflective coating on both sides of the crystal (just from my personal inspections). Also, compared to the others, it just lacks some of the that sporty character I'm looking for. If my budget were back to $1k, it would really be a toss up over the last three watches on my short list.
Citizen Signature Grand Complication.
For some, this watch may not be in the same class as the others on my list. It fits all of my requirements EXCEPT it's not really race-inspired. My current 20 year old daily watch is a Citizen, and it has been extremely durable and reliable. However, I have a hard time justifying $1k on a Citizen. I realize that their signature line represents their best fit and finish. And all the complications include a perpetual calendar. But compared to some of the other watches on this list, this watch seems a bit more formal and not necessarily in the same class as Tag, Omega, and Tudor. But if Citizen made a Signature watch in a racier design, I would probably have stopped looking and bought it already.
I love this watch with the red face and the black racing stripes. I'm typically not a big fan of Rolex for the same reason that I don't usually care for Omega. But knowing that this watch is made by the people that make Rolex pleases me a great deal. Aside from the Citizen, this is the only watch on my short list that doesn't have an exhibition case back. But I can overlook that due to the wonderful look of this watch. This watch would be more difficult to acquire form here in the U.S., but it's also appealing that I probably won't see one on any one else's wrist.
I know I've probably left off quite a few watches that you think might fit my criteria. And there are certainly a lot of great brands out there. I found a lot of watches that were just simply outside my budget (like the Chopard Superfast Split Second ). If you think of one, please share it. And if you have any comments on my choices, I'd like to read those as well.