Upgrade your watch: 6 gorgeous watches to lust after

Knockout timepieces to suit every budget

Apple Watch Series 3

It should go without saying these days, but wearing a watch is about so much more than telling the time. A wristwatch says a lot about its owner – not just that they can afford a Rolex or Omega, but their sense of style and even what they prioritise most in life.

A smartwatch, for example, says they want to be connected at all times, notified of messages and emails, and to keep a close eye on their personal fitness. Meanwhile, a simple but elegant dress watch tells the world that you put as much effort into picking out your timepiece as your tailoring.

Diving watches say you aren’t afraid of their larger, chunkier design, while a hybrid tells admirers that you want to strike a balance between classical good looks and embracing modern technology. So, whatever’s currently strapped to your wrist, T3 is here with some inspiration to help guide your next horological upgrade.

Mondaine Classic – £175

Although this isn’t a ‘best watches for £50’ guide, we still want to stress how the sub-£200 sector is packed full of stylish and sophisticated wristwear. The Mondaine Classic is a stellar example of a great-looking watch you can own without robbing a bank.

Mondaine watches are a nod to the iconic clocks (which are not made by Mondaine), that adorn Swiss railway stations. The bold white face with thick black indices and red second hand give the Mondaine Classic a crisp, clean aesthetic which will look good on any wrist, and complement almost any outfit. Try the optional red leather strap if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Christopher Ward C3 Grand Tourer – £395

The most affordable watch from Christopher Ward’s current portfolio, the C3 Grand Tourer is described by its makers as a quintessential English dress watch “with sporty elements”.

That, in case you were wondering, is a reference to how the watch was designed with inspiration from the dashboards of vintage Aston Martins. This quartz timepiece has a 39mm case with two face options (blue and cream) and three strap options (black, brown, tan) to suit your personal style.

There’s a date complication at six o’clock and buttons at two and four for operating the stopwatch - while lapping Goodwood in your Aston DB4 GT, presumably...

anOrdain Model 1 – £1,050

If you fancy something a little more offbeat, then we suggest the Model 1 by Scottish watchmaker anOrdain, which produces the dials of its limited-run watches from enamel.

There are five different dial colours to choose from - cream, red, blue, pink and black – each with four choices of leather strap, including black, brown, grey and green. The Model 1 features a 38mm stainless steel case with 5 ATM of water resistance, plus a domed sapphire back to show off the self-winding movement.

Each colour of Model 1 is limited to fewer than 300 examples – which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you learn that some colours, like the translucent blue, takes anOrdain up to a week to produce a single dial.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight – £2,560

An instant hit from this year’s Baselworld, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight by Tudor is your passport to the world of quality Swiss-made diving watches, but on a relatively modest budget.

Some may criticise this watch for aping the look of a Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster, but we think – especially in this color combo – the Tudor has its own unique style, beautifully pairing black with bronze and a splash of red at the 12 o’clock.

The 39mm case gives the Black Bay a more compact feel than you might expect from a diving watch of this style, while the self-winding movement offers an impressive 70 hours of power reserve. Being a diving watch, it is water resistance to 200 meters and sports a unidirectional rotating bezel made from anodized aluminium.

 Rolex Datejust 41 – from £5,450 

A true legend of horology, the self-winding Rolex Datejust was first introduced back in 1945 and has seen its overall design change very little since. Despite carrying a typical Rolex price tag and all the assumptions that come with it, the Datejust is a watch which can blend into any situation and almost any style.

Whether it’s your weekday watch of choice to impress in the office, a casual timepiece for dress-down weekends, or paired with your Sunday best, the Datejust pulls it all off with aplomb. The new 41mm version pictured here is larger than all previous models, but remains a fairly compact design which is highly customisable - the material, bezel, bracelet and dial can all be mixed-and-matched to create your perfect Rolex.

Apple Watch Series 3 – from £279

As we said earlier, smartwatches and hybrid should be as welcome in any watch collection as traditional timepieces – well as long as they’re any good. The Apple Watch Series 3 may no longer be the state of the art in terms of tech, since Series 4’s announcement, but it’s a more subtle looking device, remains extremely useful, and is now pretty cheap by Apple standards. It’s the watch connoisseur’s choice rather than the tech head’s. You can tell people that if they ask.

Available in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm – five case colours and finishes, and with a huge range of easily-interchangeable straps, the Apple Watch is hugely customisable. And that’s before you dive into the settings and create your perfect watchface, complete with dynamic complications.

The rechargeable battery will see you through a couple full days of use, while a connection to your smartphone (or the mobile internet if you opt for the LTE version) means you’ll be updated with a tap on the wrist to incoming calls, texts, emails and more. With a heart rate monitor and Apple’s Health app, the Watch also doubles as your new gym buddy – and all without looking like a computer strapped to your wrist.

• On 12 September 2018, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 4, and it's clearly a very worthy upgrade. We'll have a review very soon. It’s on sale from September 21.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.