If you keep up with the luxury watch market, then you know that there are current-production watches that you can’t find for sale at authorized retailers. These are namely Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Richard Mille sports watches, which are sold out due to their immense popularity.
This phenomenon has made way for more waitlists at authorized dealers, where hopefuls put their names down for a coveted luxury watch and wait patiently for a call (the Rolex waiting list can take years). Those who don’t want to wait often pay massive premiums in the secondary market. Now, it’s important to mention that the existence of these retailer lists is up for debate — some claim that there is no such thing as a waitlist while others confirm that they’ve indeed purchased a watch this way. Regardless, this big gap between supply and demand for some watch models can be discouraging if you’re looking to shop for a luxury timepiece.
However, hype-watches aside, there are plenty of fantastic timepieces that are readily available in-stores or online, and more importantly, they can be bought at retail prices and not a penny more. Here are top five luxury watches that you can get right now without having to deal with dreaded waitlists.
Tudor Black Bay Pro
Prices start at $3,675
A recent release from Tudor, the Black Bay Pro is a sports watch that’s not only great for everyday wear but also benefits from the practicality of a GMT function to keep track of two time zones at once. Fans of the Explorer II ref. 1655 “Steve McQueen” will certainly see the resemblance between this 2022 Tudor release and the vintage Rolex collector’s item; however, Tudor fans will appreciate the sensible price of the Black Bay Pro and its availability.
The Tudor Black Bay Pro features a 39mm steel case (which is quite thick at 14.6mm in height), topped with a fixed 24-hour engraved steel bezel. The dial stays true to the Black Bay design language with a “Snowflake” handset and lume plots for the hours but also includes a yellow 24-hour hand, as well as a date window. Available with a steel bracelet, hybrid rubber and leather strap, or black fabric strap with a yellow stripe, the Black Bay Pro should be available to buy on the spot at any Tudor store near you.
Grand Seiko SBGA211
Prices start at $6,200
Grand Seiko has been making great strides in gaining loyal fans in the international market over the last decade or so. Owners of Grand Seiko watches will wax poetic about the watches’ incredible finishing and the brand’s obsessive attention to detail. Along with impressive movements and Zaratsu polishing, GS watches are beloved for their range of captivating dials. And none is more famous than the Grand Seiko Snowflake dial, which with its finely textured white surface mimics a snow-covered terrain.
The Grand Seiko SBGA211 “Snowflake” includes a generously sized 41mm case but its titanium construction (from its case to its matching bracelet) keeps everything lightweight. The crisp white dial is home to the stunningly beveled dauphine-style handset that’s characteristic of the brand, in addition to a date at 3, a power reserve indicator at 7:30, and the Spring Drive designation at 6. The famed Grand Seiko Spring Drive is a unique hybrid movement that marries the benefits of mechanical and quartz movements. A mainstay of the brand’s current catalog, the Grand Seiko SBGA211 is not only a well-stocked piece across most of the brand’s boutiques and retailers but can also be purchased online in select regions.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
Prices start at $6,400
As the first watch that went to the Moon, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has arguably a more important story behind it than all the other hype watches around; yet, it’s never out of reach for anyone who has the means and motivation to buy one. Among all the current-production Omega “Moonwatch” models, the reference that is most faithful to the ones worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969 is the Speedmaster ref. 310.30.42.50.01.001.
This Speedmaster chronograph was released just this year, complete with a new-generation Master Chronometer manual-winding movement and improved bracelet and clasp. However, the signature details, such as a 42mm stainless steel case, Hesalite crystal above the black dial with a trio of counters, and a tachymeter scale on the black bezel, remain true to the original watch worn on the moon. Whether buying online from the Omega website or an authorized retailer store, buying a Speedmaster Moonwatch is thankfully not mission impossible.
Prices start at $7,450
Numerous Cartier timepiece designs have been around for a century, or close to it. That speaks volumes about the brand’s ability to create classic timepieces that will never go out of style. Take for example the Cartier Santos watch, which went down in horology history as both the first men’s wristwatch and the first pilot’s watch. Louis Cartier designed it in 1904 for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.
Fast-forward to today, and the Cartier Santos continues to be an integral part of the brand’s lineup. The defining features of the Santos watch are its square case, screws that punctuate the bezel and bracelet, and customary Cartier touches like Roman numerals on the dial and a blue stone set into the crown. Part classic, part industrial, the contemporary square Cartier Santos ref. WSSA0030 with a blue dial is perfect for those looking for a sporty steel number that stands out from the sea of traditional round watches.
Zenith Chronomaster Sport
Prices start at $11,000
So you want a stainless steel chronograph with a black ceramic bezel and white panda dial from a top-notch Swiss watchmaker? Then look beyond the Crown and feast your eyes on the Zenith Chronomaster Sport (ref. Ref 03.3100.3600/69.M3100) — made by the same company that was responsible for the movement that powered the Daytona chronograph for a dozen years.
Inside the Zenith Chronomaster Sport’s 41mm steel case sits the high-beat Caliber El Primero 3600, which sweeps around the dial once every 10 seconds! And let’s not forget that Zenith was one of the pioneers of the automatic chronograph back in 1969 when it announced the revolutionary self-winding El Primero chronograph movement. If it’s pedigree you’re after, then Zenith is here for you, and owning one of these superb chronographs doesn’t require sweet-talking your local AD for a spot on the mythical waitlist.
Not being able to buy the watch you want despite having the funds to purchase it at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is frustrating, to say the least. Many of us save up to buy the watch we want to mark an important life event, and it’s deflating to realize that it simply isn’t available. So rather than begging for access and fueling the hype that serves to inflate secondary market prices, spend your hard-earned cash on great watches that can be bought without waitlists.
Have you ever successfully scored the watch of your dreams by putting your name down on a watch retailer waiting list? What are your thoughts on this heated subject? Share your comments with us below.