With the increasing availability of quality mechanical movements, the distinguishing feature of the best affordable watches is design, and this is a field in which Italy has always excelled. Here is a selection of the most attractive affordable watches from Italy, many of which will be visible at the upcoming show Watches Of Italy. They are in ascending price order.
Hangar Italy SF-260 EA pilot’s watch
The SF-260 EA by Hangar Italy is a quintessential pilot’s watch, a limited edition of 100 pieces at a price of just €299. It is made by a company based near Varese, in northern Italy. The watch celebrates the SF-260 EA military trainer aircraft manufactured by SIAI Marchetti and later Aermacchi. The case is 43 mm in diameter, with a large crown, 10 atm water resistance, housing the automatic Miyota 8215 movement. You can choose your favourite number and have it engraved on the caseback, together with your name. Read more here, or visit the Hangar Italy website.
Out Of Order Watches
A watch brand called “Out Of Order”? That takes courage, and a great sense of humour. Their claim is that their products “Made & Damaged in Italy”, meaning that they are specialists in distressed finish. Cases are made using a patented galvanization process, and the Italian leather straps are also distressed but expertly crafted, so that each watch becomes a unique piece. The Grey Auto shown here has a 44-mm case with 10 atm (100 metres) water resistance, a vegetable-tanned leather strap, a sunray grey dial, and a unidirectional rotating bezel. Available at the Out Of Order website for €349.
Kienzle Pilotimer KM-419
Kienzle was originally a German brand, but it is now principally Italian (read more about Kienzle’s history here). The Kienzle Pilotimer KM-419 is a pilot’s watch with a 44-mm brushed stainless steel case and a steel bracelet. Its pilot’s characteristics include an altimeter-type date window, broad sword-shaped hands, and an aircraft-style seconds hand. The movement is the Seiko NH57. The watch is available from retailers in Italy, and the brand has begun online sales on the Kienzle website. It costs €388. Read more here.
Meccaniche Veneziane Arsenale
Meccaniche Veneziane was founded in Venice in 2017. Arsenale is a tough-looking watch, distinctive for the bezel with studs marking the hours, the tapisserie dial, skeletonized hands, and the Italian leather strap with feature stitching. The watch has a degree of interactivity, with a rotating bezel, so that you can use the 12 o’clock pip to time events approximately. The 45-mm case has a solid steel caseback. Inside, the movement is based on the Seiko NH35. It is available in colours including black, blue, green, and this attractive red. Price €550, available from the Meccaniche Veneziane website. Read more here.
echo/neutra Cortina 1956 Automatic
There is a lot of good design in this watch, with an overall simplicity, and many details that emerge only after repeated viewings. The bezel looks like a sports bezel, but it is fixed, and the top reference triangle has been cleverly converted into stylized mountains. The bezel markings are luminous, providing a reference in the dark for the two very different hands. The seconds hand has a red and white tip, a reference to the Italian Alpine Club’s trail markers. Personally I think that the absence of the date window further improves the dial design. The watch is powered by the STP-11 movement, made by Swiss Technology Production (part of Fossil Group).. Price €665, with various colour and strap options. You can find out more on the echo/neutra website, or read more here.
Perseo Nighthawk Pilot’s Watch
Perseo is a brand operated by the company Fernus Frères S.r.l. based in Bologna. Their watches are available in jewelleries all over Italy but at present they don’t run online sales. The Nighthawk is a classic pilot’s watch with black or blue dial and a 44-mm case. The Sellita SW 400 movement can be seen through the sapphire caseback. Price €698. More information here, or at the Perseo website.
Orologi Calamai MKIII Blue Pilot’s Watch
Orologi Calamai is a Florentine brand specializing in pilot’s watches, and its CEO flies aerobatic aircraft. The Orologi Calamai MKIII is a quirky watch with some very attractive design touches such as the dial layout, the large knurled crown, and the logo in which the C is drawn by a tiny aircraft looping the loop. It is very wearable with its 38 mm case diameter, 5 atm water resistance, and a solid caseback. The case itself incorporates steel from a Starfighter turbine. The movement is the Sellita SW-200 TOP. Price €1,250, available online at the Orologi Calamai website. Read more here.
Gruppo Ardito Watches Lince
Gruppo Ardito Watches is an Italian brand making very tough, military-appearance watches. The Lince is its most design-oriented product so far, with a distinctive titanium case 42 mm in diameter with nicely-engineered hex screws, blue or black sunburst dial with skeletonized sword hands, and a dive-worthy water resistance of 100 bar. It weighs 85 grams and is powered by the Sellita SW 200 movement. The price of G.A.W.’s Lince watch starts at €1,350, available from some retailers or by ordering direct by e-mail. Read more about G.A.W. here, or visit the Gruppo Ardito Watches website.
Locman Montecristo Carbon
Locman makes several watches with stylish, modern carbon cases and brightly-coloured straps, such as this Montecristo Carbon with a 41-mm carbon and titanium case, 10 atm (100 metres) water resistance, and an automatic movement. Price €1,390. Locman is a company based on the Isle of Elba in Tuscany, with eight own-brand stores in Italy and 1,200 distributing retailers worldwide. Read more about the Locman brand here, or visit the Locman website.
TFP Time For Planet Windrose
The Windrose is an eco-sustainable watch by Tuscan company Time For Planet. It has a Swiss movement (Landeron) and an attractive design, with a dial that is a perfect match to the vegetable-tanned Italian leather strap with quick change system. The 42.5-mm-diameter steel case has a water resistance of 20 atm, 200 metres. The bezel is fixed with a distinctive sloping design, available in steel or ceramic, with engraved markings showing the compass bearings and wind directions. This limited-edition piece (888 units) is available on the TFP website at a price of €1,500. Read more here, or click here to visit the brand’s website.
Memphis Belle B17F chronograph
A pilot’s chronograph with the Valjoux 7750 calibre, the B17F chronograph made by Italian company Memphis Belle has a 44-mm case, a steel caseback, a screw-in crown, and a 10 atm water resistance. The unidirectional rotating bezel provides another method of measuring elapsed times. The watch is supplied with a Milanaise steel bracelet, a black rubber strap, and another strap in aquawash leather. It costs €1,980, available on the Memphis Belle website or from retailers in Italy. Read more here.