It’s a competitive world out there, and for many young professionals, “looking the part” is half the battle. Regardless of your career path or industry, wearing a refined timepiece is one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from others. Not to suggest that wearing a watch will make you a better or more qualified worker, but like we said, it can help complete your image.
Entry Level Mechanical Luxury Watches
We understand that as someone early in their career, it may not make the most financial sense to have a vast watch collection. As such, versatility is the name of the game when it comes to picking a watch to accompany the beginning of your career journey. Here are our top 7 picks under $10,000 for a young professional, taking into account versatility, value, and of course, price. And just to get it out of the way early, these picks all have a date complication, which is perhaps the most useful complication to have in your watch as a young professional. Click on any of these to jump straight to your pick, or continue reading!
- Omega Aqua Terra
- TAG Heuer Monaco
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
- IWC Pilot’s Mark XVIII
- Breitling Aviator 8 Day-Date
- Zenith El Primero
- Rolex Datejust
Starting things off is the Aqua Terra from Omega. This line-up is the perfect amalgamation of an elegant dress watch and a rugged sports watch. The Aqua Terra is an ideal all-around watch to have as your first or only piece in the collection. With 150m of water resistance coupled with a shock- resistant tank of a movement and anti-magnetic Si14 silicon balance spring, these watches could take whatever you throw at them (and more). With a date cutout at three o’clock, it is easy to draw immediate comparisons with the Datejust, however that is really where the similarities end.
The Aqua Terra models feature some version of Omega’s in-house 8500 caliber, which offers a handy hour-jumping feature that allows the hour hand to be moved forward or backwards independently without stopping the seconds hand. This is perfect if your career requires frequent travel between time zones! As a reminder that this watch is in the Seamaster family, the Aqua Terra case features the signature twisted lugs which add an element of flare on the wrist. The Aqua Terra we have featured here has a 41.5mm case and a bi-color black and yellow second hand which hearkens back to the scientific roots of the model. The Aqua Terra is the one to have if you’re after the one “all-arounder.”
Our second pick shows how remarkably different a chronograph can be incorporated into a watch. The Zenith we’ve chosen (below) is an example of a semi-sport, semi-dress chronograph, and this TAG Heuer Monaco has a totally different aesthetic to its design. Everything about this watch feels retro, because well, it is. But it only looks vintage. This Monaco has all of the modern amenities that would be expected in a luxury watch in 2019, complete with a sapphire crystal, durable movement, and a capable 100m water resistance.
This watch is not trying to hide the fact that it’s different. The square case will certainly turn some heads, and luckily this watch has a great story to tell for such an instance with its ties to racing and Steve McQueen. Similar to the Zenith, this TAG has an undeniable sporty nature to it, but it can certainly be dressed up when necessary. This particular model comes fitted with an equally vintage-inspired bracelet, but it can also look fantastic on any number of straps. This is the watch to have if you’re after a vintage-inspired conversation starter.
The esteemed Swiss watch-making house of Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) is most known for their high-end complications and refined dress watches. The Master Control Date is one of the more entry-level offerings from JLC, but do not mistake this “entry-level” distinction with “lower quality.” The Master Control Date is an ideal way for a younger professional to wear a watch from such a celebrated brand at an obtainable price point. This particular Master Control Date features a less-common “Sector Dial”, signaled by the inner hour track creating a circle around the outer minute track.
The dial makes the watch look fantastic on a wide variety of straps and allows it to easily transition from a dress watch on a black crocodile strap to a casual, everyday piece on a distressed calf strap. The real magic of this piece, however, comes when it is turned around. The beautifully decorated, in-house 899-1 movement complete with a solid rose gold rotor can be seen through the sapphire case back. This movement is truly something to behold in person, and it demonstrates the attention to detail that JLC gives their watches at all price points. The Master Control Date is the one to have if you’re after a watch that gets a special “nod” from the watch community.
At first glance, the International Watch Company (IWC) Pilot’s Mark XVIII appears unassuming in nature. It has large white numerals and hands contrasting with the stark black dial. Its case has a simple, brushed finish and the black strap is as equally unimposing as the case. Compared to the first three watches on the list, this IWC may feel a bit… plain. This is, however, the point. IWC has a rich history of making pilot watches, which are at their very core tools used to tell the time. When these watches were used by pilots in World War II, there was no need for frills like a polished case or faceted hour markers. The main goal was to be both legible and accurate.
This concept was the inspiration behind the Mark XVIII, which brings a piece of IWC’s deep heritage of pilot’s watches to the market at an accessible 40mm size and price point. Despite this no-nonsense foundation, IWC’s keen attention to detail can’t go unnoticed with the color- matched black date disk. Beyond great legibility, the relatively simple dial lends this watch to look great on just about every strap out there. The Mark XVIII is the watch to have if you’re
after a piece of history on your wrist.
Following such a subdued, tooly watch in the IWC, this Breitling Aviator 8 Day-Date may seem extra shiny. The Aviator 8 is a relatively new line from Breitling, and it walks the line somewhere between a pilot’s watch and a diver’s watch by incorporating elements of both. The model we are highlighting here is unique in its day-date complication. This welcomed addition brings the full day of the week written out at twelve o’clock on the dial and the date at six o’clock. There are very few luxury Swiss watches that feature such a valuable complication at such an affordable price.
The split of this day-date complication at twelve and six makes the dial very balanced and pleasing to the eye. This particular Day-Date model features a black dial which gives the watch a more classic appeal, but this watch is also available in a striking blue. The Aviator 8 Day-Date feels like a familiar sports watch with its polished 41mm case and rotating bezel, but the numeral hour markers, uncommon complication, and leather strap make this Breitling a true stand-alone piece. This is the watch to have if you’re after a sports watch unlike any other.
This Zenith El Primero is the most complicated watch on our list. The “El Primero” namesake comes from Zenith’s historic chronograph movement, which is credited as the first automatic chronograph movement. This model takes the chronograph function to another level. Rather than counting sixty seconds around the dial upon actuation, this Zenith totalizes ten seconds following a full revolution of the chronograph hand. Six ticks measure one second. This complication may not prove all too useful in your everyday life, but it is just something special. The multi-colored subdials also bring a level of uniqueness to the dial, and the applied hour markers and matching framed date window show the attention to detail in this piece. All El Primero chronographs are naturally sporty in design, but their dials are still restrained enough to dress up on a nice leather strap. This is the watch to have if you’re after an off-the-wall, quirky complication.
Aptly named for its snappy date complication, the Datejust line carries years of rich Rolex history and unmatched name recognition. If it is a status symbol you’re after, look no further than the Datejust. Beyond the name, the classic, truly iconic design of the Datejust lends itself to looking good in any situation. From a suit and tie to jeans and a t-shirt, the Datejust will never appear out of place. Add in the durable nature and 100m of water resistance of the Oyster case, and the Datejust is an even better choice for daily wear.
One of the main highlights of the Datejust models is the wide variety in which they are offered. This particular model highlighted here features an attractive blue dial, sporty Oyster bracelet, and a modern 41mm case, however there are a seemingly infinite number of alternatives. There are countless Datejust variations between two-tone precious metals, 36 to 41mm case diameters, smooth vs, fluted bezels, and of course, an absolute rainbow of dial choices. We felt this particular model with the modern size and blue colorway especially speaks to a younger generation. The Datejust is the model to have if you’re after a timeless icon.
Are there any other watches you would recommend for a young professional? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!