cartier panthere de cartier watch
Photo: Courtesy

It is probably inevitable in a difficult market, but value is the new name of the game in the watch industry these days.

That is hardly surprising. For the last three years, luxury mechanical timepieces have been plagued by back-to-back slumps for reasons ranging from the strong Swiss franc to China’s crackdown on corruption.

Although recent spikes in Swiss watch exports indicate the market may finally be clambering out of a rut, industry players are under no illusions that they will soon be scaling dizzying heights again.

According to the Swiss watch federation, prices of luxury watches climbed by 53 per cent between 2005 and 2015.

But in a gloomy economic climate, sky high prices are unrealistic and no longer tenable. Demand has not kept up.

Bad times demand smart responses and many watchmakers are hoping to keep sales up with entry-level offerings.

They opt for steel instead of precious metals, pare down the bling and complicated features, and simplify movements without compromising on their brand’s character, style and reputation.

About three years ago, Montblanc released the Heritage Perpetual Calendar which, at $16,800 in steel, is the most affordable perpetual calendar from a big name. Last year, Tag Heuer did the same with a tourbillon chronograph: the Carrera Heuer-02T, which retails for $21,800 in steel.

Other watchmakers are going for cheaper iterations of classic models. Earlier this year, Cartier came out with a whole range of Panthere de Cartier. The steel model starts at $5,500.

Here are a few entry-level offerings from major brands.

This article originally appeared on The Straits Times

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