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Category: Under $500

Hands-On: AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1960s

Avi-8 is one of my favorite little/big watch brands because of how on-point their watches are thematically. Avi-8 embodies the aviation watch in fun and sometimes over the top ways. Their latest – the Flyboy Centenary edition – is a great example of that.

Both the 1960s and 1980s versions are fitted with three color schemes. Here I’ve got the blue dial 1960s (model AV-4060-02), which I think is the best looking. Let’s take a closer look.

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Undone Urban Tropical Sahara

UNDONE is an independent brand that has taken a unique approach to their watches: customers can customize their watch – changing cases, dials, casebacks, and even engraving initials – via UNDONE’s website watch builder. Fans of customization rejoice!

Priced at $345, the Urban Tropical Sahara is within the scope of what most would consider a “nice watch”. This is the first UNDONE I’ve seen hands-on, so let’s not waste any time in having a closer look.

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Citizen Promaster “EcoZilla”: One Serious Diver!

Powered by an Eco-Drive quartz movement, and with styling only an underwater welder could love, the Promaster BJ8050-08E is one of the few watches I’ve come across where the photos do not at all demonstrate the entirety of it. Suffice to say that this Promaster is 100% business, built tough as nails, and designed to handle itself under pressure. With a common street price of under $225, it’s also an affordable option that gives its wearers more for less. So, let’s go for a deep dive as we explore the Citizen Promaster BJ8050-08E!

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Orient Monarch Mechanical Hands-On Review

As of the time of this review, the MSRP of the Monarch is $335 (though I bought this one off of Amazon for $160). The Monarch is a classy dress watch that is rather conservatively styled (once you look past the serif hour markers). This model comes with a leather strap, stainless steel buckle, and an exhibition caseback.

Like the Bambino, which I still maintain is the best automatic watch you can buy for under $250, the Monarch hits that sweet spot where what it brings to the table greatly exceeds what it costs to eat there. You won’t find another quality mechanical – let alone with a power reserve complication – at this price point until you start looking at no-name Chinese-manufactured movements.

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Hands-On With the James McCabe Heritage Retrograde

Six weeks back I received an e-mail from Drew Meyer, who represents several watch brands. Among them is James McCabe, a highly-stylized microbrand that is doing what brands like Lucien Piccard should have done. Not long after that e-mail, the Heritage Retrograde arrived at my doorstep – courtesy of Drew – and it has commanded my interest ever since.

As the photos within this review will undoubtedly show, the Heritage Retrograde – a sub-$300 quartz casual watch – is among the most excellently styled (and stylized) watches I have come across in a good long time (if not ever). The real question is: is it a good watch? I suppose you’ll have to read on to find out.

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Seiko SARB065 Cocktail Time Review

In 2010, Seiko released the SARB065 Cocktail Time. A classic watch, and one that will enjoy decades of relevance, is a hard design to pen. Of course, the Cocktail Time is among those that get it right.

In my hands, I have the SARB065, aka the “Cocktail Time Cool”. Before I move on to the updated Presage Cocktail Time next month, I wanted to get hands-on with the aging SARB065 so that I had an accurate basis for comparison when I get hands-on with the new one.

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Seiko Prospex Solar SSC509 World Time Review

If your New Year’s resolution involves travel plans, you’re going to want a watch to come along for the ride. Frequent fliers will especially appreciate this Seiko Prospex World Time, both for its functionality (more on that below) and its build quality. Currently listed for just under $300 on Certified Watch Store ($278 actually), the Prospex Solar World Time is price competitive with most Citizens (in fact, it’s priced much better than most Citizen world time’s) and offers its wearer an assortment of functions/complications (including an alarm and chronograph function).

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