The Best Watches To Buy Under £20,000 | CHRONO HUNTER

The Best Watches To Buy Under £20,000 | CHRONO HUNTER

Author: Chrono Hunter
Last Updated: 28 Apr, 2021

The Best Watches To Buy Under £20,000


It’s the one you’ve been saving for and now it’s time to empty your wallet.


When you have £20,000 to spend on a watch there’s plenty to choose from; complications, precious metals, advanced materials, blue-chip brands… It's a budget that opens up a whole world of horological fascination. And believe it or not, there’s some real bang-for-your-buck in the (admittedly expensive) bargain. 


So what are the best watches to buy under £20,000 or around this budget? 


Patek Philippe 5296


Price: Around £18,000


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Let’s start at the top. The oldest Patek Philippe line still in production today, the Calatrava is the company’s signature dress watch collection. It dates back to 1932, having been introduced in the same year that the Stern family took the reins at Patek Philippe.  


Calatrava watches have always featured round cases and elegant proportions. With its distinctive sector dial the Patek Philippe 5296 is smart, but not overly formal, modern take which will appeal to a younger crowd, perhaps one looking to get into Patek Philippe watches for the first time. 


A sector dial has individual tracks for seconds, minutes and hours, with different length hands running along each. A nod to watches of the 1930s the idea of a sector dial is for a more accurate time reading. This is a clever update. Directly inspired by the original Calatrava ref. 96 yet executed in a retro-modern standards and styling, the 5296 features a 38mm case in white gold which is quite large for a Calatrava. Unlike most other time-only Calatrava models, the ref. 5296 includes a date window - a useful function that somehow adds to sporty feel. 


Flip the watch around and you’ll spot the automatic Caliber 324 SC movement through the sapphire caseback, complete with the Poinçon de Genève emblem and a yellow gold rotor. 


You have arrived at your destination. 

JLC Master Ultra Thin Moon 



Image by Jaeger LeCoultre

Price: Around £13,000 


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There’s a ghostly grey to the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon that fronts an exceptionally beautiful piece of watchmaking of the sort that ‘the watchmakers’ watchmaker excels at.


At 9.9mm tall, it is pretty slim considering the complicated nature of the movement, which is, as you’d expect from JLC, just lovely. This is a class act; the Calibre 925 is an automatic movement made up of 246 parts and delivers 43 hours of power reserve. The finishing is up to JLC’s immaculate standards and the whole watch is tested for 1000 hours before it reaches your wrist. 


While the movement in this watch is important — and a compelling part of the package — it’s all about that beautifully refined silver grey and subtle starburst dial. The design of this watch is a masterclass in texture and contrast. Aside from the night sky of the moon phase display, every element is either grey, silver or white in colour which sounds a bit bland. But look at how the satin dial provides a soft backdrop to the highly polished facets of the hour markers and dauphine hands.  Whilst the minimal white text is present and legible, it doesn’t get in the way at all. And to cap it all, a narrow bezel and domed crystal ensure that the balanced design of the Master Ultra Thin Moon is always shown in the best possible light. 

PANERAI Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic




Image by Panerai

Price: Around £8,000


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At first glance the Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic looks like it’s a heavy, steel cased beast of a wristwatch. But appearances can be deceptive and in this case they really are because… that’s not steel. It’s Bulk Metallic Glass (BMG). 


BMG is an alloy made up of zirconium, copper, aluminium, titanium and nickel which is formed under high pressures, then very rapidly cooled. The atoms within the liquid metal remain in a randomly aligned state toi create a glass-like alloy which is way lighter than steel, but harder, anti-magnetic and corrosion resistant. 


This particular Panerai PAM00692 has partially open-worked, oversized hands with bold white tips. In low light the hands emit a green (hours) and blue (minutes) tint. The hour markers are a combination of oversized dots and large batons. Everything is made to be superbly readable.  


The technical highlight of this watch may be that groundbreaking case construction but for our money the best bit is its glorious appearance. Yes, it’s a proper diver’s toolwatch, but that wonderful blue dial and all the little details make it so much more. 

Rolex Submariner “Hulk”



Price: Around £17,000


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Nobody ever got fired for buying a Rolex Submariner. As a classic among luxury watches, the Rolex Submariner has been inspiring us since the 1950s. 


The Submariner was never supposed to be a luxury product but rather a professional diver’s watch that anyone could enjoy. It quickly gained a reputation for being an outstanding sports watch, rode the 1980s wave of interest in Rolex luxury-sports watches and has since exploded in popularity to become the world’s most desirable luxury timepiece brand. 


The Rolex the Submariner "Hulk" (Ref. 116610LV), produced from 2010 to 2020, had to fight its way to the top. As is often the way with Rolex sports watches, models become even more popular when they’re replaced by a successor. In this case the 126610LV “Kermit” is bringing new fans to the Submariner whilst reinforcing the love of the “Hulk”. 


Part of the reason why people love the Submariner is due to how little its overall design has changed throughout the years. Both the Kermit and the Hulk represent rare deviations from Rolex’s usually unflinchingly-consistent design language, and they are the only stainless steel Submariner watches ever produced that feature a colour other than black.

Cartier Tank MC Rose Gold

Image by Cartier

Image by Cartier 

Price: Around £14,000


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Cartier is one of the hottest brands just now with prices for their vintage models picking up steam. Cultured and always fashion conscious, Cartier have been ‘now’ for well over a century. How do you even do that? Cartier does it by making technical content serve elegance, style and emotion and their current range is packed with stylish pieces that contain the brand’s magical design flair and DNA.


So if you’re looking for something other than a Rolex you may be tempted by the distinctive Cartier Men’s Tank MC in rose gold.


In terms of technical features, this elegant Tank is powered by an in-house 1904 MC automatic movement which offers great precision. You can see it through the exhibition caseback that’s a hallmark of the MC Tank line. Flip it over and it’s that familiar Cartier Tank visual identity, with a square shaped case, Roman numeral dial markers and the trademark blue, sword-shaped Cartier watch hands. What’s new to this Tank is a small seconds subsidiary dial which looks like it’s always been there. 


That’s the beauty when you choose a Cartier for its classic case shape and dial, they always look effortlessly right.  




These are just a few of the best watches to buy under £20,000 but there are of course many more! It comes down to personal preference so if the one you had your eyes on is not on this list don’t worry I’m sure it’s a great watch you’re considering. So if you’re looking for the best watch to buy under £20,000? Look no further. Let us know the watch you’re interested in and receive offers from our network of luxury watch retailers. There’s no easier way to save time and money on your next luxury watch than to buy with Chrono Hunter. 


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If you are considering your new purchase or perhaps the sale of a beloved timepiece, Chrono Hunter is the smart way to buy or sell a luxury watch.

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