By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
A timepiece has always been one of the more popular Christmas gift ideas for men. But when faced with the prospect of choosing a watch for him, chances are you will be overwhelmed by the amount of candidates on the market with price differences and technical jargon that will leave most earnest hunters even more confused than when they set out.
To make life less stressful, we have put together a list of 10 top quality, highly desirable men's watches under £5,000. Every watch on this list comes from a reputable brand, and each one is equipped with a proper mechanical movement, a detail he is bound to appreciate.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional watch (£3,340) is the stuff of myths. As the first watch to accompany astronaut Buzz Aldrin on his epic Moon walk in July 1969, the 42mm stainless steel chronograph - known as the Omega Moonwatch - is immediately recognisable with its black dial, tachymetre scale and green luminescence. Equipped with a superior, highly robust hand-winding movement that made it to the Moon and back, this watch performs equally as well on our planet.
Another watch that is used to being ejected into the stratosphere and surviving vibration and severe temperature fluctuations is the Bremont MBIII aviation watch (£3,945). Developed with Britain's leading ejection seat company, Martin-Baker, the MBIII was subjected to the same rigorous testing as the ejector seats themselves. This 43mm ultra-rugged pilot's watch is a COSC-certified chronometer, has a convenient 24-hour GMT hand and protects its Swiss movement in an anti-magnetic Faraday case.
Still flying high, Alpina has come out with a great vintage pilot's watch to coincide with the 130th anniversary of the brand. The bi-compax layout of the Alpina 130 Heritage Pilot Chronograph watch is complemented with telemetre and tachymetre scales marking it as a professional aviation companion. Powered by an Alpina calibre visible through the transparent caseback, the 41.5mm watch is available in a stainless steel version for £ 2,100.
For men who accumulate air miles and cross time zones, a world timer model from the cult German brand Nomos watches. In spite of its technical complexity, with 24 time zones that can be changed by a simple click, the Zurich Worldtimer Trueblue (£3,850) is faithful to the company's minimalist Bauhaus aesthetic. Not only do the blue dial and polished 39.9mm stainless steel case look cool, the watch is equipped with the first Nomos in-house swing system calibre, which can be admired on the caseback.
Braving depths of up to 300 metres is the mission of the IWC Aquatimer Automatic watch (£4,250). The basic model of the professional Aquatimer family is a serious dive watch with just three hands and without the usual clutter on the dial. The comfortably-sized 42 mm stainless steel case features the innovative SafeDive system on both the external and interior bezels. The vital dive displays are coated with green SuperLumiNova and the black rubber strap can be easily changed thanks to IWC's quick-change system. A date window and hacking seconds are also featured on this resilient underwater companion that beats with a self-winding movement.
From the depths of the ocean to the screeching tyres of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique race in which historical F1 cars from 1920-1985 tear around hairpin bends. As sponsor of the legendary race, Chopard designed the GPMH collection, which includes this racy Chopard GPMH Power Control watch (£4,510), with a power-reserve indicator in the form of a petrol gauge at 6 o'clock. The large 44.5mm titanium case, the racy yellow details on the dial and the 1970s-inspired aerated strap will transport petrol heads directly to the race track. The powerful engine, a self-winding Chopard movement that has been certified by COSC as a chronometer, is water-resistant to 100 metres.
The Ralph Lauren Classic Chronometer from the Sporting collection manages to reconcile the aesthetics of a sports watch with a classic dress watch, allowing him to make the transition from the weekend to the office in style. The handsome black-tie dial, with elegant Roman numerals, is offset by the sporty 45mm stainless steel case and riveted bezel. Equipped with a Swiss manufacture self-winding COSC-chronometer movement, this watch retails for £2,850.
Jaeger-LeCoultre's Master Control watch (£4,900) is the epitome of understated refinement. Classical to the core with its pure lines and sober dial featuring a date window at 3 o'clock, there is nothing remotely antiquated about the in-house self-winding movement under the 39mm stainless steel case: new ceramic ball bearings and a variable inertia balance increase the precision of the watch.
Montblanc has been the talk of the watch world since it released its Meisterstück Heritage Collection to rave reviews at the SIHH in January this year. Its range of classically styled timepieces, fitted with prestige movements and excellent value for money, includes this elegant 39mm Heritage Moonphase watch (£2,695) in stainless steel. Integrated in the date counter, the phases of the Moon complete their cycle thanks to the impeccable Montblanc self-winding calibre, which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal.
It's also been a year marked by the return of Tudor watches to the British Isles with some powerful models that have literally taken the market by storm. The Tudor Heritage Chrono watch pays homage to its 1970s ancestor adding touches of colour and funky-shaped chronograph counters. Inside the 42mm case is a self-winding movement that is water-resistant to 150 metres. The model presented on the stripey black, grey and orange fabric strap is one of 2014's raciest Christmas gift ideas for men and retails for £3,010.
For more inspiring gift ideas for him, watch our video of the top five watches for men under £5,000 and visit our dedicated Christmas section.
The Nomos Zurich Worldtimer Trueblue watch features 24 time zones on its dial, which can be changed by a simple click. The 39.9mm stainless steel case houses Nomos' innovative swing system calibre, which can be admired through the caseback (£3,850).
Alpina's vintage-style 130 Heritage Pilot Chronograph features a bi-compax layout complemented with telemetre and tachymetre scales marking it as a professional aviation companion (£2,100).
The Tudor Heritage Chrono watch pays homage to its 1970s ancestor. This sporty chronograph is water-resistant up to 150m and is available with a sporty fabric strap (£3,010).
The Bremont MBIII aviation watch is an ultra-rugged pilot’s watch and a COSC-certified chronometer. It has a convenient 24-hour GMT hand and protects its Swiss movement in an anti-magnetic Faraday case (£3,945).
The powerful engine of the Chopard GPMH watch is a self-winding Chopard COSC-certified chronometer, water-resistant to 100m (£4,510).
The IWC Aquatimer Automatic is a serious dive watch with just three hands for optimal legibility. The 42mm stainless steel case features IWC's innovative SafeDive system on both the external and interior bezels (£4,250). Available from Wempe 43-44 New Bond Street, London.
Montblanc has been the talk of the watch world since it released its Meisterstück Heritage Collection this year, which includes this elegant 39mm Heritage Moonphase watch in stainless steel (£2,695).