Affordable Royals – update (1st published 01/04/09)

As you may or may not be aware, I’ve been trawling around looking for “new” watches – or models and brands that are new to me.  And specifically in what I call the affordable sector – that is up to £150.  For let’s face most folks buy a watch basically to tell the time and sometimes have something that bit different from everybody else.

Now I’m not really particular where the watch comes from but what I don’t need are watches that pretend to be something they’re not.  Like those annoying brands that are “Geneve” or “Swiss Made” when they are patently not – you know the ones with an answerphone in Switzerland or Germany and blatantly pretending to be a long established maker of quality. In other words – scam watches.

You think you’re buying a watch of some quality, when in reality  you’ve ended up with a cheaply made Chinese watch that you could pick up for a couple of Pounds in a bargain basement.

So it’s refreshing to come across a brand that have a pretty large range of quite stylish watches, at quite reasonable prices in some cases and to suit just about all tastes.  They also don’t print patently misleading and often fraudulent information regarding their products.

This is a neat quartz date model I recently spotted, quite liked the look of it, certainly the finish seemed OK – so I took a chance and got it –

Royal London RL-4272-D51C

Royal London RL-4272-D51C

It’s actually not a bad looking  Cartier Tank  styled watch which looks reasonably good on the wrist.

I say “Cartier” as it has the extended side bars, the engine-turned dial decoration, similar numerals and inner chapter ring etc. so it looks the business.  Clearly marked Royal London it says what it is.

It’s a slim watch at 7mm and the dimensions are just about perfect for my smallish 6.7″ wrist – 39mm x 28mm.

The case is a PVD gold plate finish it is well polished and has a nice wrist curve to it.  The face is a white/silver background and the roman numerals and black hands contrast nicely. The date window is @6 and is quite big enough to clearly read.

I understand all the Quartz powered models feature Japanese Miyota movements and this is no exception being a Miyota 1N12 non jeweled little workhorse.

Miyota non-jewel quartz 1N12 movement

These are pretty much staple diet and I’ve always found them to be quite accurate enough and are reliable.

The standard fitted 20mm strap I admit whilst a reasonable quality croc style leather was a little stiff for my taste, so I swapped it for a nice soft leather German made one I had spare.

So where does this nice dress watch hail from?

Well the brand is Royal London marketed by Condor Group Ltd and in the UK are based in Enfield in a 20,00o sq ft premises.  They have partner sites both in Hong Kong and the Czech Republic.  Condor are more known as a leading watchstrap supplier to the trade in the UK and pretty much everywhere else since 1938.
They now market the Royal London range of affordable watches – and quite a wide range it is too.
I understand the watch bodies are Asian in origin which accounts for the low end pricing and it appears they have good control over the quality.  An issue that all too often associated with the Chinese watch Industry in general.
However it should be noted that China is one of the major producer of parts and finished models to even some of the better named watch brands in almost every country.

Where Condor is refreshing is that they don’t try and fool anyone and have made obvious efforts to bring a level of sustained quality of product to the marketplace and without silly hype or preposterous claims.
They are exactly what they say on the tin – pretty fair quality watches, lots of styles (and some little gems in there too) and some OK designs.

This is another model from their range –

Date Chrono 4798C1A

Date Chrono 4798C1A

Maybe a little expensive in my opinion at £129.99 this is a stylish watch with a touch of the pocket watch tradition.  Once again this one is a quartz movement with chronograph funtions and a date window.  I particularly like the neat parallel skeleton hands in blue which contrast nicely with the white face.  The overall watch style and dial are well suited.

Another model but entirely different in design is this one –

Royal London Auto Day Date

Royal London Auto Day Date

Not quartz this time but an Automatic mechanical model and featuring day and date sub-dials with the date displayed via a double date window @12 so is tad larger than the usual and consequently much easier to read.
Complimented by a large onion crown and two tone case sets this model off nicely.
Just under £150 this maybe represents better value than the quartz model, but I have no data on the movement used here so it will have serious competition out there – but if the style attracts you – maybe not a bad buy.

It also should be noted that all Royal London watches come with a 2 year International Guarantee and the company has both a UK address and contact telephone numbers in case of difficulty and not just a rather vague web site and lack of detail like so many others.

So a very wide range of affordable and pretty reasonable quality watches which are too many to list here – though the little montage image here  gives a taste of what’s on offer –

A selection of Royals

A selection of Royals

You might just spot a digital watch in there and there are also titanium cased models too.

Nice to come across a range of watches at such sensible prices.  As with anything of course check them out carefully and assess whether they offer value for money – sometimes it’s just how they look that may or may do it for you.

I think that Condors philosophy is just about spot on and I’m certainly quite impressed by the watches I’ve seen to date.

So what of this “Cartier” reminiscent dress watch?

Well as an evening watch I’ve worn it on the odd occasion – it’s comfortable, and stylish – it keeps good time – it looks pretty neat and cost me a very reasonable and non Cartier price!

Now that can’t be bad!  Who on earth said that Royalty doesn’t give value for money!

Note – I purchased my model RL-4272-D51C from a small company based here in the UK at Stevenage who were prompt, courteous and provided quick and efficient service.


Categories: Watch reviews


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