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Switzerland has always been considered the hub of the most exquisite watches.
Usually, with high standards comes a hefty price tag – a statement that can be easily backed up just by looking at the cost of some of the most popular brands originating from the “Land of Watches“, such as Rolex, Omega or Longines.
All of the above watchmakers are some of the heaviest names in the industry, and most of us can only dream about affording one.
The company has been around for well over one hundred years now. Although living through many ups and downs, it continues to deliver neat-looking and durable timekeepers at affordable price margins.
In this Reef Tiger watches review, we’re gonna have a closer look at all aspects contributing to the overall quality of the brand, as well as get familiar with some of the most popular watch models.
Like with any other watch brand review on TimepieceKing, we kick off with the history of the company. If you’d like to skip this part and move right to the quality review, no worries. You can take your pick below.
📖 Table of Contents
History of Reef Tiger Watches
As already mentioned, Reef Tiger timekeepers boast a pretty long-standing history.
The company was founded in Switzerland at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1898, to be precise, a highly talented watchmaker named Stephane Reef and his affluent friend Leandro Tiger, set up the brand.
Prior to the foundation, wristwatches were a sign of high social status and considered a luxury only the cash-rich could afford. Mr. Reef had a long-term vision to make timepieces accessible for an average person and, with his excellent craftsmanship skills and passion, the only thing he lacked to kickstart a successful business was funds. To the rescue came his close friend from Great Britain, Leandro.
Right from the get-go, Reef Tiger timekeepers enjoyed high popularity precisely due to the afore-mentioned reasons – solid quality and affordable prices. It’s fair to say that Reef Tiger was one of the brands that popularized wristwatches amongst the low-to-mid class society not only in Switzerland but across Europe.
The rapid burst onto the scene of the watchmaking industry was put on hold due to the outbreak of World War I. Even though Switzerland itself was pretty much a spectator in the conflict, the war impacted the financial lives of people across the globe. The highly-regarded Swiss industry didn’t escape the crisis which even prompted Mr. Tiger’s son to withdraw all his stocks from the company.
It wasn’t until after World War II that Reef Tiger could really start to rebuild from the depression. After a few highly successful years, the company had to endure another setback in the form of the Quartz Crisis. After the invention of the first battery-powered timepiece by Seiko, the whole industry experienced a massive drop in sales due to people following the fresh trends and shifting to quartz models that offered innovative technology and improved precision.
It’s fair to say that the brand didn’t deal particularly well with the Quartz Revolution. After a very quiet couple of decades, Reef Tiger was finally revived in 1995 thanks to descendants of both families – Michae Reef and Audrey Tiger. After years of hard work, garden-fresh ideas and application of new movement technology, Reef Tiger was back doing what it was originally set up to do – providing comment-worthy timekeepers at prices affordable for most.
Probably the biggest milestone in the modern history of the brand was entering the gigantic and largely untapped Chinese market in 2011. Since that move, the company has enjoyed a decade of year-to-year growth and continues to prosper both in Asia and across other continents.
Are Reef Tiger Watches Any Good?
When trying to evaluate each watch brand, the quality-to-price ratio is the most essential metric. What I mean here is – it’s unfair to compare low or even mid-budget brands to some of the most elaborate watchmakers on the market. If we do so, 95% of the brands would be deemed average or even poor.
The overall score of the brand should be judged on the basis of the quality it delivers compared to other names in the same price category.
And this is precisely how we’re going to judge Reef Tiger.
Considering the $100-$500 price range of Reef Tiger timekeepers, it’s fair to categorize it as a low-to-mid budget brand. The relatively low cost of these watches means we shouldn’t expect the craftsmanship and precision levels of the Rolexes and Omegas of the world.
Nevertheless, these are hardly bargain-basement prices and the watch should look good on your wrist and most importantly, stand the test of time.
Are they likely to do so? Let’s have a look at all the factors contributing to the Reef Tiger watch quality below.
Thanks to the adventurous design, a large chunk of Reef Tiger models might look way above their price tag. The fact is – even the most jaw-dropping designs won’t mean a thing if the watch will struggle to get past the first year of use.
Thankfully, that problem doesn’t relate to Reef Tiger.
As disappointed as I am at not having the chance to raise a complaint or two (the horrible malcontent that I am), there’s really not much you could point a finger at durability-wise.
Whatever watch collection and price tag, all Reef Tiger models come with a long-lasting and well-crafted exterior, often including high-class ornaments such as diamonds, Swarovski stones, or mother of pearl.
The watch dial, which is by far the most damage-prone part of any timepiece, is made from an anti-reflective sapphire crystal – even when you shop for the least expensive models. This particular glass type is the most crack and scratch-resistant material out there and is used by all the top-end watchmakers on the market. More often than not, brands operating in the same price category use mineral crystal which is considerably weaker. Mineral glass is seen only in a small portion of Reef Tiger models.
Moving on to other parts of the watch, we can differentiate between a few types of Reef Tiger timepieces:
- all-stainless steel models – probably the most rugged type
- watches with stainless steel cases and genuine leather straps – the most elegant type
- watches with stainless steel cases and rubber straps – mostly present in the Sports series
The above categorization is fairly standard practice for most brands – so they cater to different tastes and needs.
Crucially, all Reef Tiger watches come with some sort of water-resistance rating. The least water-friendly models come with a 50m (mostly the leather strap models), whereas the Aurora collection (rich in diving watches), boasts a 200m water-resistance rating.
Reef Tiger offers both of the common movement types – automatic and quartz (battery-powered).
If you value precision above all, the best idea is to get a battery-powered model. Different watches use different calibers. The most common quartz movements are the Swiss Ronda 762 caliber and, mostly seen in chronograph watches, the in-house RT675 movement. Both provide excellent precision of +/- 15 seconds/month.
When it comes to mechanical (automatic) movements, Reef Tiger mostly uses Swiss-made movements, particularly the RT6502 caliber. Because of the launched in 2011 Chinese connection, some of the movements originate from that country. Depending on the caliber, you can expect Reef Tiger automatic watches to lose between 25-40 seconds per day.
Durability-wise, Swiss movements tend to last longer than Chinese. Whenever possible, try to pick the watch with the Swiss-made caliber.
Reef Tiger Warranty
The brand offers a three-year warranty on all timepieces. The guarantee period begins from the date of purchase and covers all material and manufacturing defects.
Reef Tiger service centers are located in different parts of the globe, so they can provide an easy and smooth way of helping customers. Getting more information regarding the warranty T&Cs is possible by contacting the brand via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also use the contact form available on their website.
List of Reef Tiger Watch Collections
Since the heir-led revival in the 1990s, Reef Tiger has stepped up the release of new watch models.
Thanks to the influence of Michae Reef and Audrey Tiger, and particularly the hiring of many highly-skilled watchmakers with fresh ideas, the brand has developed different watch collections that suit ranging styles and occasions. At this moment in time, there are 8 different watch lines:
- Black Shark
- Limited Edition (subject to change)
Below you will find a brief description of each collection’s style, as well as a selection of the best-selling models from the series.
Reef Tiger Classic
If you’re a fan of minimalistic watches, this collection is the right fit. Just like the name of the series suggests, it presents a classic watch design that’s been well-thought-of and liked for decades, if not centuries.
The line paints a great picture of how a traditional dress timepiece should look like – modest but elegant and comment-worthy at the same time. The collection features 5 watches – Heritage, Artisan, Heritor, Glory and Legend. Below my favorite pick, Heritor.
Reef Tiger Artist
The Artist collection is full of elegant watches boasting unique and adventurous styles combined with solid technical reliability and performance.
The collection is divided into five lines – Library, Metiers D’Art, Tourbillon, Geographer and Magician. My pick in this case is a Tourbillon model as I simply love skeletonized dial designs.
Note: Soon you can expect a firsthand Reef Tiger Tourbillon review, so make sure to keep an eye on this page.
Reef Tiger Aurora
Next to the Sports series, Reef Tiger Aurora watches are probably the most rugged and heavy-duty models available.
Most of these are inspired by marine life. Hence, they all come with an impressive water-resistance rating – 200m.
The collection is full of timekeepers that combine both the traditional and modern facets of sports watches. It’s divided into five sub-series – Deep Ocean, Concept II, Tanker II, Air Bubble and Transformer. Since I’m a massive diving enthusiast, my favorite model from the line is Deep Ocean.
Note: I’m currently working on the hands-on Reef Tiger Aurora watch review so make sure to be around in case you like the look of the collection.
Reef Tiger Seattle
Seattle series is probably the most diverse collection available at present. The differentiating design amongst watches means people of ranging styles and needs might find the line the most appealing.
The series is divided into five sub-collections – Sailing, Sea Hawk, Navy, Chief and Space Needle. As you will notice, some of these models are perfect for a casual setting, others for more official occasions. A few will be a great accessory even during outdoor activities.
Below find my favorite pick from the series, the Navy.
Reef Tiger Sports
Sports collection presents probably the most adventurous design of all.
Clearly, a lot of creativity has been put into all of the 5 models in the series – Concept, Hercules, Top Speed, Big Band, and Machinist.
With the futuristic design, we can even say that watches in the Sports series look ahead of time. That relates especially to my favorite pick from the line, the Concept.
Reef Tiger Lady
Like the name of the collection suggests, it’s a line of watches dedicated exclusively to ladies.
Reef Tiger Lady is largely dominated by comment-worthy and stylish dress watches. The most striking difference between this and other collections is the size of cases. To fit the slender wrist of a female, most watches don’t go beyond 40mm diameter.
There are 5 different lines available in the collection – Cupid, Promise, Angel, Double Star, and Melody. An example of a beautifully-designed Angel timepiece can be seen below.
Reef Tiger Black Shark
Last but not least, Reef Tiger Black Shark is a collection with exclusively diving enthusiasts in mind.
Unlike all of the above collections, Black Shark consists of just one watch line available in different color variations and minor tweaks related to the uni-rotating bezel which can help measure elapsed time underwater.
If you’re after a budget diving watch that is unique and won’t cost an arm and a leg, look no further.
Where Are Reef Tiger Watches Made?
The brand manufactures the majority of its watches in the main hub located in Grenchen, Switzerland. Since 2011, a portion of manufacturing work is also handled at locations in China.
Regardless of the country of production, all Reef Tiger watches use Swiss quality technology, meaning they pass all the tests required to obtain the label. For example, the Master Series are marked with the official seal of COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Control), an independent organization evaluating the standard of timepieces from many brands.
Where to Buy Reef Tiger Watches?
Since Reef Tiger offers such a variety of styles, good quality and affordable pricing, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’ve decided to give one of these watches a try. With their adventurous design, not only can they look neat on your wrist but be a great gift idea as well.
The first obvious shopping destination that springs to mind is the Reef Tiger watch website. There you can easily browse through all collections and pick one that caters to your taste the most. Unlike some other websites of popular watch brands, Reef Tiger’s site functions as a store so the purchase process is smooth and safe.
Reef Tiger watches are also available, sometimes at even lower prices, on popular retail websites and online marketplaces, such as Amazon or eBay. When purchasing at any of these, first make sure with the seller the watch is new and comes with a warranty.
Reef Tiger Review Conclusion: Is It a Good Watch?
I have high hopes that the Reef Tiger watches review provided you with enough clues on whether the brand is the right fit for you.
To sum up, I think it’s fair to say that the company offers good value for money. The style and design of most watches are really comment-worthy, and at times comparable to renowned top-end brands that cost at least a few times more.
At the same time, it would be unrealistic to call Reef Tiger a luxury or high-end brand and expect it to perform like one.
Considering the low-to-mid pricing of these watches, they do well compared to other brands in the same price category.
One of the biggest standouts in terms of durability is the presence of an anti-reflective, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal dial in most watch models. This is hardly a given when it comes to such affordable timekeepers.
Swiss-quality movements are another factor contributing to the positive score of the brand.
The final word: as long you don’t expect your Reef Tiger to outperform much more pricey brands and prepare to appreciate the exquisite designs of these watches, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Moreover, you can be pleasantly surprised with your purchase.