Building The Perfect Watch Collection With €25,000 — Balazs’s Picks From Rolex, Grand Seiko, Cartier, And Omega
You might think that putting a watch collection together is easy, especially if you have €25,000 to play with. Well, it is a lot of money, and depending on your preference, this can get you a lot of excellent watches. Or how about a few very cool watches? I went with the latter. My New Year’s resolution for 2023 was to consolidate my collection and aim for fewer watches but better ones. That was the idea when I put this list together. Hence, I went with Omega, Rolex, Grand Seiko, and Cartier, not in any specific order.
I tried to think of the brands and types of timepieces that I enjoy. While the complications may not be as significant, I tried to vary them here. Also, though some of these watches would not be my first choice by themselves, they make sense in this assembly. But let’s not beat around the bush any longer. Here are my picks for my perfect €25K watch collection.
Rolex Submariner 14060
Let’s start with a classic. A watch collection worth this much should have a Rolex sports model in there. Let’s be honest: behind the hype and the snobbery, Rolex timepieces are well-made, beautiful objects that get the job done. Also, I own none of these watches from my list, so I also tried to aim for things I may buy one day. In our podcast, I have spoken numerous times about how much I appreciate the 14060. This represents the best of neo-vintage watches from the late ’80s and early ’90s. I’d strictly go for the classic 14060, not the 14060M.
The Submariner is a great everyday watch, the perfect companion for a watch guy. You can wear it with a T-shirt, jeans, slacks, and a button-down shirt. Please don’t rock it with a suit. I have something else for that. Most tritium-dial Sub 14060s have a beautiful patina on the indices that is not too strong and, therefore, not disturbing. Yet it shows you that the Submariner is not a typical, run-of-the-mill timepiece. It’s so much more than that. Prices have increased in recent years, as with any Rolex model, but you can find many Submariner 14060 examples to choose from. I’d say my max would be around €8,000. I don’t care too much about boxes or papers. If they come with it, fine. However, if I can get a watch with an unpolished case, sharp edges, and the original dial, hands, and bezel, take my money, please.
Grand Seiko SBGN027
After getting the Sub, I need something that I can travel with. Whether on business or just enjoying time off with the family, everyone needs a grab-and-go piece. It should be a watch that you don’t have to deal with too much and that lets you focus on the trip. This is what quartz gives me. Not messing with the watch is not a luxury; rather, it’s a necessity.
I also believe that a watch collection should include a Japanese watch. So what if we combine quartz and some of the best watchmaking that Japan has to offer with the Grand Seiko SBGN027? It has a versatile black dial, a spectacular GS 9F quartz movement, and a GMT complication for €3,300. Grand Seiko makes fantastic timepieces that, thanks to their price, quality, and looks, are going to be classics in a few years.
The fact that it’s also a GMT comes in handy when hopping over a few time zones. Lastly, its 39mm size is more than perfect (if that’s even possible). A steel case and bracelet, steel 24-hour bezel, and date function are some of the other essential features. What more do you want from a Grand Seiko sports model for just over €3K? Yes, I know; the size, material, and dial color are like the Sub. But this is my list, and I love steel watches with black dials. Don’t worry, though. My next pick will be different.
Cartier Tank Solo Large in yellow gold
You guessed it. My dress watch would be a Cartier, but it wouldn’t just be any model. Forget the rest of the brand’s collection; the Tank flies Solo! My apologies for the lousy pun; sadly, it was intended. All jokes aside, the Tank Solo offers all I want from a dress watch. For full disclosure, I don’t need a dress watch too often as I don’t usually have to wear a suit. And if I do, it’s mostly for watch-industry stuff where I’m used to guys rocking 50mm Haute Horlogerie monstrosities with a suit. But if I need to throw on a shirt and tie for another occasion like a wedding, the Cartier Tank Solo in yellow gold would be my choice.
The Tank Solo is now discontinued, meaning I wouldn’t have to pay retail. I found this one for sale in Poland for a nice €5,250. With its no-nonsense quartz movement, a white dial, and a 27 × 34mm precious metal case, it’s a perfect choice for a dressy occasion. Remember, when it comes to Cartier, the smaller the better.
Omega Speedmaster “Ed White”
It is a common misconception that you cannot find an Ed White Speedmaster (ref. 105.003) for less than €10k. You can, but you have to be knowledgeable, lucky, and, above all, patient. With a full €8K spent on the Sub, I’d have €8,450 left. However, I could save €500 on the Grand Seiko if I got this unworn example. Assuming I can find a Sub for slightly less than €8,000, that’ll bring my remaining budget to €9K and change. I think that’s enough to find a nice Omega Speedmaster Ed White with the legendary 321 caliber inside. It will not be a pristine, museum-quality piece, but that’s not what I’m after. What I need is a legend to tick the chronograph box in my €25K watch collection. And what better way to tick that box than with a Speedy? Alternatives could’ve been a vintage Heuer or Zenith, but this is my list, and nothing comes closer to my taste than a Speedmaster.
How’d I do?
With the Speedmaster in the box, my collection is complete. With the Sub and the Speedy, I have two iconic sports watches, one vintage and the other neo-vintage. I also have a quartz watch from Grand Seiko, Japan’s best high-end brand, and a dressy, gold, and classic Cartier Tank. Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I feel I did well here. It’s always fun to play with watch Monopoly money and assemble a collection, even if it’s only for an article’s sake. Please let me know in the comments what you think of these picks and what yours would be.