You’ve seen our picks at under €1,000, €3,000, and even €5,000. Before we climb up to the next (and final) rung of the price ladder and show you our favorite sub-€10K watches, we decided to take on a slightly different challenge. We daydream and philosophize all the time at Fratello HQ. Whether it’s about our grails, the perfect three-watch collection, or even what we’d buy within a specific budget, the wheels never stop turning. So this time, we’ll take a look at the collection we’d put together with a €25,000 budget. As it turns out, there’s no better way to trigger a profound existential crisis in watch writers than by giving them a hypothetical stack of cash without any rules for spending it. That’s right; unlike with the previous challenges, we are not limiting ourselves to mostly watches in production right now.

Our editors can pick any watches they want. In the case of pre-owned or vintage, the prices must be justified by listings they link to or by average prices on Chrono24. The only limitation that I placed on myself was to avoid the watches I currently own. The idea was to avoid ending up with my current collection, which could easily be recreated well within this budget. And as I am pretty happy with it, chances are, I wouldn’t end up with something too different. Even with this in mind, I think you’ll see that the hypothetical apple does not land far from the real-life tree. I ended up with six watches — a collection of four core pieces and two additional daily wearers/beaters (for lack of a better term).

Tudor Pelagos (ref. M25600TN-0001) — €5,010

My first pick for the list sets me back €5,010. In exchange, I start my collection with one of the best modern dive watches on the market today. The Tudor Pelagos is a lightweight titanium beast and a dive watch that takes itself far more seriously than most. Without a single polished surface, it’s a matte black and dark gray number with only bright white accents for its markers, text, and hands. In a world where the (slightly shinier and a bit more “luxe” than I’d like) Omega Seamaster Diver 300M costs €1,550 more than the Pelagos, there’s no contest. Specs-wise, the Pelagos matches or surpasses the Seamaster at every turn. The cherry on top is one of the best bracelet clasps ever made by a watch brand. With fine adjustment and a spring-loaded fit, it’s a brilliant addition to an already virtually perfect watch.

Image: Bob’s Watches

I find it hard to find fault with anything other than the Pelagos being slightly thick. However, thanks to its relatively low weight and lack of polishing, it wears well and doesn’t feel over-encumbering. Titanium can be somewhat polarizing, but I’m a big fan. Especially when it comes to a tool-watch like the Pelagos, it just makes sense to want to cut back on weight. Despite its best efforts, the watch feels anything but flimsy on the wrist. From bezel and crown to clasp and bracelet everything feels thoroughly dependable, excellently finished, and distinctly purpose-built. Overall, it’s a no-nonsense watch that does what it does exceptionally well and is a solid first pick in my theoretical perfect watch collection.

perfect watch collection Omega Speedmaster Professional

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph (ref. 310. — €7,700

I won’t spend too much time on this one as I think you’ll agree with me on the Speedy being a logical pick. Though I do have more of a soft spot for my reference 3570.50 Speedmaster, I can’t deny that the latest reference was a giant leap for watch-kind. With a new and improved tapering bracelet, a top-spec Omega movement, a redrawn case design based on past references, and a handful of details that Speedy nerds can truly appreciate, it’s a worthy upgrade to this iconic chronograph. Plus, I must ultimately abide by my self-imposed rule of “no watches I already own.” And though the sapphire version, with its applied logo, is tempting, the €7,700 Hesalite model is definitely the way to go for me.

GMT Watches Rolex Explorer II perfect watch collection

Rolex Explorer II “Polar” (ref. 16570) — ±€7,500

I’ve spoken about it not once but twice before; the Rolex Explorer II reference 16570 is my (realistic) grail watch. It’s actually the only Rolex reference that I feel any true desire to own. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate many other models from the brand’s past. I love a five-digit no-date Sub as much as the next guy. But something about the current state of The Crown doesn’t really do it for me. The only Rolex in the current catalog that I’d feel any desire to spend money on would be the current Explorer (reference 124270). As with Omega, many modern models are simply a bit too shiny and luxurious for my taste. Plus, going with a slightly less obvious Rolex model certainly adds some peace of mind. The polar-dial Explorer II also flies (relatively) under the radar, and I appreciate its history, its functionality, and its looks.

These days, the prices have bounced back slightly from the peak they reached about six months ago. You can find one in good used condition with its box and papers for around €7,500. I would always prioritize condition over unwearable extras, though. Another qualifying consideration that I’d stick to would be to opt for one of the more modern references. Here, you have the benefit of working lume (Super-LumiNova rather than tritium) and solid end links. This watch remains a grail for me, even two years after I first wrote about it and four after I started lusting after it. Given a non-hypothetical €25,000, you can rest assured that a healthy portion of it would go towards a 16570. For now, though, I’ll continue saving up and hoping that someday, I’ll make peace with spending almost €8,000 on a watch that, once upon a time, changed hands for half of that.

Cartier Tank Must perfect watch collection

Cartier Tank Must (ref. WSTA0041) — €3,350

Before deciding to apply the rule of avoiding watches in my collection, I had included my beloved Omega Seamaster Professional 300M reference 2254.50 at this point in the list. However, as I am sticking to the rules, I’ll go with a dress watch instead. And that watch is the Cartier Tank Must reference WSTA0041. Now, the options for a dress(y) watch at around €3,000 are many. But I’m taking inspiration from what works in my collection without directly taking from it. Cartier also seems like a perfect choice given the brand’s heritage and the undeniably iconic style of the Tank’s case, rectangular dial, and Roman numerals. A JLC Reverso would have also been a good option, but keeping budget restrictions in mind, the Tank Must is the way to go.

The author’s slightly neglected Cartier Tank Solo

I own a Cartier Tank Solo with a slightly larger size and a less rounded case. It’s a watch I often wear in the colder months, on dressier occasions, or if I’m feeling particularly “fancy” in the summer. Its quartz movement, like the one found in the Tank Must, keeps it running reliably on time during long spells of not being worn. My day-to-day routine, hobbies, and individual style don’t make me a dress-watch guy. Other than on rare occasions, I’ll wear a sports watch of some description. However, with €25,000 to spend, I can pack my horological arsenal with all the tools I might need. My next two picks will also reflect this approach. So, that’s another €3,350 down. On to the last two picks!

perfect watch collection Casio G-Shock GW-M5610U-1ER

Two quartz beaters: Casio G-Shock GW-M5610U-1ER and CWC Quartz Diver’s Watch RN300-M QS120 — €110 and €650

Now, every collection needs a reliable beater watch. And my perfect collection has two. Why? Well, because I’ve allocated a hypothetical €23,560 already, and have €1,440 left to spend. So what better way to round off as close to the €25,000 limit than by adding two relatively inexpensive yet no less attractive “beaters” (a word I use with a lot of love)? Now, I think the G-Shock doesn’t require much explanation. At €110, it’s a brilliant classic with just about every feature I (or you) might need. I own a more basic version of the “Square” and use it whenever I’m out for a run or when I’m feeling the lightweight summer G-Shock vibes. I think it’s fair to say that everyone should own at least one G-Shock, and the GW-M5610U, a modern take on the classic Square, is a perfect option.

CWC Quartz Diver's Watch RN300-M QS120 perfect watch collection

Then, if I’m feeling like I want to go with a beater but don’t want to wear a digital watch with a resin case and strap, in comes the CWC RN300M-MQS120. If you’ve been doing the math with me, you’ll know that I could have opted for the automatic version of the CWC diver. But I went with quartz (and no date) for a few good reasons. First, it cuts back on additional service costs. Second, it makes for a perfect grab-and-go watch. Realistically, I’d only have to set the time twice a year. It’s also a great-looking watch with military heritage, great features, and a rather unmistakable look.

Final thoughts on building the perfect watch collection for €25,000

I mentioned something about triggering an existential crisis earlier. And this is largely because this task, though fun, can be a bit like reinventing the wheel. I must admit, I’m very happy with my current collection. Like the hypothetical one I’ve assembled here today, it’s perhaps not perfect. But it’s to my taste, and I truly like every piece that it contains. Now, today, I managed to rack up a €24,320 bill, meaning that I have €680 left over. I’d likely spend these on a nice Peli case to house the collection or a handful of NATO and leather straps. But I’d just as happily add an impulse-buy vintage piece. My 1961 Seamaster 14762 was just €600, so it could also be added to this hypothetical collection. Either way, it was nice to go first this time, and I honestly look forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with for their perfect watch collection.

How would you spend €25,000 on building an ideal collection? Would you splurge on one large purchase? Or, like me, would you opt for variety? Leave your picks in the comments section below.