Is this a difficult story to write as a watch journalist? Yes. But the intriguing thought of selling off everything and starting fresh is immensely tempting nonetheless. And as I am in the middle of a consolidating process before the holiday season, the exercise is needed. I would very much enjoy building the perfect watch collection from scratch again.

The problem is, to my chagrin, age hasn’t brought enough sense. I wish I were a focused collector, but instead, I have tended to follow my heart, which often leads me astray. This is why I am trying to consolidate, so let’s put that aside and do a clean-slate story here. Being a contrarian, you know very well that there will be no Rolex here; sorry. But the key word to happiness is Variation (capital V).

Me before selling everything and starting afresh

Building the perfect watch collection: what kind of watches, which ones, and how many?

I’ve learned a thing or two after 10–15 years with a collecting disorder. That means I’ll happily start with a curated three- or foursome (steady now…). I jumped on new releases willy-nilly when I started and gathered too many watches. Not that I am wealthy. Most of my watches have been between €500 and €2,000, emphasizing value and comfort with a few exceptions. But it has been a learning experience, and I’d be happy with a €10K halo piece and some sub-€5,000 watches for my perfect watch collection. One would be a GADA sports watch/diver, and another a slim dress piece. Not that it matters much as I shamelessly baby my watches… This is why my tough-as-nails Marinemaster SLA023 hardly has a hairline on it. But, for me, it’s a natural group of three or four. At least, that’s the plan.

Thor's perfect watch collection Grand Seiko SBGX337

The everyday-cool Grand Seiko SBGX337

Having been through a journey of Seiko sports and diver’s watches, I have a close-knit relationship with the brand. But prices have skyrocketed, and while I can see my next step being a Grand Seiko diver, what to do? Well, I’m actually at a point where I am finding myself less of a movement snob than I have ever been, so for everyday wearability and GADA value, what about quartz? I’m not a big fan of matte watches or pure monochrome tools, so there’s a natural choice here — the blue-dial SBGX337 with small touches of yellow. It’s a killer quartz tool watch with exceptional accuracy and a big, angular presence (literally).

Grand Seiko SBGX337 Thor's perfect watch collection

Image: Gressive

I have recently rediscovered big-watch comfort and will go to 43–44mm if the ergonomics are in place. And with €5K–6K to spend, Grand Seiko is a great choice. Adding Seiko’s lab-grown quartz crystals in their in-house movement and impeccable finishing, the choice is easy. The SBGX337 is a big, brawny tool watch with sharply polished details and a not-too-thick 43.6mm case. Yes, it was just discontinued, but I found this SBGX337 for €2,262 on Chrono24. That’s a bargain, even if it comes to €2,889 with my Norwegian taxes. The case is as perfectly finished as only Grand Seiko and a few others manage, so what’s the catch? None, including its accuracy at ±10 secs a year (!) and a Zaratsu five-star feel-good factor.

A dressy Kurono Tokyo chronograph

I know this sounds very fashion-angled; sorry, I am quite vain. This is an easy choice for me as I have a deep fondness for small-output Japanese brands like Kikuchi Nakagawa, Naoya Hida, and Kurono Tokyo. As I already have an example of Kurono’s two-handed, understated cool, a chronograph perfectly suits me and this fantasy budget. Sure, a chronograph is, by definition, a sports watch, right? But with the smooth 38mm case designed by Hajime Asaoka, it is imbued with an early ’50s vibe and an elegant Art Deco influence.

For me, that is an important choice for two reasons. There is a long period in Scandinavia with cold-weather layering, so the slim 38mm case is perfect for its small-sized comfort. My day job also requires me to dress quite formally for clients, and a pop of color sliding out from a shirt cuff can also be a great conversation starter. Most of all, I appreciate what I find to be big value for US$3,460, which, with my local taxes would bring it to €4,115. Of all of Kurono Tokyo’s fantastic chronographs, the new Chronograph 3 Hisui is the freshest version yet.

Building The Perfect Watch Collection

The angular, modern Zenith Defy Skeleton

Even with Rolex prices dropping on the pre-owned scene, for me, brands like Zenith offer so much more. These days, my tastes are leaning toward a more modern look for more expensive pieces, and this one is free of any vintage allure. Perhaps I’m not a contrarian since integrated bracelets are en vogue these days, but this symmetrical Defy Skeleton is different. Sure, I’d love a 39mm case, but this 41mm size is still great, and the clean-cut bracelet works like a charm.

Inside is the El Primero 3620 caliber with its dizzying high-beat 36,000vph frequency and 1/10th-of-a-second hand. Within its gray circle at 6 o’clock, the hand whizzes around once every 10 seconds, ensuring a never-ending mechanical fascination. The monochrome black version is nice, but I’m all about the blue version with its stylistically clean, architectural bliss. A decent NOK 134,900 (€11,533) at retail is worth it for what might become a modern-day classic.

Building The Perfect Watch Collection

Perhaps a big-name neo-vintage grail from Vacheron too?

Could my collection get to four great pieces? Before calculating, let’s look at this — one of the first versions of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. In the last few years, the Overseas has really come out of the shadows and now fills up never-seen-before AD waiting lists. But while even a 2021 model goes for over €20K pre-owned, I’m all about the quirky and under-the-radar Overseas 42042. It’s one of the few integrated bracelet grails to still be “affordable” at under €10K. Sadly, I remember when they were closer to €3K–4K and a resolute bargain.

Building The Perfect Watch Collection

At 37mm, this angular and bold example of millennial neo-vintage is a divine choice. With its textured off-white dial and bold bezel, I find it a many-faceted beauty. Most are above €10K even before taxes, but I found this for €8,330 from Japan (€10,638 with Norwegian VAT). It doesn’t have its box, but knowing the pre-owned standard in Japan from experience, it’s a good catch, even if servicing ain’t cheap. But it is a Vacheron; what would you expect?

Budget notes

Sorry, the lovely Vacheron didn’t make the cut. I’ve bought many watches and cars while forgetting import tax, VAT, etc., but I’ll come clean this time. If I were to buy all four of these, I would go over my €25K budget by a fair amount. So I’ll have to stick to three unless someone helps me with a GoFundMe account for the difference. With the crazy VAT/import duties in Norway, the total from the lovely SBGX337, Kurono Hisui, and Zenith Defy Skeleton is up to €18,537 before the Overseas. I didn’t give up and kept searching, but even with a rock-bottom pre-owned price on a nearly new Skyline Skeleton for €8,223 (€10,501 with VAT), it would still come to €28,143 for all four. So I’ll let Vacheron be a pipe dream and invest the money I have left in some stocks that might grow to an Overseas budget goal. A curated three-watch collection is a great start.

Fratelli, what do you reckon? Do you miss the laser-like focus of Nacho’s curated picks, or do you question why I didn’t pick a Rolex?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.