When Morgan accidentally started the #fivewatchcollection trend on Instagram, I wasn’t planning on sharing mine. Until the concept crossed over to Fratello, that is. You can gauge my social media trendiness by my tardiness to this game, but here I am nonetheless! These are the five watches in my collection that currently form its backbone.

I do have to start with an honorable mention. I left out my Grand Seiko SBGW231. This is certainly one of my most precious watches as I bought it when my wife was pregnant with our son. I plan to give it to him someday when he is older, so I rarely wear it. In that sense, it has a bit of a unique status in my collection, or maybe it isn’t even truly in my collection. In any case, I elected to leave it out today in favor of the watches I wear the most.

Thomas's five-watch collection Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

Collection favorite #1: Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

Okay, on to my five-watch collection. My first entry also carries a lot of sentimental value because it represents a huge professional milestone. While working at Amsterdam Watch Company, I decided I would write a book on vintage Rolex Datejusts. So I did. I wrote it, published it, and sold the first print of 1,000 books. If you’re in the market, I am sorry to say those are now sold out, and I decided not to go through the hassle of printing, storing, and shipping again. If you know a specialized publisher who would be interested in relaunching it, I am open to proposals! My Rolex Datejust 1601 from circa 1967 is the cover model for the book.

To fully grasp the significance for me, you should know that I dreamt of entrepreneurship since my teenage years. Between then and my late 20s, I tried to build several businesses, and they all failed miserably. Disillusioned, I decided to leave my first career and pursue a simpler life in the realm of my hobby — watches. I took a big pay cut and settled in as a vintage dealer first and a writer later. I checked my greater ambitions at the door and just focused on doing something I enjoyed in the moment.

The book was a passion project without serious business motivations. And then the magical thing happened: it was a success in its modest, little way. For the first time, an initiative I had set up surpassed my expectations. It reignited my hunger to build something, and that inspired my later project — VPC. The book taught me that if a passion for the subject and intrinsic motivation are your starting point, success, however you define it, can follow naturally. In short, the book was a turning point in my professional life, and the 1601 symbolizes it.

Thomas's five-watch collection Rolex Explorer II 16570

Collection favorite #2: Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570

Let me stick with Rolex for a moment. The second watch on my list doesn’t carry significant sentimental value. It doesn’t symbolize an important life event, and I did not buy it in celebration of anything. It is, however, the watch that has spent the most time on my wrist out of the five, and that secures it a spot in my five-watch collection.

Thomas's five-watch collection Rolex Explorer II 16570

The Explorer II and I got off to a bumpy start. I love five-digit Rolex models, and one of my favorites is the 14060 Submariner. By the time I was in a position to buy, those had passed the €10K mark, which I couldn’t and didn’t want to pay. My other favorite, the 16570, seemed to be headed the same way, so I rushed to get one. That turned out to be at the absolute peak of the market that would come down in the following months.

At first, I found that I wasn’t comfortable wearing such an expensive watch. I was too aware of it all the time and found myself reaching for other watches. I even considered selling it. But since the market had come down so much, I decided I might as well wear the hell out of it. I wasn’t ever going to sell it unless I absolutely had to anyway. And, lo and behold, I fell in love. It became my favorite watch that got the vast majority of my wrist time. It’s funny what irrational creatures we are.

Collection favorite #3: Omega Speedmaster ref. 145.022-69

The third of my favorites is my Omega Speedmaster 145.022-69. This was the first higher-end watch I purchased. It came through the system at Amsterdam Watch Company, and I immediately jumped on it.

To me, this is a bit of a sweet-spot Speedy. It has some of the things I love about pre-Moon Speedmasters but at a more palatable price level. For instance, it offers a stepped dial and a complete lack of NASA or Moon references on the case back. Mine also has the misprint bezel, with “220” where it should say “200” on the tachymeter. This tiny detail makes it even more of a conversation piece. Pro tip: it is a conversation piece among watch nerds, not among hot girls in bars.

I do have to admit it gets too little wrist time. I am not much of a chronograph guy, and I tend to lean towards simpler, minimalist watches. It is, however, a watch that I find myself rediscovering every so often. I will leave it for a few months and then be obsessed with it for a while. In short, it isn’t going anywhere.

Favorite #4: Panerai Radiomir ref. PAM00210

I have written quite a bit about my love for the Radiomir recently. This is because it has surprised me with its wearability. I bought one because I have admired the design for years. I wanted one in my collection but fully expected to only wear it on rare occasions. After all, I am a bracelet guy, and I usually lean toward smaller watches.

But once I found the perfect example from the early 2000s and had a beautiful strap made for it, it just started blatantly claiming wrist time. It turned out to fit me just fine and was not too large at all. It also upgraded just about any outfit. For a while, it even dethroned the 16570 as my most worn watch.

And this makes it significant in my collecting journey. In a sense, it opened my eyes. I shook off the mental barriers of “the right size for me” and my narrow focus on specific styles. My experience with the PAM has truly opened up a much wider palate of watches for me, which is extremely enjoyable.

Thomas's five-watch collection VPC Type 37HW

The collection takeover: VPC Type 37HW

As much as I love all the previously mentioned watches, they haven’t come home from the safe since I received the prototypes of my design, the VPC Type 37HW. All my wrist time now goes to my debut watch, the Dove Grey model in particular, and I am afraid it will stay that way.

Thomas's five-watch collection VPC Type 37HW

I set out to develop a personal vision of the ultimate everyday watch. This was a rather specific recipe that included a super-high-end exterior built around a simple workhorse caliber. I wanted an everyday watch that looked and felt fantastic without the hassle of a caliber that could only be serviced by the brand for top money — a bit like a five-digit Rolex or Nacho’s Omega 2254 in that sense. The core premise was that I would not skimp on build and finishing, constantly choosing the quality option and tailor-made parts. The price would only follow as a result rather than form a starting point or goal. My concept would pose the question: can a microbrand strive to be the best option rather than the affordable alternative?

I teamed up with designer Max Resnick to bring my concept to life. He designed a watch that suits my taste and style to a tee. I never intended for it to please the masses; I simply made everything how I wanted it to be. The idea was that this should surely resonate with a small group of enthusiasts who coincidentally share my taste. Now, a little while after launching the model on presale, I am happy to report that it has. As you can hopefully imagine, the prototype on my wrist instantly became my most prized possession.

Thomas's five-watch collection

Closing thoughts

There you have it — my five favorite watches! As you may have gathered, the hobby may have definitively changed for me this year. Especially once I start developing more models, after the Type 37HW, I don’t see myself wearing much else anymore. I can hardly describe how extremely cool it is to wear a watch I have developed myself. I have a connection with my VPC that I cannot possibly have with any other watch. And I don’t find myself scouring Chrono24 for my next watch anymore. I just want to put all my means and energy into designing more VPCs.

But who knows what the future holds? For now, the five favorite watches in my collection aren’t going anywhere!

I am sure most of you already shared yours under my colleagues’ articles, but if not, what are the five (or fewer if you have a more sensibly sized collection) favorite watches in your collection? Let us know in the comments below!