Every price segment has its king, and for watches under €5,000, it’s Tudor. Luckily, Thomas and Jorg already had their turns in this series, and both featured Tudor watches as their first picks. That’s good because now I can focus on other interesting stuff. Although the budget is quite comfortable, it’s certainly not an easy category. Generally speaking, the more expensive watches are, the less the price represents the material value of the product. I feel this becomes more noticeable with watches in the €2,500–5,000 range than with less expensive ones. That’s especially apparent with my first two picks.

The fact that Thomas and Jorg already had their turns also makes it a little more difficult for me. I could’ve easily featured some of the watches they mentioned in their articles. For example, Thomas’s TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph and Jorg’s Sinn T-50 GDBR were on my list before they shared their picks with me. Anyway, there are many other watches out there, so here are the top three I would buy with a €5,000 budget.

Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat best watches under €5,000

The Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat Large

I could’ve sworn this watch cost less than €3,000, but it seems the Tank Must SolarBeat has risen in price significantly since it debuted. It now retails for €3,800, which is a lot of money for a solar-powered stainless steel watch. Also, keep in mind that if you’d like to get it on a bracelet, you’ll have to add about €900 to that price. But this is a stainless steel and solar-powered version of an absolute icon. It was an absolutely genius move by Cartier to allow the Tank to charge through its signature Roman numerals. I got my wife the small version on the bracelet, and she wears it almost nonstop.

I love seeing it on her, and I sometimes try it on to see whether it works on my wrist. Clearly, it doesn’t, and that’s when I get a little jealous. I didn’t buy the large version for myself yet because I already have my Cartier Santos Galbée XL ref. 2823. I feel they’re too similar, especially on a stainless steel bracelet. In my dreams, though, I already own one. Honestly, it would also feel a bit weird to wear the same watch as my wife. Plus, this Tank Must represents very little value for the money. However, I feel that the “laws” of value somehow don’t apply to Cartier’s watches. That’s probably why the brand is doing so well at the moment.

The new King Seiko SJE109

Occasionally, we visit Seiko’s local headquarters in the Netherlands to check out the upcoming releases. However, about a month ago, it was the other way around. The Seiko representatives came to the Fratello office and brought a big box full of novelties. There were a few nice ones in there, and the red-dial Samurai in particular caught my attention. But my absolute favorite was the new re-edition of the King Seiko 45KCM from 1969. Reference SJE109, the one with the silver dial, might be the least exciting, but it looks so clean and doesn’t take any attention away from the characteristic C-shaped case.

best watches under €5,000 King Seiko SJE019

On paper, its 39.4mm diameter might seem a bit large for a dressier, time-only watch like this. The dial, however, is a bit smaller than that, so it doesn’t look like a nearly 40mm watch on the wrist. In combination with its thickness of just under 10mm, it wears very nicely on my 17cm wrist. I also like that the Seiko designers are getting increasingly creative with their bracelet designs. This 13-row example suits the overall design well and articulates nicely around your wrist. Indeed, this watch’s €3,200 price might be a bit steep. But I guess we have to get used to the fact that prices just keep rising.

best watches under €5,000 Holthinrichs Signature Ornament

The Holthinrichs Signature Ornament

In terms of value for money, I feel this Holthinrichs Signature Ornament represents a lot of it — much more than my other two picks, at least. This next one comes from a small atelier in the Dutch city of Delft. I already saw some sketches of the design when I visited Michiel Holthinrichs and his team last year. While I was impressed then, the photos of the final design look even better than those sketches. Admittedly, I was slightly afraid of what the new Holthinrichs Signature Ornament would cost. However, I think €3,500–3,750 is a very fair price for a watch with such an original design.

First of all, the sweeping lugs are just mesmerizing. They look like they come up from underneath the case and gracefully curve to grab onto the strap in the end. Together with the atelier’s signature brushed and raw finishing, the Signature Ornament offers a completely new experience. But the case is not the only exciting part. The multi-level dial, which features a sapphire layer and floating indexes, is also fascinating. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d say I’d go for the white rhodium version, but I’d have to see them in person first to make an informed choice.

What would you buy?

So, these are the top watches I would choose if I had a bag full of €5,000. They’re a bit less obvious than the watches you usually find on these lists. What would you buy if you had the money to spend on a new watch right now? Let me know in the comments below.