Picking what I consider the best watches under €5,000 is a tough task. We did the same exercise last year, and it’s interesting to see how our choices have evolved. Has my perspective changed? Are there a lot of new possible options? As it turns out, there have been some changes compared to last year. Yes, my perspective has shifted, and some new options seem like better picks than last year’s contenders.

Our last series of articles was about the best watches under €2.5K. Therefore, this new list essentially answers the question of what to buy between €2,500 and €5,000. Many of us, including yours truly, would be tempted to look at pre-owned prices. There are some pretty great watches that you can buy secondhand for less than €5K. But we’ll save the pre-owned options for the wildcards at the end. The first mission is to find the must-haves with a list price under €5K. Without any further ado, let’s go!

best watches under €5,000 Tudor Black Bay Pro

The best watches under €5,000 — Pick #1: Tudor Black Bay Pro

My first pick is no surprise. It’s the same as last year! The Black Bay Pro is still my favorite Tudor watch despite what I stated in an installment of Sunday Morning Showdown in defense of the new Black Bay Master Chronometer in black. I love that watch too because I think it is as close as you can get to a modern-day Tudor Submariner.

But I would be lying if I said I would spend my money on it because the diver I truly aspire to have is the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16600. Buying any substitute for that from either Rolex or Tudor would mean fooling myself with a similar watch that is not what I want.

best watches under €5,000 Tudor Black Bay Pro on wrist

I don’t have that problem with the Tudor Black Bay Pro. Sure, it mimics an old Rolex design, but I feel the Tudor designers did an awesome job improving the dial of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655. On top of that, the “Freccione” is not on any of my want lists as it is simply too expensive, with asking prices between €20K and €35K.

best watches under €5,000 Tudor Black Bay Pro

That’s why I’ll stick with the Black Bay Pro. I had a chance to wear it for a longer period on different Forstner bracelets earlier this year, which solidified my love for this watch. My only wish is that Tudor could create a slimmer version. The recently introduced Black Bay 58 GMT proves there is room to make the Black Bay Pro thinner as well. But when it comes to picking my favorite current Tudor model, it does not matter. Indeed, at €4,290, the Black Bay Pro is still my favorite Tudor watch.

best watches under €5,000 Fortis N-42 Novonaut

Pick #2: Fortis Novonaut N-42 Legacy Edition

My second pick is the brilliant Fortis Novonaut N-42 Legacy Edition. As I explained in my review of the new Novonaut series, these Fortis watches have a brilliant story based on space travel and constitute what I feel is the best series of chronographs around €5K. The only model eligible for this list is the Legacy Edition, which costs €4,950.

It is also my favorite of the three Fortis Novonaut models. I like the understated look of the brushed bezel insert compared to the glossy ceramic ones of the Blue Edition and the limited First Edition. It gives the Legacy Edition the perfect tool-watch vibe.

best watches under €5,000 Fortis N-42 Novonaut Legacy Edition

As you probably know, the Novonaut is a hefty tool watch. It has a 42mm brushed stainless steel case with a 44mm bezel. This case is 15mm thick and 51mm from lug to lug, and it has a 200m water resistance rating. It’s an unapologetically chunky tool that feels solid and incredibly well made, reassuring the wearer that it will handle any job required of it.

Inside the case, you will find the La Joux-Perret-produced Werk 17, which operates at 28,800vph and delivers a 60-hour power reserve. For extra robustness on any outer-space adventures you might have planned, the caliber utilizes a custom traversing bridge. All jokes aside, the Fortis Novonaut N-42 Legacy Edition is a serious watch in every respect as well as a cool second pick for my list.

best watches under €5,000 VPC Type 37HW Forest Green

The best watches under €5,000 — Pick #3: VPC Type 37HW Forest Green

Okay, I know this might seem like a shameless plug because this is Fratello’s own Thomas van Straaten’s first release from his brand VPC. Honestly, it is a plug because I want him to succeed, but I would not have picked this watch if it weren’t great. I haven’t written about the VPC Type 37HW before, and I might surprise Thomas with what I have to say. It’s been an absolute joy to see him go through the different stages of creating a brand and a watch he firmly believes in.

best watches under €5,000 VPC Type 37HW Forest Green on wrist

As Fratello’s resident design snobs, he and I have talked a lot about all the different details that went into making his vision a reality. And that doesn’t just mean the watch and all its parts. We have discussed everything from the typography to the website, the packaging, and the watch. It’s been an interesting and enjoyable process that has created a closer personal bond between us that I greatly appreciate.

The old green dial (left) and the updated one with less translucent lume

A special bond with the VPC Type 37HW

I have also learned that Thomas’s knowledge and his keen eye for detail earn him great respect. He knows what he wants and how to get it, and that shows in his ultimate GADA watch. The VPC Type 37HW has so many intricate details resulting from deliberate choices that make it a better watch. The great proof of that is the Forest Green version, in which he shows that he goes for nothing but the best. From the get-go, the Forest Green was my favorite version, with the Delft Blue model as a close second since I have a special bond with the city of Delft.

best watches under €5,000 VPC Type 37HW Forest Green dial close-up

After the prototypes came in, the lume on the green-dial version was not up to Thomas’s standards. Without hesitation, he searched for a solution to optimize the solid lumeblock indices that had come out slightly translucent. After going back and forth with the dial maker, he found a multi-step improvement that most definitely made it my favorite version. I adore the color scheme of the dark green dial with the lighter green markers.

best watches under €5,000 VPC Type 37HW Forest Green on wrist

This version reached its full potential by creating a greater contrast between the two colors. It is the cherry on top of a watch that truly is a labor of love. Seeing that up close created a special bond with the VPC Type 37HW Forest Green, and that is why I will gladly pay the €2,479 (excluding taxes) to get one and why it’s my third pick for this list.

Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

Pre-owned bonus pick: Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

Now that I have three solid current models in the bag, I’ll take a little bonus step into pre-owned territory. With my €5K budget, I would look at options for buying a Rolex Datejust. It’s been on my radar for many years, and I have always found reasons not to buy one. But there are a great number of reasons why this would be the perfect pick under €5,000. With prices of pre-owned Rolex watches having come down over the last year or so, the Datejust options that you can get within this budget have expanded as well.

I love the classic Datejust look with its 36mm case, stepped dial, and white gold fluted bezel. I would hunt down a great version of the Datejust ref. 1601. It’s a phenomenal classic that never goes out of style.

Thomas has written many articles about the Datejust on Fratello and also dedicated a book to the watch. In his Exploring Evergreens article, he explained what makes the 1601 so great. If you haven’t done so yet, I suggest you read his in-depth look into this classic. But to summarize, its versatility and timeless design make it such a great watch.

On top of the mentioned stepped dial and fluted bezel, I would pick the ref. 1601 with a silver dial on a Jubilee bracelet. It creates the classic Datejust look that most of us have come to love. The best thing is that there are several options under €5K, so finding one in good condition should not be a problem. I would pick one, and it would probably never leave my collection.

The Grand Seiko SBGW305 (left) and SBGW301

Some honorable mentions

That’s my list of three new watches and one pre-owned one under €5K. But since there are so many fantastic options out there, I would love to add two honorable mentions. The first is the Grand Seiko SBGW305, which came out late last year. With a retail price of €5,800, this stunning watch is too expensive to be featured as one of the first three picks. But if you look online, you will be able to find it well under €5K. The classic 37.3mm case combined with its silver dial, a brushed sunray finish, applied indices, and the beads-of-rice bracelet make for a stunner of a watch powered by the beautiful manual-winding Grand Seiko 9S64.

Sinn T50 GDBR

Another honorable mention was one of my picks last year. The Sinn T-50 GDBR is a brilliant two-tone dive watch with a functional story to tell, but it looks super stylish with its combination of materials and awesome dial design. When paired with the super comfortable light gray silicone strap, the Sinn T50 GDBR would make a fantastic daily wearer for me. At €4,140, it is still one of my favorite watches under €5,000.

Final thoughts on my picks for the best watches under €5,000

There you have it — my list of 3+1 watches under €5,000 and two quick honorable mentions. As you will see in the upcoming articles in this series, there are many options under €5,000, both new and pre-owned. But I can honestly say that I would love to wear all of the watches that I have picked. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section which of these is your favorite. We’ll be back with another installment of The Best Watches Under €5,000 soon, so stay tuned.