Fratello Favorites: The Best Watches Under €5,000 — Nacho’s Picks From Tudor, Sinn, And Doxa
All right, folks, I hope you’re not tired of our series on the best watches under €5,000 just yet! It’s finally my turn, and I’m happy to see that my picks have not yet been taken. The final list will come from Thor later this week, but with me going second to last, there was always going to be a risk of having to pick from the leftovers. However, as risky as it was to have written down my list right as the series kicked off, I’m glad to be able to present the list unmodified. The sub-€5,000 price point is tricky. It’s one that was once synonymous with great watches from brands like Omega, Breitling, and Panerai. But the way that prices have evolved over the last couple of years left me looking at a vastly different landscape.
You see, picking three watches under €5K would have been easier a couple of years ago. I could have gone with a truly solid lineup. For example, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, IWC Mark XVIII, and Panerai Luminor Base Logo were all available for under €5,000. Today, the Seamaster sits at €6,200 on a rubber strap (€6,600 on steel). The Luminor will set you back €5,700, and the IWC Mark XVIII has been discontinued and replaced by the €5,750 Mark XX. It’s a very different landscape I was faced with when doing my research for this article. That said, I still managed to assemble a list I was more than happy with. In fact, I’d happily add any of the three to my collection.
The best watches under €5,000 — Tudor Pelagos FXD “USN”
I’ll kick things off with the most recent of my three picks, the new Tudor Pelagos FXD that came out just a month ago. Tudor is one of the brands that has best capitalized on the upward price trend. How? Well, by staying (mostly) below the €5,000 mark with a wide selection of fantastic watches. Yes, the brand’s success can also be attributed to the grip that vintage styling had on watch enthusiasts, a tune played impeccably by the Black Bay lineup. But the unapologetically modern, well-specced, and reasonably priced Pelagos line is the perfect yang to the Black Bay’s yin. And though I still find that the OG is hard to beat, the new FXD would still be my pick. Unlike Gerard, I won’t break the rules (even if it’s only by €10). Plus, there’s something to the less-is-more approach of the FXD.
Sure, you don’t get a bracelet, a helium escape valve, a date, or a micro-adjustment system. But you do get a slim, lightweight diver with unique charm, great looks, and supreme wearability. Now, I should say that I wouldn’t have gone for the FXD until this latest release came to be. This is because the FXD models released before it didn’t have a unidirectional bezel. I know, I know… In a world where “nobody” dives, and where those who do use dive computers, what’s the point? Well, for me, it’s a matter of principle mixed with stubbornness. Regardless, with this latest FXD covering my only gripe with the original and priced at €4,150, it’s my top pick for the list.
For my second pick under €5,000, we remain within the realm of titanium dive watches. However, we head north, out of Switzerland, and into Germany. The Sinn T50 debuted earlier this year and did not fail to impress me when I first saw it in person. Like many of Sinn’s watches, it adopts a futuristic aesthetic with a couple of subtle design nods, several unique features, and a plenitude of functional, no-nonsense charm. The T50 is available in several configurations, including a two-tone titanium and Goldbronze version. However, in adopting the brand’s pared-back style, I’d go with the base model with the matching titanium bracelet. It’s just another black-dialed dive watch in the collection, though, right?
Well, I’d say that the boring choice is often the best one. But the T50 is anything but dull. Sure, it’s not a colorful watch, but what it lacks in its chromatic characteristics, it more than makes up for in specs and low-key, tasteful details. Subtle touches include the sword hands, nicely integrated color-matched date window, minimalist dial text, and deep black dial. On the specs side, this Sinn diver is rated to 500 meters and features a lumed, locking, and specially hardened bezel as well as a moisture ingress indicator. It has a nicely proportioned 41 × 12.3mm bead-blasted titanium case and a domed sapphire crystal with an AR coating. And priced at €3,340 on the bracelet (which also undergoes Sinn’s Tegiment hardening process), the Sinn T50 is a truly fantastic watch for the price.
Doxa Sub 300 Carbon
Staying away from steel a third time, my next pick is the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon. Sticking to the list I wrote on the back of a Post-it note a couple of weeks ago, I’m going with the Whitepearl model. However, having just had a look at the Doxa catalog, the Divingstar (yellow), Sharkhunter (black), and Professional (orange) are also strong contenders. Two times per year, during both Watches and Wonders and Geneva Watch Days, I make a pilgrimage to the Beau Rivage Hotel in Geneva. Every time I do, I’m always excited to visit Doxa. Not only is it great to see the brand’s novelties, but without fail, almost every single model from the Doxa catalog is there. Every time, I leave the meeting impressed by the Sub 300 Carbon. To me, it seems simply inevitable that one will join my collection someday.
The 42.5 × 13.4mm case has a remarkably wearable profile. This is mostly due to the unique shape of the case band, which is surprisingly slim. The UFO shape of the Sub 300 comes from the ’60s, yet it somehow wears the marbled finish of the modern carbon material incredibly well. All timekeeping components sit within a titanium capsule at the center of the case. This keeps the watch light and provides a 300m depth rating. In my opinion, there is no better-looking carbon dive watch out there. My only issue is that the FKM rubber strap is slightly stiffer than I’d like. But with the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Whitepearl priced at €4,090, you’ll have plenty of budget for building a respectable strap collection to go along with it. The price for all non-lume-dialed models is €3,990.
My pre-owned pick under €5,000 — Panerai Luminor PAM00112
With my three new picks out of the way, it’s time to check out what I’d go for if I had €5,000 to spend on a pre-owned watch. It’s no secret that I recently acquired a taste for all things Panerai. In fact, I would include my PAM00055 here since I did pay under €5,000 for it. But in an effort to be fair, I selected a watch that is currently available at this price point. There was also another self-imposed restriction to not go with a watch that I already own. Otherwise, an Omega Seamaster 2254.50.00 would be a clear winner available well within the budget. But no! I decided to give a Panerai some love. As with many of the brands I mentioned earlier, this is one where a lot of the neo-vintage models are absolutely the way to go, especially if you’re looking for value.
The Panerai Luminor Base PAM00112 is a lovely example of a great watch that you can get well under €5,000. As I mentioned before, the current Luminor Base Logo — an arguably less charming proposition — costs €5,700 today. The PAM00112 that I’ve chosen is available from the Netherlands and listed on Chrono24 with its box and papers for €4,150. This is a PAM that one could say showcases the best side of the brand. There are no frills with this one — just a simple Unitas-based hand-winding caliber, a chunky 44mm steel case, 300m water resistance, and the Luminor’s signature crown lock. It’s a Panerai that does what it says on the tin, and does it well. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s worth giving the brand a chance, especially now that it’s not riding the wave of hype it had a decade or so ago.
There you have it, people — my picks for best new watches under €5,000 today plus a bonus pre-owned pick. As I mentioned at the start, Thor will follow up with the last article for the sub-€5K budget before we move on to the slightly trickier yet more permissive €10,000 price point. Overall, there are a ton of great options for watches below €5,000. For me, this will always remain my comfort zone. I’d even go as far as to say that, unless my life changes in a major way, I’ll likely never spend more than €5K on a watch. The only exception I’d make would be a Rolex 16570, but that’s a story I’ve told before. Nevertheless, it will still be fun to briefly suspend reality and see what I’d go for under €10,000, though I may have already given away my pre-owned choice!
What would be your three picks under €5,000? What do you think of my trio? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.