Fratello Favorites: The Best Watches Under €5,000 — RJ’s Picks From Longines, Tudor, And Seiko
In our The Best Watches Under €5,000 series, I noticed some of my colleagues had already selected some great pieces. Some of their picks could have been on my list, like the Nomos Zürich Weltzeit and the Tudor Pelagos LHD. As with our previous series, where we had set the budget to a more modest €3,000, we apply the same rules — three new watches and one pre-owned watch, each under €5,000. These days, the euro is nearly equal to the US dollar and Swiss franc. There’s just often a big difference in VAT. All prices mentioned include VAT, though.
There’s so much out there that can be had under €5,000, but as we also already did a guide for watches under €3,000, I selected watches between €3,000 and €5,000 for this article. Then I went to Chrono24 to see what’s on the pre-owned market for less than €5K. My colleague Gerard had already snagged the pre-owned classic Speedmaster Professional, so I went for something slightly different. But it is a watch that is indeed popular among Speedmaster enthusiasts and yet undiscovered by a larger audience. But before we get to that, let’s kick this list off with my three new picks.
The best watches under €5,000: Longines Spirit Zulu Time
Last week, I had the opportunity to wear this watch again and put it to use. I was visiting New York, and a watch with GMT function came in useful. It showed me the local time, of course, but also the time at home. With this extra time zone, I could reach my wife and daughter at sane times with one glance at the dial. When this watch came out in a 39mm size, I was immediately enthusiastic, and even more when Longines decided to introduce an 18K gold and steel version.
And it was precisely this model that I wore during my trip to New York. It’s reference L3.802.5.53.2, and it comes on a leather strap with a folding buckle. It’s also available on a stainless steel bracelet and a NATO strap. Usually, I’d go for the variation on the stainless steel bracelet, but with a bicolor watch, I also want a bicolor bracelet. The version of this Spirit Zulu Time on the steel bracelet adds €100 to the price, while the versions on a NATO or leather strap are each €4,700 and within our budget.
Inside is the Longines caliber L844.4, a “true” flyer GMT, meaning the 12-hour hand can be set independently. This caliber L844.4 is a modified ETA 2892-A2-based movement but exclusively made for Longines. On top of the GMT functionality, it has a silicon balance spring and a power reserve of 72 hours.
If there’s one thing I would have loved to see on this watch, it is a bit of gold on the folding clasp. It would have been nicer if it only had a gold-filled Longines logo on the clasp.
Tudor Black Bay “Burgundy” Master Chronometer
This watch was introduced during the last Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva, and I like it a lot. Will I buy it? No, I am sure I will not wear this watch as I already have a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600, which is more or less in the same territory. But if I didn’t already have a Sea-Dweller, it would be high on my list. Today’s Rolex prices are far away from when I bought my first Sea-Dweller, and with a budget of €5,000 (which easily bought you a Sea-Dweller in the early 2000s), the Tudor Black Bay “Burgundy” Master Chronometer offers a lot of bang for the buck in 2023.
The 41mm Black Bay is available on a (faux-)riveted Oyster-style bracelet, a rubber strap, and this Jubilee-style bracelet. Or, as Tudor repeatedly insisted that we call it, the “five-link bracelet.” It’s a Jubilee-style bracelet, of course; everyone knows that. Are there any downsides to this watch? Well, I could complain about its 13.6mm thickness, but it didn’t bother me when wearing it. The only downside I can see is that adding this watch to your collection doesn’t make much sense if you already have a Rolex diver.
Inside is Tudor’s caliber MT5602-U, developed and manufactured one door down the road in Le Locle at Kenissi. This movement has a power reserve of 70 hours. More importantly, though, it has the METAS Master Chronometer certification, which means it’s antimagnetic up to 15,000 gauss and has an average accuracy between 0 and +5 seconds per day.
The retail price of the Tudor Black Bay reference M7941A1A0RU-0003 is €4,530.
Seiko Prospex The 1965 Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition
Except for the quartz models and very few automatics, the time you could buy a Grand Seiko below €5,000 (retail) is pretty much over. But Seiko has enough for those willing to spend a bit more on something special. One such higher-end offering introduced this year is the Seiko Prospex 1965 Diver’s Re-creation LE. As its long model name suggests, it’s a re-edition of the Seiko 6217-8000/8001, also known as the 62MAS.
This new Seiko Prospex reference SJE093 has a 38mm steel case measuring 12.5mm in thickness. It’s a pretty faithful watch to the original, I would say. The original 6217-8000 measured only 37mm in diameter, but was slightly thicker at 13mm. That said, it is not the first 62Mas re-edition or tribute that Seiko has made in the past few years, but as I said, this one is quite faithful. If you like the looks of the 62Mas but don’t want to become prey to the vintage snake pit, this re-edition might be your way to have something that comes close to the original in terms of aesthetics.
The 6L37 movement powers the Seiko Prospex 165 Diver’s Re-creation SJE093. It’s Seiko’s answer to the renowned ETA 2892-A2 and seems to perform well within COSC specs according to some owners of this movement (even though Seiko communicates a much wider range of accuracy specs for it). The Seiko SJE093 comes with a nice Tropic-style silicone strap, and it is a limited edition of 1,965 pieces. However, you can still find them for sale here and there with some effort.
The official retail price of the Seiko SJE093 is €3,700.
The best watches under €5,000: Pre-owned Omega Speedmaster 3594.50 Broad Arrow Replica
As you probably know, if there’s one watch that means a lot to me, it’s the Omega Speedmaster Professional. However, Gerard already took the opportunity to offer the standard Moonwatch as a pre-owned option in this list of sub-€5,000 watches, so here’s another alternative for you. It’s the Speedmaster Broad Arrow Replica — or “Relaunch,” as Omega started calling it later. At some point, Omega realized the name “Replica” was poorly chosen in 1997 when this watch came out.
The Speedmaster 3594.50 debuted as part of the Mission Cases in 1997, each containing 22 Speedmasters with a NASA mission patch, a Speedmaster Replica, and a spare 1861 movement. This marked the introduction of the Omega caliber 1861, the successor of the 861 movement. These Speedmasters also had the new-style bracelet and Super-LumiNova rather than tritium. Forty of these Mission Cases were available for the market and ten for demonstration/exhibition purposes. One of the boxes is on display at the NASA Center in Houston, Texas. The year after, the 3594.50 became available in the regular collection until 2003.
You will find slight differences in the bracelets and boxes that came with the Speedmaster 3594.50. Bracelets before 2000 have no release buttons on the clasp and taper to 17mm. After 2000, the ref. 1499 (and 1498) bracelets were replaced by the straight version (20mm) with reference 1998. This watch came in either a black leather box or the later red leather box.
I also have one of these, which was a gift for my first Father’s Day in 2013. It’s a charming variation on the 42mm Speedmaster Professional and one of Omega’s first attempts to recreate a classic (CK2915). The later Speedmaster ’57 from 2017 was much more on point and nearly an exact copy of the original Speedmaster CK2915 from 1957, but the Speedmaster Replica 3594.50 is a fun and quirky edition.
The dial is a bit grayer than the regular Moonwatch, and the silver Broad Arrow hands can have a nice contrasting effect depending on the light. One important note: some of these watches had an issue with corrosion on the applied Omega logo. Check the applied logo if you’re in the market for one of these.
Over 20 of these Speedmaster 3594.50 watches are currently for sale on Chrono24, with the majority below €5,000.
So, what do you think of picks for the best watches under €5,000? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.