How To Start A Collection With €10,000: Thor’s Top Picks From Tudor, Omega, Cartier, And A Wild Card
This series was actually my idea, and boy, do I regret it! The premise of this idea is to help guide a watch-loving newbie down the right path to a hypothetical starter collection. I’m normally not indecisive, but here, the word doesn’t even start to explain my situation. As I am in the middle of a personal consolidation of my collection, it makes the concept even more poignant. But when I try to tell you how to spend €10K wisely, these are loose guidelines only, not a gospel.
Embarking on this quest was difficult, believe me. You have no idea of the number of watches I’ve mentally sorted through to get to what I find is a curated but fluctuating three-watch collection. I’m not mentioning which three models I’ve picked in this introduction, though. Chances are they might be a-changing as I write. See my problem?
Setting the parameters
The most difficult aspect for me is the perhaps-avoidable touch of autobiography, which I’ll try to resist at all costs. This is not meant to be a collection embodying how I, the watch writer and father of two, could start afresh. No, I have tried to put together a three-part entry into the appreciation of watches, period. They are all great choices, but there are many more watches out there, so consider this a taster menu, if you will. Warning: the group will be colored by my love for classic lines and a vintage aesthetic, which is open to interpretation as “classic”. Well, except for the sneaky fourth watch. Who says we can’t some fun with the leftover cash?
To categorize the collection or not?
Yes, you could pick three all-gold or only blacked-out watches. But, don’t start there. I will give you three categories that encapsulate the reason we love watches while staying away from the hyped and over-inflated grail prices. Frankly, they only serve to make the entry into this hobby disheartening for new enthusiasts. For comfort, I’ve set the max diameter at 42mm. While 38-40mm is a perfect range for most, 42mm is also accessible but more dependent on case ergonomics, so make sure you try on your choice. For me, I’d start with a solid everyday sports watch, a classic chronograph, and a dressier number for those special occasions. If there’s a couple of hundred euros left, I’ll throw in a fourth wild card, the plastic travel watch. Yes, you read that right. We all need a cheap, bright-colored digital watch to throw on for travels and the beach. Summer’s coming, after all.
The sports watch — A new Tudor nails it
I will confess to having owned the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, and despite its superb wearability, I just didn’t fall in love with it. Now though, I sincerely feel that Tudor pretty much knocked the ball out of the park at Watches And Wonders. It might have been the fact that the first Fifty-Eight had too many vintage clues or was too glitzy with its gilt dial, but the new Tudor Black Bay Pro? Tooly perfection. With an immensely comfortable shape, a well-balanced case, and frankly perfect bracelet, it’s one of the best all-rounders of the year. This is a Rolex-family perfect watch with one-for-all wearability and a large dose of vintage cool.
A relative of the Explorer II?
Let’s face it, it does look rather similar to the ref. 1655, the first Rolex Explorer II, and that’s all good. This tip might even be colored by the fact that the “Freccione” is one of my all-time Rolex favorites. But don’t take my word for it. Go to an AD and try it out, because the availability of any Tudor will beat its Rolex cousins. At €3,770, the Black Bay Pro is a considerable investment for many, but have a look at the intricate radial brushing of the steel bezel. And how about that dial? Unlike the blingier, gold-accented Fifty-Eight, the matte black surface of the Pro is made starkly legible through the bold indices and snowflake hands in crisp off-white. My favorite is undoubtedly the lemon-popping GMT hand, making this a great travel watch to boot. And who doesn’t love a COSC-rated in-house movement in the MT5652?
The dress watch — A Cartier Tank (what did you expect?)
The resurgence of Cartier has awakened me to the brand’s classic cool, and I’m happy to pronounce the dress watch alive and well. But even for a day where you are wearing a denim shirt with the newer-model textured thick leather strap, the Cartier Tank Must is the joker in the pack. The slim and very comfortable case is recognizable from 10 feet away, and there is a reason for that. As you see in Nacho’s story here, the Tank is just a very versatile watch, and I’d choose the quartz version. No, this article is not about inciting your love for mechanical watch movements. A quartz caliber can be equally as cool, believe me. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gone from scoffing at battery/solar-powered watches to embracing their chillout factor.
French quartz cool
Yes, there is beautiful craftsmanship to admire in a watch without a spring barrel or winding rotor. This is pure French-designed elegance, from the balanced graphics of the Roman numerals to the blue spinel in the crown. To be perfectly honest with you, you might find yourself wearing this to many a non-dressed-up occasion. At this point in my €10K-collection article, I have to come clean. In my consolidation effort, this Cartier Tank Must with its 33.7 × 25.5mm case is on my own list. It’s a list that includes a further culling of the herd and a Tank for later this year. There are plenty of good reasons, and they are all rectangular. Go try on the Tank Must at your local AD. It’s a rakish choice for €2,700.
The Chronograph — My favorite pre-loved Speedmaster
Yes, once again, I will admit to not owning an Omega Speedmaster, ridiculous as it may sound coming from a writer for Fratello. The one on my list, however, except for the latest Moonwatch (which is sublime), is the ref. 3594.50. I dare say the Broad Arrow Speedy is the tooliest of the bunch and a great value pre-owned. Its 42mm case is the largest in this article, but the original Speedmaster design is a comfortable one. Whether you actually use the steel tachymeter bezel for measuring your speed is somehow immaterial with this piece. This is an evolution of perhaps the most famous chronograph on the planet. And whether you’re a racing buff or a hobby astrophysicist like my wife, the deeper meaning within the case is clear.
A monochrome-cool choice
I actually think the broad-arrow hands are more balanced on the dial than the pencil Moonwatch hands, so sue me. Likewise, the applied logo at 12 makes for a quiet but distinct presence on this monochrome tough guy. Read up on RJ’s stories, as there are small, but significant differences here. For me, the caliber 1861 is “the one”, and the same goes for the scratch-prone but warm Hesalite crystal. As in the image above, try it on a chunky leather strap, and it’ll take on a different personality. And let’s face it — not everyone knows (or wants to know) the deep mechanical details of the original Speedy. But with this on their wrist, they might just disappear into a well-known rabbit hole. Around €3,000-3,500 will get you a decent one on Chrono24 if you’re patient, but do your research here first.
A conclusion with a colorful, cheap wild card
If you can pick up the Speedy for closer to €3K, you’ll be left with a few hundred euros in your pocket. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a competition to spend a round figure. And when it comes to tool watches, I could easily put together a great collection for less than €5K and include Seikos, Citizen divers, and microbrands. But my intention with this article was to prove that maybe three is enough and that you can get three superb watches for that price. As a writer, I am always in a quandary on whether I want 20+ watches to have a choice, or a smaller, curated collection. There are not 10 categories of watches, and I only have two wrists, so I am trying to reduce the choice. But one watch that might seem odd in the exalted company of Tudors, Cartiers, and chrono legends is a great addition, so I’ll buy one — a G-Shock.
The go-to(ol) choice
One of my go-to watches for a year has been a red metal G-Shock. Even when worn at a get-together with cases full of Swiss grails, your street cred remains intact, trust me. Whether you’re climbing a mountain, digging up the garden, or trekking through Asia, it’s a must. It will literally never die and will take an insane amount of punishment while making you smile with its blocky ’80s-cool lines and popping colors. Wearing large but ridiculously light, any of the new plastic 5000-series will become a firm favorite, like this lemony-fresh DWE5600R-9 for €209. You get a classic G-Shock shape, slightly modernized in a bright popping yellow. It has a proprietary fitness tracker on Bluetooth, a 200m depth rating, and a supremely easy world timer. What’s not to love? With two additional straps and bezels, this one’s a three-in-one goodie bag of G-joy.
What are your thoughts, Fratelli? Was the Speedy a foregone conclusion? And do we all need a G-Shock? Let me know in the comments.
Find me and follow me at @thorsvaboe