Let’s make no mistake here: being able to collect watches at all is a privilege. Spending €10,000 on a watch is an even bigger one. I have friends who would love to start a watch collection, but the hobby is simply too expensive for them. I also recall that I had some issues wearing a watch at this price point, as I felt it was just too much money to spend on one piece. What if you lose it, or it gets stolen or damaged? That’s a lot of money to tie up in one watch.

If you have €10,000 to spend all at once, you may immediately start to look for watches that are around that price. Thus, you will end up with a collection of one, and despite what some may tell you, that’s not a watch collection. So for this article, I will cut up the budget into smaller amounts, as I can imagine you want (or need) to limit your spending a bit. This way, you could start by buying a watch for €4,000 and add another one that costs a bit more or less later on. You could even add a cheaper “beater” watch to have fun with.

A nearly €10,000 watch from Grand Seiko: the SLGA009 White Birch

Having watches from different brands in a small collection

If I were to start collecting watches today with a total budget of €10,000, I’d settle for two or three watches max. I gave it some thought, and although people know me for being a bit of a mono-brand guy, I think it would be nice to have watches from at least two different brands in this mini collection. It gives you the opportunity to compare brands and experience the differences between them. One of my pitfalls always was (and sometimes still is) that I’d purchase a watch I’d stop wearing after a while, and it would end up in the safe collecting dust. For example, when you buy expensive watches (let’s say over €5,000) and at some point, you add a €399 microbrand watch, you might quickly find out it can’t hold a candle to the quality, finishing, and wearing experience of your more expensive pieces. Although these fun watches are often very attractively designed and priced, they’ll end up in the box with watches you’ll never wear quicker than you think.

IWC Brand History Highlights – From Pilot’s Watches To Portuguese Businessmen And a Heavy Book

This would fly, but not with my budget

Different styles

Furthermore, when you’re just starting out, I think it is cool to have watches in different styles. Of course, it’s not mandatory, because if you love diver’s watches or pilot’s watches, why not collect several of those? However, I would rather have some variety. Finding one watch that will work from the beach to the boardroom is not easy, so you will probably end up with watches in different styles.

Picking a sports watch

Sports watches, whether they be chronographs or divers, are always the pieces at the top of the heap. As much as we love to promote and push dress watches, they will never beat sports watches when it comes to numbers. This is perhaps because of their versatility. If you choose wisely, a sports watch has the potential to be a true beach-to-boardroom piece. And you don’t want to find yourself on the beach in the hot sun with a non-water resistant dress watch on a leather strap, do you? Given the budget we have and the fact that we want to buy another watch soon as well, let’s have a look at some of the options.

Seamaster Diver 300M? It is too heavy on the budget

I am almost inclined to say that the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is that perfect all-rounder. But with today’s retail price (which just increased a month ago), I think it is taking a big chunk out of our total budget. So let’s park that Seamaster 300M for a brief moment. My colleague Ben already picked an Oris Aquis for his article on the same topic, so that’s off the table as far as I’m concerned. It’s a good choice for sure, though.

Seiko Prospex MarineMaster 300 SLA021J1

How about the Seiko SLA021?

Another option is the Seiko SLA021 dive watch with a retail price of €3,200. But I am not sure if this Seiko “Marinemaster” would be my first pick. I know it wasn’t for me, but I also know how much I love the predecessor to the SLA021, the SBDX001. That said, the SLA021 has quite a few advantages over the old SBDX001, such as a sapphire crystal and a case that is treated with a super-hard coating.

The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Other options with a similar price tag can be found in the Tudor collection. Although I have a weak spot for the Pelagos LHD, that would set me back a little bit too much (€4,470). So instead, I will pick the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. It’s a cool, sporty watch with a stainless steel bracelet and a good, comfortable size of 39mm. This watch has a retail price of €3,580. The Seamaster Diver 300M has a superior movement and I like the design a little bit better, but that would set me back €5,700. It leaves me with too little to spend on future purchases for now. I will go for the Tudor, as it’s a classic already and there’s little not to like about the watch. At the moment, I’m confronted with it a few times per week in the office, as my colleague Daan wears his Fifty-Eight often. It’s a cool watch, and I want to be like Daan.

Grand Seiko SBGW267 - How To Start A Watch Collection

Picking a classic watch

I won’t say it’s a dress watch, as I already have a hard time picking one of those without any type of budget (I am very picky with them). Instead, I’ll pick a classic-looking watch, with a round case and a mechanical movement on a leather strap. If I don’t want to be like Daan or feel my outfit could use something more chic than sporty, something on a leather strap comes in handy.

A vintage gold Constellation?

I love gold, but that’s not really an option here unless I can also go vintage, like with a nice pie-pan Constellation from the 1950s or ’60s. I think a vintage Constellation or Seamaster is a great way to start building up a collection. They are very reliable watches, and the copper-gold finished movements just keep on going. The downside is that they’re just a little bit on the smaller side. Most of these vintage Omega Constellation models are around 35mm. On the other hand, for a classic watch, that’s kind of what you want, right? But buying a vintage watch also means you need to take good care of it, find a watchmaker who can help you out, and perhaps calculate the cost of a proper service right from the start. Let me see… What other options do I have?

Grand Seiko SBGW267 - How To Start A Watch Collection

Grand Seiko SBGW267

Well, since I didn’t end up with the Seiko SLA021, I think a great classic-looking watch from a Japanese brand is the Grand Seiko SBGW267. It’s a 37.3mm watch with a hand-wound Grand Seiko 9S64 movement and a beautiful linen dial. The retail price is €4,800. Wearing a watch by Grand Seiko also means I can hang out with the cool guys on Instagram. It’s that, or buy a vintage Constellation with the worry the dial might be refinished, the case over-polished, and so on… I am a bit torn between the two, but what are the remaining options? It feels a bit like playing chess.

Or a Cartier Santos Galbée XL?

Another option that comes to mind is a pre-owned Cartier Santos Galbée XL 2823. However, the going prices are often north of €5,000. And I really would like it in two-tone steel and gold, making it even more expensive. It is also a watch that I love for its bracelet, and in this situation, I want something more classic on leather. I also think it’s cool to have watches with in-house movements, even though there’s nothing wrong with an ETA-based caliber, as found in the Cartier. At least it can be serviced and repaired just about anywhere.

If I go with the Tudor and the Grand Seiko, my remaining amount will be €1,620. However, I have the two-watch collection covered with both a proper diver’s watch and a nice new classic watch.  That leaves me €1,620 to buy something fun. I can still spend it on something vintage from Longines or Omega. Or perhaps the watch I loved so much in the 1990s, the Ebel 1911. Yes, I will go with the Grand Seiko and leave €1,620 in my wallet.

Sinn at Baselworld 2017 - How To Start A Watch Collection

My third pick — a little twist

My collection of watches consists of a cool Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight and a neat classic watch by Grand Seiko. But after a while, I’ll feel the urge to buy something else. With €1,620 to splurge on a third unnecessary watch (they all are), I can go in countless directions. I can buy a new G-Shock from one of the premium collections, a funky NOMOS Club Campus, or a small vintage Longines or Omega. But I can also go for a pre-owned Sinn 103.

Sinn at Baselworld 2017 - How To Start A Watch Collection

Sinn 103 Chronograph

Because I already have the classic-looking Grand Seiko, I want to have something sporty that’s not a diver’s watch. I love the Sinn brand, which used to have quite a few offerings that I could buy for the remaining part of the budget. But times change, and the model I would like to have has become more expensive in the past few years. The Sinn 103 is an iconic-looking chronograph with the classic Valjoux 7750 movement layout. The new models come with a Concepto movement, though. But since I am looking for one on Chrono24 or eBay, it will probably be powered by a Valjoux movement. Yes, I will go with a pre-owned Sinn 103.

How To Start A Watch Collection - Speedmaster

Plot twist!

In reality, though, how it probably would go down is that I would trade up at some point. I would get rid of the Tudor and Sinn and buy that Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. It might not be the current model, as that would also make me sell the Grand Seiko, but a discontinued “youngtimer” or one of the 1990s models with a tritium dial and hands. It would leave me without a proper diver’s watch, but for me, a diver is more about the style (and versatility) of the watch than about it being water-resistant. If water resistance were an absolute must, I would probably keep the Tudor, sell the Grand Seiko, and buy the Moonwatch. Perhaps that would give me the budget to buy a new Moonwatch Master Chronometer. It’s in my blood, you know, this Speedmaster watch.

What would be your thought process and specific picks if you were to start a watch collection with €10,000? Let me know in the comments below.

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