How To Start A Watch Collection With €10,000: Rob’s Top Three Picks From Rolex, Tudor, And NOMOS Glashütte
I wasn’t going to do this. My ego tells me Nacho asked me to write my entry in this series some time ago and that I politely declined due to general busyness. However, as time passed, I became more and more jealous of my colleagues having fun with this devilish exercise. So I slunk back to our Managing Editor, tail between my legs, and asked even more politely if I could also get in on the action. Three-piece watch collection for €10,000, here I come.
I’ve currently got COVID. I picked it up on one of my frequent travels for Fratello. Despite being sick with the plague, I haven’t taken a day off work yet. In fact, because I could do little else, I worked through the weekend. Mostly, I was grinding through admin, catching up on a bit of writing, and sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, chatting with my watch collection as I attempted to stave off the almost inevitable cabin fever one expects during isolation.
As it turns out, I’m rather good at being isolated. I enjoy my own company and that of my watch collection. Having this interesting question — “How To Start A Watch Collection With €10,000” — milling around in my head while chatting to said collection provided a very satisfying distraction from the lurgy. I started assembling little groups of three watches from my collection that could be purchased for the correct amount. But there was a problem…
I hadn’t realized how few pieces in my collection are still available. Of my top twenty watches, only five can still be bought. The rest are either sold-out limited editions or discontinued pieces from yesteryear. That poses a problem. Building a three-watch collection for €10K comprising only available watches is tougher than you might think (especially when you have the first-world problem of having been exposed to so many amazing pieces).
Buying in types
Many of my colleagues decided to buy three watches from three different categories. From what I could see, the most popular categories were Time-Only (with perhaps a date thrown in there), GMT/World Timer, Dive Watch, and Chronograph. A couple of Pilot and Field watches threatened the perimeters of these micro collections but didn’t seem to be where most of my colleague’s heads went immediately.
…the now-sold-out MING 22.01 GMT Gilt.
My first draft was, in my opinion, almost perfect, but it ran into the availability issue once more. Had that not been a concern, I would have picked the Tudor Pelagos LHD, the NOMOS Club Campus Deep Pink, and the now-sold-out MING 22.01 GMT Gilt. That would have totaled just €8,820 (€4,470/€1,100/€3,250) and been a chromatic feast for the eyes. Observe:
A solid foundation
However, the unavailability of the MING put paid to that idea. Then I started sniffing around for a different angle. Sure, the other guys had gone for technical variety, but did that mean I had to as well? No, sir, it did not. There is something really satisfying about a three-watch collection and the curation that goes into it. You can’t hit every point or include every complication, so do you even need to include any technical variation at all? How about building a collection focused on color, shared design codes, differing design codes, or provenance?
Simply put, for €1,100, this German-made piece represents some of the finest value on the market.
Since cost is a factor here, I decided on one holdover from my holy trinity above. Of course, I stuck with the €1,100 NOMOS Glashütte Club Campus 36 Deep Pink. I almost subbed it out for the 27.5mm Tetra Grenadine, which costs €1,750, so I had a bit of distance between my pick and the Future Orange picked by Nacho. He assured me, however, that a “duplicate” pick was fine as long as it was genuine, and this is. Simply put, for €1,100, this German-made piece represents some of the finest value on the market. The only drawback? It made picking another watch from NOMOS feel too one-dimensional, so I had to go in a different direction.
What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Oh yeah. I’m going there. I’m blowing €5,900 of my remaining budget on one of the hardest-to-get (but technically still available) watches out there. My colleagues delighted in telling me that the “Tiffany Blue” Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 had been discontinued at Watches And Wonders, but I pointed out that both it and the green dial seem to have survived the cull. Apparently, only the coral (red), yellow, and baby-pink models bit the dust.
Since my granddad died in ’97, I have cried twice…
So is this pick a cop-out because Rolex doesn’t like to sell these to anybody? I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think about that in the comments below, but I’m rolling with it because I mean it. This watch is a hypebeast, I know. Am I a slave to the moment? Yeah, probably I am (at least a little bit). But have you seen this thing in real life? “Tiffany Blue” or not (it’s not), it is divine.
I am not a man known for tears. Since my granddad died in ’97, I have cried twice — once when the Pats lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XVII and once when Alex Ferguson retired. To say I am emotionally maladjusted is an understatement. What is sure, however, is that I am not easily moved. And this watch moved me. It seemed to be a week of movement because the Singer Reimagined Flytrack Pulsometer did almost cause me to sob like a baby at its incredible execution. Still, the OP 36 in turquoise was a close second.
And it’s (relatively) cheap. We forget what a Rolex actually costs these days, so seldom do we see them on the market. But this watch costs less than €6,000. If you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, it costs just £4,650. Less than 5K for a Rolex? I mean, you’ve got to pay close to 8,000 bucks for a bicolor Datejust with a knackered Jubilee on the “pre-loved” market these days.
It’s “available”, so it’s going on the list.
Look, of course, it’s not categorically cheap (although if the cost-of-living crisis continues, it may well be soon). It’s still nearly five thousand British pounds for a time-only wristwatch with a bright blue dial. But, come on, in our hobby, with the prices we’re used to seeing bandied around without thought or hesitation, this is a steal. At retail. Which is practically unheard of. But whatever. It’s “available”, so it’s going on the list.
So far, I’ve spent €7,000 on the nose. I have a pretty healthy three grand left in the kitty. I have many, many options. I tried to think about a newish brand that offered me a lot of bang for my buck, and I came down with Serica. The field watch the brand makes (with a few different dial options) is crazily good value at €690. The dive watch is a thin slice of heaven at just €1,075. The white dial? Pure class. The black? Versatile sports watch incarnate. But does it have the oomph, the clout, or the rep that you want for one-third of your watch collection?
A stroke of genius at the last
And then it dawned on me. Amid this Tudor furor (after the brand dropped the BB Pro and its arse in one fell swoop), I’ve already proclaimed that I’m done with the brand. The makers of one of my all-time faves (the afore-mentioned Pelagos LHD) have royally ticked me off with the hollowness of the BB Pro (a good watch in itself but a branding move I cannot fathom). However, I’m not a mug. I remember my very own article extolling the BB 36 as better than the Rolex Explorer not so long ago. And I’m not about to change my mind now…
A vision in 36mm
Finally, I found my thread. Almost comically, I have selected three 36mm watches, all time-only, and all fricking awesome. I know this is the best three-piece collection you’ve ever seen, and you will be amazed that it will only cost you €9,880 (€5,900/€1,100/€2,880). And not that this should really be any justification for buying watches, but can you spend 10 grand more safely anywhere right now? You’re unlikely to lose too much on any of these pieces as time passes, and overall, if you wanted to sell the trio, you’d likely make a few quid.
Currently, I don’t own any of these watches, but I like this set so much that I will endeavor to buy them all, truly putting my money where my mouth is. This is not just journalism — this is real life, baby.