It has been a while since I curated a selection of watches for Fratello’s Pre-Owned Spotlight column, and truth be told, I wasn’t looking at other watches for a long time. I feel that my collection is (or was) quite where I want it to be, and everything on top is just that — on top. The new Rolex GMT-Master II in gold does have my interest, but it’s a lot of money for me to spend on one watch. There are days that I have less in my pocket.

What I’m currently doing is consolidating my collection a bit. What watches do I have that see no daylight and can be sold to fund something new? And although I’ve already started the process of selling some watches, I don’t have anything specific in mind for my next purchase. I did, however, come across several interesting watches on my wish list, mainly gold pieces. According to my colleague Mike, my fascination with gold is something typically Dutch. I am also drawn to purchasing (another) dress watch. I purchased my Breguet Tradition 7027BA (yellow gold) on March 1st, and I’ve been giving it a lot of wrist time. Most of my watches are sports watches, and dress watches are in the minority. A sports watch is perhaps a bit more versatile, but I’ve noticed that I truly enjoy wearing a dress watch, even when dressed more casually.

dress watches Breguet Tradition 7027R

Don’t buy it because it is affordable; buy it because you love it

Buying the Breguet Tradition increased my interest and admiration for the brand even more. Looking at the prices of Breguet watches on the pre-owned market, the brand is completely underrated. And that’s not a bad thing, I have to say. It means you can purchase a beautiful gold Breguet watch for a fraction of what a Patek Philippe would set you back. As always, the most important thing is that you like or love what you buy. Don’t buy it because it is affordable; buy it because you love it. Likewise, don’t buy a watch from brand X or Y just because it’s from that brand. If you do, you will never truly enjoy wearing it.

Breguet Classique 5157 dress watches

Breguet Classique ref. 5157

I have been looking at the Breguet ref. 5157, which is a dress watch from the Classique collection and has just two hands. I love a clean, simple watch, and this piece never really left my mind after trying one for this review. The Breguet ref. 5157 is very clean, and to some, it might even be a bit too boring. However, I think that with the right strap, you can make the watch a bit more “in the now” if that makes sense. Inside, there’s an automatic movement with a decentralized rotor.

Breguet Classique 5157 dress watches

It’s a joy to look at because the finishing is just beautiful. It has Côtes de Genève, polished bevels, a guilloché rotor in gold, and beautiful gold-filled engraving on the main plate. It’s a 38mm watch, but it’s very wearable on larger wrists due to the long lugs (44mm from tip to tip). Plus, the Breguet ref. 5157 is only 5.4mm thick. This watch retails for €21,200 for the red and white gold models and €20,000 for the yellow gold model. If you don’t care about the box and papers, you can find one of these gems for under €9,000. A complete set will set you back a little over €10K. Here’s a nice one in yellow gold for €8,980.

Reverso Duoface dress watches

JLC Reverso Duoface ref. 270.1.54G — Image: Zironi

A Reverso in gold

Another watch I have been exploring is from Jaeger-LeCoultre. It’s the famous Reverso model, with which I have a strange relationship. I love how it looks, I appreciate Jaeger’s movement development, and I think it’s just an incredibly classy watch. However (and that’s a big “however”), I can’t get used to looking at a rectangular watch on my wrist. When I see others wearing it (we have a few Fratello team members who own one), I think it looks great. And when I see it on myself in a mirror, I like it a lot, but “directly” on the wrist, it causes my brain to short-circuit.

Image: Zironi

That said, perhaps I just should give it more time and select the right one for me to give it a try. As we’ve reported recently, the retail prices for the Reverso jumped up over 40% compared to last year. Funnily, the steel Reverso starts at €7,900, but it’s in a very small size that’s not suitable for my wrist. The Reverso Classic (42.9mm × 25.5mm) Monoface with small seconds starts at €10,100. A gold model, especially with a complication, is easily over €22,000.

Image: Zironi

On the pre-owned market, I’ve found this beautiful Reverso Duoface in 18K yellow gold for €9,400. You can even find them for less if you don’t care about the box and papers. The dials have a lovely guilloché finish, and you can also find versions with a black dial on one side.

Rolex Explorer 39 ref. 214270 — Image: Watch Exchange Co

Explorer 39 (or 40)

I’ll also include a non-gold watch. My recent visit to the Rolex office in Brussels, where they showed us the new Watches and Wonders 2023 models (and a few additional new references) once more, made me think twice about the new Rolex Explorer 40. My wife has the 36mm Explorer, which I think is the perfect size for the cleanest-looking sports watch in the Rolex catalog. But a 36mm Explorer doesn’t work on my wrist, which is a bit surprising as my Datejust 36 and Day-Date 36 work perfectly for me. Perhaps it is because of the President and Jubilee bracelets on those, or it could just be that the black dial makes it look a bit smaller. I don’t have the answer to this, but the Explorer 36 simply looks small on my wrist.

Image: Watch Exchange Co.

Trying the Explorer 40 again in Brussels made me reconsider this watch as a future addition to my collection. With a retail price of €7,650, it’s cheaper than the pre-owned Explorer 39. The well-known problem, of course, is that buying your Rolex model of choice is simply very difficult. The Rolex dealers or boutiques often have no stock, and if they do, they’re probably not the watches you want. On the pre-owned market, you can find a 36mm Explorer for less than €7K at the moment, but the 39mm version (reference 214270) is all over the place. It goes from below €7K (in Japan) to well over €9K if you want one with a box and papers. The first 39mm models had a handset that was simply too short and had non-luminous Arabic numerals. Later models have a correct handset and luminous Arabic numerals.

Image: Watch Exchange Co.

My preference would be the latter. Here’s one from 2016 with its box and papers for US$9,450 (approximately €8,795). While that’s over retail, this is the discontinued 39mm version, and it’s in very good condition. There’s also the debate of paying more than retail for the new Explorer 40 or starting a waiting game with no clear end date in sight.

Breguet Classique 5157 — Image: Sotheby’s

Closing thoughts

Currently, the three watches featured above speak to me the most, but I am leaning mainly toward the Breguet ref. 5157. I simply think it is an incredibly beautiful watch with amazing finishing, and it would be a good addition to my modest collection. The Reverso is wonderful too, and JLC has some pretty nice movements. However, I am a bit reluctant about the shape of the watch. I definitely want to like it, but thus far, a rectangular watch has never really worked for me. The Rolex Explorer 39, especially the later series, ticks a lot of boxes for me when it comes to a sports watch. But I have many sports watches already, so it would be a very safe bet. I have noticed that my craving for a gold dress watch is rather strong indeed…

Which is your favorite of these three? Let us know in the comments below!

*Featured image: Watch Exchange Co.