If you have €10K to spare on a luxury watch, what should you do? Well, after you count your money, count your blessings. After that, I would suggest you take your time and find out what watch or watches match your taste, pique your interest, and fit your lifestyle. A bit of soul-searching is advisable before taking the plunge. And so is setting boundaries. So, without further ado, here’s my take on starting a watch collection with €10K. And I promise you, I will save you a couple of bucks.

I assume you’ve been infected by the “watch virus” for quite some time and you just can’t seem to shake it. Perhaps you’ve done your research and browsed countless watch websites, ranging from obscure blogs and forums to respected outlets — thank you for regularly visiting Fratello, by the way — and long-running, specialized magazines. Maybe you’ve even read books about watches. In other words, you know what “in-house” means. You won’t mix up chronometers and chronographs. And you know the Aikon is not the real icon, but the Royal Oak is. Yes, it’s a watch that one day might be the crown jewel of your watch collection. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Not an Aikon, but the real icon; the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST — Image via Xupes.com

Starting a watch collection with €10K – Become an expert first

If I were given a budget of €10K to start a watch collection — a collection that will bring me joy for decades to come — I would pick a theme first. And that theme can be based on style, complication, brand, origin, material, color, or anything you can think of. That’s the great thing when you start your own watch collection; no one else tells you exactly what to do. The only thing I can advise is to think things through. That means that even an eclectic collection — that’s the best euphemism I could think of for a bunch of watches without any logical connection to one and the other — needs some serious thinking through before the first purchase. And I don’t even think you’re ready for that first purchase yet.

Starting a watch collection with €10K

Three themes as an example

I think that once you’ve come up with a theme, it’s time to dive deeper into your chosen field of interest before buying anything. Learn more, check out different options, think of the bigger picture. Once you’ve done that, you’re finally ready. But since I’m doing the spending, I will come up with three themes and the watch that I would start each collection with. I may also give some options for the second or third watch in those imaginary collections; let me see what I can come up with.

Starting a watch collection with €10K — A national theme

Collecting Swiss watches is way too random. Collecting mechanical watches from Japan, however, is a bit more specialized. But what about collecting watches from Glashütte, that magical watchmaking village in Saxony, Germany? My “Glashütte Only” collection is going to be eclectic and logical. It gives me the opportunity to buy a Bauhaus-like, soberly styled but technically adequate 39mm Nomos Tangente with a platinum gray dial for €2,880 and a Union Glashütte Belisar Datum Sport for €1,980. The rugged sports watch is a good counterbalance for the more dressy Tangente. That leaves me with €4,860 to spend. But since it just takes two to tango and three is a crowd, I’m going to leave that money in the bank for now as the foundation for my next “Glashütte Only” watch. And that will be my first piece from A. Lange & Söhne. I’m dreaming of a Datograph, but the Lange 1 should be my entry-level Lange.

Starting a watch collection with €10K

Stay within the budget

What I could also do is buy a watch made in Glashütte for just under €10K to start my collection with a bang. That leads me to the Glashütte Original SeaQ reference 1-39-11-06-80-70. It’s a 39.5mm steel diver with retro styling on a sturdy bracelet and with the in-house-developed automatic winding Calibre 39-11 inside the case. It’s a €9,900 watch, so it fits the budget, if only just. That leads me to another good point when it comes to buying watches for your collection, and that is to STICK TO YOUR BUDGET! Once you set the limit of €10K, for instance, do not go over €10K. No, not even a single euro. Bring out your inner Scrooge to help you stay strong.

Why Your “Lizard Brain” Has You Lusting After Rolex Watches

Starting a watch collection with €10K — Traditions that never die

Some say a Rolex is a must for every watch collector. I disagree. If you don’t like the look of any Rolex watches, don’t buy one. It’s as simple as that. And that’s because I’m talking about building a personal collection and not about what watches are a good investment. Buying watches you love and that contribute to the collection as a whole is investing in long-term joy. But since I mentioned Rolex, a traditional brand, I will now spend my virtual €10K on a traditional watch. Traditional in terms of brand and styling, that is. And since the first watch you buy — regardless of the theme of your collection — should be versatile, I’m looking for an all-rounder. I want a watch that is both dressy and sporty. In other words, stylish enough to shine at a fancy party, and rugged enough to be used as a daily beater.

Starting a watch collection with €10K

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a jack of all trades

You could probably fill Lac Léman with all the traditional Swiss-made timepieces produced annually. So how exactly do you pick the ones that match your style, taste, and budget? Well, it takes time to go through the catalogs of the usual suspects, but in the end, you can narrow it down by using your set preferences. As I said, I will start my “Swiss-made Timeless” watch collection with an all-rounder. It’s a watch with an in-house movement made by a well-respected brand. It’s something non-trendy, with timeless looks. I’m thinking about a watch that is a sports watch by birth and a dress watch by nature. I would buy the green version of the Reverso Tribute Monoface Small Seconds (ref. 3978430) for €8,500. You could also opt for the blue or red version, but the green is the odd one out that strangely matches everything you wear.

Is it strange to start a collection with something non-black? Yes, it is, but the green Reverso might not be available forever, whereas the more standard versions will be. In other words, now is the time to strike. Another option, of course, is the €7,250 IWC Portugieser Automatic 40. It’s a classic watch indeed, but not as classic as the bigger €12,600 Portugieser Automatic with 168 hours of power reserve. Therefore, it’s not my choice to start my virtual collection.

Starting a watch collection with €10K

Starting a watch collection with €10K — The most playful theme

As you’ve noticed, I haven’t picked a pre-owned or vintage watch to start my collection. That’s because moving comfortably on the vintage or secondhand market requires more knowledge and experience than navigating the danger-free world of new watches. If you stick to a trusted, official dealer, you will be fine. The world of vintage watches, however, can be a minefield. You can always add a nice vintage piece to your themed collection later on. So, let’s say I were to start building a collection of mechanical chronographs. It’s the sportiest and most playful of complications, and I would name my collection “Go, Go, Chronograph!” Personally, I would start with something new, and maybe later add a vintage predecessor of that watch.

Vintage Omega Speedmaster reference 145.022-76

Since you’re on a €10K budget, there’s no escaping the 2021 Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Hesalite on steel bracelet (310. that costs €6,700 in 2022. With the money you have left, you buy some in-depth books about the Speedy to prepare you for your first vintage or neo-vintage Moonwatch.

A raised heartbeat thanks to Zenith

If, for any reason, you’re not a fan of the “Speedy” you can always turn to other famous chronographs made by specialist brands. For €8,350, you could go for a 43mm Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph, for instance. Yes, it’s a veritable classic, but it’s also quite big and has a dial layout that is a love/hate affair. My choice would be the €9,700 Zenith Chronomaster Sport. This 41mm chronograph has great pedigree in the shape of its famous, fast-beating El Primero caliber 3600. It also has a distinct dial design with overlapping sub-dials in three different colors. The Chronomaster Sport would make a solid and accurate start of the collection; operating the pushers to start, stop, and reset the chronograph are tangible proof of that.

Buying watches that fit a theme is what makes a collection. Buying watches randomly just leads to an assortment of watches. Indeed, that’s my current watch situation, as I disclosed in an article during Fratello’s recent Collector’s Week. But if I could get a do-over and start a watch collection with €10K now, I would come up with a well-considered theme and strategy. If only…

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