Starting A Watch Collection With €5,000: Thor’s Picks From Seiko, Furlan Marri, And G-Shock
While I do have some more expensive pieces in my collection now, I actually still gravitate towards the value end of the spectrum. I started with vintage pieces from eBay and somehow evolved through microbrands and Seiko, but what about today? In starting a watch collection with €5,000, my goal would be one of quality rather than quantity.
In fact, this complex exercise ties in with my own consolidation journey, one which is still ongoing and everything but easy. So I tried to view this with fresh eyes and a writer’s uncolored views of horology. But we all know this is a modified truth, as most watches are good, fairly accurate, and yes, they show the time. Take these suggestions as notes from an experienced collector, but just follow your heart.
Seiko SLA021 — One of the best Seiko watches that money can buy
Why start a watch collection with a Seiko? Because it was the Japanese, not the Swiss, that made me appreciate both the allure of in-house production and high horology. Seiko sometimes frustrates me with its seemingly random plan of releases, often a barrage of similar limited editions. But even with their rising prices, Seiko’s watches represent the pinnacle of in-house quality at a good price. Yes, the SLA021 is a very big watch, a direct competitor to the Rolex Sea-Dweller, in fact, but look. The feeling is very different, almost ironic, and that is a huge compliment. Let’s call it juxtaposition, as the Marinemaster is no joke. And no, I’m not interested in any discussions about the name, change of logo, or any of that nerdiness. We all know that this is the Daddy of Seiko divers, and it is a comforting brute of a watch. Nothing of 44.3mm has any right to be this comfortable.
Seiko’s designers have been perfecting the sloping, reverse-angled case sides for decades, and what is the result? You feel the weight, but it is akin to being protected by a strong big brother or a hug from a friendly bear. Another beautiful contrast comes from the fact that the Zaratsu-polished case is finished by artisans in the Grand Seiko Shizukuishi studio, even if it is a mere Seiko. Even the solid 8L35 caliber is an in-house undecorated version of a GS movement. I have the SLA023 blue version myself, but the black one is a classic, and the new touch of a gold seconds hand is a sweet touch. Coupled with a 300m depth rating, Rolex-beating dial quality, and a ceramic bezel, this is diving royalty. The 15.4mm thickness and 50.5mm lug stretch feel smaller, and the daily accuracy rating of +15/-10 seconds per day is seriously pessimistic. Available for around €3,100.
Furlan Marri Black Sector ref. 2116-A — The dressy “vintage” number
With a 37.5mm Goldilocks case and Cornes de Vache lugs, the new Furlan Marri Black Sector is the brand’s all-important “second album”. The release that can make or break a band, even a new brand, is important for Furlan Marri. Founders Andrea and Hamad caused a ruckus with their first model, to say the least. It sold on Kickstarter for less than €500 and now sells on Chrono24 for anything between $930 and a mad $2,600. The 2116-A is their first foray into the mid-priced mechanical market, with a strong La Joux Perret caliber and a solid jump in price. For CHF 1,250 (currently €1,243) you get one of the most comfortable ’40s-style sector-dial watches on the market with lugs to die for. The grained texture on the dial is a formal background for glinting Breguet numerals and the strong vibe of mid-century elegance is tangible. If I didn’t do any sports or family activities with boisterous kids, this could comfortably be my one-watch starter collection.
A different kind of vintage
We all love a good ’60s skin-diver design, but they have been flooding the market lately. Furlan Marri made a bold move with this Holy Trinity-inspired reference instead of playing it safe. Therein lies its charm, especially partnered with soft comfort. The maximalist silver-printed sector dial is a dark background to polished Feuille (leaf) hands, it’s just a shame that we can’t see the movement. A big step up from the brand’s meca-quartz chronograph, the automatic G101 caliber has a 68-hour power reserve. It’s equipped with a tungsten rotor with a palladium coating, and the case itself is decorated with traditional perlage on the inside. That’s perfection for you. The watch winds smoothly and has kept superb time during my borrowed time living with the prototype. You’ll have a two-in-one collection of vintage chic from day one, as the Black Sector ref. 2116-A comes with one grained black curved-end strap and a smooth honey-colored one with a straight-end design. Both have quick-release pins for that easy changeover to match your outfit. The Furlan Marri pre-order window is still open, and you can order one for a very decent €1,243 plus shipping and VAT.
Casio G-Shock GBD-200-2ER — The inspirational go-anywhere tool
The GBD-200-2ER is a sleeker version of the legend-tough 5000-series, the origin of G-Shock. This, however, has a dual purpose, as the perfect go-anywhere travel and activity watch. Unlike a dinner-plate-sized Garmin, a G-Shock has the respect of the watch community while also being a fitness partner. Many of us are still lagging in the life-prolonging game of running, cycling, or walking to the shops instead of driving. With this, you have G-Shock cool, a blue cheer-me-up case, and a fitness tracker. Connect it up to the dedicated G-Shock app and get the hell off the sofa. Obviously, the Seiko Marinemaster can take a lot more punishment than a ramble through the woods and a couple of airport transfers, but this piece of blue resin is deceptively light when you’re lugging around suitcases or on a morning run. This is also Casio-affordable at a silly €149.
Topping off the starter watch collection — Straps, straps, straps!
You’ve got around €500 left from your kitty of €5K. Did I miss my target? Well, no, and this is where I invite you to join the cult of the strap-a-holics. Both the Seiko SLA021 and the delectable Furlan Marri will look great on a variety of straps, extending your three-watch collection to six or eight in an instant. Granted, the Marinemaster comes with a silicone rubber strap, but it is both a dust magnet and is incredibly long (unless you’re Dwayne Johnson). Get a couple of Crafter Blue form-fitted rubber straps from Strapcode, and you have a lighter version of your indestructible tool for the hottest beach days.
What would you spend a generous €5K on, my judicious Fratelli? Two, four, or even six watches? Or would you start with one good watch? Let us know in the comments below.
Find me and follow me at @thorsvaboe