At Fratello, we love hypothetical collecting exercises, challenges like “What if I could spend 5K or 10K on a three-watch collection?” for instance. Today, I want to do one that isn’t limited by a specific budget or number of watches. Instead, I would like to simply stray off the beaten path and go for unusual suspects. What if I wanted to build a little watch collection without hitting the expected targets? That means no Submariners, Speedmasters, or Tanks. Let’s dive in!

These are watches I would choose for myself under the set restrictions. Although I am not setting a specific budget, I will try to stick to the segment in which I tend to buy. It would be too easy to just jump on a bunch of crazy independents, wouldn’t it?

Grand Seiko SBGW303 unusual suspects

Unusual Suspect #1: GADA

As you may know, I love the GADA (Go Anywhere, Do Anything) genre. To me, Rolex is probably the king of this category. I would always include an Explorer or a Datejust in any collection. But what would I choose if those icons were off-limits? Well, my very own VPC Type 37HW, of course! But that would be a bit too obvious coming from me, I guess, so let me look elsewhere.

I think I would land on the Grand Seiko SBGW303. This watch features the 44GS shape in a more restrained 36.5mm diameter. Since the 44GS case shape is already quite aggressive and strong, I feel it works miracles in the smaller size. There is a lot to love about the SBGW303, and the dial is one particular highlight. I love the olive hue and the touch of gold in the applied logo. The fact that it is softly textured and otherwise super clean helps a lot.

Inside ticks Grand Seiko’s caliber 9S64, which is the same hand-wound movement I have in my SBGW231. As you may know, I enjoy a good manual GADA watch, so this is perfect for me. It allows the SBGW303 to have a modest 11.6mm thickness. Paired with a decent water resistance rating of 10 bar, that makes it perfectly suited to daily wearing. At the time of writing, the Grand Seiko SBGW303 is priced at €6,300.

Black and yellow unusual suspects Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Divingstar

Unusual Suspect #2: Diver

My second favorite genre of watch is the mighty diver. Here, too, I tend to lean towards the usual suspects. I adore the Rolex Submariner, but you can hardly call it unusual nowadays. So, what if I wanted something a little less predictable? Well, I would be looking at you, Doxa!

unusual suspects Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Divingstar

Specifically, my unusual diver of choice would be the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Divingstar. To me, this watch is truly unique in appearance. The case and strap exude an ominous Darth Vader vibe, but then there is that yellow. I love Doxa’s yellow. It is warm and aggressive at the same time. It looks even better when contrasted against the black carbon.

The Doxa Sub 300 Carbon measures 42.5mm across, paired with a length of just 45mm. It is 13.4mm thick, largely due to the domed sapphire crystal. Of course, this model is rated water resistant to 300 meters (30 ATM). At the time of writing, the Sub 300 Carbon in Divingstar yellow is priced at €3,990.

Unusual Suspect #3: Travel GADA

My third pick would be a recent release that has been firmly on my radar. The Lorca Model No. 1 GMT would make for an awesome unusual suspect. This is a vintage-inspired travel GADA watch that showcases impeccable taste from Jesse Marchant, the man who conceived it.

Lorca Model No. 1 GMT unusual suspects

I love that it is so subtle. The beauty is in the tiny little details that are carefully curated from tons of vintage sources of inspiration. Lorca manages to do this in a very subdued and tasteful way without going sentimental or gimmicky.

Lorca Watches Model No.1 GMT unusual suspects

The Model No. 1 GMT measures 37mm across at the bezel. Although it is only 11.2mm thick, it still boasts water resistance to 20 ATM. Inside ticks the Soprod C125 caller GMT. Now, tell me: how often do you see such a highly water-resistant GMT watch in such a subtle and elegant package? My pick would be the silver dial. I think it is worth every penny of its €1,624.95 (ex. VAT) price, and I cannot wait to see what Jesse comes up with next.

unusual suspects Kurono Tokyo Anniversary Toki 2021

Unusual Suspect #4: Formal wear

Last but not least, I would pick an unusual watch for formal occasions — a dress watch that isn’t one of the usual suspects. My watch of choice would, unfortunately, pose a bit of a challenge to find. It is a limited edition that has long sold out, the Kurono Tokyo 2021 Anniversary Toki with the salmon dial.

unusual suspects Kurono Tokyo Anniversary Toki 2021

Kurono Tokyo has been on my radar for some time. Our own Thor is lucky to own one (the Grand Urushi Aoyama Edition), but the brand’s watches aren’t easy to get your hands on. They are limited and sometimes even boutique-only editions. As someone who consciously saves up towards a specific watch, I just never happen to have my watch fund filled to the required level when Kurono announces an unexpected drop. So that pushes me towards the pre-owned market, where we find my favorite Kurono.

The 2021 Anniversary Toki celebrated the Japanese brand’s second birthday. It is a relatively simple dress watch, measuring in at a perfect 37mm. Inside ticks a humble Miyota 90S5 caliber, but it is the dials that matter with Kurono watches. This one is salmon and has a beautifully minimalist ’50s-style layout. I just love the aesthetic. I would likely have to part ways with around €2K to find a good used example.

Four off-the-beaten-path watches

There you have it — a pretty comprehensive four-watch collection if you ask me. I have all bases covered, and all of these could trigger interesting conversations with fellow enthusiasts. These are the unusual alternatives to the cliché watches I tend to fall for. If you spot any of these on someone’s wrist, you can be pretty sure you are dealing with an aficionado, which I like.

What would be your collection of unusual suspects if you were facing the same challenge? Let us know in the comments below!