“In a good one-watch collection, versatility is key. Look out for an everyday watch that can be dressed up or down, and will serve you well in every possible occasion, be it at the beach, in a board room, or on your next hiking trip through the Swiss mountains.”
Best One-Watch Collection
- Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)
- Baltic Bicompax 002 ($639)
- Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium ($775)
- Nomos Club Campus 38 ($1,650)
- Tudor Black Bay 36 ($2,950)
- Hermès H08 ($5,500)
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual ($5,600)
- Omega Aqua Terra 150M 38 ($5,700)
- Rolex Submariner ($8,100)
- IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert ($14,800)
- Patek Philippe Nautilus ($34,890)
What Makes A Good One-Watch Collection?
Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given any amount of money and you had to build a perfect watch collection consisting of only one single watch? You heard me right, only one watch. As your entire collection.
Now, after you wiped off the sweat and dread of your face, let’s get a little bit more serious with this topic. While many of us enthusiasts and collectors dread to have only one watch in our collection, there are actually a lot of people that are happy with having only one cool watch in their collection. So, if you count yourself as one of them or are just curious how a perfect one-watch collection would look like, here is a full guide.
But before we get into today’s list of watches, let’s first define what a good one-watch collection is. Since we have to limit ourselves to only 1 watch per collection, versatility is key. Basically, you want to look for an everyday watch. A watch that can be dressed up or down, and will serve you well on every possible occasion, be it at the beach, in a board room, or on your next hiking trip through the Swiss mountains. Also, the perfect watch for our one-watch collection should be durable and have some sort of water resistance.
So, I think that’s it, let’s get started with the watches, shall we?
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)
Most of you out there will already have suspected what the first watch of this list will be. Of course, it is the crowd’s favorite everyday watch, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. The Khaki Field Mechanical makes for an excellent choice when you are looking for a great all-rounder and durable watch for your one-watch collection.
The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical features a stainless-steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 10mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. And even though the rather long lugs make it wear larger than it looks on paper, this watch will still be very comfortable to wear in a very broad array of situations and occasions. I think that the black, field-watch-styled dial of the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical doesn’t need a big introduction, since I’m sure you already saw it before.
Inside of the case beats the H-50 caliber, which is an exclusive caliber specifically developed for Hamilton’s hand-wound watches. The movement has an impressive power reserve of around 80 hours, making this watch precise, even when you forget to wind it for a few days.
Combine the rugged design with the olive-green NATO strap, and you got yourself a durable-looking watch, that will serve you very well as a daily beater. You can purchase one for $475 on Hamilton’s website.
Specifications: Price: $475, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Hand-wound H-50 movement, Power Reserve: 80 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Baltic Bicompax 002 ($639)
Next up is the Baltic Bicompax 002. And as the seasoned reader of this blog surely knows by now, I really love the microbrand Baltic and almost all of the watches that they currently have in their portfolio. And the Bicompax 002 is one of my favorites among them. This chronograph isn’t necessarily what I would consider being an everyday watch, but with its looks, durability, and stainless-steel bracelet, I think it makes for an excellent choice for someone looking for a cool watch for their one-watch collection, that doesn’t want to spend more than $700 on it.
Inspired by watches from the 1940s, the Baltic Bicompax 002 features a stainless-steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. Now, for those of you wondering why they named this watch “Bicompax”, let me enlighten you. By the way, I didn’t know either before doing some research on it, so don’t worry. The term “Bicompax” refers to chronographs with two registers, which was the typical design of 1940s chronographs. In the case of the Baltic Bicompax 002, the left counter displays the permanent second, and the right-hand side displays a 30-minute counter. Other than the two subdials, the silverish, art-deco-inspired dial, also features printed Arabic numerals, a circular brushed chapter ring, as well as black Feuille hands.
The chronograph is powered by the hand-wound Seagull ST1901 movement, which can be marveled at through the open case back, that you can have for just 25 euros extra. Little advice from me, the 25 euros are definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy the beauty of a mechanical movement.
As you may have guessed from the way I wrote this part of the article, I really like the Baltic Bicompax. I like the art-deco-inspired design, I like the case proportions, and most of all, I like that they went for a hand-wound movement, which, on top, can be admired through the open caseback. All in all, hat off to Baltic!
Specifications: Price: $639, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Hand-wound Seagull ST1901 movement, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Hesalite
Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium ($775)
Moving on to the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium. Founded back in 1853, in a small Swiss town named Le Locle, Tissot is known to deliver high-quality mechanical timepieces at very modest price points. This can be seen throughout their lineup, making it a very attractive choice when on a budget.
The Tissot Gentleman was designed to be used as a watch that can be worn every day and with any activity, hence making it a perfect choice for every one-watch collection. And this design philosophy can be clearly seen in the case and the dial. The durable stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter, 11.5mm in thickness, and 48mm from lug to lug. Complementing the brushed case and the polished bezel is the beautiful black dial, which features applied indexes, arrow-shaped hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a rather conservative branding. Tissot presents the watch on a black leather strap, which gives it a classy look.
Inside of the Tissot Gentleman 80 beats the Swiss-made, automatic Powermatic 80.811 movement, which provides a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. This impressive power reserve is achieved with a Silicium balance spring, which was built into the movement, and enables the watch to have increased magnetic resistance, increased accuracy, and the previously mentioned impressive power reserve.
Now that you know all about the specs, there is only one question left. Where can I get one? You can order the watch online or visit your local Tissot AD. The $775 you will have to pay, is certainly worth it.
Specifications: Price: $775, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic, Swiss-made Powermatic 80.811 movement, Power Reserve: 80 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Nomos Club Campus 38 ($1,650)
For the next spot on this list, I’ve decided to go with the Nomos Club Campus 38. A watch that is the perfect combination of affordability and everyday suitability. Nomos is famously known for their industry disruptive designs, which are heavily inspired by the iconic and minimalistic Bauhaus style. Their watches feature clean, minimalistic, and straightforward designs, combined with refined in-house movements.
And the Club Campus 38 fits in perfectly with that narrative. The watch has a stainless-steel case that measures 38.5mm in diameter, 8.5mm in thickness, and 48.7mm from lug to lug. Those rather modest case proportions allow the watch to sit comfortably on your wrist, which for an everyday watch, is very important. The Club’s crisp white dial features the typical composition of a California dial, which means that there are Arabic numerals up top and Roman numerals down below. This style of the dial wouldn’t be something that you expect from a brand like Nomos, who heavily focused on very simplistic dials, but I have to say that it just works on the Cub Campus. It doesn’t take away the overall clean look but nevertheless manages to bring in something new and exciting. Aside from having a diverse selection of different types of numerals, the dial also features luminous hour and minute hands, as well as a small seconds register down at the 6 o’clock position.
Inside of the Nomos Club Campus beats the manually wound Alpha caliber, which is manufactured in-house by Nomos. The movement will tick very precisely, given that you wind the watch every 43 hours.
As the seasoned reader of this blog may know, I’m a big fan of Nomos and their work. And the Club Campus is a perfect example for my love of the brand. Great design, hand-wound in-house movement, and all of that for just a price of $1,650. So, if you are someone looking for just one watch, to build your one-watch collection, and you have a budget of around $1,500, look no further.
Specifications: Price: $1,650, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 8.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.7mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: In-house, hand-wound Alpha manual movement, Power Reserve: 43 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Tudor Black Bay 36 ($2,950)
And now, finally, a watch for the Tudor fans out there. The Tudor Black Bay 36. Inspired by one of the Tudor classics, the Black Bay 36 managed to subtlety blend traditional aesthetics with contemporary watchmaking. Thanks to its versatile size, its cool looks, and its durability, this watch is a perfect allrounder when it comes to building a collection of just one watch.
The Tudor Black Bay 36 features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 36mm in diameter, 10.5mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. On top of the case sits the smooth stainless-steel bezel, which looks fantastic. But it’s when we look at the dial, the Black Bay 36 really starts to shine. It features a black base plate, applied indexes, and snowflake hands.
Powered by the automatic T600 movement, the watch provides around 38 hours of power reserve, which, compared to the 70 hours of some newer Tudor watches, isn’t that much, unfortunately. Nevertheless, if you are looking for that one watch, and don’t want to spend more than $3,000 on it, the Tudor Black Bay 36 is a very solid choice.
Specifications: Price: $2,950, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 10.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic T600 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Hermès H08 ($5,500)
Next up is a very cool everyday piece from Hermès. The Hermès H08. I have to admit that before the release of the H08, I instinctively connected the name Hermès with fancy bags, shoes, and belts, but not necessarily with mechanical wristwatches. But, as I was doing some research, I noticed that I have been wrong all along. Why is that you ask? Well, it’s because Hermès actually started producing their own watches over a century ago, in 1912. And ever since then, they continued down this path and slowly increased the quality of their mechanical timepieces. And with their latest model, the Hermès H08, which made a lot of headlines, they introduced a very innovative design and a sophisticated movement, which ultimately, resulted in me putting this watch on this list of the best watches for your one-watch collection.
The Hermès H08 features a cushion-shaped, graphene composite/DLC-coated titanium case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 10.6mm in thickness, and 39mm from lug to lug. And while these measurements seem rather small, it’s important to note, that cushion/rectangular shaped watch cases usually wear larger than it initially seems on paper. And the Hermès H08 is a prime example of that. While being described as a 39mm case on paper, this watch will wear more like a 40-41mm watch. Nothing bad with that, just wanted to point that out for you.
Thanks to its sophisticated dial design, the watch is suitable for everyday use. It works for a chic occasion as well as in a relaxed environment. And that is where the strength of the H08 lies. It does not limit itself to the sporty or the elegant segment, it combines both in one elegant and nicely finished package.
The Hermès H08 is powered by the automatic Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement, which has a solid power reserve of around 50 hours.
For the price of $5,500, you will get a very versatile watch, that makes for a perfect choice when it comes to choosing a watch for your one-watch collection.
Specifications: Price: $5,500, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 10.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: 39mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Rolex Oyster Perpetual ($5,600)
Rolex fans listen up, the next watch on this list is something for you. Introducing the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36, which, thanks to its understated look and the new colorful dials, is currently one of my favorite Rolex watches.
As you all know, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 comes in a lot of different dial colors, ranging from a subtle dark blue, all the way to the one with the more extravagant ‘Tiffany Blue’ dial. For the sake of your time today, I won’t go into more details about the dial colors, but if you are interested in learning more about the OP36 in detail, I wrote an article about that some time ago. You can check it out here. Anyway, the new OP36 features an Oystersteel case, which measures 36mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 43mm from lug-to-lug. The rather large lug to lug distance makes this watch wears more like a 38- or even 39mm watch, therefore considerably larger as it is stated on the paper. Sitting on top of the brushed case is the beautifully polished, smooth bezel, which gives the watch this touch of classiness, and makes for a perfect transition onto the understated, yet refined dial. Completing the whole look is the iconic Oyster bracelet, which, in my opinion, is one of the best in the whole industry.
But as you surely know, you shouldn’t focus solely on the outer appeal of a watch. What’s inside, is equally as important, especially when we look at a watch that costs $5,600. And what inside of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual you ask? The Oyster Perpetual 36 is equipped with the caliber 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Being the successor of the tried and tested caliber 3130, the caliber 3230 got some exciting upgrades like new the Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability, allowing for an increased power reserve of 70 hours. Like all Rolex movements, the self-winding caliber 3230 is COSC certified, has an accuracy of -2/+2 seconds per day, and beats at a frequency of 28800 BPH.
All in all, if you are looking for the perfect watch that can accompany you to every upcoming event, the OP 36 certainly will make you happy.
Specifications: Price: $5,600, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Rolex caliber 3230 movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Omega Aqua Terra 150M 38 ($5,700)
Coming up next is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. Originally designed as a tribute to Omega’s rich maritime history, the Aqua Terra is known for its diversity and versatility to serve as an excellent everyday watch in your one-watch collection.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra features a brushed and polished, 316L stainless steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 12.5mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. The combination of the slim profile and the very short lug to lug distance of just 44mm, make this watch wear very comfortably on a broad range of wrist sizes. And as you all know, I usually prefer more modest-sized timepieces, so this Aqua Terra from Omega has quite the plus points with me. But as nice as the case proportions may be, the real star of the show is the dial, which is one of the main reasons, this watch landed itself a spot on this list. The deep blue dial features a wooden-floor-like texture, applied hour indexes, a white minute rail on the outside of the dial, the Aqua Terra typical hands, and a date window that is placed at 6 o’clock. By the way, fun fact about the dial, the wooden-floor texture of the dial is inspired by wooden decks of luxury sailboats, that sail around the world and served as an inspiration for Omega. Rounding off the outer appearance of the watch is the sapphire crystal and the stainless-steel bracelet, which flows effortlessly into the case.
The Omega Aqua Terra with the reference 188.8.131.52.03.001, is powered by the METAS certified (Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology), automatic Omega Master Chronometer caliber 8800, which can be seen through the transparent caseback. And there you have it. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. A perfect everyday watch that features an in-house movement, a very classy design, and says Omega on it. What do you want more?
Specifications: Price: $5,700, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic METAS certified Omega Master Chronometer caliber 8800 movement, Power Reserve: 55 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Rolex Submariner ($8,100)
The next watch on this list needs no introduction. Even if you don’t really care about watches, you probably already heard of the Rolex Submariner. And that’s no surprise. Ever since its introduction in 1954, the Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic and well-known watches in the whole history of watches. Being the first-ever dive watch to receive a water resistance certificate of 100 meters, Rolex quickly gained respect among enthusiasts and connoisseurs, which ultimately led to their present success. But the coolness factor wasn’t just due to the water resistance and the clean looks. The watch was also worn by countless iconic actors like Sean Connery or Steve McQueen. Both added tremendously to the popularity of the watch and strengthened the image of the cool sports watch with a luxurious twist.
Thanks to its versatile look, high-quality finishing, and the Rolex-typical quality we all are accustomed to, the Submariner makes for a perfect choice when it comes to a one-watch collection. The watch features an Oystersteel case, which measures 41mm in diameter, 12.4mm in thickness, and 47.6mm from lug to lug. The Oystersteel case is complemented by a unidirectional rotatable bezel which features a cerachrom insert in black ceramic. And believe me, this is one of the best parts of the watch. The whole bezel with the shiny black ceramic is absolutely stunning, which even gets better if you turn the unidirectional bezel, and hear the satisfying click sound it makes. The thing about the Submariner is, that every part of the watch just fits so well into the overall look and feel.
Inside the Oyster case beats the automatic Manufacture 3230 caliber, which, of course, is made by Rolex in-house, and provides around 70 hours of power reserve.
For me personally, the Rolex Submariner is one of the greatest watches of all time. It has a great history, looks great, and is very versatile enough to be worn on almost every occasion I can think of. So, what would you want more from a watch?
Specifications: Price: $8,100, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.6mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Manufacture 3230 movement, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert ($14,800)
Moving on to the second-last pick of the day. The IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert. As part of the IWC Top Gun collection, this watch is designed for the United States Navy Fighter Tactics Instructor program, famously known as TOP GUN. It is in this facility, where fighter and strike techniques are taught to US special forces. The surname Mojave Desert comes from the famous American desert, which is also home to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
The IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert features a sand-brown ceramic case, which measures 46mm in diameter and 14.6mm in thickness, which, honestly, is quite a lot. I know, pilot watches tend to be bigger in size, but 46mm? That’s quite the number, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the exact lug to lug distance, but I’m estimating it to be around 53-55mm, which, again, is very big. But as conflicted as I am with this case, I’m 100% sure that I love that dark sand-colored dial. The dial features IWC’s typical pilot composition, which includes the Arabic numerals, the Pilot hands, the 7-day power reserve sub-dial, a date window at 6 o’clock, and the iconic “pyramid” marker on 12 o’clock.
At the heart of the Big Pilot lies the automatic, IWC-manufactured 52110 Calibre movement, which is the result of 257 individual components and 31 jewels, beats at 28,800 BPH, and provides mind-blowing 168 hours of power reserve. This means 7 full days of not having to wind or wear the watch at all. Very impressive I have to say.
And while we are on the topic of impressive, I think that this is also the best word to describe this watch overall. While the price of $14,800 seems a little bit steep, I still think that this limited-edition Pilots watch is worth it. Just please be aware of the massive case, which could turn out to be a little be problematic, especially if you have a slimmer wrist.
Specifications: Price: $14,800, Case Size: 46mm, Thickness: 14.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 60m, Movement: Automatic IWC-manufactured 52110 Calibre movement, Power Reserve: 168 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Patek Philippe Nautilus ($34,890)
The next watch on this list is maybe a little bit of an overshoot, considering its price tag, but I wanted to include it anyway. I’m talking about the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Introduced back in 1976, the Nautilus was the saving grace for a weakened Patek Philippe, who just went through the notorious Quartz Crisis of the 1970s. Following the release of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Girard Perregaux Laureato, which were the first watches that challenged the common belief of what a luxury watch should be, Patek Philippe Nautilus released their own luxurious stainless-steel watch. And what a watch that was.
As most of you may have heard, Patek Philippe discontinued their iconic, blue dialed Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-010 in January 2021, and made space for its predecessor, the new Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A with the green dial. Therefore, today, we are going to look at the new green-dialed version, just to make sure that you receive up-to-date content. But if you are interested in alternatives to the one with the blue dial, I wrote an article about this topic. You can check it out here.
Equipped with the self-winding caliber 26-330 S C, the updated version features a stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter and 8.3mm in height, making it way more compact than most of its competitors. And in true Patek manner, the stainless-steel bracelet, with its brushed and polished links, flows effortlessly into the case, making it one of the best-integrated bracelets on the market. So forth, everything seems to be as before. But not exactly everything. Complementing the case and the bracelet perfectly is its new youthful muted green dial, which gives the watch a kick of freshness. And with the trend clearly going towards green dialed watches, Patek introduced it at the exact right time.
So, if you have around $35,000 to spend and are planning to put it all into one single watch, the Nautilus is your best choice. And I know, you won’t get one at retail and you shouldn’t spend that much on an everyday watch. And yes, this is 100% correct, but I also want to bring a little bit of fun and excitement into this blog, so sometimes I like to overboard with my choices.
Specifications: Price: $34,890, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 8.3mm Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 120m, Movement: Automatic caliber 26-330 S C movement, Power Reserve: 35-45 hours, Crystal: Sapphire