“Even with $1000, there are many ways to split the budget between different watches. You could go out, splurging most of your budget on a very cool watch and clean up with some budget options.“
Best Watch Collection Under $1,000
- Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
- Breda Visser Square ($90)
- Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($545)
- Le Forban Malouine ($490)
- Frederique Constant Slim Line ($320-$340)
- Q Timex Reissue ($179)
Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given $1000 and the only strings attached to that money were that you had to build a three-watch collection? How would you decide which watches to choose? And, more importantly, which watches would you choose? What would be the deciding factors? There are so many different variables, that we have to take into consideration when building a watch collection. Because in the end every collector is different.
Now you may think, but Nicolas this is a very theoretical thing to assume. And to a certain extend you would be right. But some of the most frequently asked question that I get from friends, family and watch enthusiasts on a day-to-day basis, is regarding building their own watch collection. What watch should I buy for this or that amount of money? Which watches should I choose to build a collection? How much should I spend?
And since this Blog is all about watches and helping you find your way through this beautiful and exciting jungle of timepieces, I wanted to introduce a new series. A series in which we will look at different price budgets and what watches to buy with that, so that we can build the perfect 3-Watch collection. The price points will vary throughout the series, but the 3-Watch concept will stay the same.
Some ground rules
Since we have to limit our self to only 3 watches per collection, versatility is key. So, we have to assume that these watches will be worn in multiple scenarios. And to make these collections as diverse as possible, the collections will each include a sports/dive watch, dress watch, and an in-between everyday watch to cover all the bases. So that you will be ready for any possible occasion, be it in an important business meeting, laying at the beach or hiking in the Andes mountain range.
Also, to give you a little bit more inspiration and a bigger selection of potential watches, each part of the series will include two different 3-Watch collections. The ground rules will stay exactly the same, but instead of just one collection you will get two. Simple as that.
But enough said, let’s finally get started with the collections!
Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
First up, as a sport/dive watch, I chose the Dan Henry 1970 diver.
The brand Dan Henry was founded by, you’ve guessed it, Dan Henry himself. Henry collected over 1500 vintage watches over the span of 30 years and managed to acquire some of the most iconic and sought-after timepieces of the last century. I mean this guy is a legend.
After posting his collection on social media and getting great feedback, he had a thought. What if he took the designs of his most striking pieces and used them to make affordable mechanical watches? So that a broader range of watch enthusiast would have access to these beautiful vintage timepieces. And this is exactly what happened. Dan Henry built his own watch brand which now offers modern watches with a vintage twist, that pack a lot of punch for their price tag.
And the 1970 Automatic diver is no exception. The watch features an automatic Seiko NH35 movement which is housed in a 316L stainless steel case. The case was treated with a black PVD coating, which makes the watch look very cool. Besides the black PVD coated version, there are 3 more options you can choose from, but for me the all-black variant comes out on top when it comes to the design. Other than the design and color, the variants all have the same specifications and dimensions.
Speaking of dimensions, when it comes to the case size, you have the choice between a 40mm or a 44mm. The height of the case is quite hefty at 14.8mm, but after all this is a dive watch and was built with the intend to be used in deep waters, with a water resistance of up to 200 meters (660ft).
Overall, this is a beautiful watch, which for the price of just $290, performs very well and has some impressive specifications.
Specifications: Price: $290, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 14.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.7mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto Seiko NH35, Power Reserve: 41 Hours, Crystal: Mineral
Breda Visser Square ($90)
For the dress watch in this collection, I decided to go very basic. Also, the budget is kind of limited, so I had to choose something very simple, yet refined enough to serve you well as a dressier piece. I decided to go for the Breda Visser Square. Probably you won’t be familiar with this brand and that’s okay. Honestly, I just stumbled across them when I was doing some research for this article and saw that they had some good-looking pieces in their collection.
The Breda Visser has a square 35mm case with rounded corners, to give the watch a more vintage feel to it. But I’m going to be honest with you, this piece is only on this list because of the design and the price. Why? The watch has a Miyota Quartz Movement inside and the brand overall sells their watches more as a fashionable choice, rather than high quality. But if you have a limited budget and want to get a diverse selection of watches, you have to make some compromises at some point. And the Visser is a compromise when it comes to quality, but the design is very good, simple, and clean and therefore makes for a solid dress watch.
Specifications: Price: $90, Case Size: Square 35mm, Thickness: n/a, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: n/a, Movement: Miyota Quartz Movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Mineral
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($545)
Next up as the everyday piece in the collection I went with the iconic Khaki Field Mechanical from Hamilton, but in a special version. It’s the blacked-out PVD coated version of the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical – what’s not to love? Now I know what you are thinking, every watch blogger, vlogger and what else is mentioning this watch over and over again, so why did I include it in here as well? Normally you would be right, I usually try to mix things up and try to not always go with the obvious choice. But in this case, where we need good quality and a nice design for a price of around $500, I just couldn’t help but to include it.
Hamilton is a great brand with some great history, and this translates heavily into their Khaki Field mechanical. And to bring you some variety, I went for the blacked-out version. Anyway, the Field mechanical comes in at a case size of just 38mm, while being powered by an exclusive hand wound H-50 movement, which Hamilton makes in-house.
Yes, the watch has quite a rugged, military-esque look to it for being considered an everyday piece. But the watch is indeed a good fit for an everyday watch, which should be able to take some beatings and still serve you as a reliable tool. Also, it just looks so cool and will not disappoint you. Also, something to consider, this watch is hand wound, so you will need to take some time and wind it, but I personally love the connection that actually winding the watch creates between you and the watch itself.
Specifications: Price: $545, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: n/a, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic H-50, Power Reserve: 80 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Le Forban Malouine ($490)
I’m starting off the second collection with the Le Forban Malouine. This watch is my pick for the sport/dive watch spot.
To some of you the brand Le Forban may sound familiar, but if not, here is a little overview. It all started back in 1969 when this brand was the hot stuff in the watch world. The watches by the French watch brand Le Forban were proudly worn by the sailors of the French navy and were therefore considered very prestigious. But after the initial phase of glory, the brand got lost and disappeared from the radars. Skipping to 2019, exactly 50 years after its initial launch, the brand was relaunched and is back with two new models. And this is very exciting to me. Since I live in Europe, I always had a strong connection to France and to their “join de vivre”. And this watch definitely represents a part of that.
But back to their Malouine model, the watch comes in at around $490 and offers an iconic design, good proportions with a case diameter of just 39mm and a very rich history. The case is made from 316L stainless steel, has a sapphire crystal and a 120-click unidirectional aluminum bezel. The build quality of the watch and the screw down crown enables it to have 150 meters of water resistance. The Malouine is powered by an automatic Miyota 8215 mechanical movement which may be a reliable movement but wouldn’t be my first choice for a watch at this price point. I would much rather have a Seiko NH35 for example and even pay $100 extra, just to get something with a little bit more quality.
But overall, this is a good watch. The design is spot on and is heavily inspired by watches that were worn by French navy sailors, in fact the Malouine model looks almost exactly the same as it did back in 1969. The historical design in combination with the tropical rubber strap, brings a unique vintage feeling to your wrist.
Specifications: Price: $490, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12.75mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 8215, Power Reserve: 42 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Frederique Constant Slim Line ($320-$340)
For our dress watch in this collection, I decided to go with a watch from a brand that strives to deliver elegant, swiss made watches at a very attractive price point. I’m talking about the brand Frederique Constant and their Slim Line (Ref. FC-220NV4S5) model.
The Frederique Slim Line can be bought either preowned or new for a price of around $320. You will find some preowned ones on Chrono24 and eBay, that are even cheaper as on Amazon. For me, this is a perfect dress watch, because of its elegance, because of its simplicity, and because of its size. The Frederique Constant Slim Line has a case diameter of 37mm and a paper-thin case height of just 5mm. At this size, the watch effortlessly fits under every shirt, suit or even cuffing’s.
The minimalistic and simple dial adds to the sense of understatement and elegance. Speaking of elegance, the watch features a gold-colored stainless-steel case, which in combination with the crisp white dial, makes this watch a perfect choice for everyone looking for an elegant dress watch
The movement of the watch is nothing too spectacular, it’s a quartz movement and nothing you should pay much attention to. But besides the movement, this watch offers a lot when it comes to quality and design and will be a good choice, when you dress in formal attire.
Specifications: Price: $320-$340, Case Size: 37mm, Thickness: 5mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Quartz, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Sapphire
Q Timex Reissue ($179)
The reissue of the iconic Timex Q rounds the collection off. The Q Timex Reissue series brings back some of Timex’s most iconic designs from the 1970s, a time when the quartz crisis was turning the mechanical watch industry upside down.
The Q Timex Reissue comes in several different color combinations, ranging from a GMT blue and red version all the way to a rose-gold colored version, which takes some inspiration from the Rolex Root Beer GMT. For the price of $179 you get a well-proportioned stainless-steel case which has a diameter of 38mm, an acrylic crystal, a Timex quartz movement and a big chunk of funky 1970’s vibes.
This Timex may not be the pinnacle of watchmaking, but it’s a fun watch which has a lot of history and a cool design. All in all, the watch deserves a spot in this list, especially at this price point.
Specifications: Price: $179, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Timex Quartz Movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Acrylic
How to build a collection on a budget
Even with $1000 there are many ways to split the budget between different watches. You could go out, splurging most of your budget on a very cool watch and clean up with some budget options. You could also split your budget exactly in three and spend around the same amount on every watch.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But choose wisely.