“In this episode, we have a great line-up of excellent affordable timepieces, including the Nomos Club Campus, the new Yema Navygraf, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical and a special piece from Sternglas”
Best Watch Collection Under $2,000
- Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT ($1,049)
- Sternglas Naos Automatik white ($450)
- Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)
- Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
- Timex Marlin Hand Wound ($199)
- Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 ($1,490, pre-owned)
Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given $2,000 and you had to build a perfect 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 of? How much should I spend? So, I decided to create a series, where we look at different collections on different budgets. Continuing from the first part of this series, “Best 3-Watch Collection under $1,000”, we will now take a look at the $2,000 price range. So, same concept and same ground rules as last time, but with a little bit more cash to spend.
Some ground rules
Since we have to limit ourselves 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, a 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 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!
Collection 1 is consisting of the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT, the Sternglas Naos Automatik and the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical.
Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT ($1,049)
Starting off this list is the newly released Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT from the French manufacturer Yema. The watch has quite a unique background story, so let’s dive in!
The Yema Navygraf is the first GMT watch in the history of the French navy. And the cool thing about it is, that the watch was actually designed by French Navy personnel themselves so that it would be suitable for active deployment. Being designed to be used on a day-to-day basis, it’s no wonder that the Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT turned out to be a military-grade, rugged and resistant watch, able to withstand the harshest conditions on the most unforgiving seas.
The Navygraf GMT features the automatic in-house YEMA3000 GMT movement, which has a power reserve of around 42 hours and is housed in a modest-sized 39mm stainless steel case. Being a GMT watch, the Navygraf offers a GMT complication which, according to Yema, can tell 3 different time zones with the help of the 24-hours bezel and the central GMT hand. Besides that, the watch also offers an impressive water resistance of up to 300 meters (990ft), which makes it perfect for deployment on high seas.
Design-wise, Yema really delivered. The dial features hour-markers which are shaped in the form of an exclamation mark, a distinct signature of the 1970’s vintage Navygraf model. The matt blue dial and the golden Navygraf inscribing underline the heritage of the watch. The navy-blue dial is complemented by a 24-hour GMT, sapphire-glass bezel, that matches the color of the dial perfectly. The red central GMT hand is a welcome splash of color, which rounds the design perfectly.
Overall, for a price of just $1,049 you get a very nice looking, nicely executed sports watch, that brings a lot of history with it. You can pre-order one now on Yema’s website.
Specifications: Price: $1,049, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12.85mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic in-house YEMA3000 GMT movement, Power Reserve: 45 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Sternglas Naos Automatik white ($450)
Moving on to the dress watch of the first collection, the Sternglas Naos Automatik white.
The German-based watch brand Sternglas is known for its minimalistic approach to watch design and watchmaking. Founded by Dustin Fontaine in 2016, the brand continuously delivers on its promise to make beautiful and valuable watches that everyone can afford.
And their Naos Automatik model is no exception from that. The watch features a 38mm case, which is completely made from 316L stainless steel. The polished case houses an automatic Miyota 821A movement, which enables the watch to be reliable but affordable at the same time. The movement provides a power reserve of around 42 hours, maintaining a good accuracy for this kind of movement. Since this is a dress watch and isn’t made to be worn when you go diving, it’s not a surprise that the watch offers a water resistance of just 50 meters (160ft).
When we look at the design, the watch really starts to shine. If you see the watch for the first time, you may think that there isn’t a lot going on with the dial and the case. But that’s exactly what I expect from a good dress piece. You should be able to combine the watch with every kind of suit or more formal dress piece, so having a watch that is too much, won’t do you any good.
The white dial of the Naos Automatik features simple black hour markers and black hands. Rounding off the dial is a small date window at the 6 o’clock position, which fits surprisingly well into the whole aesthetic. The dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal, making it durable enough for daily use.
Combining the modest price tag of $445 with the nice design and the dress-appropriate proportions, the watch is definitely worth your hard-earned money. You can buy one on Sternglas’ website.
Specifications: Price: $445, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 821A movement, Power Reserve: 42 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)
Finishing off the first collection is a crowd favorite when it comes to the affordable everyday watch. Of course, I’m talking about the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. The brand behind the watch is Hamilton, which is known for making great watches and having a very rich history.
And their Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is without any doubt the most known and most bought model of their collection. So, it’s no wonder that Hamilton made a lot of different variants of the watch, to cater to a broader audience. But for this list, I decided to go with the classic one. The Khaki Field Mechanical has a rugged look, making it perfect as a field watch and as an everyday watch, considering this watch would be part of a collection that also includes a nautical watch and a dressier piece. So that in the end, you will be able to choose a watch for every occasion.
The 38mm stainless steel case of the Field Mechanical houses 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. The watch has a matte black dial, which features highly legible 12- and 24-hour markers.
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
Collection 2 is consisting of the Dan Henry 1970 Diver, the Timex Marlin Hand Wound and the Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38.
Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
Starting this list of is the Dan Henry 1970 diver, which is my pick for the sports/diver’s watch.
The brand behind the watch, Dan Henry, was founded by, you’ve guessed it, Dan Henry, himself. He 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. After realizing that most watch enthusiasts out there would never be able to afford the watches he collected, he launched his own brand, which now offers modern watches with a vintage twist, that packs a lot of punch for their price tag.
And the 1970 Automatic diver is no exception to that. The watch features an automatic Seiko NH35 movement which is housed in a black PVD coated, 316L stainless steel case. You can choose between a 40mm or a 44mm case, making this watch available to a broader range of wrists. And to make the package complete, the 1970 Diver has 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. You can get one on Dan Henry’s e-shop.
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
Timex Marlin Hand Wound ($199)
Taking the second spot on this list is a watch that offers immense value for the price you will have to pay. I’m talking about the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound, which takes on the role of the dress watch in this collection.
The Timex Marlin Hand Wound is a reissue of the eponymous 1960’s timepiece and has therefore a lot of distinctive vintage design details that can be found in every aspect of the watch. The first and most obvious is the 34mm case, which you probably won’t be able to find in any modern watch that is sold as a gentleman’s watch. The vintage-inspired case is complemented by a beautiful silver-colored sunburst dial which features very simple designed hour and minute markers, a minimalistic “Timex” inscription, and vintage-inspired hands. To finish off the classic look, the watch is presented on a black leather strap, that resembles a classic 60’s watchstrap.
The Marlin is powered by a hand-wound movement that adds to the overall vintage feeling, that will overcome you as soon as you wear this watch on your wrist.
In my opinion, Timex hit it out of the park with this timepiece. You get a classy-looking, well-proportioned, hand-wound watch that will only cost you $199. The Timex Marlin Hand-Wound is now available here.
Specifications: Price: $199, Case Size: 34mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 41mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Hand wound mechanical movement, Power Reserve: n/a, Crystal: Acrylic
Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 ($1,490, pre-owned)
In every conversation about watches that offer good value for money, one name is bound to pop up. The name of the German brand Nomos. So, in honor of that, the Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 will round off this collection as a perfect everyday watch.
The Nomos Glashütte Club Campus is specially targeted at first-time watch owners receiving a timepiece as a gift for a special occasion like their graduation. Hence the “Campus” in the name. This fun little detail shows the thoughts and care that goes into the watches manufactured by Nomos, making this an even more awesome timepiece. And to cater to the wish of present-givers to customize their presents, Nomos is offering complimentary engravings on the casebacks of all their Club Campus watches.
The Club Campus 38 has a stainless-steel case that measures 38.5mm in diameter and just 8.5mm in height. The case houses the manually wound Alpha caliber, which is manufactured in-house by Nomos. The movement will display the accurate time very precisely if you wind the watch every 43 hours. Apart from the movement, the design is where Nomos really comes through. Like all Club Campus models from Nomos, the watch has a luminous hour and minute hands and a sub-seconds register down at the 6 o’clock position. The dial design is known as a California dial, meaning there are Arabic numerals up top and Roman numerals down below. This is something exciting that Nomos never did before.
I personally am a big fan of Nomos as a brand, their minimalistic approach to watch design, and the quality of their in-house movements. And the same goes for the Clun Campus 38 model. This watch will cost around $1,490 if you buy one pre-owned. Considering this price tag, the impressive specs, and the cool design, this watch will certainly offer a lot of bang for your buck.
Specifications: Price: $1,490 (pre-owned), 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: 43h, Crystal: Sapphire
How to build a collection on a budget
Even with $2,000, 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 into three and spend around the same amount on every watch.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But choose wisely.