“Even with $3,000, there are many ways to split the budget between different watches. You could decide to splurge most of your budget on a very cool watch and clean up with some budget options. This is basically what I did with the first collection, where I chose the Cartier Tank and only had $400 left for two watches.”
Best Watch Collection Under $3,000
- Q Timex Reissue ($179)
- Cartier Tank Solo ($2,610)
- Bertucci A-3T Vintage Field Watch ($159)
- Oris Aquis Date 39.5mm ($2,000)
- Dan Henry 1937 ($270)
- Traska Summiteer ($550)
Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given $3,000 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? There are just so many to choose from… No worries I got you. This is exactly why I’ve created the Best 3-Watch Collection Under… Series. If you haven’t checked out Part 1 and Part 2, where we created perfect collections under $1,000 and under $2,000, I highly recommend you checking those out first. Basically, the rules and concept stay the same throughout the whole series, but the cash we can spend increases from part to part.
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 you will get two instead of just one collection. Simple as that.
But enough said, let’s finally get started with the collections!
Collection 1 is consisting of the Q Timex Reissue, the Cartier Tank Solo and the Bertucci A-3T Vintage Field Watch.
Q Timex Reissue ($179)
Starting off this list is the Q Timex Reissue. Like the name already suggests, this is a reissue of a special watch that was released back in the late 1970’s. Due to the popularity and to the design, Timex decided to bring this icon back to live. And I’m glad they did!
Let’s start where it all began. The 1970’s. Before 1972, watchmaking was based around creating complex mechanical movements. But with the introduction of quartz watch movements in 1972, those mechanical movements were challenged. To keep up with the pace, Timex started to design and produce Watches that were equipped with this new and highly accurate Quartz technology. But it wasn’t only Timex that realized that Quartz could be the future of watchmaking, so more and more manufacturers started to get on board. And by the end of the decade, quartz watches outpaced mechanical watches, causing panic for traditional Swiss makers. This period in time is known as the Quartz Crisis.
Fast forward to today, the mechanical watch industry is up and running again and is getting stronger with each year. Nevertheless, due to the accuracy and the cost-effectiveness, the Quartz movement is still very popular, especially in more affordable watches. And that’s also where the Q Timex Reissue stands.
The watch features a Quartz movement, which can be easily opened at home, enabling you to easily swap out the battery, once the watch runs out of power. The Quartz movement is housed in a 38mm stainless steel case, enabling the watch to be water-resistant up to 50 meters (160ft). One of the coolest things about the Q Timex Reissue is the wide selection of colors you can choose from. Ranging from a classic Pepsi GMT look all the way to a model which features a combination of yellow gold and blue, you can choose between 9 different models. Apart from the colors, they all feature the same simplistic dial, the same day and date windows on the 3 o’clock position, and the same hands.
So, there you have it, for $179 you get a lot of bang for your buck and a very cool sports watch for your collection. The only thing that is kind of a bummer is the Quartz movement, anything else is just spot on. Click here for more information.
Specifications: Price: $179, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.3mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Quartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Acrylic
Cartier Tank Solo ($2,610)
Moving on to the dress watch of the first collection, the iconic Cartier Tank Solo. Now I know, some of you may be asking why I decided to put 85% of the collection’s budget into one single watch. See, the thing is, if you really like a watch and really want that watch, it makes sense to invest most of your budget into it. Because believe me, being able to wear the watch you have sought after several months or even years is just an incredible feeling. And that’s exactly why I created this series. I wanted to show you what is and what isn’t possible when collecting with a strict budget, but in the end, the decision on how to balance the value of your collection is completely up to you. But now, back to Cartier and their Tank.
I don’t need to tell you that Cartier is one of the world’s most well-known luxury brands. With its prestigious reputation, Cartier manages to cater to a broad spectrum of luxury-loving people that are willing to pay good money for having one of the sought-after accessories with the iconic curved Cartier on it. With all this hype in the back of their head, many think that Cartier is mainly selling stuff like rings, earrings, or necklaces. And some forget that Cartier actually has one of the richest watchmaking histories in all of the watch industry. Cartier as a brand was founded back in 1847, by a French guy named Louis-François Cartier, which in 1904 went on to design and produce the first-ever wristwatch for men. Then in 1917, Cartier introduced the Cartier Tank.
Skipping forward to 2021, the Cartier Tank is still going strong and is considered one of the most iconic watches on the planet. So naturally, I had to include one of the Tank’s latest versions, the Tank Solo, into this list.
The Cartier Tank Solo features a Swiss-made Quartz movement, which Cartier makes in-house. The movement is housed in a well-proportioned stainless-steel case, which was polished to the highest Cartier standards. The rectangular case measures 34.8 mm x 27.4 mm in diameter and an amazing 5.55mm in height. Since very clearly, this is a dress watch, you shouldn’t go swimming with it, which is made clear by the 30 meters of water resistance. The stainless-steel case is complemented by the classic white opaline dial, black roman numerals, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, and the iconic Cartier Logo just below the 12 o’clock position.
If I only had one word to describe the watch it would be Classy. Or Stunning? Or Beautiful? Screw that, you will probably need more than just one single word to describe a watch with that kind of history. But since I want to keep it short, just know that this watch is worth every penny of the $2,610, that you will have to pay when deciding to pick one up. Click here for more information.
Specifications: Price: $2,610, Case Size: 34.8mm x 27.4mm, Thickness: 5.55mm, Lug-to-Lug: 34.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: In-house Quartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Sapphire
Bertucci A-3T Vintage Field Watch ($159)
As my pick for the everyday watch in this collection, the Bertucci A-3T Vintage Field Watch will do just fine. I know, I know, not another Quartz watch. And I just wanted to counter, that we have a Cartier Tank in this collection, but soon realized that the Tank is also powered by a Quartz movement. So, I admit, this collection won’t be for the Quartz haters out there, but please just keep an open mind, Quartz watches can also be very nice. Trust me.
Having said this, I don’t have to go into detail about the movement of the Bertucci A-3T. But what I will go into further detail about is the brand behind the watch. Bertucci is a US-based company that was founded back in 2003. On their website, they state their story as follows:
Our story is a simple one. It’s about building a better watch. It’s a Promise Of Performance™ to you that is derived from a belief that innovative design and attention to detail matter. It is this focus, passion, and integrity that drive us in the watches we make for you.
Having heard that, I think you now know what kind of watch we are dealing with here. The Bertucci A-3T undoubtedly classifies as a field watch. And as you can read in our Watch Guide, field watches are built with the purpose of being used in a combat situation where soldiers would have to coordinate attacks and be able to tell the time accurately in every situation. Therefore, field watches tend to have a rugged but still simplistic look. And the Bertucci A-3T is no exception to that. The watch features a very durable, 42mm titanium case and a simplistic, highly legible dial.
For the price of just $159, you get a very cool-looking, ultra-durable watch made from titanium, which also happens to pack some cool history. I think that says it all. Click here for more information.
Specifications: Price: $159, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: n/a, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Quartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Mineral
Collection 2 is consisting of the Oris Aquis Date, the Dan Henry 1937, and the Traska Summiteer.
Oris Aquis Date 39.5mm ($2,000)
As the first pick of this collection, I chose the Oris Aquis Date. This iconic piece from Oris fits in perfectly as a diver/sports watch.
Oris was founded by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian in the Swiss town of Holstein. After the decision was made, the duo proceeded to buy a small watch factory and landed an agreement with the local mayor, to start producing watches. By 1911, after just 7 years, Oris has become the largest employer in Holstein, with over 300 workers and watchmakers. And their steep rise continuous on to this day with the help of watches like the Oris Diver, Oris Big Crown, or the Oris Aquis Date.
And today we’re taking a closer look at the Oris Aquis Date. The watch features the automatic Oris 733 in-house caliber based on the tried and tested Sellita SW 200-1. The movement is housed in a case made entirely from polished 316L stainless steel. Speaking of the case, Oris now offers the Aquis also in a 39.5mm case, which was designed to serve as a more practical and versatile alternative to the 43.5mm model. And this is something I really love about brands like Oris. They listened to the wishes of customers and took action. Probs to them! But they not only nailed the proportions, but they also delivered on the design front.
The beautiful sunburst dial features simple applied hour markers, uniquely shaped hands, and a date window down at the 6 o’clock position. The highly legible dial is complemented by a uni-directional rotating bezel made from polished black ceramic. And to make the whole package complete, Oris delivers the watch either on a stainless-steel bracelet, a matching rubber strap, or a brown leather strap. I don’t really get why they included the leather option, but maybe someone enjoys it. Considering this watch is water-resistant up to 300 meters (990ft) and therefore a real diver’s watch, I would rather go with the rubber or the bracelet option. But in the end, this is personal preference, I guess.
Independent of which strap or bracelet you choose, this watch is an absolute winner. Coming in at just around $2,000 new and even less if you go on Chrono24 and look for pre-owned ones, this watch is a steal. So, if you are in the market for a sub-$2000 watch with nice specs, a nice design, and a rich history, go for it! Click here for more information.
Specifications: Price: $2,000, Case Size: 39.5mm, Thickness: 12.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Oris 733 in-house movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Dan Henry 1937 ($270)
Next up is the Dan Henry 1937 chronograph, which takes on the role as the dress watch in the second collection.
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 enthusiasts 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 Dan Henry 1937 is no exception. The watch features a Seiko VK64 Mecaquartz movement, which is housed in a 316L stainless steel case. The well-proportioned case measures 38mm in diameter, 12.7mm in thickness, and 46.1mm from lug to lug. Movement and proportions aside, it’s when we look at the design, the watch really starts to shine. Stylized to pay tribute to the era of Art Deco, the 1937 chronograph takes a lot of inspiration from two of the most iconic watches from the era. The Vacheron Constantin Ref.4072 and the Patek Philippe Ref.130.
Dan Henry gives us 4 different variants. Two of them offer a bi-compax styled dial with the chrono sub-registers horizontally opposed at three and nine o’clock, and two vertically opposed at 12 and six o’clock. When it comes to the dial, you will have a choice between four different variants, which are stated on Dan Henry’s website as follows: Silver, Gold (basically the same silver color as the one prior, but features golden ascents), Gilt, and Onyx. From the bunch, I like the Onyx and the Gold option the most.
Overall, Dan Henry delivered once again. Considering the price of just $270, you get a classic design, nice proportions, and a cool background story. Click here for more information.
Specifications: Price: $270, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.1mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Seiko VK64 Mecaquartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Mineral with Sapphire coating
Traska Summiteer ($550)
Rounding off the second collection is the Traska Summiteer, which I just recently discovered and immediately was impressed by.
The story behind the brand and how it came to life is quite interesting. Let me quote the founder, Jon Mack on how he first got the idea of making his own watches:
“I threw off my shirt, kicked off my flip flops, and leaped into the ocean. It was a beautiful day on a small island off the coast of Vietnam. The sun was shining, the ocean was clear and cool, and I was in the company of friends — life was good!
But then… I froze. A feeling of dread came over me. Something was wrong. I raised my arm out of the water, and all the elation I had been feeling a moment before vanished in an instant. I had forgotten to take off my 1966 Bulova Snorkel, the pride of my vintage watch collection. A closer look and my worst fears were realized: Saltwater had penetrated the crystal, flooding the dial. It was ruined.”
I think a lot of us watch enthusiasts can feel the pain and dread, which Jon felt when he ruined the pride of his vintage collection. Jon’s vision was to create watches that honor the aesthetic of vintage sports timepieces but are built in a modern and robust way so that you don’t have to be afraid to wear them. And ever since 2018, when they launched their first successful Kickstarter campaign, Traska continued to live up to their promise.
And this is where the Traska Summiteer comes into the picture. The watch features an automatic Miyota 9039 caliber, which delivers 42 hours of power reserve. The Japanese-made movement is housed in a 38.5mm, 316L stainless steel case treated with their signature scratch-resistant coating, making this watch extra-durable. Inspired by the classic field watch, the deep blue dial is kept very simple and clean. The diamond-cut minute and hour hands and the BGW9 Super-LumiNova printed hour markers complement each other and the dial perfectly.
As you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of Traska as a brand and their Summiteer model. I love the design, I love the build quality of the watch, I love the story behind the watch and the brand, and I especially love the price tag of just $550. So, if you are in the market for an Explorer-like field watch with a nice design, go for it!
Specifications: Price: $550, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9039 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
How to build a collection on a budget
Even with $3,000, there are many ways to split the budget between different watches. You could decide to splurge most of your budget on a very cool watch and clean up with some budget options. This is basically what I did with the first collection, where I chose the Cartier Tank and only had $400 left for two watches. 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.