Best Watch Collection Under $5,000

“Even with $5,000, 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 second collection, where I chose the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight as my dive watch and only had around $1,500 left for two more watches. But you can also choose to split your budget exactly into three and spend around the same amount on every watch.”

Best Watch Collection Under $5,000

  1. Longines Skin Diver ($2,600)
  2. Nomos Orion 38 ($1,950)
  3. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)
  4. Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ($3,600)
  5. Hamilton Intra-Matic ($845)
  6. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Black PVD ($545)

Introduction

Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given $5,000 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… But 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, Part 2, and Part 3, where we created perfect collections under $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000, 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, let’s 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

Collection 1 is consisting of the iconic Longines Skin Diver, the understated Nomos Orion and the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical.

Longines Skin Diver ($2,600)

Image credits: Longines

Do you know that feeling when you see a watch, and it immediately catches your eye and you never forget about it? Well, I sure do with the next watch on this list. Introducing the Longines Skin Diver. Taking on the role of the dive watch in this collection, the Skin Diver pays tribute to Longines’ first ever dive watch, which was released in 1959. But the story of Longines begun way earlier than then. Longines was founded in 1832, in a small Swiss town with the sounding name Saint-Imier. And ever since then, the almost 190-year-old company is known for manufacturing high-quality swiss watches. And while in present times, they are not regarded as prestigious as Rolex or Patek, Longines had times in which they were one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers in whole Switzerland.

Honoring the innovative spirit that has driven Longines’ watchmakers from the outset, the Skin Diver was designed to honor Longines’ first ever dive watch. The, in 1959 released watch, featured the same timeless design and distinctive vintage aspects as the modernized version. In the reissue, these aspects can be clearly seen in the black vintage-inspired dial, which features applied, faux-patina numerals and hour markers, vintage-inspired hands, and minimal labeling. Complementing the understated dial is the matte black bezel, which is made of PVD-coated steel that has been executed to recall the original plastic one found in the late ’50s original. The whole package then is topped off by a sapphire crystal and is water-resistant up to 300 meters.

Normally, a 42mm case isn’t necessarily what I would consider being vintage, but considering that its predecessor measured 40mm in diameter, which, in 1959, was quite big, the modernized 42mm case size makes sense. But please be aware that with its 52.55mm lug to lug distance, the watch will wear very large on smaller wrists. As you know, I personally like smaller watches, so I would have preferred if Longines brought the size way down. But hey, you can’t have everything, right? But what we can have, is an awesome movement. The watch is equipped with the automatic, in-house L888 caliber, which provides approximately 72 hours of power reserve.

Priced at $2,600, this watch offers a great value proposition. Besides the case size, the watch features a great design, great movement, and a big chunk of horological history.

Specifications: Price: $2,600, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 13.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: 52.55mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic, in-house L888 movement, Power Reserve: 72 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Nomos Orion 38 ($1,950)

Image credits: Nomos

Next up is the Nomos Orion 38, which takes on the role of the dress watch in the first collection. And before we dive into the specs, I first want to take a look at Nomos’ history to understand how they got to where they are today. Born just two months after the fall of the Berlin wall, Nomos Glashütte used the new opportunities to their advantage, creating industry disruptive designs, which are heavily inspired by the iconic Bauhaus style. The combination of clean, minimalistic, and straightforward design, combined with refined in-house movements, led NOMOS to have great success in the watch market of today.

And the Nomos Orion 38 is a big part of that. The watch features a beautifully polished stainless-steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 7.9mm in thickness, and +/- 47.5mm from lug to lug. For a 38mm case diameter, the 47.5mm lug to lug distance seems rather unproportioned, which is kind of true. The reason behind this is the long, straight lugs, which make this watch wear larger than it is on paper. But even with this larger lug to lug distance, the watch will still wear fairly well, due to its slim profile and understated dial. Speaking of which, the white dial is kept in the Nomos typical Bauhaus style and features blued-steel hands, gold-coated hour indexes, and a small second display just above the 6 o’clock position. The dial looks beautiful, and its golden hour markers on the white background even seem to make the watch glow. 

The watch is powered by the hand-wound Alpha caliber, which is made in-house by Nomos and provides around 43 hours of power reserve.

Priced at $1,950, this watch offers a lot of bang for your buck, and definitely deserves the dress watch spot in this collection.

Specifications: Price: $1,950, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 7.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.5mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Hand-wound in-house Alpha movement, Power Reserve: 43 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical ($475)

Image credits: Hamilton

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. Hamilton, the brand behind the watch 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 spot, 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 sporty 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

Collection 2 is consisting of the beloved Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the Hamilton Intra-Matic and the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical in black PVD.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ($3,600)

Image credits: Tudor

The first watch of the second collection is the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Serving as the Sports/Dive watch in this collection, this watch is the proud winner of the 2020 Grand Prix D’Horlogerie De Genève, short GPHG. The Tudor BB58 won in the Challenge Watch category, which only allows watches that retail below $4,000 to enter. And being priced at around $3,600, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight was permitted entry and they beat their competition. Rightfully so, I must add.

The exact model of the Tudor Black Fifty-Eight that won the prize and made it onto this list is the one with the blue dial and blue bezel combination. I think it’s fair to say, that this variant is one of the most sought-after and beloved models in the whole BB58 line-up, making it an obvious choice for me to include here.

The Tudor Black Fifty-Eight with the reference M79030B-0001 features the automatic, COSC-certified, manufacture caliber MT5402, which provides an impressive 70 hours of power reserve, making it comparable to Rolex’s new caliber 3230, that is used in the new Oyster Perpetual 36, the Oyster Perpetual 41, and the Submariner 124060. The Tudor caliber MT5402, which they built into countless other Black Bay Fifty-Eight models, is housed in a case made entirely from polished 316L stainless steel. Measuring 39mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 47.5mm from lug to lug, the watch has nice proportions, that make it comfortable to wear on your wrist.

As cool as the case may be, the combination of the blue dial and blue bezel is what makes this watch rather special. The understated, navy-blue dial, features the Tudor-typical snowflake hands, simple hour markers, and minimal branding. All the different components are kept in white and offer a great contrast to the blue dial. Speaking of which, the dial complements the bezel perfectly, due to them having the exact same shade of blue. The unidirectional rotatable bezel with a 60-minute graduated disc, is made from steel, adding a distinctive vintage look to the watch.

So, there you have it, for $3,600, you get a lot of bang for your buck and a very cool sports watch for your collection.

Specifications: Price: $3,600, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic, COSC-certified, manufacture caliber MT5402 movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Hamilton Intra-Matic ($845)

Image credits: Hamilton

Next up is the Hamilton Intra-Matic, which takes on the role of a dress watch in this collection. Founded in 1892, the US-based watchmaker Hamilton is known for making great watches at very reasonable price points. And the Hamilton Intra-Matic lineup is no exception. Designed to be used as a dress watch, the Intra-Matic features a lot of typical dress features that we are used to seeing in dressier watches from other brands.

The watch has a simple yet elegant case, made from polished 316L stainless steel, which is usually the industry standard for watches like these. Complementing the modest-sized case is the stunning champagne/salmon dial, which immediately catches your eye and probably will never leave your mind. And as the seasoned reader of this blog may know, I love salmon-colored dials, especially in dress watches. I can’t pinpoint why exactly that is, but I think it’s because of the subtle orangish color, which makes the watch visually more appealing. And another thing is that salmon-dialed watches are still something that you don’t see very often on the streets. Anyway, where were we? Right, I was talking about the dial. Besides having an awesome color, the dial also features precisely carved indexes, simplistic hour and minute hands, and a well-fitting date window, which by the way, is not easy to achieve.

Equipped with the automatic ETA 2892-A2 movement, the Hamilton Intra-Matic delivers around 50 hours of power reserve, which isn’t bad at all, but also not as good as other watches on this list. Topped off with a Sapphire crystal, the Intra-Matic will set you back $845. And if you are looking for an understated, yet somehow adventurous dress watch, this money is well spent.

Specifications: Price: $845, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 10.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic ETA 2892-A2 movement, Power Reserve: 50 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Black PVD ($545)

Image credits: Hamilton

For the everyday piece in this collection, I once again went for the iconic Khaki Field Mechanical from Hamilton. But this time it’s the blacked-out PVD coated version. So basically, you get the same iconic design, movement, and quality that you could expect from the normal one, but just with a very cool, blacked-out look. What’s not to love? Now I know what you are thinking, he brought that watch before in this article, so why did he include it in here as well? Normally you would be right, I usually try to mix things up and try to not repeat my choices. 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 include it. And also, I think it’s different enough from the prior one, so I decided to include it here.

Hamilton is a great brand with a great history, and this translates heavily into their Khaki Field mechanical and its overall finishing quality. Speaking of which, the 38mm stainless steel case 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. Complementing the blacked-out case is the black dial, which features white numerals, sword-shaped hour and minute hands, and the iconic second hand, with its pointy tip and the big circle at the end.

Since your everyday watch should be able to handle some beatings and still show the time accurately, this rugged, military-esque watch is quite the good fit for this spot. Also, with the all-black look, I have to admit, that this watch has such a cool look to it, that maybe the looks were the deciding factor on this one. But just maybe… Also, something to consider is that this watch is hand-wound, so you will need to take some time and wind it, but I personally love the bond that winding the watch creates between you and your timepiece.

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

How to build a collection on a budget

Even with $5,000, 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 more affordable options. This is basically what I did with the second collection, where I chose the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight as my dive watch and only had around $1,500 left for two more watches. You can also choose to 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.

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