“This is basically what I did with the first collection, where I chose the Rolex Oyster Perpetual as my everyday watch and only had $400 left for two more watches.”
Best Watch Collection Under $6,000
- Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
- Breda Virgil ($120)
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 ($5,600)
- Squale Sub-39 ($1,284)
- Cartier Tank Solo ($2,610)
- Nomos Club Campus 38 ($1,650)
Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you were given $6,000 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 the other parts of the series, where we created perfect collections ranging from under $1,000, all the way to under $5,000, 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.
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 is consisting of the adventurous Dan Henry 1970, the minimalistic Breda Virgil, and the crowd favored Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36
Dan Henry 1970 ($290)
Starting this list off is the Dan Henry 1970 diver, which, naturally, 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 diver is no exception to that. The watch features an automatic Seiko NH35 movement which is housed in a 316L stainless steel case. You can choose between a 40mm or a 44mm case, making this watch available to a broader range of wrists. But let’s assume that you would choose the 40mm version, how does it actually wear? Well, the 40mm version has a thickness of 14.8mm and a lug-to-lug distance of 45.7mm, meaning the watch will not appear too overwhelming on your wrist, but still shows a good amount of presence. Complementing the two crown, super compressor case perfectly is the vintage-inspired, black dial, which features an inner bezel with typical diver markers, oversized hour indexes for better legibility, and vibrant orange splashes of color, which can be found on the second’s hand, as well as on the inner bezel. Completing the whole diving package, is a sapphire coated mineral crystal and a water resistance rating of up to 200 meters.
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 Virgil ($120)
Next up is the Breda Virgil, which takes on the role of a dress watch in the first collection. Now some of you may not be familiar with the Breda brand, and that’s completely okay. Honestly, I just stumbled across them recently when I was doing some research for another article and saw that they had some good-looking dress pieces in their collection. The 2009-founded brand describes itself as:
“A lifestyle brand creating reimagined classics coupled with modern elements. Each timepiece is designed to be cherished—to collect stories, to live a long life, and to be rediscovered season after season.”
And while this may be a little bit over the top, there is no doubt that Breda has found their niche within this industry. And yes, normally I don’t really like including self-proclaimed lifestyle brands in my articles since I appreciate the effort that goes into manufacturing real mechanical movements. But as you will see with the price tag of the next watch on this list, I had to limit the budget on the dress watch spot, so I chose something very simple, yet refined enough to serve you well as a dress piece. And while maybe not mechanically refined, the Breda Square surely delivers on the aesthetic side.
The Breda Virgil features a gold-plated, 26mm rectangular case, making this a perfect choice when you are looking for a watch that has the same looks as the Cartier Tank or the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. And while I was not able to find any information about the thickness and the lug-to-lug distance of this watch, from the way it looks in the pictures, it will wear very conservatively on your wrist. Like a good dress watch should.
Inside of the case beats a Miyota Quartz movement, which, honestly, isn’t too spectacular, but considering the price of $120, is completely fine. Also, since the watch doesn’t have a second hand, you won’t be getting the sweeping motion of the hand anyway.
Specifications: Price: $120, Case Size: Rectangular 26mm, Thickness: n/a, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Japanese-Made Miyota Quartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: n/a
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 ($5,600)
And now to the third and final watch of this collection. A watch that I love and even be willing to wait for months on the waiting list of my AD. Wait, did he say waiting list? That’s right, I decided to go with a Rolex for the everyday watch in this collection. Namely the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36, which, thanks to its understated look and the new colorful dials, is 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 wear more like a 38- or even 39mm watch, instead of the given 36mm. So, no worries, the Oyster Perpetual will still look good on your wrist, even if you don’t have the skinniest of all wrists. Sitting on top of the brushed case is the beautifully polished, smooth bezel, which gives this 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.
As you may notice with the length of this particular paragraph, I’m a big fan of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, mainly due to its understated yet classy design, the Oyster bracelet, and the in-house Rolex movement. What I am trying to say is, that if you have around $5,500 to spend and are looking for a perfect all-rounder watch for your watch collection, then the OP36 is a perfect choice.
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
Collection 2 is consisting of the 60s inspired Squale Sub-39, the classy Cartier Tank and the German-built Nomos Glashutte Club Campus 38.
Squale Sub-39 ($1,284)
Starting off the second watch collection of the day is the Squale Sub-39. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the brand Squale, let me introduce them to you. Squale was founded back in 1946, in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Known and loved for their reliable divers and nautical timepieces, the Swiss watchmaker supplies their watches to various brands and even armed forces, like the Folgore Brigade which consists of battalions of paratroopers that are part of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Forces) and the Italian Navy’s Diving Corps, also known as the Marina Militare Italiana. But you are not here today to learn about the Italian military, are you? Thought so, let’s dive (pun intended) into the specs and details of the Squale Sub-39.
The vintage-inspired, Squale Sub-39 features a stainless-steel case, which, like the name suggests, measures 39mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 48.5mm from lug to lug. Compared to other Squale watches, this is a rather conservative size and should make for a very comfortable wearing feeling on a broad range of different wrist sizes. Complementing the polished stainless-steel case is the beautiful crisp black dial, which features white Arabic numerals, a vibrant orange minute hand, a date window on the 3 o’clock position, as well as the iconic Squale lettering just above the 6 o’clock position. Adding to the 60s diver look, is the 120-click, unidirectional bezel, which is made from black steel and features the diver’s typical 15,30, and 45 markers, which help you to determine how long your oxygen tanks will last underwater.
The Squale Sub-39 is powered by the Swiss-made Sellita SW 200-1, 26 jewels automatic movement. The movement has a 4 Hz beat rate (28,800BPH), and provides approximately 38 hours of power reserve.
And there you have it. For $1,284, you will get a Swiss-made, highly reliable, and beautiful watch, which makes a perfect fit for the empty dive watch spot in your collection.
Specifications: Price: $1,284, Case Size: Square 39mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Swiss-made Sellita SW 200-1 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Cartier Tank Solo ($2,610)
Coming up next is a dress watch, that is famous for its understated design, French flair, and its unique case shape. Of course, I’m talking about the Cartier Tank. Specifically, the Cartier Tank Solo. Highly respected among their wealthy clients, Cartier caters 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 Cartier lettering on it. What many tend to forget, is Cartier’s rich watch-making history. Cartier was founded by Louis-François Cartier, which in 1904, went on to design and produce the first-ever wristwatch for men. The iconic Cartier Santos. After its initial success, Cartier went on to introduce the Cartier Tank in 1917, which ultimately, brought us to where we are today, a time where the Cartier Tank is considered to be one of the most iconic watches on the planet. So naturally, I had to include one of the Tank’s most popular 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 thickness. Since very clearly, this is a dress watch and you shouldn’t go swimming with it, the watch only offers around 30 meters of water resistance, which is completely appropriate. 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. To sum it up, the best words that would describe this piece of art are; classy, classic, and refined.
And with those words, I will end the article here. Just know this watch is worth every penny of its $2,610 price tag, and most definitely makes for a great dress watch in every watch collection out there.
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
Nomos Club Campus 38 ($1,650)
Next up is the Nomos Club Campus 38, which will take the spot as my everyday/allrounder watch within this second collection. 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 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. I think it’s fair to say that this watch definitely deserves a spot in any watch collection out there.
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
How to build a collection on a budget
Even with $6,000, 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 first collection, where I chose the Rolex Oyster Perpetual as my everyday watch and only had $400 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.