The type of e-mail I most frequently come across as WatchTime’s Office Manager goes something like this: “I love your work but I can’t afford any of the watches or brands you cover. Why don’t you ever write about watches a regular guy who loves watches can buy?” I always think to myself “But we cover all price points and lots of affordable models.” So today, after receiving another such e-mail, I challenged myself to build a well-rounded watch collection for under $5,000 using only existing WatchTime reviews as my guide. Below you’ll find my five choices and reasons for picking each model, along with slightly modified versions of the original reviews.
The foundation of any watch collection is one’s daily go-to watch, and ideally, mine has to be full of useful functions. Also, it must be able to withstand being beat it up during my daily commute, weekend hikes, and the random abuse life throws at it. For these reasons, my pick in this category is the Casio Pro Trek PRG-650Y-1.
Casio is a popular choice for people who want extreme functionality without compromising on good looks. Last September, the Japanese brand expanded its Pro Trek collection with the addition of the PRG650Y-1, a new timepiece that includes a magnetic sensor for compass readings, a pressure sensor that functions as an altimeter, and a thermosensor for temperature. This analog-digital watch also has stopwatch capabilities, up to five daily alarms, water resistance up to 100 meters, a worldtimer, and a countdown timer. The PRG-650y-1 is powered by Casio’s Tough Solar Power technology that eliminates the need to change a battery. It’s worth noting that every watch in Casio’s Pro-Trek series includes an altimeter. The PRG650Y-1 is available for $320.
Of course, I’ll also need a dress watch to wear to WatchTime events, weddings, and religious ceremonies and my choice for this is the Seiko Presage “Sakura Fubuki” Ref. SRPC01.
This watch debuted at Baselworld 2017, where Seiko offered up a menu of colorful new models in its all-mechanical Presage collection, with dazzling dials inspired by classic cocktails.
The dial features seven layers of gloss finishing to achieve the eye-catching, richly textured look. The 40.5-mm case is made of stainless steel and topped by a box-shaped crystal made of a proprietary Seiko material called Hardlex. A specially sculpted crown helps ensure the case’s 50-meter water resistance, and the movements, on display through a clear caseback, are magnetic-resistant to 4,800 A/m. Prices are astonishingly reasonable — 420 euros for the three-hands, 550 euros for the power-reserve models — but you may have to jump on a plane to get one, as Seiko will not be releasing these particular Presage watches in the United States. Priced in the $500 range this versatile stylish watch wouldn’t break my limited budget.
Summer is coming and I hope to get in a plenty of beach time, but my vampiric Irish skin forces me to track my time in the sun to the millisecond. So for surfing, snorkeling, or just laying under the umbrella I’ll strap the Tissot Seastar Powermatic 80 to my wrist.
In 2011, Tissot launched its radically redesigned Seastar 1000 collection with a clean distinctive look and increased functionality. The mechanical base model was upgraded to include the Powermatic 80 caliber with an 80-hour power reserve. With a stainless steel case featuring a solid, engraved bezel with PVD coating, and a sapphire crystal in the caseback, this Swiss-made automatic is beautiful to look at front or back. Currently, the new model pictured above is selling in the $695 range.
No collection would be complete without a chronograph, and to fill that spot I will go with the new Tsuno Chronograph Racer by Citizen.
Japan’s Citizen Watch Co. will mark 100 years of operation in 2018, and to commemorate the occasion the brand released a vintage-inspired bullhead chronograph, the Tsuno Chronograph Racer, at Baselworld. The new watch takes its design influences from a 1972 chronograph known as the Challenge Timer, and especially from its successor in the 1973 Tsuno Chrono (“horned chronograph” in Japanese) for which the modern piece is named.
The piece has a round, 45-mm case in a bull-head construction, with a crown and two chronograph pushers at its top; lugs integrating seamlessly into its bracelet; and a second crown at the 5 o’clock position to adjust the watch’s alarm function. The various complications are made possible by a Citizen Eco-Drive movement, which is distinguished by its ability to harness natural or artificial light energy to power the watch.
Depending on your choice of model, the price will range from $795 to $895.
Finishing off my collection with a pilot watch seems important, so my choice is the Hamilton Pilot Pioneer Auto.
The watch is inspired by timepieces the company manufactured for the British Royal Air Force in the 1970s. To keep within my budget I’ve selected the time-and-date model because it is priced at less than $1,000. Officially, the 41-mm case is described as “round”, but for practical purposes, the look is asymmetrical, owing to the crown-side construction. The lugs have a slightly different shape, allowing them to form part of the crown-guard system, along with a piece mounted between the crowns. The top crown adjusts the inner ring that carries the 60-minute scale, giving the user an effective countdown timer. The bottom crown handles the traditional winding and time-setting functions. The H-10 Hamilton automatic caliber is visible through a display back, and it offers an 80-hour power reserve.
The Hamilton Pilot Pioneer Auto is priced at $995.
So for roughly $3,405 I have hypothetically built a well-rounded watch collection using WatchTime as my sole guide.
I hope this shows that we do cover many reasonably priced models and welcome everyone to submit their own picks for a well rounded yet affordable five-watch collection in the comments section below.