The Haggling Horologist: The Complete Luxury Watch Starter Collection for Under Five Hundred Dollars (Part Three)
Boy, it’s been fun posting about watches for the past few days!
I’ve been getting a lot of interested readers and a ton of questions, along with pleasant watch talk. It’s been a nice mental health break!
Editor: You know what’s even better than owning a luxury watch? Negotiating a great contract or raise, so you have the money to afford a luxury watch, a luxury car, a fantastic vacation, early retirement, a house at the lake, or even a top-notch college education for the kids. Getting what you deserve in life all starts with a strong negotiation skill set.
In the first part of the Haggling Horologist series, I discussed elements that drive utility and value. In the second part, I discussed the three watches you need to for starter luxury watch collection. If you haven’t read them, you owe it to yourself to go back and review the posts. This will help greatly in understanding this post.
I’m going to finally reveal my recommendations for the complete luxury watch started collection for under 500 clams!
My main goal is to help you purchase watches you can wear and enjoy without going overboard or experiencing deep pangs of buyer remorse. If I prevent you from buying an overpriced poor-value watch, I've done my job.
But, first, some rules.
- There is no way that a watch collection for under $500 is going to match a collection for $50,000.
- There is no way to make everyone happy. Watches are at matter of personal taste and you are free to choose whatever style you like.
- The watches will be better values than many watches in the $400- $5000 range.
- These watches will all stand up to a conversation distance appearance.
- At closer ranges, the more expensive watches will obviously have finer detail.
- You will be able to wear these watches to any event without feeling underdressed.
- An experienced watch collector will recognize these watches as being in the lower range. That’s ok, you can still use that as a conversation starter and discuss why you like this watch and the next watch you looking to acquire.
- Despite all of the above, these watches are attention getters and I have constantly gotten compliments when I wear them.
Let dig in. The First Watch: Gold case material.
If I had to own and wear only one watch, the answer would be obvious.
The Cartier MC Tank. There is just no cooler watch ever made.
It’s been rocked by such wearers as General Pershing, Rudolph Valentino, John F Kennedy, and Andy Warhol.
There is a subtle understated and masculine elegance to the watch. Unlike most luxury watches that scream out, “Look at me!”, the tank watch seems to say, “Yes, I see you admiring at me.”
Here’s the great thing about the tank design. It’s technology from the WW1 era. It’s nearly 100 years old.
So, there’s nothing about the mechanics that make it difficult to reproduce. There are a lot of great tank models watches available at high value prices. Most of them are quartz or solar. All of them look great. I’d recommend you pick your tank model watch in gold tone. That’s the classic style.
Here’s the one I'd recommend.
Here are two other excellent models.
Notice that one is silver. If tank is your thing, buy one in gold and one in silver and be happy! If you’d like to go a little higher end with a jewelry piece here is an option.
If you are a doctor, you can also get what is called the “Doctor’s Watch”.
That bottom dial ticks off the seconds. The was designed in the days when men carried pocket watches to count seconds. Doctors needed to use both hands making this concept the leading-edge technology for the day. I own one and am very fond of it. It is a bit wonky, oddly shaped, and it has the loveliest ticking noise. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find a Tank MC reproduction with a second’s sub-dial and a date complication at the 3 o’clock. If you come across one, please let me know.
Now, let's be a little realistic before moving forward. If you compare an actual Cartier Tank model with any of these models, the quality difference will be obvious. But, for the casual observer at conversation distance, you should be able to pull off a cool and casual look at at much better price.
The Second Watch: Silver case material
This one is also a no-brainer.
The Seiko-5 has been a trendsetter amongst collectors.
Once you see the watch, you’ll understand the appeal. You can do a search for similar watches and see essentially the same features on a $600-$1500 model. This watch is reminiscent of several models in the $6000 range.
There is a lot to love about this watch. Simple and attractive appearance. A day of the week and date complication. Smaller case size than the typical “look at me!” watch. A classic design that will look good in almost any setting including a wedding, office, or major presentation. It’s a lot of watch for the money. The Seiko-5 comes in a low luster stainless case to round out the silver metallic needs of your collection. Above is the automatic model. And here’s the solar version. I went with the solar for reasons I outlined in the first part of this series. Ignore the horrible watch band. You'll want to replace it with a black alligator leather band.
If you find you like the Seiko-5, you can build an entire collection around the model. Seiko continues to come out with variants of the watch to round out your needs. This includes sports models, dive models, and various color faces.
I like the simple original design, but it’s nice to have options. You will need to spring for a few replacement bands. The bands that it comes with is non-appealing. The nice thing is that this watch can pair well with silicone or NATO band for a whole different causal look. Of course, the standard alligator style black and brown leather is a must.
The Third Watch: Digital
As you may recall from Part Two of this series, I recommended that everyone buy a super-rugged and highly functional digital watch. Digitals are high-utility and high-value but lack the luxury appeal of mechanical watches. You’ll want to wear the digital watch when you are doing any activity than could damage your other watches.
This includes sports, yardwork, or swimming. You would also want to wear it if you may need precision timing, a stopwatch, night-light feature, compass, or you are dealing with military time or multiple time zones.
When it comes to digital watches, one brand is head and shoulders above the rest- the Casio G-shock.
It’s Solar powered, Atomic satellite timed, rugged, reasonable priced, and loaded with features. It also has its fans, including Sting and Keanu Reeves.
The Casio G-shock comes in a large variety of models and features. There is a hybrid model of analog and digital watches offered. Avoid them like the plague. Go with the full on digital. When it comes to the digital choices, pick your favorite. Just remember to go with the more rugged models. The features I look for are solar powered, atomic timing, and a compass. I also look for 200m water resistance. These can get a little pricier than some of the other watches mentioned. But, you’ll never need to buy another. This is a working man’s watch. Save your other two watches for the more gentlemanly pursuits.
The best thing about this inexpensive collection is how great you’ll look and feel while enjoying these watches. And what’s the coolest thing you can do while looking so sharp and feeling so confident? Why, negotiate your doctor contract or next raise of course. As a doctor, you’ve probably never had any formal training or practice in the vial professional skill of negotiation. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage when you sit down at the bargaining table. Bring your skill level up and get what you deserve. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able buy a luxury car to match your luxury watch with the extra income on your next contract.
That wraps up my recommendations for your complete luxury watch starter set for under 500 dollars.
Do your research. Think about what works for you and make some wise high-value decision to start your collection.
I do recommend that you start out at the lower price point for watches as you start.
Then slowly work up to the $5000-dollar range and then finally make the plunge into a more expensive watch if you
still desire it. Take your time and really instigate your choices.
Watches can be very expensive. You don’t want to make a costly mistake and deal with the buyer remorse that will follow.
Check out the rest of the blog
So, what do you think? Isn’t my watch collection the coolest ever? Or, do you hate every choice? Are you going to buy any of these watches? What do recommend instead? Let us know in the comment section below.