Suggestions for a 3-Watch Collection for £10,000/$13,000
by Raman Kalra
Raman Kalra is the founder of The Watch Muse blog and has kindly agreed to share some of his articles with us here on Quill & Pad.
It is always fun to think of hypotheticals and watch collecting like everything else is a journey. As our tastes and environment evolve, we start to like different things. It is one of the beautiful aspects of having a watch collection. It tells the story of why you purchased a specific watch and tells a story of you. For this reason, I wouldn’t change my collection, even if I don’t wear a few pieces frequently.
There is also the added factor in that over time, we learn about new brands and new references, and so when starting out, you probably did not consider as wide a range of watches as you might now.
However, what if we could just start over in our watch collection? What if you were given £10,000 (or $/€) to spend on creating a new collection?
With the benefit of hindsight, or even a hypothetical wish list, what would you buy?
It is great that everyone will have their own idea of what a perfect collection would look like. It could be one watch for the whole amount and worn daily, becoming an extension of you.
Or it could be 100 different Swatch’s! I have spent some time thinking about what I would go for and have done this same exercise with a £5,000 budget, but the same concept applies.
I am not looking for one watch with each complication. These watches are genuinely what I would buy and wear, and I believe would fit different scenarios for the lifestyle I presently have.
To kick off my £10,000 collection, I am starting with the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M. Specifically, the dark green reference, and I will return to this point.
The Seamaster Professional needs no introduction. It will always be the Bond watch to some degree, and it is Omega’s Rolex Submariner competitor. It is an icon, despite being relatively new, having only launched in the 1990s.
The Seamaster Professional had its latest refresh in 2018, which saw new refinements, including a ceramic bezel insert and a laser-engraved wave motif on the dial in a 42mm case.
Beyond these refinements, notably, the Seamaster received a movement update to the Co-Axial Calibre 8800.
While I believe this watch does not require much explanation, I want to clarify my thought process as to why it is this specific reference. Simply, the dark green color is fantastic. I have to admit that I have never been a huge fan of the Seamaster Professional.
I appreciated it, but the aesthetic felt very 1990s and was not helped by the bracelet design. I believe the hands drive it as the skeleton design does not appeal to me. Beyond the hands, the bracelet feels outdated in terms of the way it looks, but it is also missing a taper.
In my opinion, there is a lack of refinement, and I believe there is room for Omega to massively improve this watch, even from its now icon status. I hope they do going forward, it deserves it.
However, the dark green was released, and having tried the watch, I was willing to forget all of those issues. It spoke to me. I finally saw the attraction of the Seamaster Professional 300M.
Never before has a change in color changed my opinion of a watch so fast. If you offered me this in a different dial color, I still would have some doubts, but the green works perfectly for me.
It comes down to the shade and richness. In the light, you can see the green, but otherwise, it borders close to black. It brings a new dynamic and life to the watch that I was not expecting and the green is less saturated than the blue.
Do not trust the marketing images; try to see one in person as the green dial really brings something new to the range.
On the green rubber strap, it would be the perfect watch to wear casually, but given that it can easily be switched to the bracelet or any other strap, it can be extremely versatile.
The rubber strap is my preferred option, but I would suggest purchasing it on the bracelet as it is more price-efficient.
Plus, the Omega AD I spoke to was willing to include a rubber strap in the price, so I am sure there is some room to negotiate that (but don’t take my word for it!), and then you have the option of both! For £5,600, you have an extremely well-made watch with icon status from one of the world’s best-known brands.
Not only that, you get an extremely well-executed take on a green watch that can be worn in most scenarios.
Grand Seiko SBGW231 – £4,150
The next watch in my hypothetical collection is the Grand Seiko SBGW231. It is a part of their elegance collection and is one of the watches that arguably embodies the Grand Seiko ethos the best.
Grand Seiko has gained a lot of traction since 2017 when it became its own brand. This has coincided with a concentrated effort to make people more aware of the brand and what they offer.
It has some of the best finishing on watches at this price point, if not even higher price brackets, combined with intriguing designs and movements.
I have bought into the brand so much that this year I bought my first Grand Seiko.
The SBGW231 is a minimalist dress watch that superficially looks relatively plain, but the more time you spend studying it, the more it reveals its personality.
The off-white dial changes shade depending on the lighting, and even though there is no texture as on many other Grand Seiko watches, it is incredibly crisp.
The dial is slightly convex, the center of the dial is closer to the sapphire crystal than the edges.
Then you have the perfectly finished indices and sharp Grand Seiko hands. With Zaratsu polishing, they reflect light perfectly. This means they can quickly go from looking nearly black to incredibly light.
This polishing is also found on the case, and this watch needs to be personally experienced to be appreciated fully.
The movement is a manual wind 9S64, providing excellent accuracy at +5/-3 seconds per day, nice decoration, and a 72-hour power reserve. Given the purity of the SBGW231, it is only fitting that it comes with a manual wind movement requiring involvement from you to run.
It is hard to find a more compelling dress watch at this price point. The SBGW231 has the nickname of “Seikotrava”, a play on words with the Patek Philippe Calatrava name.
However, I want to propose a new nickname for it – “Shibui”. This is a Japanese term for the aesthetic attitude of simplicity, subtly and unobtrusive beauty.
The SBGW231 is reserved but carries so much of what Japan is known for, as well as letting the highlights of Grand Seiko finishing shine through. It would complement the Omega Seamaster Professional perfectly and can be worn in more formal situations, as well as dressed down with strap changes to brighter colors.
Christopher Ward The Twelve – £850
Christopher Ward is technically still a microbrand given their relative size; however, it has been around since 2004. In the last few years, the coverage of the brand has grown. I believe this has been reflected in the watches they have been offering.
A steady design language has been found, the logo has been fixed (although there are still split opinions here), and they have been very active in offering a high level of quality for the prices they are asking.
In 2023, Christopher Ward continued this trend by launching their own interpretation of an integrated sports watch – The Twelve.
By combining the value for money that the brand has come to represent with one of the most in-demand designs of the last decade, it was sure to be a hit. The extent of positive coverage is remarkable, and while at first, I was skeptical, having reviewed one for a month, I can confirm the hype is justified.
The Twelve is offered in two sizes, 36mm and 40mm, and in two different case materials, stainless steel and grade II titanium. There are also multiple dial color choices, so you can find one that works for you.
The Twelve either comes with a Sellita SW200-1 or SW300-1, depending on the case material, with the SW300-1 bringing better accuracy and a longer power reserve in a slightly thinner package. Regardless, both will serve you well on a daily basis.
The name, The Twelve, derives from its bezel, which is a dodecagon, a twelve-sided figure. Clearly, this is a watch inspired by the famous Royal Oak and Nautilus, and Christopher Ward does not hide that fact.
They highlight Gerald Genta as the inspiration on their website and take ownership of why they produced such a design.
Given the twelve sides, the bezel looks more fluid than the Royal Oak , which has eight, and you may have noticed it already, but the Twelve resembles the Czapek Antarctique more than anything else.
Adrian Buchmann, the head of product design at Christopher Ward, was credited as one of the principal designers behind the Antarctique.
I appreciate this and it somewhat makes The Twelve a more affordable Czapek offering with credibility.
The Twelve itself has extremely good finishing for the price. There are well-placed beveled edges, the dial texture is sharp, and changes in visibility depending on the light, and details like the hands and indices are executed well.
It is hard to fault this watch, especially because, at the same time, it is so comfortable on the wrist.
Of all the references available for this collection, I would go for the white dial, stainless steel variant on the strap. Typically, I recommend buying the bracelet option as it is more cost-effective, but I am working on a budget for this hypothetical challenge!
Regardless, I find the rubber strap looks great on The Twelve. They have the integration to the watch case done very well – better than I find with the PRX. The white dial is legible and most attractive to me given the grey accents.
Like the Seamaster 300M, The Twelve can be worn in all situations, and it provides you with a taste of the integrated aesthetic that has been so coveted without breaking the bank!
Deciding what your collection would look like if you were to start over is always fun. For those eagle-eyed readers, you will notice that my three-watch collection comes in slightly over budget at £10,600. I allowed myself this buffer because the Grand Seiko is a watch you can find with a discount online.
However, even if not, I firmly believe that this collection captures the best offering of each that suits all situations in my life.
I don’t have a particularly active lifestyle that involves wearing luxury watches, but if I needed it, the Seamaster 300M is a watch that can go anywhere. Each one of these watches excels at what they set out to do, and it helps that I find all of them attractive and well-finished for their categories.
On reflection, I noticed that I could add a bit more color, but again this is all my personal preference of liking watches that work regardless of what I am wearing or doing.
There are so many watches that I love that are not here. Who knows, maybe I need to do this again in the future and think about adding other examples like the Tudor Pelagos 39, Rolex Explorer I, or go all out for a Zenith!
Let me know what your £10,000/$13,000 collection would look like in the comments below.
You can read more articles by Raman Kalra at www.thewatchmuse.com.
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