Brandon’s 5 for $2,000

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It’s my turn to take a crack at the 5 For $2000 challenge, and I’ll admit I had a little trouble deciding what direction to go with this one. I could have played watch speculator, and given you a list of five vintage sleepers that I expect to gain in value over the next few years. Or I could have made a solid list of five new watches available today at retail that would start you off on the road to watch collecting. But instead of those, I’m going to give you five watches I actually own and love, all of which I consider classics – both old and modern. Similar to Ilya and Sean before me, I’m listing these at the prices I actually paid, primarily to stay under the $2000 limit, but also to demonstrate what you can find with a good plan and a little patience. All five of these watches were purchased second-hand, either through online auctions or watch forum sales pages.

Dress – Tissot Visodate $315

tissot
This first one is my most recent pick-up, and I couldn’t be happier with the buy. Like Zach’s Intra-Matic and Ilya’s Max Bill, the Visodate does a lot with a little. The dial is simple, matte silver with single and double baton markers on the hours and printed dashes on the minutes. The applied logo is the old Tissot style script, and it looks fantastic. The sides of the case are slanted inward, giving the watch a sturdy stance on the wrist. At 40mm, it’s a little big for a dressy dress watch, but that slant helps give the face a little smaller size. With the day/date display, the watch is a versatile daily wearer, good for any day of the week, not just Sunday.

Chronograph – Sinn 356 $1075

sinn

Like the Curmudgeon and Ilya, I’d spend roughly half of my $2K on a single watch. In my case, it’s the Sinn 356. I already wrote about this watch in our roundtable discussion of what single watch we would keep if could only have one, so my love for it is apparent. It checks all the blocks for me as a chronograph and as an any-occasion watch. If you can find one near this price, grab it; it’s worth every penny.

Diver – Seiko 6309 $225

seiko

At any affordable price point and at any age, a Seiko diver is always the right answer. Ilya included the modern SXK007 on his list, otherwise you’d see it here too. For my pick, I’ll go back a couple generations to the 6309. Like all Seiko divers, it has a sturdy case, highly legible dial, and only gets better with age. Prices are climbing on these, and you can already expect to spend twice this price on a really good example. Luckily, there are still plenty out there in this condition near this price, so pick one up before they too disappear.

Quartz/Digital – Suunto Core $165

suunto

The U.S. military no longer issues watches in massive numbers, leaving most soldiers to fend for themselves if they want to wear a watch. For many of them, that choice lands them with this watch. Tough as can be, massive functionality (a true altitude/barometer/compass watch), and killer looks make this Suunto a great choice for an adventurer or anyone planning on being dropped from a helicopter in the middle of nowhere.

Tool/Beater – Benrus Navigator’s Watch $125

benrus

Speaking of military issued watches, this Benrus navigator’s watch from 1973 comes from the golden age of military issued watches. Little field and navigator’s watches like this one and others from Benrus and Hamilton are about as perfect as you can get for a little go-anywhere [dry] watches. There aren’t many days when I can’t strap on one of these and feel great about my choice. The market for these is wide and complex, with a lot of options in all manner of condition from a couple decades of manufacture, so do your research [we here at W&W plan to help you out with that soon…]. Nice examples can still be found at auction for this price, but it takes some hunting. With the number of fakes out there and the wide range of vintage condition, it’s never a bad idea to buy one of these from a dealer you trust. Expect to pay a bit more from a dealer, but the confidence in knowing you have a good, real one is worth it.

Brandon was raised in a military family, the son of an Army pilot and engineer. An early fascination with all things mechanical developed into a love of watches that remains today. Brandon holds a pair of degrees in experimental psychology and works as a human factors test engineer for Army aviation systems.
brandoncripps
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  • Dig the list! Love the 5 for 2000 concept.

    • Willy Klein

      Is the strap on the seiko diver original? If not where did you get it? Love it.

      • Brandon Cripps

        The bracelet on the Seiko is a Hadley Roma heavy mesh. They are available from a number of online retailers.

  • chenpofu

    While I really like this feature a lot, the prices are often quite optimistic given the conditions of the watches shown. They may be what the authors paid, but they are also likely deals no longer found.

    I think it would be cool to do a 3 new and available watches for 2 grand as a follow up.

  • Mattias Pettersson

    Very interesting. Almost the same watches I’ve collected. Sinn 103 st ty, Hamilton khaki mechanical and a Seiko skx007. There are a few more watches in my drawer but the ones above, except my Tag Heuer Aquaracer, are the ones I feel most comfortable with.

  • Puck life

    Loved the article as usual. I think you guys do an amazing job as most of us are looking at watches in this price range till we hit the lottery.. This site is my favorite. I’d love to hear more about these vintage timepieces you believe will be picking up in value! Keep up the great work guys!

  • Andrea Alfieri

    Great picks, your 5 for $2000 series is pure gold. Thanks to you and all the other wornandwounders

  • Marc Papazian

    Just bought the Seiko. Thanks. My 5 include an Orient Symphony, a Luminox SXC , A Bulova Precisionist, a Vostok Amphibia and a Halios Laguna. Cheers mate.

  • David Smith

    Reading this has finally pushed me over on the 356. I’m now on the hunt!

  • SJGS

    What strap is that on the 356 please?

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