Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000: Hung’s Picks

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We’re back with another installment of Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000. We’ve already seen Ilya’s and Mark’s picks. Today, Hung–a seasoned collector and one of worn&wound’s newest contributors–breaks down his three.

A quick refresher on the parameters before we get started. We chose $5,000 as the cap for the simple reason that $5,000 is generally regarded as a point of entry into luxury. So rather than drop all that coin on a single watch, we thought it’d be interesting to see how our team plays around with that number. Furthermore, the choices aren’t limited to specific categories of watches. Our contributors can choose watches they’d like based on their needs and personal preferences. Finally, for the sake of consistency, all watches currently being produced have to be valued at their MSRP. Vintage or recently retired models should be based on the average market rate.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.


A well-rounded watch collection, in my opinion, should cover all the bases and different use-case scenarios in our day-to-day lives. I believe it should consist of a dress piece, an everyday tool watch (field or diver) and lastly, one with a complication. With my three picks, I went retro as it fits my lifestyle and tastes. Specifically, I prefer mid-century designs, from around 1954 to 1974. Two of my picks are modern re-issues and the last is vintage.

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Junghans Max Bill ref. 027/3502.00 – $965

A dress watch is an absolute requirements and there are many to choose from. The Junghans Max Bill 38mm automatic–specifically the white-dialed variant with no date for Bauhaus purity–would be my first choice, and it is the one I have in my possession. There are, of course, other choices like the Tissot Visodate (which I also own), the Hamilton Intra-matic, and some watches from Nomos that are suitable alternatives.

Junghans-Max-Bill-(white-dial)However, I specifically chose the Max Bill because it is more in line with my aesthetic taste. I collect mid-century modern furniture and work in design. This particular watch is well-received among the design cognoscenti, and peers often tell me this watch has “(designer) street cred.” It is an absolute conversation starter among those who prescribe to modernist and Bauhaus inclinations, and there is a reason why this watch is sold at the counters of New York’s MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) and it is a design icon in its own right. Simply, you can’t go wrong with a Max Bill.

I am a big fan of the size and the acrylic crystal, but it is worth noting that one must be careful with it. The smaller size is a good contrast to the rest of the watches in my three picks.

For our hands-on take on the Max Bill line, click here. For our review of the Max Bill Anthracite, click here.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Black Dial – $1,850

I am a big fan of ’60s-era diver’s watches and I’ve enjoyed many of the retro re-issue pieces that have come out. Some brands have gone overtly contemporary with 42 to 45mm creations, but Oris has kept it respectable with the Sixty-Five. With a manageable 40mm case, the Oris Sixty-Five is a great modern heritage piece with all the elements I prefer–a domed crystal, matte dial, and non-applied markers. It feels wholly rooted in the past, but boasts a precise modern build.

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ORIS_DIVERS_SIXTY_FIVE_DIAL5One detail I like in particular is the painted lume application, which is reminiscent of other great divers from the past–Tudor, Omega, and vintage Submariners. Watches in the ’60s did not have metal surrounds, and there is something raw and extremely appealing in the simplicity of painted lume against a flat matte black dial. If I had to coin a phrase to describe the look, I would call it a “1960 toolsy.”

ORIS_DIVERS_SIXTY_FIVE_WRISTIn my opinion, the Divers Sixty-Five makes for a great tool watch, something you can bang around. That said, the 12.5mm thickness paired with the constrained width lends the watch to everyday wear, and it can be comfortably worn under a shirt sleeve. I also like the fact that it has a unique design language and that it doesn’t borrow heavily from other watch brands.

For this pick, I also considered the Longines Legend Diver, but the higher MSRP at $2,500 would leave me little room for my last pick.

For our review of the Oris Divers Sixty-Five, click here.

Vintage Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph – ~$2,000

With my first two picks out of the way, I am now left with about $2,185 to spend on a third watch. For this one, I’m going to go with a popular complication–a chronograph. If I factored in the significant street discounts on my other two watches, I would certainly go for an Omega Speedmaster, albeit one with some battle scars to make the price work. But in keeping with the spirit of this exercise, I’m going with something a little outside the box–a vintage Orfina chronograph from the mid-’70s based on the original Orfina PD01 (Porsche Design) template. I believe this design is highly underrated and profoundly important.

Orfina Porsche Design
Image source: eBay

To understand the value of these watches, we need to jump back to 1972 to witness the birth of a design classic. The PD01 was Porsche’s first collaboration with a watch brand. Co-branded automatic watches are often futile marketing exercises, but this was an exception.

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The watch inherits the design DNA and philosophy of Porsche’s founder, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. It is tool-like, practical, and functional because it takes its design cues from Porsche’s VDO gauges–the ones you see in old, air-cooled 911s. Though there is always debate over who did what first, the PD01 has been noted for two major firsts–its black case and dial, and its red sweeping chronograph hand. That single red contrasting element makes all the difference in the world, and in 1972 it was a major milestone event. At the time, the watch press made mockery of the design, but we now know that a single red hand has been proven instrumental in terms of legibility.Orfina Porsche Design ad

Two years later in 1974, Orfina switched from the Valjoux 7750 engine to the Lemania 5100 for its military contracts. The rest is history. There have been many watches based off this template. Both the civilian and military variants are undervalued on the secondary market, though the dials where the Porsche name eclipses the Orfina branding are valued higher. I have a sweet spot for military-issued Orfinas, which I see going for around $1800. My first choice would be an all black PD01, but ultimately any variation of this fine watch in civilian or military form is acceptable.

As you can see, my three picks are clearly rooted in the vintage era, and though they’re different, they complement one another. All three also use 20mm straps, so swapping bands out between the three offers a lot of variation.

As a collector who splurged during the glorious dotcom 1.0 days, Hung acquired a sizable collection of Swiss watches. Now married with two kids and a mortgage, his watch tastes and pursuits are more down-to-earth. His other interests involve design history, technology, and collecting Star Wars Action figures. He brings a seasoned perspective to the worn&wound team. Hung grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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  • Matthew Rowe

    I have an L 5100 Orfina, bund issued, and freaking love that watch. I paid around what you have listed and probably would’ve paid more. I keep eyeing the Max Bill, and the divers 65 which has a grey market around $1000, still haven’t pulled the trigger on either, though.
    I love your picks, well done sir!

  • Richard Baptist

    Great picks, I love all the watches highlighted here. I usually try to narrow it down to one of the three and it would have to be the Vintage Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph. Especially if it has a central seconds chronograph. Sucker for those. Again great choices. Thanks.

  • Aleksandrs Aperans (Aleks)

    Fantastic picks, as an owner of both the max bill and oris sixty five I share your affinity for domed crystals. In particular I am entirely smitten with the oris. It’s been on my wrist daily for the last couple of months. It’s the most versatile and useful watched I’ve ever owned. The way the domed crystal captures the surrounding light and environment is a delight.

    Heads up, I don’t mean to dissuade people from purchasing from their AD but the Oris Sixty Five can be picked up for 1k w/ the nylon strap via Amazon which would leave you an additional $850.
    Cheers

  • Elijs Dima

    Interesting choices!
    Great call on the Max Bill as having ‘designer cred’. Sometimes it’s important to know which watches are highly regarded outside of the WIS community. (I guess nomos would also fit the bill, so to speak).
    Likewise, the Oris Diver’s 65- – great watch. Had one for a while, miss it nowadays. One of, if not the, best looking dive watches out there today.

    That said, a vintage chronograph? Hmmmmm. Is it a good idea to buy a vintage chrono, considering how fragile chrono movements are compared to base threehanders? So much stuff that can go wrong, and so much time/wear accumuated…

  • Han Cnx

    I think I’d buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual for $4700 or so with discounts or gray market, an SKX007 or 009 ($200) and then for really rough stuff any G-Shock that doesn’t look completely ridiculous. (There are one or two.)

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