The 3 Watch Collection for $5,000 – Reader Edition: Conrad Bauer

Editor’s Note: I’ve been genuinely impressed and surprised at the creativity of your 3 watch collection for $5,000 submissions, and as for Mr. Bauer here, well, he and I are on the same wavelength. This is a fantastic three watch collection, and while some may be tricky to find at retail, he’s in the right frame of mind to take up the challenge. 

If you’d like to submit your own 3 watch collection for $5,000 can you do so at the form right here.

The reader may rightly criticize that I have included watches that are either difficult to buy or difficult to buy at the original list price provided. On the other hand, the selections hold true to the original intent of this feature, which is to showcase the type of value that you can get with a certain limited amount of money. This takes a combination of knowledge, strategy, taste, experience, and a huge dose of luck. This, to me, is the essence of collecting watches, rather than just buying them.

Grand Seiko SBGV245 – $3,000

When I first saw the W&W review of this watch, I knew this was the Grand Seiko for me.  Since I started getting into watch collecting, I have always admired the brand. However, their more typical case designs never spoke to me. The lines for the SBGV24x series are so different and distinctive, yet still carry that strong GS design language. Not to mention that more wallet-friendly price tag for a GS watch. The dial color of the SBGV245 is also unique, not only in the GS line but just about anywhere. At the time the review came out, I wasn’t ready to spend over $2000 on a watch, so I ended up buying a second-hand SBGV243. However, I always regretted it. 

When I heard that the SBGV245 had been discontinued, I called up every AD here in Taiwan to see if there were any more in stock on-island. Fortunately for me, the last place I called was able to order one in for me, and it immediately became my favorite watch. I am grateful that I learned the (relatively) easy way never to compromise or settle when it comes to buying the watch you want. With its outrageous polishing and dynamic dial color, plus hefty water resistant and anti-magnetic properties, the SBGV245 effectively straddles the boundaries between dressy and rugged, beautiful and functional. And, of course, it’s quartz, so it’s no fuss and ready to go when you are. What more do you need in a watch collection? I could almost stop here.

MING 17.06 Slate – $1,250

Image: MING

The seemingly redundant question ‘What more do you need in a watch collection?’ has a clear answer for collectors once they lay their eyes on a MING watch. The format for this “3 under $5000 genre” often goes from tool watch to dress watch, and the MING 17.06 Slate has many of the qualities of a dress watch, with its pared-down size at 38mm and two hands. However, MING has also tried to provide some features to make this watch more of a daily wear, including lume and 100m of water resistance. 

So, as with the Grand Seiko, this watch is ready for almost anything. For me, this watch has offered the most value across the entire MING line thus far. The price came in at under $1300 while really pushing the design language in a new direction from the prior releases. Despite the modest price, this watch is a true show-stopper. I was at a watch meetup last week and this watch was down on the table alongside a Kermit, two Royal Oaks, a Patek Calatrava Pilot Time, and a Lange 1815… whenever new people came in the door, they would stop in their tracks, say ‘Whoa,’ and reach for the Slate.

Halios Universa – $735

Credit: Derek Haager of RedBar (@derekhaager)

With about $750 left in your budget and a Grand Seiko and a Ming already to choose from, can you even find a watch that would compete for wrist time with such killer timepieces? One option would be to spring for the Ming Universal Bracelet (which looks great on both watches) and leave it at two. But there’s still room for something you don’t mind getting a little nicked and dinged. We’ve seen a lot of folks slot a Seiko diver in here, and you certainly have quite a few options at or below that price range. However, if you are willing to test your patience and luck you can try to get your hands on a release from Halios Watches. 

The Universa, a 38mm field-ish type watch that finally came to market earlier this year after several years of development and delays, is the brand’s latest offering. Many of their fans are calling it their best yet. Halios Watches are the brainchild of one particular watch auteur, Jason Lim, and what his brand lacks in punctuality and straightforward customer service he more than makes up for with the brilliantly designed and constructed watches he is releasing at irresistible prices. Jason’s perfectionism in design and quality means that although his watches are technically not limited editions, he releases just a few small batches of watches every year. 

The current Halios website has not been updated for at least three months, so those interested in buying a Halios need to wait for the irregular email updates, sporadic Instagram announcements, and gossip and rumors shared on watch enthusiast message boards. However, if luck comes your way and you know of a watch release time and can secure one within the several minutes or so in which they sell out, you are in for a treat. This Universa wears snug thanks to the 38mm dial size and low case height (11mm with a hand-wound movement). At the same time, the 48mm lug-to-lug and raised sapphire crystal help to fill the watch out on your wrist. The depth of the dial color, the applied markers, and the unique quick-adjust bracelet system compete with offerings from Swiss brands at two or even three times the price point. The pastel blue especially adds a nice contrast against the two other watches already recommended above.

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