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

Editor’s Note: I appreciate a collection that goes nearly all-in on a single great watch, with quality supporting cast. Here, reader Evan takes the jump on a Grand Seiko Spring Drive reference and has prepared pairings for each selection. Cheers to you, Evan!

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

This collection is designed to give you a watch for any occasion, while sneakily providing a lesson in horology.

We have three completely distinct movements, Spring Drive, Mecha-Quartz, and an Automatic. Each has its own merit, and taken together we get a broad picture of watchmaking. At this price point we won’t be getting a tourbillon or perpetual calendar, but once we develop a love for the mechanisms we own, there will be plenty more to explore.

The Seiko 5 automatic of course isn’t the highest version of a mechanical movement, but it’s enough to bring the sense of life that an automatic watch brings. A see-through caseback is critical, we can see the mechanism and get inspired to learn more about it. By picking three different movements we have an excuse to learn about each, and a story to tell others as well.

In the Flightmaster, Mecha-Quartz balances the accuracy of quartz with the satisfying arc and snap of the chronograph function, and we can even nerd out with the slide-rule functionality in the bezel.

Spring Drive tells the story of progress, linking together mechanical watchmaking to the quartz crisis and back to the modern day. Not only that, but the sweep of that second hand really imparts a sense of serenity when you hold it.

Many collectors are disappointed when they get a few years into their journey and learn about maintenance and the associated costs. The Grand Seiko is clearly worth servicing, we’ll need new batteries for the Flighty, but the 5 will probably only provide joy until it stops. By the time that happens though, we’ll have learned enough about watches that it will be a treat to break that bad boy open, take it apart, and learn how all the pieces fit together (maybe we’ll even get it back together again).

Grand Seiko Spring Drive (e.g. SBGA437) – $4,500


Spring Drive is awesome, so any we can find in this price range will do. Accurate, horologically advanced, pleasing to look at. It’s Grand Seiko so the finishing is beautiful, and these watches are classy without being stuffy.

Pair with: A rented tuxedo and pretending you like gin martinis at your buddy’s wedding.

Seiko Flightmaster (SNA411) – $250

Image: Darrell Lim

Mecha-Quartz movement. If we want to time stuff, it’s as good as anything else you’re going to find. It’s got all the fancy I’m-a-pilot vibes you could ask for.

Pair with: Aviator sunglasses and timing your dog to see how fast you do your regular loop around the neighborhood.

Seiko 5 Sports (e.g. SRPD63) – $250

Automatic movement with a see-through case-back. Dive watch styling, but tough enough and cheap enough that you can wear it anywhere. It probably won’t break, and by the time it does you’ll have well since gotten your value out of it.

Pair with: Swim trunks, those goofy hiking sandals, and trying to start a campfire at the beach.

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