The 3 Watch Collection for $5,000: Reader Edition – Mark E.

Editor’s note: This 3 watch collection for $5,000 is brought to us by reader Mark E. who spreads the love almost equally across a trio of incredible tool watches. Tools they may be, but they’ve each got a classy element not too far under the surface, making this a truly great three watch collection within our $5,000 budget. 

You can make your submission to the Three Watch Collection – Reader Edition by filling out the form right here.

Three watches for $5000 is a challenge. Micro and value brands offer tons of options below $1,000, and the $5,000 to $10,000 price range is filled with truly superb options. The middle ground is a little trickier. My goal for this collection was to achieve balance – I didn’t want to pick one high-end selection and be forced to choose very low cost selections for the other two. In addition to balance — any one selection a legitimate candidate for a one-watch collection — I also wanted coverage of a wide range of styles  including pilot, diver, military, and chrono cues.  Finally, I wanted each selection to be a legitimate archetype for its genre. I think I succeeded, which says a lot about the vitality of the market in this price range.


Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph – $2,045

This watch represents the essence of the stripped-down pilot’s chronograph. It is a direct homage/reissue of a “fab four” chrono that Hamilton supplied to the UK MoD in the 1970’s. It sports a  super clean dial with minimal decoration, a streamlined case designed to protect the crown and pushers in tight quarters, and a tool watch-true closed caseback.  It is an archetypal pilot’s watch, a chronograph, and a military watch, all in one package. The H-51 movement is an updated ETA 7753 with anti-magnetic components and a 60 hour power reserve. All in all, it’s everything you want in a pilot/chrono/military watch, and nothing you don’t.

Christopher Sealander C-63 GMT – $1,025

The Sealander is one of those watches that triangulates perfectly between the elegant-enough-for-dress and ready-for-adventure ends of the spectrum. The dial hosts clean stick markers with lume for low-light utility. Christopher Ward added an orange arrow GMT hand to their signature arrow-hour and baton minute hands. The movement is a proven Sellita SW330-2 “caller” GMT movement with an upgraded 56-hour power reserve. This watch calls back to Omega, Rolex, and Grand Seiko elements, but Christopher Ward’s design language stands on its own. Their lightcatcher case is crisp, not too ornate, and beautifully finished. This is an absolute candidate for a one-watch collection and would be worthwhile at twice the price.

Seiko Prospex SPB183 Limited Edition – $1,400

A three watch collection needs a dedicated dive watch – and any of the Seiko Willard reissues provides a perfect diver to fill this slot. The SPB183 is a great example with its blue dial and bezel, but any Willard would be work – the SPB151 with a black dial, the SPB153 in green, the SPB257 with its black DLC case, the SBDC169 in white, or the SPB263 “ice diver”. The case shape is uniquely Seiko and makes the watch a strap monster;  the 6R35 movement is accurate enough and sports a 70 hour power reserve; and Seiko lume is the brightest in the business. The only places that a Willard-pattern diver might be a bit out of place would be in a hyper-formal setting or possibly a hardcore saturation diving scenario (due to the lack of a Helium escape valve). Everywhere else, a Willard is a first-rate companion.

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