The 3 Watch Collection for $5,000: Reader Edition – Rowan H.

Editor’s note: In this 3 Watch Collection for $5,000, reader Rowan H. (IG: @admit_to_im) brings us a trio of incredible and diverse tool watches that span from the mainstream to ‘if you know you know’ territory. We can’t take issue with any of these selections, and while there’s some overlap, there’s still plenty of unique personality on the table to enjoy this three watch collection. Rowan hails from the great state of Alaska where hiking, fishing, and biking take priority, hence no formal wear in sight here. Who needs dress watches when you can have tool watches that hit this hard?

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

Formex Reef – White dial, black bezel – $1,725

The Formex Reef is an unapologetically modern diver. For the last few years, a popular trend has been “vintage-inspired” releases from brands, and I appreciate that Formex bucked that trend without hesitation. It is also the most thoughtful watch in my collection; every element was designed with a purpose, highly engineered, and skillfully executed. Corners were not cut. While I may not need an interchangeable bezel system, I appreciate that it exists. 

The date window, so often an afterthought, is integrated into the design with its beveled borders. While they make one of the finest bracelets on the market, the designers seem to appreciate the enjoyment of changing the straps and developed one of the best quick-release mechanisms on a watch under $10k. Tool-less on-the-fly micro adjust clasps seem to be all the rage now (for good reason), Formex avoided the all-to-common pitfall of having an excessively long clasp and were able to engineer a compact clasp that is a joy to use. The Reef design may not be for everyone (what watch is), but the execution and engineering makes this stand out in a sea of modern dive watches.

Zodiac Super Seawolf GMT Two Tone – $1,695

If we have a modern watch in the Reef, it’s nice to balance that with the retro-inspired Zodiac Super Seawolf GMT Two Tone. If you are going to go retro, you might as well fully embrace it and what’s more retro than a two-tone watch? Two tone isn’t for everyone, but as I’ve entered my mid-30s and had a couple of kids, I’ve come to appreciate the two-tone aesthetic; I must get that from my dad who’s rocked a two-tone Rolex Datejust for my whole life. 

What I love about this watch is that I get the warmth of gold but because it uses a pvd coating on the bezel and bracelet, I don’t have the preciousness that accompanies most two-tone watches. Additionally, the dial markers are not gold and that decision tones down the gaudiness that many two-tone watches suffer from. Some may view a caller GMT as inferior to a Traveler (true?) GMT, but as someone who is more interested in not waking my brother up who lives on the other side of the planet with an ill-timed phone call than changing my watch when I fly a couple of times per year, the caller GMT is perfect.  Throw in the fact that it comes from a brand with second-to-none heritage and you have a real winner.

Breitling Aerospace F56062 – blue dial with gold accents – $1,000

Credit: Vintage Portfolio

At some point for many watch collectors, the allure of a vintage watch proves to be strong and they take the plunge. Before doing that, many more seasoned collectors caution the pitfalls of a vintage watch, and for me, that caused me to pause. So what’s the next best thing? A semi-vintage watch from the mid-90s. This Breitling can be found on the secondary market for around $1000 and for me is the perfect watch to wear to the office. It is thin (under 10 mm), lightweight (it is titanium), and fun to fidget with. The amount of functionality one can get out of a single crown is impressive.

This is one of the more reserved designs from Breitling – the dial is simple and uncluttered. The restraint of this era-watch is lost in some of the later versions where they added dial textures, italic stylized numerals, and crammed in more text. This is the purest version of the aerospace and a great addition to any collection.

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