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

Editor’s note: Today I am excited to be introducing a new take on our 3 watches for $5k series, and it places you, dear reader, at its center. We are always looking for more meaningful ways to incorporate your voice within our editorial projects, and this is just the first step in giving you a platform to share your passion, your opinion, and your perspective on watches. 

Beginning today, I invite you to share your ‘3 watches for $5k’ submissions with us via this submission form. In time, we will be opening other series, both existing and new, up for reader submissions, all of which will use the same submission process. Publication is not guaranteed, though we may do monthly round ups of some of the more interesting submissions. 

Kicking things off, I’m happy to welcome the selections of reader Thomas Calara, who’s got some fan favorites, and something a bit off the beaten path. 



My three watch collection is a reflection of how I traverse between the office, ocean and beyond. I spend much of my free time outdoors between surfing at the beach break and hiking our modest mountains here in San Diego (more so hiking recently, as I am preparing to climb Mount Whitney in mid July). And when I’m not looking for any type of extended adventure, I’m in the office hammering away at the keyboard for either work, or sneaking in a quick write up about watches. 

I’m a huge enthusiast of tool watches that serve multiple purposes. If the weather reports look on point for some waves, throw it on a NATO. Need to track a second time zone, or how much time has passed on a mountain, a glance at the bezel will do the trick. And on the rare occasion I’m in a more formal setting, having a leather strap accompany the watch, would be enough to play the part under a shirt cuff. These three watches needed to be reliable, adaptable and most importantly, fun. I mean we are talking about watches after all! Here’s my three watch collection under $5000. Let’s lock in.

Sinn 105 St Sa UTC – $2110 

To start things off, I’m going to go with the Sinn St Sa105 UTC on their stainless steel bracelet. In the world of tool watches, it doesn’t get any tougher than a Sinn. With the Sinn 105 UTC, I would get GMT capability from their 24 hour marker bezel which, I might add, has their TEGIMENT technology in combination with their Black Hard Coating, 200 meters of WR, a screw down crown and anti-magnetism to DIN 8309 (equates to direct exposure to 4800 a/m). This makes this watch more than capable whether it’s paddling into a wave or when traveling through different time zones. And when I am staying put in Southern California, I’m always tracking EST as my second timezone. New Jersey is my hometown state and with every glance of that dial, it’s always nice to be reminded of my family back home.

To me, the Sinn UTC 105 is what Allen Farmelo and Ilya Ryvin coined previously on a W&W podcast, a DTW or a Dressy Tool Watch. The bead blasted case keeps the Sinn 105 UTC under the radar and coupled with a leather strap, would fit in at any office setting or formal occasion. This watch isn’t all about serious business. I should mention that the Sinn 105 UTC adds a playful touch (and I’m also sure for high vis purposes) with the orange GMT hand and a sapphire case back. For slightly above $2000, I’d get a GMT that’s both business in the front and party in the back.

Seiko SPB143 – $1200

From Germany, we go to Japan. And what is a three watch collection without a Seiko diver? I’m sure that you are all familiar with the Seiko SPB143, as it has been reviewed and talked about plenty on W&W. It doesn’t get any more reliable than a Seiko dive watch, and the SPB143 is the perfect balance between tool watch capability and handsome design. With the bracelet, or even better, with a NATO strap, this watch would be appropriate for any setting out in the wild. I’d have no problem having the SPB143 tag along on those long days that would start off with a morning surf session at Pacific Beach, followed by an afternoon hike up Cowles Mountain and then finally ending the day at the local watering hole, most likely Polite Provisions for a well deserved IPA (or bourbon old fashioned).

CWC G10 – $650


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What if I told you that you could purchase a birth year watch for less than $1000 from a brand with a rich history in military issued watches? Now that I have you intrigued, let me rock the boat, and tell you that it’s a quartz watch as well. If you’re still reading, hear me out. 

The CWC started production of the G10 military watch in the early 1980s and was provided to the Royal Navy and Marines. Some of these watches have actually seen some time on the battlefield as well. The specific CWC G10 that would round out this three watch collection is a G10 issued in 1988, my birth year. The caseback on these watches makes it very clear when the watch was issued. If you haven’t read the write up, W&W did a great job of deciphering the casebacks of military watches. I didn’t want to forgo the romantic part of owning watches in this collection. It’s part of the hobby. Owning something that has been used since I was born speaks to me. And the fact it has potentially been used in combat adds that extra layer of cool.

I think a quartz piece is the perfect watch to have handy for any situation. It helps when you need to make a quick watch decision on the go or it can serve as a dependable back up to stash away in the dopp kit during travel. And the best part, with the fixed spring bars, it only takes NATOs. There are a bunch of these military issued watches out there ranging from the years 1980 to 1999, so if you’re a millennial looking for a watch with some historical significance, personal connection and won’t hurt your pocket, this may be the route to go.


Bonus: Garmin Instinct – $200

I know that this is supposed to be a three watch collection, but with the money left over, I think I’d go ahead and spend some of the extra cash on a Garmin Instinct. The Instinct is a smartwatch that has all the characteristics I would want as far as durability and reliability, plus a ton more features you wouldn’t get in an analog watch. This includes GPS tracking, a heart rate monitor, an altimeter and a thermometer.  All of this would be useful information when climbing Mount Whitney later this year. Now the question is, in addition to the Garmin Instinct, which watch will I bring with me to the peak?

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