The Three Watch Collection for $5,000: Reader Edition – Brett Braley

Editor’s Note: In this edition of the 3 Watch Collection for $5,000, reader (and newest contributor) Brett Braley brings us a refreshing collection that skews the expected in creative ways. All three of these watches bring a unique personality to the table, and offer a surprisingly diverse range when considered together.

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

I have always hovered at the periphery of watches. Whether it was the Fossil watch I got for graduation from my parents or the souvenir Mickey Mouse watch I begged my aunt at Disney World, I have always seen watches as the supreme accessory for looking put together (or, at the very least, faking it). 

Recently, I have stopped being at the periphery of watches and have found myself smack-dab in the middle of the hobby. A few weeks ago, I attended the San Francisco Wind Up as a representative of my company, Esterbrook Pen Co. I’m the Director of Digital Marketing for a company that specializes in luxury pens. While this is a niche industry, it’s not any more niche than, say, watches and the two circles of the Venn diagram seem to be overlapping a good bit.

When tasked to pick three watches, I went with the same criteria I use when picking a good writing utensil: value, aesthetic, and quality. I want something that will last, look good, and be worth the money I’m paying. And, last but not least, I wanted to go with three brands which aren’t as well known. There’s something special about “discovering” a brand off the mainstream; you feel like you’re rooting a little more for their success.

So, without further ado, here are three brands I’m “rooting for” that would make a stellar sub-$5,000 collection.


Fears Brunswick Champagne – $3,000

I’m admittedly an Anglophile and with an upcoming trip to London planned for next week, British-made has been on my mind lately. Here we have Fears, a brand I’ve been familiar with for some time, thanks to my friendship with the managing director, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, who has reignited the brand into a veritable success story. 

The Brunswick is a dressier watch whose design harkens back to an archival watch from the 1920’s. The champagne face and ETA 7001 manual winding movement only adds to the bygone charm of this 38mm timepiece, but the real devil, as they say, is in the details of this one.

It seems that every inch of real estate of this watch has been accounted for in bringing only the highest quality to the buyer. From stainless steel in Hong Kong to the watch face being glass bead blasted in Germany, it appears as though Bowman-Scargill and his team have scoured the world looking for only the finest suppliers to be a part of the Fears renaissance.

BREMOIR Lexington – $985

A watch like this BREMOIR is a conversation starter. It’s easy to tell that the Lexington was inspired by the Art Deco movement, but the watch never feels one-note or reductive to its inspiration. In fact, the details of this watch do more than to highlight the architectural period of the early 20th century, it honors it to an impressive degree.

For starters, the Lexington was heavily inspired by the Chrysler Building, and it’s clear to see the shared design language between the iconic building and this timepiece. With a vibrant 19mm stainless steel case, the metallic elements mirror the Chrysler Building’s glimmering spire, while also gently contrasting the more understated colorways of the watch face.

While that’s all well and good, it’s really the finer details of this timepiece which show us that BREMOIR is paying attention. The hour markers are inspired by The Chrysler Building’s entrance doors and spire triangles while the crown takes inspiration from hubcaps,  Chrysler’s automotive roots. The back of the watch houses an exhibition case, giving one a look into the beauty of the STP 1-11 Automatic movement inside.

The Lexington is available in five colorways: Montauk Dawn, Havana, Morocco, Cloud Club, and Tuxedo, each more beautiful than the last. While this may appear like a dress watch, its earthy band gives this an everyday wear that toes the line between formal and casual. And at less than $1,000, it’s hard to pass up a great watch that isn’t reserved just for “special occasions”.

VAER R1 USA Racing Chronograph (Cream 38mm) – $499

The irony of my distaste for driving but loving racing culture is not lost on me. But there is something about VAER’s R1 USA Racing Chronograph that nods to the elegant history of the sport (this is, of course, pre-NASCAR days). 

When I see this watch by VAER, I’m thinking of Steve McQueen or Le Mans. It’s a succinct interpretation of the sport without relying on cliches or overused motifs. Instead, the brand has turned to the 1960’s and 70’s racing watches to instruct their own interpretation.

What we have, then, is a daily watch that looks good and is just stylish enough to not go unnoticed without veering into the ostentatious. I opted for a 38mm here, as I find a smaller watch a bit more elegant, and went for the silver bracelet to add just a bit of contrast against the subtlety of the dial. For a sportier look, one may want to go for the khaki-colored nylon strap which adds a more rugged, Devil-may-care feel to the overall aesthetic of this timepiece.

This is a quartz movement piece, powered by VK-63 Meca-Quartz, making it a more affordable and (let’s be honest) convenient option for daily use. VAER focuses on lifestyle as well as performance and the R1 USA Racing Chronograph has all the functional amenities one looks for in a watch of this category and caliber, including durability and water resistance. Overall, VAER continues to blend style and function seamlessly and the R1 exemplifies this to a T.

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