The Three Watch Collection for $5,000: Reader Edition – George Nelson

Editor’s Note: In this week’s installment of our ongoing “3 for 5k” series, reader George Nelson takes us through his personal collection, and his growth as a collector. He frames this as a typical “diver, daily driver, dress watch” arrangement, but each watch is much more personal than simply checking off a collecting box.

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

I feel very fortunate to say that I own the three-watch collection I’ve always wanted. It took some time (pun intended) and a lot of watches that would come in and come out. Things could change in the future within the big picture of my rotation but these three will always remain. They each represent certain points in my life and also give an idea of what kind of enthusiast I am. It sticks to the first idea I ever encountered of a three-watch collection: the diver, the daily driver, and a dress watch. 

Seiko SKX013 – ($300-$500)

During my early days of diving deep into the rabbit hole of watches, I came across a video about the Seiko SKX013 back in December of 2017. Up to this point, I had been wearing a $30 Timex Expedition I purchased back in 2009 from a local KMart (RIP KMart and that watch.) I was coming close to graduating college and wanted something a little nicer with a sweeping second hand. It was then when I came across this video and immediately was convinced that this watch was for me. I was familiar with the Seiko brand because my dad had always talked to me about them, albeit it was only from my interactions with him. A couple of Google searches later and I came across a pre-owned one on eBay for $130. On a college budget, I figured “why not?” A week later, it arrived at my apartment. 

Photo by George Nelson

The watch itself isn’t necessarily a “looker.” It’s about as tool-ish as it can get – sterile matte black dial, legible hands, ISO certification, the reliable workhorse 7S26 movement, screw-down crown, and 200 meters of water resistance – all of these features only to go diving…at a desk; that’s all right though. It still sees aquatic depths at the beach when I visit my hometown of Miami, FL. A combination of polished and brushed finishing gives the watch some refinement but still boasts that it is a utilitarian watch. Even though the most the watch will dive into would be no more than six feet with a snorkel and fins, I still get the enjoyment out of it with it being my first “serious watch,” its rich diving heritage, and roots in a Japanese brand that sits near and dear to my heart through my father. 

Tudor Black Bay 36 Black ($2,000-$3,000)

As I progressed further into the rabbit hole of watch enthusiasm, I came across the Rolex Explorer. However, my wallet wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was. It was only then that I found out about Rolex’s younger brother Tudor. When I saw that they offered a 36mm Black Bay without a bezel and a diver style dial, I was captivated. I also love the way my friend describes the brand: “the Shield protects the Crown.” I even set the watch as my wallpaper on my phone for a very long time to remind me how bad I wanted it. Oh, it was also a more palatable price compared to the bigger brother Explorer. 

Photo by George Nelson

A few years later, I came across a big shift in my life, coinciding with my 30th birthday. I was finally able to purchase the watch and although I thought about the Explorer, I opted for the Tudor. I’ve yet to get it engraved, but I plan to get the word “SHIFT” etched on the caseback. As a bonus, the one I purchased still had the ETA movement before they shifted to Sellita in 2020 and also had a 2017 date – the year I started getting into watches. At 36mm with a 44mm lug-to-lug and a 10.5mm thickness, it was perfect for my 6” wrist. The daily driver that has enough dressy characteristics to be worn in an office but also casual and laid back with an everyday approach that can be worn to many different occasions. I wouldn’t call it my grail but it’s definitely the one that sealed the deal for me in the long run. 

1980s 18k Gold Raymond Weil Tank (Priceless)

This last one is the cornerstone of everything I own. It belonged to my late father. My mother runs her own computer business and had a watch client in Miami. They used her accounting program that she coded for them in order to track and import and export for their business. While dating, my mother gifted my father this Raymond Weil Tank that she sourced from her client. It was a “his and hers” gift since she also owned a smaller version of it. My father was a big fan of that. It was a nice little totem on their relationship that stood as a reminder of the special bond they had.

Photo courtesy George Nelson

I mentioned a big shift earlier and it so happens that it deals with the passing of my father. While going through his things, I found this watch. I have very fond memories of him wearing it on special occasions or going to church on the weekends. It’s a small quartz movement – nothing too crazy as far as mechanical movements are concerned. A small 27mm case, capped with 18k gold, it’s the definition of dressy. I had never worn gold before; in fact, I was never really big on gold. But this one was the exception. I had seen it so many times during my childhood that it didn’t matter if I didn’t like gold or not – it was my father’s watch and I would wear it. It may not be much of a watch to look at, but it is one that I will always cherish forever. 

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