The Three Watch Collection for $5,000: Reader Edition – Stephen Damico

Editor’s note: In this 3 Watch Collection for $5,000, reader Stephen Damico of strapsense breaks down a brilliant three watch collection that covers a fair amount of bases, and takes advantage of new releases to maximum effect. This is a great use of the entire budget and represents a safe bet on long term enjoyment.

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

We watch lovers really enjoy a good hypothetical watch challenge. It usually involves a seemingly sparse number of watches and a ‘realistic’ budget of some kind. The origins of these subjective limits vary depending on present company and how much alcohol has been consumed but they are a necessary evil to bookend the discussion and prevent the conversation into devolving into how you will pull off the perfect bank robbery to fund your purchase. There are very few singular purpose watches in the world (think PolProf or Calatrava) as most timepieces comfortably fit in two or more categories making three watches a fitting number for a collection without being exceptionally strict. The total of 5,000 dollars is completely arbitrary but is large enough to make buying 3 cool watches possible, while simultaneously small enough that it is approachable to a wider audience and forces one to shop away from some of the major well known big dollar favorites.

I have a website called strapsense. As a fun hobby, I love to buy and review watch straps and give as detailed review as possible. All of my choices today can be great choices on or off the bracelet and allow a bit of tailoring to the feel the watch exudes. Every watch in my collection must be able to be a bit of a chameleon with straps and all of these above fit that brief. When watches pair well with a variety of straps, a three watch collection can become a 6 or 9 watch collection very quickly.


Longines Spirit 39mm GMT on the bracelet – $3,150

I have to admit, this is a bit of a cheater watch. This particular Longines could easily be a one watch collection so it seemed a bit of an overachiever in this group if I am honest, but I felt I had to pick it anyway. I had a titanium 40mm Longines Spirit and while it was absolutely stunning on the wrist, the long lugs eventually did me in. The 39mm version of the Spirit absolves Longines of this sin and puts it back into a thoroughly well thought out and modern GMT. If you have not seen a Sprit in person, the finishing is at the same level as its stablemate bearing a letter of the Greek alphabet. The COSC movement is dead reliable and the interaction of the crown is liquid smooth.

The Spirit is a bit of a rarity these days. All incarnations of this watch do not owe its design to a Type A or Type B Flieger. Nor is it trying to be an IWC rip off, or recreate a vintage watch in Longines storied past. This is a new watch, a new beginning. This is Genesis for this particular model. If marinated with the proper patience and care, this could be a model other watches are emulating in 10 years. I love the crisp and bold numerals which shine like lanterns at night. The dial has detail and depth without feeling over-designed. I shall not speak of the 5 stars on the dial for the same reason I do not hold the Rolex War and Peace levels of text against watches from the crown. It is just not a big deal. The Longines Spirit is an approachable value packed and stunning time piece that puts on full display every penny you spent on it and leaves you feeling like you somehow cheated Longines by getting the better deal.

Seiko 62MAS SBDC101/SPB143 – $1,200

Seiko Divers exist in a world all their own. They inhabit a holy ground that is unquestionable among watch enthusiasts. The DNA and extensive history of Seiko and their dive watches imbue any diver within Seiko’s vast catalog with immediate horological legitimacy. The 143 was my favorite Seiko diver that I have ever owned. It did not set a single foot wrong. Size, thickness, purity of design, it was without flaws to my eyes. It had bulk without being bulky. It looked equally as good on a rubber strap or the included bracelet. It fit my wrist like a second skin. While other divers in the Seiko lineup had a feature or two that was superior to the 143, the silver dialed 143 is truly a perfect example of a watch as whole that is superior than the sum of its parts. From the silver sunray finish to the skin diver case, the watch does not take chances, but rather stands on decades of tradition and proven historical provenance.

Casio Oceanus OCW-T200S-1AJF – $415

image via Seiya Japan

I am a firm believer that every watch collector needs a quartz in the collection. As hard as it may seem, there will be a day where you are running late (despite owning 3 watches) and you just want a stellar grab and go timepiece that is always right. A good looking tool that is ready to go without even thinking about it. I made it a personal challenge to NOT choose a G Shock to fill this part of my 3 watch collection as I think this Oceanus fulfills this roll with greater and more fashionable aplomb. It gives the user quartz reliability while still maintaining the feeling of wearing something special on your wrist. Despite its non mechanical inner workings, the Oceanus still has that craftsmanship aura around it. The watch feels like it was designed not just assembled. As a watch lover, we want that feeling when we look down at our wrists. The wonderful brushed bezel and bracelet combine with a decidedly high tech movement elevate this watch above most other boring quartz timepieces.

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