Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000: Christoph’s Picks

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We’re back with the fifth installment of our popular Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000 series. We’ve already seen Ilya’s, Mark’s, Hung’s and Sean’s picks. Today, Christoph–one of worn&wound’s longstanding writers who is perhaps best known as Instagram’s @vintagediver–breaks down his three.

A quick refresher on the parameters before we get started. We chose $5,000 as the cap for the simple reason that $5,000 is generally regarded as a point of entry into luxury. So rather than drop all that coin on a single watch, we thought it’d be interesting to see how our team plays around with that number. Furthermore, the choices aren’t limited to specific categories of watches. Our contributors can choose watches they’d like based on their needs and personal preferences. Finally, for the sake of consistency, all watches currently being produced have to be valued at their MSRP. Vintage or recently retired models should be based on the average market rate.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.


When I first learned of the prompt I immediately began thinking of which three vintage gems I would pick. Those who know me and my collecting habits know that if I had $5,000 to spend on three watches, I would certainly go vintage. However, we decided that it would be best to limit our vintage pieces to just one pick out of the three since acquiring specific and highly-desired vintage watches can be an arduous and sometimes near-impossible task. We wanted to make these lists more attainable for our readers.

So, for a three piece, well-rounded collection, I feel one needs a diver, a chronograph, and a dress watch. That pretty much covers all the bases, right?  I picked two modern watches with vintage DNA (surprise!): the Seiko Marine Master SBDX017 diver and the Sinn Flieger 358 chronograph. For my vintage piece I chose the mid-1960s Grand Seiko Chronometer 5722-9990–a beautiful dress watch and a timeless classic.

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Seiko Marine Master SBDX001 (MM300) –  ~$1,700 – $2,000

The MM300 is hands down my favorite modern diver, especially when you consider its bang-for-the-buck quality. Inspired by the holy grail of vintage Seiko divers, the 1960s 6159-7001, the MM300 features a 44mm monocoque case (a one-piece case where the movement is accessed through the front) with modest 20mm lugs and a large screw down crown at four o’clock. There’s a matte black dial with lume-filled steel markers and broad, faceted hands. It’s  extremely easy to read in any condition.The crystal, while not sapphire, is made of Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex mineral glass, which does the job. The bezel on the MM300 is one of the absolute best out there, with large, thick grooves making it easy to grasp. Furthermore, the action is excellent and has little to no play. The insert is painted metal, but it looks like ceramic with its high gloss finish.

The MM300 is powered by the Seiko caliber 8L35, which is the same movement used in some Grand Seiko models but without the fancy finishing. One of the most overlooked facts about Seiko, at least by those not well versed in the brand, is that they are a true in-house manufacture. Every aspect of this watch–from the case to the crystal, to the movement and right down to the lubricants–was made by Seiko. The MM300 comes supplied with a solid-link steel bracelet with a ratcheting micro-adjustable flip-lock clasp, as well as a rubber strap. The MM300 is a diver that looks great with almost any attire, and it can be worn with any strap. I am constantly changing mine between the OEM bracelet, a couple of different leather and canvas straps, as well as the inimitable Isofrane rubber strap. Even though I don’t dive, I do like to get wet from time to time and it’s nice to have a watch that can be worn rain or shine without worry.

The MM300 SBDX001 was recently discontinued and replaced with the SBDX017, a watch that is largely the same as its predecessor, but with a few skin-deep enhancements–namely the inclusion of Seiko’s DiaShield coating and Lumibright paint. But for the purposes of this exercise, I’ll stick with the 001 as it can be had at quite a discount on the secondary market.

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Sinn Flieger 358 Acrylic – $1890 (on strap); $2,140 (on bracelet)

My next pick is a classically styled flieger chronograph, the Sinn 358. Sinn is a German watch manufacturer that is known for well made, no-nonsense tool watches. The 358 is an upsized version of its smaller brother, the 356. It has a 42mm bead-blasted case with clean lines and nice curving 22mm lugs. The crown is signed with Sinn’s “S” logo and screws down. Rated at 10 bar, the 358 is good to go for most day-to-day activities.

The 358 is a standard three-register chronograph with a six, nine, and 12 sub-dial layout and a day/date display at three o’clock. It features lume-filled syringe hands and a clean arrow-tipped chronograph seconds hand. The matte black dial features classic pilot style markings, with white painted Arabic numeral hour markers. Overall, the dial has a very clean and crisp look that is easy to read and use.

The model I chose has a domed acrylic crystal which really contributes to the watch’s vintage vibe. Sinn does have an option for a 358 with a sapphire crystal (and sapphire exhibition back), but that will run you an extra $770. While I can certainly appreciate the durability of sapphire, the acrylic crystal is so much cheaper and really adds to the look of the watch, in my opinion. The 358 is powered by the tried and true Valjoux 7750 automatic movement, a common workhorse that should run worry-free for a long time.

The 358 comes supplied on a padded leather strap with a tang buckle for the price listed above, and for an additional $250 you can get a solid, H-link steel bracelet (Sinn bracelets are very well-made for the price).

The Sinn 358 has a classic look that really can go anywhere. You can feel comfortable wearing it with a suit, or with jeans and a t-shirt at the pub. It’s a great grab-and-go watch that suits any situation, and few can compete with that price.

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Circa 1965 Grand Seiko Chronometer 5722-9990 (57GS) – ~$1200

So, we now have a solid Japanese diver and a tough-as-nails German chronograph. Time to add a dress watch to complete this trifecta. For that, I’ll be going with the Grand Seiko Chronometer 5722-9990 (57GS), though it’s such a sweet little watch you may just forget about the other two.

The 57GS is the second generation Grand Seiko, coming after the Grand Seiko 3180. It was made from 1963 through the late 1960s, with earlier examples using the reference number 43999 before Seiko switched to the eight-digit reference system.

The 57GS comes in a simple, 38mm steel case with super fat 19mm lugs that have delicate chamfers on the outer edges, a detail that is easily lost if the case has been polished. The case back features the iconic Grand Seiko lion logo in an applied gold medallion, similar to the observatory medallion case backs of vintage Omega Constellations. The clean and timeless silver dial features a radial brushed finish and has applied, faceted steel markers. Along with the usual dial markings, one thing that stands out on this dial is the “Grand Seiko” script above the six, a small detail on paper that makes a big impression in the metal. Its heart is the Seiko caliber 5722A, a manual, 35-jeweled Chronometer that is, simply put, a masterclass in effective simplicity. One cool historical note about this watch and the movement is that it is also known as the “Self-Dater” because it has a true quick-set date, and it was Seiko’s first manual quick-set watch.

The 57GS is easily one of my all-time favorite watches, and it’s definitely my favorite dress watch. It’s a good size (especially for vintage), I love the clean aesthetic and the fat lugs, and the movement is a work of art; it just ticks all of the proverbial boxes.

I set the price for this one in the $1,200 range, which is somewhere in the middle of prices I found on eBay. These can definitely be found, but you do need to exercise some caution and do your homework, as with any vintage purchase.

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
vintagediver
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