The Perfect Five-Watch Collection For Under $5,000

by   |  in Style Tips

With so many choices in the world of horology, we wanted to put together our ideal, yet attainable version of a 5 watch collection, and keep it under $5,000. Here’s what we came up with!

Even entry-level watches—just one!—can set you back a good $8k. Building the perfect 5-watch collection for under $5,000 seems as impossible as solving the legendary mystery of Buzz Aldrin’s missing Omega.

The best watches to collect are those that you’ll have the most opportunities to wear. A man should have versatile everyday sport watches, those that can take a beating, and formal watches.

And so, with a bit of creativity, we managed to round up our choices for the ideal 5 watch collection under $5,000.

(By the way, you might also enjoy our articles on the best Seiko watches and the best Timex watches to add to your collection.)

Our Picks for The Perfect 5 Watch Collection

There’s a piece for every situation, whether you need something to mindlessly slap on for a Tuesday morning, or whether you want mix-and-match options for a date at that exclusive restaurant you had to book last year.

Here we go:

Omega Seamaster Automatic

It’s shocking (and exciting!) that you can get in on such legendary provenance and elite technicality at less than $1800. This alpha dog of the collection doesn’t even take up half the budget.

Omega Seamaster Automatic (Pre-Owned)
$1,995

The 2005 edition features all of the classic designs of the Bond Seamaster: Wavy lines on the face, red second hand, luminescent stick markers, and the scalloped bezel edges.

Shop Now Learn More

The 2005 edition features all of the classic designs of the Bond Seamaster: Wavy lines on the face, red second hand, luminescent stick markers, and the scalloped bezel edges.

With a case at 36.25mm though, this version suits most guys’ wrists. Even if you have bigger wrists or like a bigger wear, the 18mm band gives it a heavier look.

Since James Bond switched over to the Seamaster in 1995, this timepiece has been on the path to classic 007 status next to the Submariner.

Two Bonds, eight movies and 25 years later, it’s safe to say the Seamaster has been knighted, even having been name-dropped in Casino Royale.

Moreover, the switch happened because the movie’s costume designers preferred that the Omega Seamaster had a historical association with the British military’s Special Boat Service, where Bond fictionally served.

So, the Omega Seamaster not only has enduring pop culture street cred, but a role in real-life world history as well.

This automatic watch is a certified chronometer, meaning the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres has subjected it to rigorous testing for durability. It’s a true diver with 300m water resistance and a sapphire crystal, and even features a helium valve.

As with all sport watches, the Seamaster is versatile. And you know since it’s an Omega, it’s going to look great with a suit or sport coat, as much as it would with jeans and a T-shirt.

Alternatives to this pre-owned Omega Seamaster

We should mention that if this particular Omega is gone (there’s only one listed as of this writing, after all), a great alternative is this TAG Heuer Aquaracer, or this Aquaracer with blue bezel.

By the way, if you’re interested in other Omegas (or any luxury watch brand) but are considering pre-owned, make sure to check out eBay. They introduced Authenticity Guarantee, which makes shopping online for luxury watches much more stress-free.

DETAILS of the Seamaster Automatic:

MovementAutomatic
DisplayAnalog
Case Diameter36.25mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel
Band Width18mm

Movado Museum Black

The Movado Museum Black is a piece of contemporary art – literally. It was created by industrial artist Nathan George Horwitt and its design is in the permanent collection of New York’s MOMA.

Movado Museum Black Stainless Steel Watch

Its black face is modeled after an ancient sundial, with only one silver-toned concave marker for hour 12. The strap is made out of fashionable black calfskin, giving this simple dresswatch an upscale elegance that is still bold.

Shop Now Learn More

Truly, this distinct timepiece is less like its fellow watches in this roundup, than it is akin to Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait.

Its black face is modeled after an ancient sundial, with only one silver-toned concave marker for hour 12. The strap is made out of fashionable black calfskin, giving this simple dresswatch an upscale elegance that is still bold.

The Movado Museum Black is best worn in formal situations, but is also a fashion-forward option for semi-formal occasions. Not too shabby for $210.

It has a sapphire crystal and a stainless steel case, so it’s durable for a dress watch, but do not wear this classy gent like an everyday watch, and certainly don’t wear him hiking or out on the water. With 30m water resistance, it can only handle light splashes.

DETAILS of the Movado Museum Black:

MovementSwiss Quartz
DisplayAnalog
Case Diameter40mm
Band Material TypeLeather
Band Width20mm

TAG Heuer Formula 1

I like to think of this chronograph as the second in command of this collection. Like the Seamaster, the Formula 1 is versatile… and like Omega, TAG Heuer has a renowned heritage.

This is a real racing watch with a tachymetre featuring bold Arabic numbers and a stopwatch. The dark face mutes its fast-paced chronograph aesthetic, making this watch just as wearable with a suit jacket as with a t-shirt.

The Carrera may be its flagship line, but TAG Heuer has a specific and historic dedication to the Formula 1 line.

It was created in the 80s as an answer to the demand for quartz movement watches. The Formula 1 was built using more reasonable materials than TAG Heuer was typically known for, but with the same horological expertise.

The popular watch was relaunched in the early aughts and reformatted into its current design so that it can enter luxury markets. Naturally, it became a bestseller all over again.

The Formula 1 is closely associated with legendary driver Juan Manual Fangio who won the Formula 1 world championship five times. And of course, this piece is the official timekeeper for Formula 1.

This tough and sporty watch is water-resistant at 200m, and is powered by a lithium battery with a two-year lifespan.

DETAILS of the TAG Heuer Formula 1

MovementSwiss Quartz
DisplayAnalog
Case Diameter44mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel
Band Width21mm

Nomos Club Campus

The Nomos Club Campus is unconventional, but not so crazy it doesn’t belong in your core watch collection.

Its playful style will catch the interest of watch hobbyists (Nomos isn’t quite a household name), and also the respect of specialists who recognize the quality German brand.

Many design components are fun and irreverent: The mixed Arabic and Roman hour markers are outlined in red so light it’s almost pink. The lugs are noticeably elongated and your wrist is exposed between the case and the strap. The second hand is neon orange on top of muted colors.

However, the backdrop of soft, quiet colors, the suede strap and overall thin and polished smoothness of the Club Campus keep the piece from looking like a boy’s watch.

It has a sapphire crystal and is water resistant at 100m.

This is a smart-casual watch that adds elegance to relaxed looks, playfulness to suits, and a fashionable pop to tailored looks in general.

The Club Campus is a great option for a night at the game with the guys, whether you’re in a box suite or making the most out of nosebleed seats.

DETAILS of the Nomos Club Campus:

MovementManual Wind
DisplayAnalog
Case Diameter36mm
Band Material TypeVelour leather
Band Width18mm

Undone Basecamp Cali Green with Perlon Band

An homage to the vintage field watch! Unlike Nomos’ liberal incorporation of the California dial, the Undone Basecamp Cali Green meticulously rebuilds an old favorite with modern precision.

Undone Basecamp Cali Green with Perlon Band
$300

UNDONE Cali models flaunt the distinct California dial, a design that dates back to the 1930s, and comprises Roman numerals on top, and Arabic ones below.

Shop Now Learn More

Design highlights, which are historically accurate, include a 3mm domed crystal, patinated hands for ruggedness, a unidirectional bezel, and an overall deco look.

The bright orange hour hand is definitely inspired by the Rolex Explorer II, but the combination of best practices in design (Omega-inspired second hand, bezel reminiscent of Blancpain) keeps the watch from being a derivative carbon copy–it’s what Undone does best.

The Basecamp Cali Green has a display case back, is 100m water resistant, and is powered by the Seiko NH35 automatic movement AKA Seiko’s workhorse movement!

I recommend getting this watch with a perlon strap. This nylon material is made into loops that lock together into long chains. It’s flexible and strong and is also a throwback to the style’s military origin.

This is a great summer look. Every core watch collection needs a piece that leads with a tool aesthetic. The Basecamp Cali Green achieves that, but with a fun vintage flair.

DETAILS of the Undone Basecamp:

MovementAutomatic
DisplayAnalog
Case Diameter40mm
Band Material TypePerlon
Band Width20mm

What if you could only pick THREE watches?

Is $5,000 a bit more than you’d like to spend? Do you want a collection with less moving parts?

Pulling from our five watches, here are the only three watches you need, and why:

  • The Undone Basecamp Cali Green. Go a completely different direction than the Movado to add variety, and also fulfill the tool watch requirement with this throwback.

Do you prefer the Seamaster’s automatic movement, or the Formula 1’s chronograph style? Do you love car racing? Maybe you’re a die-hard James Bond fan?

Either of the two will round out the collection as an upscale but everyday piece that can go from the football field, to the office, to a fancy evening out. It’s the when-in-doubt watch.

What do you think of our ideal 5 watch collection for under $5,000?

When putting together a core watch collection, you must lead with sport watches. By anchoring our 5 watches with two very different sport watches, we were able to have fun with the other scenarios.

I hope you liked our choices. I also hope this roundup showed you that starting a watch collection on a budget is not only doable but super enjoyable!

Was that helpful?

If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter. You can also find join other readers on Effortless Gent’s Facebook page, or DM me on Instagram!