By Alastair Meiklejon, Senior Valuer and Wristwatch Specialist
£5,000 – it seems like a lot of money to be spending on a watch doesn’t it? A piece of mechanical jewellery that serves pretty much no other purpose than to look good, and make the owner proud to be wearing it… however, in the world of horological collections £5,000 is almost a starting point for many top tier watches.
The watches that I have included today represent the most popular category in the market – the gentleman’s stainless steel sports watch. If you have read my articles on the Rolex Submariner, you will be aware that even trying to look at one of these brand new is somewhat akin to trying to buy toilet roll in 2020, and unless you have the contacts, don’t even think about owning one until you have been on the waiting list for years…
We will however start with a couple of notable mentions – firstly the Ulysse Nardin Diver 8163. It’s a brilliant, strong move from a company that has always had a little bit of an identity crisis – from supplying the majority of the worlds naval forces to releasing slightly risqué watches with different images from the Kama Sutra, Ulysse Nardin have always been a choice for those who wanted something a bit different and this 42mm diver is about as accessible as they will ever get, it’s a great looking watch with a bold dial and bezel, and at £5,600 (I know I am cheating a little) I think it’s a great alternative to a modern Submariner.
Second, is the Grand Seiko Sport Automatic Spring Drive GMT which also comes in at around £5,500. This is a slightly bizarre choice as Grand Seiko occupy the position as the ‘Lexus’ of the watch world – everyone knows they probably make the best product, will work brilliantly well forever and when they need servicing, it will be at a moderate cost. So why aren’t they flying off the shelves? Because of that badge unfortunately. It’s a great shame, but wearing a £5,000 watch, with the same heritage as the digital timepiece I wore to school just doesn’t create the same desire as some of the more luxury brands we all know and love.
So – what would I buy with £5,000?
There is only one option, not only do I think that this is the best watch for the money, I also think that to a certain degree, you would be hard pushed to find a better time piece in many greater price brackets.
The Omega Seamaster – it is frankly, brilliant.
Coming in at £4,450 it’s also about a grand cheaper than my other alternatives, but never looks like a cheap watch. Omega are without doubt one of the power houses of Swiss watch design, Rolex are simply young upstarts when it comes to heritage (in fact Hans Wilsdorf launched Rolex as a cheaper alternative to Omega) and Omega can claim many of the worlds most notable horological moments including the first watch on the moon. Currently though, most people will associate the brand with James Bond, and that’s ok – what better ambassador than a secret agent whom can jump
out of planes, trains and blow stuff up – all with the aid of his timepiece.
The Seamaster, in my opinion is all the watch you would ever need in this category, it’s a proper divers watch with a stunning dial, a comfortable bracelet, 300m water resistance, and a great brand heritage. There are a multitude of colours to buy them in and you can literally walk into a shop and buy one, without having to sell your soul or pay a massive premium to own one.
A great watch, at a great price point.