After reading the OP my advice is to browse wus, tz etc for at least a few months before taking the plunge. Your tastes will develop quickly.
Advice on a new watch - Page 2
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Definitely agree with taking your time and browsing for a bit.
It should be something you LUV, and at that price it's definitely a bonus if you purchase it wisely and buy something that retains a good portion of what you spent to get it.
I assume you're not too enamored by any specific watch movement, and in that case, i think any respectable movement will do.
At that price range, tbh, I would look for 2nd hand watches as they give you a much better value and many more choices.
You could look at Glaschutte pano series, JLC, Breguet, Gramd Seiko.
If you love the sweeping hands, i would highly recommend you check out the Grand Seiko spring drive. They seconds hand is amazing as they move MUCH smoother than most movements thanks to their spring drive technology.
If you insist on an automatic, then you have only one really excellent option in a chronograph under 8k- the Zenith El Primero. If you're willing to forego the automatic movement in favor of a manual caliber, the speedy pro is always going to be a tough contender. Unless you're going to grab a vintage Navitimer, Breitling isn't worth your time IMO.
I do have to say that if I were you, I'd snap up an older Patek Calatrava if I had 8k to throw at a watch! Or a JLC Gentilhomme... or a Reverso... or any of the VC models that dip there... Droooool.
At the end of the day, it's pretty hard to spend 8k on a watch and get something you're disappointed with, but it's certainly possible to get the most possible awesome for your money.
EDIT: Another good automatic chrono (though not quite at the ZEP's level IMO) would be the IWC Pilot, which would fit the bill and budget.
Edited by SomethingsFishy - 7/23/13 at 9:05pm