I think that the Cartier Tank Solo would be a great piece in that price range.
If I am not mistaken, the retail on that is ~$3,500, and I do not doubt you could swing around $3,000 at the right AD.
Here is a good piece on it:
If you want "Cartier" styling, and do not want to pay the big bucks for the Tank LC, I think it is a great choice. Sure, the date is an unfortunate addition. But I have seen it in the metal and it is actually a nicely finished piece for the price range. And although I would prefer a strap, I see no reason why one would not get the bracelet, and switch it to a belly-scale gator strap. Having a bracelet can never hurt, even though I am not much of a bracelet guy myself.
$3,000 is an awkward price range, but I think that this is a good option. The only other watch in this range I would consider strongly is the Speedy.