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CONTEST: Best 5 dress watches under $5000.

Poll Results: Who has the best list of dress watches under $5K

Poll expired: Jun 13, 2014  
  • 26% (12)
  • 39% (18)
  • 19% (9)
  • 15% (7)
    Fred G. Unn (top 4 and 1 slightly over, ahem...)
46 Total Votes  
post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 

Time to vote.  See the poll.


So, it's contest time again.  The winner gets the "TWAT Master" title, and the rules are simple


All the watches should be "dress" watches.  Interpret that as you will, and your fellow members will judge you.  I'm going to make a separate thread for sports watches, so don't you worry.


Please make sure that your list contains at 5 watches, numbered, and please be sure that all watches have MSRPs no greather than $5K.  Please describe, for each watch, in 25-50 words, why the entry should be included in a list of 5 best watches under $5K.


We'll let this run until the end of next week, and then put the lists up for a vote.  





post #2 of 74
Curious, Fok, are you doing to do another one after this? With something like "best for under $10k?" I'd be really curious to read people's suggestions.
post #3 of 74
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

Curious, Fok, are you doing to do another one after this? With something like "best for under $10k?" I'd be really curious to read people's suggestions.

Yes, I will, though that one will be for the forum as a whole, and not for me.  I'm afraid that a $10K watch is a little rich for my blood, although in my dreams, I am often making it rain down platinum banded Panerais.

post #4 of 74

OK, I'll play! But on condition that if I win, I get the title "Pernicious Enabler" that I've always wanted and deserved!


Anyway, I'm glad you did this: I'm rather a  parvenu when it comes to TWAT, as my interest is really rather recent, and I have no "serious" luxury watches - a vintage Omega being the top of my meagre tree.  But for that reason, I have a special interest in this price range: as a fellow mortal, it's one in which I can reasonably aspire.


So, here goes.  Under $5k list is a difficult area, ruling out many of TWAT's more accessible staples - JLC MUT Moon or Reverso, for example.  But the constraint brings in some interesting ones I think.  What I've tried to do is find five that are inherently interesting and seem like good value, while at the same time are sufficiently distinct and different that if you were able, you might reasonably like to have all of them in your collection side by side.  


In no particular order:





Chronoswiss Regulateur Automatic


An interesting modern brand with original designs.  The "regulateur" is not a configuration you see on every wrist, and this has a perfect modern dress watch size at 38mm, combined with a retro style and just enough visual interest to be distinctive, while still subtle enough for true dress watch status.  Comfortably under $5k, rave reviews and not at all run of the mill.





RGM 222 (921 Variant)


Roland G Murphy makes some lovely watches in my opinion.  This one is so clean and simple while not looking at all derivative.  I love the onion crown and the blued feuille hands.  At $4500 it's well within budget for the entry level 921 version (the movement less decorated), and has the distinction of being that great rarity - an America in-house movement!





Nomos Zurich Blaugold


I have a bit of a thing for the German watches for some reason, and there were several contenders, but again I've pulled this out for its originality.  Nomos are renowned for their Bauhaus-inspired simple designs, and this is no exception.  But it's blue.  Bluer than the bluest blue, in a way that just has to be seen in person.  It's a big dress watch - 40mm if I recall, and with long lugs that will make it feel big.  But an in-house movement, a strong yet super-clean design, and $4k price tag make it feel like a lot of goodness for the money.  It's towards the top end of the Nomos price range, but I think it's a lot of watch.  The black cordovan strap is not something you see often, either.






Cartier Tank Solo XL


Probably the most brilliant thing about this is that it's about $3k and yet it's a Cartier.  I'd take the strap for the dress watch myself, and even then it's pretty big and bold.  But in a good way.  I don't think this one needs much further commentary - proper watchmaker, serious designer brand cred if that's your thing, and versatile enough for everything from jeans to evening dress I'd say.  What more could you want, and the cheapest of the bunch too?







Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm, Steel Sunray Dial


And talking of brand cred, if that's your thing, a $5k Rolex.  There is a school of thought, with which I sympathise, that all Rolexes are sports watches.  The dress watches are called Cellini.  But, assuming a strap on the previous model, I think there's room for a dress watch on a bracelet, and apart from that feature, there is nothing at all un-dressy about this watch.  On the contrary, 99% of Rolexes are worn as dress watches at least some of the time, and as the most recognisable luxury watch brand, I think it had to be in here somewhere.  I've always liked the simple no-date Oyster, and this new "sunray dial" version just launched is perfect.  The one in all the PR pics is "grape" coloured, but this "steel sunray" finish is so subtle while unusual, that it's a clear winner for me.  Old-fashioned 36mm size, muted colour, those simple stick markers and the masculine but clean oyster bracelet.  Very discreet and classy.  And it's a Rolex.



post #5 of 74

My list in no particular order. None of these images are mine. In my mind Nomos dominates this price point.


1. Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase
    Steel Retail: $3,695

    Gold Plated Retail: $3,995

Perhaps a little big at 42mm, this watch offers a classic looking moonphase with nicely angled lugs which help make it wear a bit smaller. It also offers an in-house movement. Frederique Constant developed modular movements to help keep their cost down and make in-house movements more accessible. I’m not a huge fan of the onion crown, but I also can’t argue with the value presented here. The movement is nicely finished for the price and is a great option as a “poor man’s JLC MUT Moon”.



2. Nomos Glashutte Orion

    35mm Retail: $2,360

    38mm grau Retail: $2,620

This is probably my favorite Nomos watch on the wrist because it’s the only one where the lugs truly look right on me. With the announcement at Basel that they will now be using a true in-house escapement, and incorporating it in the older models, and I’m not sure it gets better for their price range (and I’m pretty sure they were already at level before the new escapement was announced). The shell cordovan straps that come with each watch are also quite a nice touch.Some people will complain that the alpha movement in the Orion, despite being an in-house manufacture, is based on the Peseux 7001. I prefer the 35mm because of the location of the small seconds; it looks a bit off on the 38mm. I own the 35mm in rose (my wife’s daily wearer which I’ll steal for formal occasions), and find it absolutely stunning and a complete steal for the final price I paid. The pictures below are of the 38mm model.



3. Cartier Tank Solo XL

    Retail: $3,700

This is a no brainer. It’s a classic, iconic design dating back to 1917. The only knock on it would be the ETA movement, but the classic design, history, and price should more than make up for it.



4. Longines Conquest Heritage 1954-2014

    Steel Retail: $1,850

    Gold Retail: $5,500

Okay, so the gold is a bit over budget, and even though it would be my clear choice here, the steel version is still pretty cool. It’s a new watch announced at Basel this year, and it looks to be very well executed. It certainly backs up its “Heritage” name with its size (35mm) and dial design (yum, pie pan). I just really like seeing a tribute style (to it's own original version in 1954) watch get it right for once. It's the only watch on my list I have not tried, but it's something that is on my radar. I think I'd still prefer a vintage pie pan Constellation from Omega, but if I couldn't find one, this would take it's place and I doubt I'd ever look back.




5. Nomos Glashutte Zurich

    Retail: $4,200-$4,770

Everything I said above about Nomos still applies here, except you have no knocks on the movement in this watch. This would be for the guys with bigger wrists, or the guys who prefer slightly larger watches (it's still only 39.7mm, but wears large). It uses their Epsilon movement, which is their automatic caliber. Like every other movement, it is beautifully finished. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this one except that it does not quite fit my wrist unfortunately; which ultimately kept me from purchasing the world timer version of this line earlier in the year. The pictures below are of the $4,770 variant.

Edited by DLJr - 5/21/14 at 1:45pm
post #6 of 74

@mimo nice list. If the Logines release didn't come out (and didn't pull at my vintage heart strings), the Chronoswiss Regulator would have been on my list. I really enjoy that watch.

post #7 of 74

I was also going to put in the Orion, but I figured that if I only did one per maker, it would have to be the one closer to the target price.  Can't fault your logic though: also, the grey one looks awesome in person, as ever the online renditions don't do it justice.  But the standard, possibly in 38, proportions or not, would definitely be my pick.  


I've seen that FC btw, and it doesn't wear as big as it sounds.  The version I saw was with a white dial, but yours is sexier.

post #8 of 74
Subbed for ideas for my next purchase. Though I'm lusting for a JLC MUT.
post #9 of 74
Originally Posted by ellsbebc View Post

Subbed for ideas for my next purchase. Though I'm lusting for a JLC MUT.

If that's what you really want, just save for it. That is a mantra over in the TWAT thread. But, if you don't think you'll ever save for it, I highly recommend checking out the FC above. Nice looking watch, excellent value.

post #10 of 74

Cheers to all my TWAT intelligentsia brethren on this thread.  :cheers:


Great advice from all!!

post #11 of 74
Originally Posted by DLJr View Post

If that's what you really want, just save for it. That is a mantra over in the TWAT thread. But, if you don't think you'll ever save for it, I highly recommend checking out the FC above. Nice looking watch, excellent value.

Most certainly. I'm a small timer compared to most and just kopped a speedy pro. Nothing will ever fill that void for a MUT moon but lurking here will open my eyes to styles and brands I may not be familiar with. No reason to deprive myself of other beauties along the journey to another grail. Just sell them off at time for the JLC.
post #12 of 74

Buying a watch with the express intention of trading it in later, strikes me as bad business.  But then I am the smallest of small-timers.

post #13 of 74
Originally Posted by mimo View Post

Buying a watch with the express intention of trading it in later, strikes me as bad business.  But then I am the smallest of small-timers.

Full intention would be to keep all the time pieces. If the only way to obtain a grail was to purge a couple lesser pieces that haven't stolen my heart, I may be willing to make the swap. My original post probably did not read that way...
post #14 of 74
My humble contribution to what should prove a very educational thread (photos collected from around the web). My goal here was to choose watches that could compete and coexist side-by-side with much more expensive watches in the same collection. Something unique that you would reach for even if you would more expensive watches in your stable. Also, I like something with a bit of whimsy or a pop of color even in the context of a dress watch - hopefully, when you are wearing the watch it brings a smile to your face even during the course of a rough day:

1) Tudor Day Date: although Tudor is crushing it right now with their casual Black Bays and Pelagos, Tudor's Day Date is very smart and for approximately $2K a really great value. Day Dates have always appealed to me and unless you want to drop $20-30K on a Rolex version, this is a nice alternative that I would be happy to wear. The photos on Tudor's site don't do the watch justice. Hopefully, the ones I scrounged up do a better job.

2) Nomos Metro Datum Gangoreserve: probably a bit aggressive color wise for a super conservative work environment, but outside of finance, I think this watch would work well with a suit otherwise. I would be excited to work with somebody who is this thoughtful and fun when choosing their watch. Beautiful dial with classic Bauhaus styling and comes in at $3780 retail. It is also a testament to Nomos' technical skill as this is their first watch to utilize their new Swing System, bringing everything in-house.

3) Cartier Tank Solo Extra Large edition: I have to agree with DLJr above; getting into a manufacture such as Cartier at this price point ($3700) forces its way into any discussion of watches under $5K. A bit ubiquitous if you are a watch nerd and keeping your eye out (at least in major metropolitan cities), this watch is still a classic and I would be lucky to strap on. I like that the classic silvered dial and blue accents would allow you to play off a non-black strap nicely. I think navy croc would like killer on this watch.

4) Frederique Constant Classics Manufacture: I have to admit that I am tough crowd when it comes to new Swiss watch makers trying to break into an established market - I guess I am a sucker for the historical underpinnings of big brands like Cartier, Rolex, Omega, IWC, etc. Or maybe I am just a brand whore. But for a watch that comes in at under $3000, this Classics Manufacture, with an entirely in-house movement, is very appealing. An interesting date complication adds some visual interest and hobnail dial with roman numerals is very evocative of the early 1900s in my mind. This watch would work well in the boardroom and sits really well on the wrist.

And last but not least...

5) Vulcain 50's President Classic Steel: If you are American, a watch with a ton of historical cred as Vulcain has appeared on the wrists of countless presidents. And I love blue dials - Vulcain's blue dial is really attractive and well-priced for approx $3500 retail. Frankly, I would want to step up to the Alarm version because that functionality has always spoken to me in its own anachronistic way, but it pushes us above the 5K limit (at retail - with discounts, that might be a different story). Nonetheless, for a watch with historical and watch nerd cred, lovely finishing and feel, this is a really great option.

Hope my list spurs some bad decisions and we see some of these watches on people's wrists quite soon.
post #15 of 74
Subbed. That's about the budget I looking at so I'm curious how this turns out.
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