Welcome to the fourth edition of our Watch Appreciation Series, where we share the timepieces that not only look nice on the wrist but will also hold their value into the future.
This time around, we’re looking at watches in the US$2,000-$5,000 territory, so we’re certainly hitting the big leagues. These are watches to buy for generations to come, whether you’re buying to mark a special occasion or just adding to the collection.
Once again, we’ve enlisted the help of Zayyar Win Thein, proprietor of Wynn and Thayne, to select the cream of the crop at this price point. If you’re looking to buy a quality vintage timepiece, Zayyar is your man and can help you select a watch from his wonderful range, or even go hunting for a specific piece.
At this price point, you’re starting to look at the flagship models of brands like Tudor, Omega, and Cartier, and Zayyar’s picks will help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
Tank Must de Cartier
The Cartier Tank has been the watch of the past few years, gracing the wrists of everyone from Kanye West to Sarah Jessica Parker, and its historical fans included Muhammad Ali and Princess Diana - an esteemed company.
The Tank gets its name and rectangular shape from Renault tanks in World War 1, which Louis Cartier saw and took as inspiration for a distinctive style of dress watch. This is a watch that will add elegance to a black-tie look, or a nonchalant luxury to a black tee and denim. Billed as the relatively more affordable member of the Tank family, the Must can be found with a quartz (battery-powered) or manual-wind movement and a range of metal finishes.
A Tank Must in good condition can be found for around US$2,000, and they’re slowly ticking up in value as more and more people want to jump on the Tank-wagon.
Universal Geneve Polerouter
The Polerouter Panda Chronograph is so-named for its white and black chronograph display and was designed by Gerald Genta, who is also responsible for iconic timepieces like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, both firm favourites of billionaires and professional athletes alike.
The Polerouter was designed for Scandinavian Airlines Systems pilots for their new “polar route” in the 1950s and needed to be unaffected by the magnetic north pole. The Polerouter style expanded to a range of options, including the Panda, and you can find it in different finishes, with or without a day display.
Universal Geneve is now a defunct brand, so they won’t be making any more of these - they’ll continue heading upward in value as long as you keep it in good knick. Just be sure to buy one without any replacement parts if you’re planning it as an investment.
Omega Constellation Pie Pan
First introduced in 1952, the Constellation is one of Omega’s flagship watches. The name Constellation comes from the design on the backplate, an observatory with 8 stars above it.
The “Pie Pan” nickname comes from the distinctive concave dial on early models, which gives what is otherwise a relatively minimal watch a fascinating appearance on a second look. This is a watch that you could wear with any outfit, that comes with a detail that real heads will know right away.
Pie pan dials are the most sought-after for Omega collectors, and good condition examples continue to increase in value.
Tudor Black Bay 58 (Navy or Black)
While we still aren’t quite hitting Rolex territory at this price bracket, its sister brand Tudor has a beautiful entry that you can pick up at a lower price point than a similar-style Rollie.
The Black Bay is a diver watch that harkens back to old Tudor Submariners. At 39mm, it’s perfectly sized for a diver’s watch, and it’s incredibly wearable. You can pick up one of these at below its retail price if you know where to look, and it will hold its value for years to come.
We quite like the option with the navy bezel and dial, for something that’s a little bit different than what everyone else is wearing.
Grand Seiko SBGA407
This piece from Grand Seiko is nicknamed the Skyflake, for its fascinating ice blue textured dial. This is a knockout watch on a leather strap, that shows off the best of what Grand Seiko, Seiko’s high-end older sibling, has to offer.
The Spring Drive movement is unlike any other you’ll find - it regulates time using quartz crystals, like other watches, but is powered without a battery, and the second-hand moves smoothly in a way you won’t find anywhere else. Wondered what Jay-Z meant when he said “Rollie that don’t tick-tock?” Wonder no longer with this one.
You can still buy one of these pieces new, and it should hold its value once discontinued - modern Grand Seiko’s are heavily underappreciated.
There you have it - the best watches you’ll find in the US$2,000-$5,000 price bracket. Stay tuned for the next and final instalment of this series very soon, where the moon will be the limit.