In this episode, we’re not hunting for just one watch but rather an entire collection. What’s something every watch collection has to have, and how do you find the timepiece that suits you best?
In this article, I’m going to show you three of my favorite watches: the tough, vintage “Captain Willard” Seiko sports diver, Cartier’s iconic “Jumbo” Tank, and the legendary Benrus Sky Chief Chronograph Valjoux.
Great Watches Under $5,000
The Seiko 6105-8110 “Captain Willard”
There’s a certain romance to vintage diving watches that enthusiasts are perpetually searching for. In a category so thoroughly dominated by vintage Rolex Submariners, Omega Seamaster 300s, and perhaps a little Blancpain action for those with unique tastes, it can feel like the water is a bit too deep for the collector of more modest means. Bring military heritage into the mix with MilSubs, Marine Nationales, or anything with a depth rating and a broad arrow, and you better be prepared to add some zeros to the price. But alas, all hope is not lost! With the , you get not only a tough-as-nails vintage diving watch but also one that actually saw regular military use and has some star power to boot. Martin Sheen famously wore this timepiece in Apocalypse Now. Though these have jumped in price in recent years, the Seiko “Captain Willard” remains a heck of a lot of watch for the money.
Enthusiast’s Corner: Rare and Exceptional Timepieces
Cartier “Jumbo” Tank Louis Automatique
The word “icon” gets thrown around a lot in the watch world. But as bromidic as the term may have become, there are still a few watches for which no other word will suffice. Chief among them is the Cartier Tank, a timepiece that has seen many iterations in its 100+ years. Its same basic form and design language have endured the passage of time, creating a timepiece that has been worn by artists, actors, socialites, and politicians alike. The Tank has seen many different movements in its time, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a more compelling example than what’s ticking inside the “Jumbo” Tank Louis Automatique. This magnificent variant features an automatic movement from none other than Jaeger-LeCoultre, with a delightfully quirky caseback “bubble,” allowing enough room for the movement’s rotor. It is truly a Tank like no other.
Iconic Timepieces: Great Value for the Money
The Benrus Sky Chief Vintage Brown Gilt Dial Chronograph Valjoux 72
A tropical gilt dial; a three-register 1940s-style chronograph; a magnificent, unpolished case; radium lume; and the legendary 72 manually winding chronograph movement. Believe it or not, this is not the description of a seven-figure timepiece poised to shatter auction price records. It’s instead none other than one of the last great wells of vintage watch collecting: the mid-century chronograph. The Benrus Sky Chief is everything a vintage watch enthusiast could possibly want in a classic timepiece, all for less than $5,000. Does that get your heart pumping? I thought it would.