05/31/2024
 5 minutes

The Best for $24,000 in 2024: Tim’s Perfect Watch Collection

By Tim Breining
2-1_4x

The Best for $24,000 in 2024: Tim’s Perfect Watch Collection

Putting together a watch collection for a given budget is something of a national pastime for some of the watch content creators out there, and today it’s my turn to try my hand at it. I’ll try as much as possible to stick with watches you’ll find on Chrono24 and that are still in production or have just been released. I’m known for my love of brands that don’t necessarily dominate the watch industry, so you can expect the odd surprise in my collection. Whether hypothetical or real, I’ll be making my picks in this collection based on the movements and technology of the watches, independent of any current watch hype or potential market performance.

The Everyday Desk Diver: Titoni Seascoper 600 Ref. 83600 S-BE-255

I speak for a lot of readers when I say that diving watches are some of the most versatile timepieces you’ll find for everyday wear. This means you’ll probably find them on more wrists than your classic dress watches. My diver pick for this list has to check off a few important boxes. It’ll need a rotating ceramic bezel that feels good to use, an above-average power reserve, a solid micro-adjustable clasp, and a screw-down crown. It should also feature a display case back that lets you see the caliber at work (yes, I’m fully aware this is considered blasphemy by some in the watch community when it comes to diver’s watches).

This is why my choice is the Titoni Seascoper 600. It fulfills all of these criteria, with its exclusive in-house T10 caliber, and a list price of $2,150. With its elegant clasp with integrated micro-adjustment, helium escape valve, and water resistance of 600 meters (60 bar, 1,968 feet), the Seascoper 600 will leave some of the “professional” diving watches out there in the dust.

Titoni Seascoper 600 Referenz 83600 S-BE-255
Titoni Seascoper 600 ref. 83600 S-BE-255

On paper, this timepiece is an absolute dream in this price category. However, this is somewhat marred by the relatively narrow case back opening, which is somewhat cheesily advertised as a “porthole” and doesn’t really give the T10 caliber the full spotlight it deserves. Some might also find the Seascoper 600’s design a bit generic, and the dial a bit cluttered with too many lines of text and fonts – something all too common in the world of diving watches.

But if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, the Seascoper 600 is an absurdly affordable diver for what you get – and it doesn’t even take up 10% of our fictitious budget.

Why not two dress watches? Grand Seiko SLGH005 and SBGA373

As a long-time fan of Grand Seiko, there’s no doubt that I’ll be allocating a decent chunk of my budget to this Japanese brand that I simply love increasingly more. Since the introduction of the 9SA mechanical caliber, the choice between mechanical and spring drive has become a tough one. With the 9SA5 movement, Grand Seiko not only put themselves on par with their Swiss competitors in terms of amazing looking calibers, but also dared to take a giant technological leap forward. Although “hi-beat” 5-hertz movements may sound like energy hogs, this technology delivers 80 hours of power reserve thanks to its twin barrels and highly efficient, low-friction Dual Impulse Escapement.

Now, these innovations do mean noticeable, albeit understandable, price increases compared to Grand Seiko’s powered by the older automatic caliber 9S65.

Grand Seiko SLGH005
Grand Seiko SLGH005

A big reason for my decision here is first and foremost the caliber 9SA5. Yes, the design of the watch is great, and it’s part of Grand Seiko’s Evolution 9 collection, of which the popular SLGH005, commonly known as the “White Birch”, catches my eye the most.

You’ll find this watch on Chrono24 for around $5,500 – big savings compared to its official list price of $9,100. If you’re purchasing a less-expensive watch from a dealer in Japan, be sure to calculate additional shipping and customs fees, depending on where you are in the world.

Since I can’t resist a Grand Seiko Spring Drive, I’m going with my beloved SBGA373, which features the iconic 44GS case with its crisp contours, along with the previous generation 9R65 Spring Drive movement. You can get your hands on a new model on Chrono24 for around $3,200. Again, depending on where you are in the world, be sure to factor in additional shipping and customs fees for any listings from Japan you may come across.

Grand Seiko SBGA 373
Grand Seiko SBGA373

Grand Seiko takes up around $9,000 of our budget.

Simply Fantastic: Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Q8018420

Introduced by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2015, the Geophysic collection was discontinued just four years later, a ridiculously short time considering the reliability these watches embody. You may have read in my previous articles that I was a big fan of these watches from day one. This clean, unostentatious model houses the caliber 770 and its aerodynamically optimized anchor-shaped Gyrolab balance wheel, which powers the unconventional jumping seconds complication that gives the watch its name.

Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Q8018420
Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Q8018420

Shortly after the premature discontinuation of this critically acclaimed watch (which was nevertheless generally dismissed by the watch community), enthusiasts began to discuss whether this might indeed be a future collector’s item, with rising prices to match. It doesn’t look that way at the moment, though, which means you can find stainless steel models of the Geophysic True Second in very good condition on Chrono24 for around $6,000, roughly 60% of the list price upon its release in 2015. That’s one heck of a deal for this very underrated watch.

Go With the Complicated Chronograph: Hanhart 417 ES Flyback Reverse Panda 42 mm

When you look at the amount of affordable mechanical chronographs out there, it’s hard to find one that doesn’t have a catch. What I’m looking for is a chronograph that doesn’t house a run-of-the-mill movement like an unmodified Valjoux 7750, 7753, Sellita SW510, or similar caliber. I’m also not looking for a modular chronograph like those based on the ETA caliber 2894.

Hanhart 417 ES Flyback Reverse Panda 42 mm
Hanhart 417 ES Flyback Reverse Panda 42 mm

It shouldn’t be a simple chronograph either; it should have a flyback or rattrapante complication. I’d also love to have a caliber with a column wheel and a display case back so I can see it in action.

Once I’ve got all these boxes ticked, the overall design of the watch should be something I enjoy, which is how I came to pick the 42-mm Hanhart 417 ES Flyback. Powered by the rare Sellita AMT 5100 M, this model (in contrast to the Sellita SW 510 M) has a flyback feature, making its price of around $2,650 for an unworn model on Chrono24 more than fair.

Oris Calibre 400, Beautifully Packaged: Oris ProPilot X Laser

We’ve got just over $4,500 left. There’s a watch brand and innovation in this price range that I’d love to have in this collection: the Oris Calibre 400 with its 120 hours of power reserve and 10-year warranty. We’re getting down to our final shopping buck here, but the good news is that the ProPilot X with its titanium case and bracelet are covered, and I really want the “Laser” model with its amazing dial, achieved using precisely this technology.

Oris ProPilot X Laser
Oris ProPilot X Laser

My fictional collection has exhausted its budget perfectly with these six watches (if I do say so myself). Sure, there’s no real “icon” among my picks; if I ever crave a certain look, I’ll go for a less expensive timepiece without any especially head-turning technology, or perhaps even an homage. What matters most to me is the variety of fascinating calibers you’ll find in these great-looking watches.


About the Author

Tim Breining

My interest in watches first emerged in 2014 while I was studying engineering in Karlsruhe, Germany. My initial curiosity quickly evolved into a full-blown passion. Since …

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