The New Collector: Six watch considerations below SGD 5,000

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Is it getting more and more difficult to navigate the straits for the absolute new collector? Some traditional brands are getting beyond the grasp of the SGD 5k wallet. And the marketplace below is full of wannabe watches made up of an amalgam of case, dial, hands and movements hastily put together in China. Here is our first guide to the new collector – six watches to consider at the SGD 5k mark.

The New Collector: Six watch considerations below SGD 5,000

We have done several recommendations for watches within certain price ranges. From price bracket below SGD 10k, to small scale maisons pitching at just about SGD 10k and even a piece on manual winding watches at about SGD 10k. to much more serious considerations at SGD 25k, SGD 60k, SGD 125k and even SGD 250k. We even ran two articles – one on fun and cheerful watches and on moderately priced watches with complications, though these do run the gamut of price ranges. We have also done a piece at the SGD 5k mark in 2019, and even one for the first time collector in 2016 and this article will serve as an update. But also as recent as April this year, we published this recommendation for Six modestly-priced watches from young and emerging watch brands. This article is meant to be read in conjunction with that.

So without ado here is our list. This time, in order if increasing prices.

Orient Mako III Kamasu Dark Green (SGD 429) 

The Mako III is a good, robust, sturdy dive style watch made for the masses. The pricing is highly attractive, and with its handsome good looks, it ticks all the boxes and one is hard pressed to find need more. It wears very well and makes it a great choice for a casual watch. And we think an excellent choice as a daily beater watch ready for the streets.

If you have a bit more to spend, the Orient Star Diver 1964 2nd Edition (SGD 1,739) is a good option as well, though truth be told, we are not sure if its worth more than 3X the asking price of the Mako III. Orient Star is to Orient like Lexus is to Toyota. Both belong to the same house – Epson (yes the people who make the printers) and also Spring Drive for the Seiko Group. The specifications for the Orient Star is tighter, and at a higher finishing level than the base Orient.

Seiko 5 Sports Brian May Limited Edition: SRPE83K1 (SGD 899)

In our detailed review, we said that the Seiko 5 Sports Brian May does everything right. The dial aesthetics look like the Red Special guitar which is the inspiration, with excellent legibility of all the indications. The case is also the standard Seiko 5 Sports – rugged, good looking. And finally the accouterments are intelligently designed – the commemorative coin and the flight case shape of the box being two rather brilliant ideas.

The watch is a limited edition of 9,000 pieces, but is already sold out. Seiko released a second edition of the Brian May Special as a Series 2 watch in Feb 2022. This new series is a limited edition of 12,500 pieces and pitched at an even low price than the first. And though we do not have confirmation, we understand that this too has been sold out. Perhaps a Series 3 is in the works. (this is pure speculation on our part and we say this with ZERO inside knowledge)

Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 (SGD 950)

This is another flavour bomb. Packed with handsome good looks, proposed by a maison with a long and chequered history. And in a hot category of sporty watches with integrated bracelets. Incidentally, we also picked the quartz version of the PRX in the aforementioned list. But our pick here is the automatic winding version known as the PRX Powermatic 80. And for an automatic winding mechanical watch fully made in Switzerland, the asking price of SGD 990 for the two tone and SGD 950 for the steel variant is a strong value proposition.

The PRX Powermatic 80 is very handsome in its aesthetics. The textured dial goes off well with the appliqué indices. We particularly liked the two tone version shown here as well as the one with the blue dial. At 40mm, the watch is well-sized and it fits snuggly on the wrist.

As an alternative, the PRX is available as an automatic chronograph at SGD 2,550, which is still lower than our next pick. Our hands-on loaner is on the way, and we will be discussing the watch in detail as soon as we have had our week or so to test it out.

Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta (SGD 2,830)

The range of Louis Erard watches ever since the arrival of one Manuel Emch to the maison has been expanding ever so rapidly. We have covered almost all the new releases from the earliest collaboration with Alain Silberstein. Watch these pages for another new release scheduled for late September 2022. And from this huge list of watches, our pick is the Petite Seconde Terracotta.

But in reality, any of the recent releases from Louis Erard would fit the bill. They are excellently made, with interesting dials which are a result of imaginative collaborations. Our second pick would be the Excellence Email Grand Feu II (at CHF 3,900 / SGD 5,660 blows the budget slightly) but it is placed second only because it is a bit higher priced than the Terracotta. The pays back is of course, the grand feu enamel dial, which may cost upwards of SGD 5k just for the dial.

Citizen Series 8 830 (SGD 2,782)

The new Citizen Series 8 collection is well conceived, superbly built to very high quality standards. Our gut feel is that this mechanical series by Citizen is set to change the game at this pricing level. But by our reckoning, as this pricing level is new to Citizen, which is known for truly budget watches, success is within the grasp of Citizen only if it can get its marketing message right and promote the series properly. As it stands, our observation is that this series is still somewhat of an industry secret. The mainstream watch collectors, which it should be targetted at, is still largely unaware of its strong value proposition. This is worrying.

In our view, this is an exceptional watch, the attention to detail and the superb final finishing lavished the case, dial, bracelet is excellent. Even without considering its modest pricing, we think its a great buy. The dial itself is an aesthetic marvel, and perhaps on its own is already worth the price of entry! At 40mm case diameter and a height of 11.7mm, it sits on a nice sweet spot, and is very comfortable on the wrist.

The other piece which warrants a consideration is the model 870 with a dial which is more discreet and less attention calling. Call it more a more sedate styling.

Breitling Endurance Pro (SGD 4,290)

The Endurance Pro by Breitling is a new collection released in 2020, designed for the needs of the athlete. Thus the design parameters are ruggedness and reliability combined with lightweight in a watch with a high performance chronograph. The movement is quartz, but is the high precision version which Breitling calls Super Quartz. The movement is a COSC certified and thermo-compensated, which works well in this watch, providing fuss free service.

The Breitling Endurance Pro provides an interesting entry point to the Breitling universe. The watch has a rather fun element, with the gorgeous colour accents adding to the sporty intent. Visually, this is precisely is on point.

Concluding thoughts

There you have it. Our picks for a newbie to consider to start their collection. From the rather inexpensive price level of about SGD 500 to just a tad above SGD 5k. What would you have chosen?

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the enjoyable article, Peter. They are all good choices, but I think I’d probably go with the Louis Erard (but even that would be a tough choice. The Citizen is very attractive).

    If I were to suggest additions to the list, perhaps the Sinn U50 and the Kurono Classic series?

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