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Throwback Sundays: Six recommendations for an entry level collector

by Peter Chong on July 19, 2020

This week, we explore recommendations for the entry level collector.

We make the distinction of an entry level collector. First this is someone looking to start out a “career” in collecting watches, and not someone looking to buy a one off entry level watch. Here we go, in order of increasing prices.

Swatch 007 Series

We begin quick an easy with Swatch, a watch brand probably already well known to our freshie. Our pick could have been a nice and easy going model like the Big Bold Jellyfish, but that would have been too easy, so we step up a level and go for the 007 Series, where Swatch released a total of 7 watches for this latest Bond movie. The first six are modeled after six Bond movies, and the special no 7, which is our pick, is the watch to be worn by Q in the upcoming (delayed due to COVID-19) movie “No Time to Die” – the Swatch Irony Q Watch (S$315), though any of the other 6 (S$135 or S$145) would have also been great choices.

The design is made by Costume Designer for the movie, Suttirat Anne Larlarb. Based on the stainless steel SKIN Irony. The intent is to reflect Q’s timeless mix of tradition and futuristic innovation, featuring a tartan plaid brown leather strap (the character often wears tartan plaid shirts), sharp red edges and a sun-brushed dial showing off the quartz movement.

Casio G-Shock “G-Steel”

Casio needs no introduction to the novice collector. He probably already have one or two. And if he has grown up in Singapore, probably a plastic Casio which he used for military service which cost his parents a grand sum of S$25. So our pick has to be something a bit more special, to let him stand out among his plebian, non-watch friends. We choose the G-Shock G-STEEL S300L-1A/GST-S330L-1A. Available as a black ion-plated version for S$409 and in SS for only S$389, this is as good a place as any.

This is a G-Shock and, that alone is enough for many. The watch is robust, and feels very comfortable and easy on the wrist. Its functions (or modes) may however take a little while for a new user to learn, which is part of the fun part in collecting.

Citizen Promaster NY011 Fugu

Then comes one of our Chief Editor’s favourites among entry level diving watches – the Citizen Fugu. For 2020, the Asia Limited Edition series is slightly enlarged the case to 44mm. Pricing remains at a very modest range from S$556 to S$631. Our pick is the NY0118-11A, in white dial, black bezel. This introduces a mechanical movement to our freshie, and also the concept of a tool and dive watch. The Fugu is capable of 200m water resistance, and built very robustly.

The Fugu gets the aesthetics right, with Citizen taking care to ensure that finishing of the case, dial, hands, and the straps/bracelet are excellent. From this high level of aesthetic refinement to the build quality, the Fugu range is excellent. The movement is not beautifully finished, but is assembled by robots to ensure high quality and consistency, and sufficient for day to day use.

Luminox Navy Seal Chronograph 3581 EY

Moving one click up, we recommend the Luminox NAVY Seal series. Our pick is the Chronograph 3581 EY, in all black with red accents. At S$845.30, it is by no means expensive, but a price class above our first 3 recommendations. But what you get is the Luminox bright lume performance in the dark, and a decidedly very rugged, and military aesthetic.

This is a watch which will atract many admiring glances from the general public each time one straps it on the wrist. It is good-looking and collectible as it is frequently on backorder.

Seiko Prospex PADI SRPE27K1

And with the Fugu recommended, we need to complement with the nearly equivalent Seiko Prospex Monster. This is the latest addition to the popular ‘Monster’ line, now with an attractive metallic blue bezel. Retailing at about € 600 (about S$953), the pricing is a level up in this recommendation set, but still rather modest and affordable.

And as a step up from the Fugu in terms of pricing, it offers a level up as well with better finishing and a steel bracelet which is tough as well as comfortable. It also introduces our novice to the cult world of collecting. This crept into our list with the Fugu, but the Seiko Monster series, as well as the Turtle, Sumo and other affectionate names that collectors give to the watches becomes a thing.

Tissot Heritage Antimagnétique

And our final, but by no means the least, we step up the price ladder once more, and arrive at Tissot. At S$1510, this is the most expensive watch in this list. And not without reason.

The Heritage Antimagnétique takes the concept of the tool watch one step by offering the new collector a good start into the joys of the world of the handwound movement. The Heritage Antimagnétique features the ETA ébauche 6498. Movement finishing is lightly emphasized at this price level, with a rather typical basic luxury decorations such as the Côtes de Genève and blued screws

The overall aesthetic is very handsome, very classical. Beautiful proportions, and excellent legibility are key propositions in this watch. Although not technologically advanced, the piece was not designed to be a serious “tool” watch in the first place, but rather one that reminds us of Tissot’s contributions to horology. Limited to 3,333 pieces and given the current popularity of vintages among collectors, we reckon that Tissot have hit a home-run.

Note: Tissot confirmed that the watch is not anti-magnetic but just a homage. The production piece will not feature the “Antimagnetique” signature on its dial.

Concluding thoughts

And here we are. And some thought we could not do it, as this site is perhaps more famously known for our penchant for very high end watches. Just search for “tourbillon” and see how many results turn up. But we do try and also cater to the entry level, and to the beginners. All bar one in this list is below S$1000, and even if we consider the most expensive, it is still striking distance of a US$1000 budget. Tell us what we missed, and which other entry level collectors watch would you recommend.

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