By Matthew Cule, founder of CuleM Watches.
There are so many great watches on the market today – ranging from the big-name heritage brands to the smaller independents. So, what top six watches should every collector have in their collection?
Of course, it will depend on why you are collecting, what sort of life you lead, and how you intend to wear and use your watches. For example, for me personally, I would want to have a few dress watches preferably with a date, GMT and world timer functionality, plus a couple of sports-diving watches.
All the watches I have chosen below are Swiss made, automatic watches. This was not intentional – it’s just they do some fabulous watches. That said, there are some great Japanese and German made brands on the market too.
My list of the top six watches every collector should have in their Swiss made watch collection is ordered from the lowest to highest price.
CuleM Portal GMT
The perfect 21st century Swiss-made travel watch with date and dual time functionality. For example, CuleM’s Portal GMT comes in five variations in a 40mm stainless steel or polished black PVD. The blue, black or silver-grey sunray dial showcases a unique and contemporary world map in three dimensions. On the back of the watch, an open caseback exhibits the self-winding movement and an engraving of 24 destinations displaying the correct world time zones – so you’ll always know what time it is, wherever you are. Every watch comes with two elegant Italian leather straps, or a stainless steel mesh bracelet and one leather strap – all with quick change pins.
Little details that I love – the red tip of the Welsh dragon’s tail on the 24hour GMT hand.
Doxa Sub 300T
There’s a retro, industrial look to this cool tool watch with six different colour dials on a stainless steel bead of rice bracelet – this is the ultimate diving watch. Doxa has been in the Swiss watchmaking business for a long time but are now making a bigger splash than ever before. The bold orange coloured dial with date is a classic and the new colours look great, but I would still opt for the orange. Its utilitarian appearance is strong and makes me want to go on an adventure (as I don’t dive). The Sub 300T has a 42.5mm case and is waterproof to an incredible depth of 1,200 metres. Already you can see the collection building with just two distinct and awesome watches.
Little detail that I love – the fish symbol on the crown.
Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone 39
This is a bit of a wild card and a step up in price from the last two watches. There is so much going on in this world timer watch with its bright colours and place names, abbreviated like airports around the world to three letters, showing the time simultaneously in 24 destinations. Louis Vuitton is synonymous with fine luggage and high-end fashion, but they also make great looking watches that stand the rigor of time. This watch has a round 39mm stainless case and comes with a grey alligator strap. Being Welsh and Australian, my only criticism is that the world time is classical and therefore wrong in Sydney. If you want a bold looking watch for your collection, look no further than this statement piece.
Little details that I love – the brightly coloured areas on the dial are reminiscent of maritime flags.
Cartier Santos De Cartier
Like anything Cartier, this timepiece is more like an exquisite piece of jewellery than a watch. The crisp white dial with date is housed in a 39mm square shaped stainless case with exposed screw designs that continue onto the stunning metal bracelet. The bracelet is interchangeable and comes with a second calfskin strap. The purpose of the leather strap is to give a more casual look to this classic watch. And casual it is not, in my opinion. This is an elegant watch that is simply dressed up all the time.
Little details that I love – the three blue steel, sword-shaped hands.
Rolex Submariner Date
Every collection needs a Rolex – for a moment in time or a lifetime – just to know what the phenomenon is all about. Rolex watches are amazing even if they seem to be more of a trophy timepiece these days. 30 years ago, when I was a boy, this was my favourite watch and I did not know anything about Rolex (unlike today when we all know the brand). The 40mm Rolex Submariner date with Oystersteel bracelet is by far my favourite and is a highly functional diving watch to 300 metres. It’s also the original watch of James Bond with a black dial and outer rotating bezel. If you aspire to have a Rolex for the right reasons and not just hype, look no further and you will look as dapper as 007.
Little details that I love – the Rolex crown above the logo on the dial and visible on the side.
Patek Philippe World Time 5230G-014
At the top and most refined end of watchmaking, there is no watch more perfect (almost anyway) and horologically fascinating than the Patek World Time 5230G with a grey hand guilloched dial in the centre, surrounded by the time in 24 destinations around the world displayed simultaneously. Louis Cottier invented this fine mechanism in the 1930s, which was an incredible achievement in watchmaking, eliminating the need to calculate time differences.
However, times have changed, and as I mentioned earlier, the time in Sydney is wrong. This is not the fault of Cottier and I am sure he would like to have this corrected on the dial showing Sydney at GMT+11. This watch has a 38mm 18ct white gold case and comes with a black alligator strap. On the back of the watch, the fine 240HU is perfectly displayed and finished beautifully. This is a superb watch and you may also want to consider an earlier model like the stunning 5130P on the secondary market.
Little details that I love – the grey guilloche dial in the centre on 5230G-014, yet I prefer the blue sunburst guilloche dial on the 5130P.