04/30/2024
 5 minutes

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

By Aaron Voyles
Rolex-Oyster-Perpetual-124300-2-1

The best watches for $24,000: Follow Chrono24 and each of our contributing editors on a journey through their perfect watch collections. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite on the list!

Watch collecting is an emotive hobby. We often latch onto romantic ideas of certain watches, and as a result, watch collections become an amalgamation of feelings, memories, and so forth. As such, collections are rarely constructed with a collective budget in mind, as the majority of us will assign a budget to a certain watch rather than seeking to spread an amount of money across several pieces.

Nonetheless, it can still be an exciting thought experiment to assemble a theoretical watch collection within the confines of a singular budget, to pack as much horology into a collection as possible without getting completely lost in the upper end of the market. After all, a realistic budget forces you to be creative. It would be easy to name a list of exceptional vintage examples and modern rarities, but it’s not as easy to be pragmatic and realistic. Thus, we have decided to assemble a collection with a budget of $24,000, ensuring plenty of financial runway, but not enough to make this an easy task. So, without further ado, let me jump into my dream $24,000 watch collection for 2024.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight – $3,200

Throughout the curation of this collection, I asked myself what purpose I have for the watches that I own, or at least “own” in this scenario. As someone who likes to dress casually all the time, my first need for any watch is that it can be worn to just about any event or with any outfit and not feel out of place. The first watch to spring to mind that fulfills that need is the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight in blue. A vintage-inspired dive watch on a stainless steel bracelet, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is the quintessential Go-Anywhere-Do-Anything timepiece.

Aaron's Go-Anywhere-Do-Anything timepiece: the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight.
Aaron’s Go-Anywhere-Do-Anything timepiece: the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Whether paired with jeans and a T-shirt, a suit and tie, or a pair of swimming trunks on the beach, it is never out of place, and I will need that in this hypothetical world. As you’ll soon see, I’m not picking a dress watch, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight will fill that role for me. Furthermore, on the topic of dress watches, I know the black variant would be better suited to formal events, but the blue, with its silver accents, trumps the fauxtina offered on the black dial variant, and in reality, I don’t attend that many formal events, so the blue would be the one for me. It’s a bit more modern looking, yet still rooted in vintage aesthetics, all while offering Tudor’s impressive build quality. This is all the more impressive given the price range it operates within – around $3,200 on the secondary market – so it must be in my collection.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm Coral Dial – $16,200

As mentioned, a watch that can do it all is one of the most important things for me, and so just one GADA watch isn’t going to be enough for this collection. I’ll need a second, preferably a little higher-end than the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. After deliberating between several watches, I picked the coral red Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm. I have been lucky enough to try this watch on a few times, and it has been at the top of my wishlist since the first time I wore it. I can’t describe why I liked it all that much, besides the fact that it just felt right. When you have that feeling for a watch, you just know.

Wearing it feels right: the coral red Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm.
Wearing it feels right: the coral red Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm

While Rolex broke my heart when they discontinued the coral red dial, I can’t help but love it and continue to want one. I currently own the green dial variant, but the red is the next level in my book. The dial is bold and bright, but still not as out there as the yellow or Tiffany blue, both of which are also great. It does eat up a lot of our remaining $20,800 budget with a market value of around $16,200, but I feel like sometimes you have to break the bank, and this would be it for me. Are there more reasonable options out there for less? Sure. Will they elicit the same emotional response from me as the coral OP41? Probably not, so it makes the cut.

IWC Chronograph IW3706 – $4,000

With around $4,600 left, we have to be wise with the watches we pick. Sure, we could fill the collection with G-Shocks and watches from small indie brands, but personally, I’d rather have a smaller collection with pieces that speak to me and aren’t there as a box-ticking exercise.

So, I would want to grab one of the most undervalued watches in the neo-vintage watch market: the IWC Pilot Chronograph ref. IW3706. A pilot’s watch from the 1990s, this is a watch that is unashamedly toolish with its large case, utilitarian dial design, and understated execution. Nonetheless, most of the examples with tritium dials have acquired a stunning patina on their hour markers, and I can’t help but love how they look, especially on the stainless steel bracelets that some versions come on. I have yet to add an IW3706 to my collection, but that day will come sooner rather than later.

The IWC Pilot Chronograph ref. IW3706 undervalued neo-vintage watch.
The IWC Pilot Chronograph ref. IW3706: an undervalued neo-vintage watch

Omega 1987 Art Collection 40 mm Ceramic – $800

Now, with just $600 left, I am going to be a little cheeky and break the budget by a few hundred dollars… but it’s worth it. With my mix of modern and neo-vintage so far, I would want at least one vintage watch that is off the beaten track, and so I have opted for one of the most under-the-radar vintage offerings on the market: the Omega Art Collection.

Collaborating with several known artists the Art Collection is one of the coolest limited edition collections.
A collab with several known artists, the Art Collection is one of the coolest limited-edition models.

Launched in 1986, as one of the earliest ceramic watches ever (I think it was the second), the Art Collection was a collaborative limited edition project whereby Omega commissioned several artists to create artwork to go on the case backs of 999 pieces, each bearing the artist’s name. With names like Max Bill, Richard Paul Loshe, Camille Graeser, Paul Talman, and several others among the chosen artists, the Art Collection is one of the coolest limited edition collections on the market, and at $800 for the large 40-mm variants, I think it is a bargain.

Putting It All Together

Coming in at a final total of about $24,200, I think my collection emulates everything I want in a handful of watches. From the utility and casual design language of the Oyster Perpetual and BB58 to the heritage and robustness of the IWC ref. IW3706, all of my bases would be covered perfectly, and the Omega Art Collection would serve as the perfect piece of unusual exuberance to set my collection apart and make it truly my own.

Want to know what my colleagues picked for their 24K watch collections?

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

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

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


About the Author

Aaron Voyles

I love everything about watchmaking, from the artistry of their design to the engineering hidden within their movements and the history that breathes life into their stories.

Read more

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