View all articles

Feature: The Ultimate $500,000 3 Watch Collection

There’s a lot of pressure these days to have identity, to be your own person, to think your own thoughts—and to be honest, it’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s easier just to follow the path of least resistance and do what everyone else is doing. I mean, they can’t all be wrong? Nah, it’ll be fine. Here’s the ultimate three watch collection that you don’t have to think one iota about—and it’ll cost you half a million.

Rolex Daytona 116506

Rolex does get some stick, but then it also sells close to a million watches a year, so I reckon the favour might be weighted a bit more towards Rolex on this one. One thing I do agree with is that perhaps its models don’t come across as flashy enough for the price. Polished steel and ceramic may look good in a shaving commercial, but for me I want my cash to flash. And if I’m spending 150 Gs then it’s got to flash like it owns an old trench coat.

So how about this: ice blue dial, set in platinum with a brown bezel. Okay, so the brown bezel might not have been my first choice, but it’s so dark it barely notices. These are the colours Rolex chose to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Daytona, and ever since then, despite the eye-watering RRP, they’ve flown off shelves to the tune of a whopping 100% in appreciation.

But this 50th anniversary Daytona is no ordinary 50th anniversary Daytona, because as well as the satisfyingly weighty platinum case and bracelet—with links that could each pay for a family of four to eat for a week—and the freezing blue dial that comes hand in hand with the precious metal, it has another delightful treat that makes the $150,000 feel almost worthwhile: diamonds!

Eleven flawless diamonds circle the dial in place of the traditional white gold markers, leaving just the famous crown logo at the top in its original form, the cherry on the cake for this most ultimate of Daytonas for this most ultimate of collections.

But wait, I hear you say! This isn’t the most ultimate of Daytonas! Yes, the Rainbow, it’s brighter and bolder and about three times as expensive, but you’re hardly going to get away with wearing that with a suit, are you…?

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15500ST.OO.1220ST.01

Every collection needs its sensible watch, and after the diamond-dialled blue and brown Daytona, I need the feel … the feel for steel. Or something like that. But we can’t go too sensible or we’d be boring, so let’s settle for the ultimate luxury watch that kicked off ultimate luxury watches half a century ago.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has been a bit of a slow burner … twice. Once when it was launched and once again more recently, when mankind seemed to forget everything it ever knew about watches and went through the same process of thinking, “Eww, gross angle watch,” to “Hmm, interesting angle watch,” to “Shut up and take my money for that angle watch.”

We are currently in the “I will kill my wife and kids for that angle watch,” phase, which makes it the perfect addition to this ultimate watch collection. I actually used to own a Royal Oak, back in the second “Ew, gross angle watch,” phase, but I sold it for not a lot and I don’t want to talk about it anymore thank you very much.

Poor life choices aside, there is no better watch to have in an ultimate three watch collection. Its looks are ultimate, the brand is ultimate and the price is ultimate too. This one, as it happens, has appreciated to around $50,000. Go for the OG ultra-thin model and you’ll be looking to double that. The blue tapisserie dial is like a magic eye picture only billionaires can see and the case and bracelet have a certain that’ll-do-ness to them that makes them cooler than Lord Kelvin’s fridge.

Despite its enormous popularity and subsequent unattainability, I’ll defend the right for this watch to be in the ultimate collection even if it is the only watch people think Audemars Piguet makes. It’s a legend. An icon. And unless it did some bad stuff in the 70s that people frown upon today, it’s going to stay that way for a long time.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G

The third choice I had in mind felt a bit predictable for all the same reasons as the Audemars Piguet, so I decided to mix it up a bit. Yeah, it’s still Patek Philippe’s rarer-than-a-seahorse-saddle Nautilus, but with the addition of one very impressive trick up its sleeve.

To all intents and purposes, this looks like an ordinary Nautilus—if you could say such a thing about the Nautilus—yet there are a few key changes. Less noticeable is the swap from steel to white gold for the nautical-esque case and bracelet, and very much noticeable is the addition of a Patek Philippe staple: the perpetual calendar.

It’s the ultimate blend of what made Patek Philippe famous before the Nautilus was cool—high-end complication—and after. The irony, really, with both the Nautilus and the Royal Oak is that both Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet didn’t really make their own cases for most of their existence and wouldn’t have been seen dead fussing over them either. For them it was all about the gizzards of the watch, the picture and not the picture frame. For a double dose of watchmaking irony, the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar is in fact the thinnest perpetual calendar Patek Philippe has ever made at 8.42mm.

But needs must and so the ultra-quirky Nautilus is with us, and with us to stay. It’s also probably one of the hardest to get modern watches today, especially in this perpetual calendar form, and that means you’ll be looking at an easy $300,000 to get your hands on one. It really is the ultimate watch in this ultimate watch collection and would probably go down rather well as an only watch as well, with its 60m water resistance, easy-to-read display, gorgeous micro-rotor calibre 240 Q and comfortable and convenient fold over bracelet. If you can stomach wearing a $300,000 watch every day, that is.

So, there you have it. If you’ve got an easy half mil to spend on three watches, this is how you do it and come out on top. The ultimate three watches together in the ultimate collection. Would your ultimate three watch collection look the same, or would you switch things around?

Looking for a pre-owned Rolex watch? Click here to shop now

Looking for pre-owned Rolex finance? Click here to shop now

Looking for a pre-owned Audemars Piguet watch? Click here to shop now

Looking for pre-owned Audemars Piguet finance? Click here to shop now

Looking for a pre-owned Patek Philippe watch? Click here to shop now

Looking for pre-owned Patek Philippe finance? Click here to shop now