Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

These are the best entry-level luxury watches for first-time collectors

Dip your toes into luxury watches with these beginner picks

Man wearing Tissot watch
Austin Lowman/Unsplash / Unsplash

Luxury watches can be a great way to make a statement about who you are and can also serve as a status symbol. While dozens of brands boast luxury pieces that will send a message about your status, plenty of others will offer you an overpriced option that will do little more than needlessly drain your account for the sole purpose of getting your money. When it comes to starting a collection in men’s luxury watches, it is best to stay focused on tried and true brands that offer collections that have stood the test of time; however, there are a few new kids on the block that give the old dogs a run for their money.

For this list, we are focusing on the best watches to begin a collection, which means there are no second mortgages here. Instead, every selection is sub-10K but still over what we consider luxury at $2K. With that in mind, here are the best watches to begin your new luxury watch collection.

Tag Heuer Carrera
Courtesy of Tag Heruer / Tag Heuer

TAG Heuer Carrera

TAG Heuer is a brand that loves a good race. From their Formula 1 collection to the Aquaracer collection, they never shy away from going fast. That is where the TAG Heuer Carrera collection comes into play, named after the legendary Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico. It was a border-to-border rally race including stock, rally, and sports car sedans. While it may sound like one of the most remarkable ways to see Mexico, 27 people died in five years, and the race was abandoned.

That didn’t stop TAG from creating one of the best collections they have, focusing on legibility and functionality. Sixty years later, they are still some of the best, and TAG’s elegant design still holds up. This excellent piece comes in blue, black, or a unique green. Any of the three would be a perfect way to start a collection.

Breitling Navitimer B01
Courtesy of Breitling / Breitling

Breitling Navitimer B01

You know you are changing an industry when you claim the skies as your own. Breitling created a watch with a circular slide rule that would allow pilots to perform all necessary flight calculations, and the navigation timer, AKA Navitimer, was born. A short two years later, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) claimed the watch as their official watch. Seventy years later, nearly every airline pilot is a member of the organization, and the Navitimer is the most popular watch of the sky.

The team that brought you the watch worn in space by astronauts brings you one of the most beloved watches in existence. Coming in just under our 10K limit, this choice is for the serious collector.

Seamaster Diver 300m James Bond Limited Edition Watch by Omega
Courtesy of Omega / Omega

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

When looking for the right watch to start a luxury collection, you are likely looking to grab an icon. Icons have stood the test of time and made their way into our collective psyche by being some of history’s most sought-after pieces. Omega is one of the leaders in this mission simply for ending up on the wrist of James Bond himself.

With that in mind, the Omega Seamaster makes our list. Of course, there have been dozens of models worn by MI6’s greatest spy, but there is one that would be the best beginning of your collection. The most recent 007 edition of the Seamaster, the very one our favorite spy wore in No Time to Die. Field watches get overlooked when the idea of luxury comes up, and this dive watch with a NATO strap gives you the best of both worlds.

Norqain Independent Wild One
Mark D. McKee/The Manual / Norqain

Norqain Independent Wild One

Sometimes, new blood is better than old blood. There are a dozen great Swiss brands that are always going to be great investments. However, the capital of chronographic excellence is also primed for some new arrivals that are worth your attention. While everyone else is going to pay for overpriced brand names, you can opt to go for a new idea, a new approach, and a new philosophy to begin your collection.

Norqain is the new kid on the block, but the young business doesn’t mean the experience isn’t there. After years in the industry, the multi-generational chronograph team is looking to get its customers out into the world. With a focus on adventure, the Independent Wild One is the luxury watch addition for anyone looking to go against the grain. If you choose this watch, be ready to be tempted to take a vacation and hit the jungle, the ocean, or the mountain.

Rolex Submariner
Courtesy of Rolex / Rolex

Rolex Submariner

We’ve taken you from the new kids on the block to the old-school big boy carrying the name everyone knows. Buying a Rolex is an experience of a lifetime, and wearing one gives you an automatic status symbol as someone ready and willing to invest in his life and his future. Luxury and tradition are the bedrock of top-tier menswear, and Rolex has been the leader of the watch game since the beginning.

The Submariner is arguably the most popular choice for an entry-level Rolex, and thankfully for us, it falls just under the 10K ceiling, making it one of the top choices whether you are just starting a collection or a must-have if you are a veteran collector.

There you have it; now that you are ready to begin your luxury watch collection and are ready for some serious top-level watches, here are the ones you should focus on to get the best bang for your buck and wet your beak with luxury.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
Swatch, Blancpain collab on 5 ocean-inspired Fifty Fathoms watches, all dropping today
Pick your favorite ocean - then your favorite watch
Swatch Fifty Fathoms

Following the success of the Omega MoonSwatch, Swatch has decided to produce a crossover timepiece with another well-known Swiss watchmaker and produce a series of functional, desirable, and affordable watches. This time around, it’s Blancpain getting the Swatch treatment.

The new collection just dropped and is a significantly cheaper take on Blancpain’s famous Fifty Fathoms collection of men’s watches and Swatch’s early '90s Scuba range. An actual Fifty Fathoms watch will set you back over $14,000 -- but like the MoonSwatch collection, these particular timepieces are very affordable. While the MoonSwatch collection consisted of eleven watches (all eight planets, plus Pluto, the Sun, and The Moon), the “Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms” collection consists of just five. Each dive watch represents one of Earth’s oceans.

Read more
Why the chronograph watch is timeless (pun intended)
What is a chronograph watch? All about the timeless accessory
Tag Heuer Chronograph close-up

The chronograph watch -- a timepiece that's more than just a tool for tracking hours and minutes. It's a part of history, a dash of precision engineering, and a touch of elegance all rolled into one. If watches were a symphony of craftsmanship and functionality, then the chronograph watch would undoubtedly be the crescendo. So, why are these so darn appealing? And what is a chronograph watch exactly? Let's set our timers and delve into the world of these remarkable wrist adornments.

Imagine you're at the race track, heart pounding as the cars zoom by in a fit of chaos and noise. Or perhaps you're in a friendly kitchen competition, racing against the clock to perfect your soufflé. In both cases, the chronograph watch is your trusty sidekick. It's not just about telling the time; it's about capturing moments. With its stopwatch function, you can time laps, events, and even your microwave popcorn. A chronograph watch isn't just a timepiece; it's your personal timekeeper, ready to conquer challenges big and small.
Craftsmanship and legacy
In a world where digital rules, the analog charm of a chronograph watch remains irresistible. It's not just about reading numbers; it's about appreciating the intricacies of a mechanical marvel. The chronograph's legacy dates back to 1816, thanks to the ingenious mind of Louis Moinet. The chronograph watch thrived in the military, medical, and sports fields, evolving to cater to diverse calculations beyond time. Brands like Breitling pioneered separate stopwatch functions in 1915, setting the stage for modern luxury brands like Rolex, Omega, Zenith, TAG Heuer, and A. Lange & Söhne.

Read more
The best Tag Heuer watches you can get right now
Our top Tag Heuer watch recommendations
Ryan Gosling in a red car wearing a Tag Heuer watch

In the world of luxury watchmaking, Tag Heuer watches stand as an emblem of precision, innovation, and timeless elegance. The iconic brand continues to capture the hearts of watch enthusiasts with its exquisite collection of timepieces. From the sleek Carrera Chronograph to the adventurous Aquaracer Professional 300 and the technologically advanced Connected Calibre E4, Tag Heuer consistently redefines the standards of Swiss horology.

These watches embody both heritage and innovation, ensuring that each piece is not just a timekeeping instrument, but a work of art and engineering excellence. Join us on a journey through several timepieces from the brand in which tradition meets innovation and luxury meets functionality. We'll delve into the best Tag Heuer watches you can acquire right now, exploring a mix of iconic models that showcase the brand's commitment to crafting masterpieces that adorn the wrists of discerning gentlemen worldwide.

Read more