Top 3 Brand Name Watches Priced Under $3,000
1. Omega Seamaster 2869-5 ($500)
First pick is an Omega Seamaster reference 2869-5 from 1958.
This Seamaster features a 34mm solid stainless steel case with a mixture of brushed and high polished surfaces. The case features a snap on case-back marked “Seamaster Waterproof,” and a signed push/pull crown.
The movement in this Seamaster is Omega’s caliber 500, which is a perpetually winding automatic as opposed to many “bumper” automatics that were also used by Omega in the 1950’s. The caliber 500 can be manually wound, but has no hacking seconds feature.
The tapering lugs offer a subtle contrast to the round case, further complimented by the arrow markers within the dial that creates an aesthetic that’ll keep your attention long after you’ve checked the time.
Vintage Seamasters are a varietal breed. The catalog from the 1950s through the 1960s yields no shortage of stylistic options and paired with time-earned cosmetic features they’re truly one of the vintage watches enjoyable to hunt for oneself.
The dial of this example is a lovely off-white with a slightly reflective finish. It has a light and very even patina, and it has darkened over time to an eggshell shade with a silvered texture.
The dial also features applied silver Arabic numerals at the 3-6-9-12 positions, and the rest of the dial has diamond-shaped indices.
The dial is signed: “Omega, Automatic, Seamaster,” where Seamaster is printed in the very distinct 1950’s Omega script with the hooked “S.” There is also an applied Omega logo under the 12:00 position.
Vintage Omegas are plentiful but they still accept higher value due to the rarity in high condition examples. Many are even $500 or less.
Many vintage Omega watches suffer from having their original parts replaced, incorrect movements, refinished dials, and replaced hands.
What makes this example such a great value is its originality, and that the presence of patina on the dial and light scratches on the unpolished case point to an untouched watch.
Watches in this condition tell a story, and this one even has an engraving on the case-back that dates only a year off from the serial number on the movement. A handsome timepiece from a brand that has delivered quality watches.
2. Longines Grand Prize 2554 ($1,500)
The Longines Grand Prize reference 2554 offers high level craftsmanship for a reasonable price.
Several variations that of the Grand Prize model were produced throughout the 1960’s, this example has a number of features that add up to a watch that would make a fantastic addition to any collection.
This Grand Prize houses the Longines caliber 340 automatic movement, which offers hand-winding but no hacking seconds feature. The caliber shows quality through out. A nicely finished automatic movement prepared for accuracy & longevity.
The watch features a 34mm solid stainless steel case with a signed crown, a 19mm lug/strap width, and a plexiglass crystal.
While the diameter of the case is relatively small for today’s standards, the 19mm strap width is wider than most vintage watches with this case size and allow this Grand Prize to wear more like a modern watch with substantial wrist presence.
Case, Lugs and Dial
The case has an entirely polished finish, and the lugs have a distinct curved shape with a deep beveled edge. On the wrist, the lugs are what truly make this case stand out, and they reflect light nearly as much as the immaculate dial.
The dial on this Grand Prize has a number of different textures and finishes, including a fluted pattern around the outermost edge as well as thin vertical stripes that run across the center.
The indices at the 3-6-9-12 positions on the dial are square in shape, but feature a hobnail-style finish that mimics the texture often found on the dials and bezels of vintage watches from brands like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
The other markers on the dial are pointed and triangular, and are highly polished like the square indices. The dial is signed simply: “Longines, Grand Prize, Automatic,” and there is an applied Longines “winged hourglass” logo under the 12:00 position.
This watch has been paired with a period correct vintage GEMEX USA stainless steel beads-of-rice bracelet with an extendable clasp, and the highly polished finish matches the character of the Grand Prize.
For this example of Grand Prize the dial is probably the star of the show, but the fantastic case design and solid movement make this vintage Longines an overall compelling package in the vintage watch market for under $2,000.
3. Rolex Date 15010 ($3,000)
While modern Rolex models are skyrocketing in value, one may still enjoy the quality and reliability from this increasingly popular Swiss powerhouse by visiting the past.
Produced in the early 1980’s, The reference 15010 features a 34mm solid stainless steel case with both a screw-down case-back and crown, giving the Oyster case its waterproof characteristics.
The watch features an acrylic crystal, and the movement housed is the COSC grade Rolex caliber 3035 automatic with the quick-set date feature. This movement was introduced around 1977, and was used as an improvement on the prior reference 1500 series of watches that housed the caliber 1570.
Engine Turned Bezel & Dial
This Date 15010 also has a stainless steel engine turned bezel, which is a very distinct finish that Rolex has historically used since the production of their early “Bubbleback” watches, but is something they no longer offer on their current production models.
The dial on this example is sunburst blue. This colored dial adds a much appreciated pop of rich color to a relatively simple watch.
The dial markers are finished applied pieces of white gold, adding yet another level of luxury and refinement to the dial that we expect from the brand.
The watch is paired with its 19mm stainless steel Rolex Oyster Bracelet (reference 78350) with a folding clasp. The bracelet has a nice taper down to the clasp, and has a brushed finish on the top and bottom of the links, but is high polish on the flanking sides.
Its modest size and wearable design will likely never feel out of place. Rolex quality will assure you that the watch will perform well for many years to come. While this piece might no longer be on the current Rolex catalogue, it's deserves careful consider.
Photography & Article by Beloved Watch contributor Emerson Moore