Stepping up the budget yet again, next we will cover our favorite watches for 75-100k. In our previous 50-75k price range, we started to explore intermediate offerings from premier brands, as well as some introductory high end independent pieces. For 75-100k, we get deeper into the high end of the household names, as well as some complicated independent pieces. Keep in mind that these prices are correct as of publish date. Be sure to reference our site for most accurate current pricing. Let’s dive in.
Blancpain “Tornek Rayville” TR900
First up is an extremely rare piece, one of the most collectible watches in the military watch segment. When the US military began its search for the perfect watch to outfit its Navy with, they tested a variety of the most popular dive watches, most notably the Submariner, Enicar Sea Pearl, and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. After a series of torture tests, it was determined that the Blancpain was the victor. Unfortunately, the “Buy American” act required military equipment to be made in the US, which posed a problem for Swiss Blancpain watches. Thus, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was stamped with the name of a New York watch importer named “Tornek”. “Rayville” is an anagram for Villerey where Blancpain watches are actually manufactured. By using this loophole, the Navy was able to utilize the Swiss watches for military issue. Only about 1000 examples were manufactured, and most were destroyed or are no longer in circulation among collectors. Thus, the TR900 “Tornek Rayville” has become one of the most important watches in military history and emerged as a highly collectable watch for passionate collectors.
Patek Philippe 5924G-010 Pilot Travel Time Chronograph
Next is a recent release for the brand, coming in just shy of 100k. The Patek Philippe 5924G-010 Pilot Travel Time Chronograph showcases the brand’s modern design direction. A Calatrava with travel time and chronograph, this line of watches was influenced by the aviation timepieces of the previous century. The 5924G is fitted with a green dial, Arabic numerals with light faux patina, and a handset to match the aesthetics of the rest of the Calatrava pilot collection. At 42mm in diameter by 13.5mm thick, this piece is certainly modern in proportions, and constitutes the new direction Patek Philippe has headed under the tutelage of Thierry Stern. Next to the slim designs of the 3940 and 3919 presented in the 80s under Philippe Stern, we now have seen an emphasis on sport, and this has helped propel the brand forward in a dress casual fashion world.
Patek Philippe 5935A World Time Chronograph
Another modern Patek Philippe reference of note, the 5935A is a beautiful world timer with a salmon dial. In recent years, salmon dials have gone on trend alongside a revival of vintage aesthetics. Top brands like Patek have adopted salmon dials on some of their new references, and this 5935A is one such example. That said, the salmon dial isn’t the only detail of note on the reference. The 5935 is also fashioned from steel, a rare material for Patek to use outside the realm of sports pieces. Historically, steel watches from Patek have become quite collectible over time, and the choice to use the material has excited collectors already. The dial of the 5935 features a hash guilloché that catches the light beautifully. In addition to the world time, this watch also offers a flyback chronograph. This combination is quite uncommon, and I think that this reference suits modern Patek quite well. It’s neither overly progressive nor boringly old school. I think Patek got it right on the 5935A
Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down
Next is an interesting complication from independent Ludovic Ballouard. The “Upside Down” displays all the hours on rotating discs, presented upside down. The current hour is flipped to display right side up and a central minutes hand completes the time display. This is a subtle complication, but the movement within is fascinating, and unlike anything else on the market. As you move to the top of the food chain in the watch industry (say, 75-100k and beyond), you begin to see more and more of these unique movement architectures. This watch is a great conversation starter, and is finished gorgeously on both the textured dial side, and the movement side. Plus, it’s quite fun to watch the complication in action through the caseback. The flipping action on the hour is instantaneous and can be missed if you’re not careful!
Patek Philippe 5172G Salmon Dial
Our final Patek in this lineup, and my personal favorite, is the recent Patek Philippe reference 5172G. Salmon dials have become somewhat of a cliche recently, but this watch has to be one of my favorite salmon dialed watches, likely because it suits the vintage inspired design beautifully. Syringe hands, stepped lugs, engraved pump pushers, and snailed subdials all add credibility to the watch’s historical context as a vintage homage to classic Patek Philippe styling from the 50s. With a sapphire caseback and a beautifully finished movement with all the Patek bells and whistles, this piece feels even higher end than its price point. In fact, these watches trade slightly below retail which is a rarity for Patek, and something that we cannot expect to see continue. Looking at other high end manually wound chronographs, the value proposition is further solidified. In this 75-100k price category, there are a number of chronographs out there, but this model is all about the vintage details mentioned earlier. The case and dial is a bit more refined than some of the other options.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph LeBron James
Next from Audemars Piguet, this is probably one of the most majestic Offshores available. The pairing of a rose gold case and a gray color scheme works quite nicely to provide a soft aesthetic that is simultaneously sporty and classy. Rose gold applique indexes, a diamond set pusher, and titanium bezel convene on this watch. In many respects the piece is a paradox. What is a diamond-set pusher and rose gold case doing alongside an overbuilt super sports watch design? Yet, simultaneously, the combination works excellently. This watch is somewhat of a gentle sports piece, less crass and extreme than the steel variants. On top of all of this, the added connection to LeBron James and limited production of 600 pieces seals the deal. This is one of the best AP watches for 75-100k.
Rolex “ Beach” Daytona 116519
A rare iteration of the Daytona is always a hot commodity. This example, the “Beach” Daytona reference 116519 with bright blue dial is rarer than most. Although pricing fluctuates massively on this model depending on the current market supply, the watch is generally priced around the top end of our 75-100k allocation for this article. Applied white gold Roman numerals complement the design’s white gold case excellently, and the blue dial and lizard strap are matched to add a degree of refinement to the Daytona aesthetic. This watch is noticeable only because of its dial and doesn’t resort to adding gemstones to achieve the scintillating effect. This piece is one you are not likely to see often, and remains highly coveted among collectors of rare modern Rolex models.
A. Lange & Söhne 820.036E Langematik Perpetual
This next piece is another that’s difficult to price because they are so rare they almost never come up for sale. This special variant of the Langematik Perpetual comes with a baguette set bezel and black dial. The baguettes are quite large, and have been cut to follow the circumference of the bezel exactly. The stone setting quality is exceptional. Behind the ironically subtle diamonds sits an incredibly well made perpetual calendar from premier German manufacturer Lange. The layout is crisp and classic German, with bold lettering and a display that prioritizes the iconic big date. In addition to referencing the Lange heritage, the large date is also the most referenced piece of information on a perpetual, and having it presented in the prime spot is the purely logical choice as well. On the back of the watch is the automatic micro rotor caliber L922.1. This is my favorite automatic winding movement from the brand, with an excellently finished rotor and surrounding bridges. This movement has now been reserved only for extremely high end offerings, which is a shame, because the L922.1 is one of the company’s unsung masterpieces. Perpetual calendars often fall in this 75-100k price category, but for a rare iteration with diamonds, this is a great value.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak QE II Cup
To end off, I have chosen one of my favorite Royal Oaks. The Royal Oak QE II Cup limited edition of 200 examples is one of the most under the radar limited productions of the Royal Oak, with a white dial, titanium case and highly polished platinum center links and bezel. On the surface, this piece could easily be mistaken for a stainless steel Royal Oak, yet this ambiguity is part of the allure of the piece. The QE II Cup commemorates the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup horse race, sponsored by AP since 1999. If you are looking for a subtle limited edition piece that captures the spirit of the Royal Oak without straying too far into wild designs and flashy iterations, this is the perfect reference for you. It’s also a pretty good value to fall in the 75-100k range.