I've been looking through the forums and have found similar threads, but nothing quite in line with where I'm headed. I'd like to sink some bonus money coming through in a little over a month into a nice day-to-day watch. I'm looking for something I can wear every day for a number of years and possibly pass to my son when he gets out of college. He's 8, so I have a while to enjoy it myself! I've located a few options either from discussions here or my own digging, but am hoping to get input on other models I'm not familiar with. And I've seen a number of posts asking for more information so I'm going with more information up front in hopes of more tailored recommendations.
Size is a serious limiting factor in my decision, as I'm a fan of vintage watches and generally like smaller sizes, in the 34-38mm (tops) range. For reference, I currently wear a Croton Hourmatic or a Bulova Sea King (early 1970s) most days. And my size aversion extends vertically as well. The trend toward watches that are 1.5cm thick makes them wear big for me and generally precludes dive watches. However, when I say every day watch, I mean EVERY DAY - raking leaves, going hiking, maybe a trip to the pool now and then. So I need at least some water resistance. I don't dive or swim deep, so just enough for splashing around and paddling along on the surface is fine. And I want an automatic, but I'm not hung up on various complications. I don't need chrono, date, dive bezel, multiple time zones, etc. I'm not saying I wouldn't have a watch with them, but their presence/absence is not a deal breaker. Finally, I want some good lume so that I can see the time in a tent without turning on a light. And budget? Let's set my max budget at $5K. All the better if I come in below that, but I've seen Rolex Explorer 1s in that range, so I'll use that as my max.
As far as looks, it doesn't need to be dressy. I have a couple of older watches that are nice enough to wear with suits on the odd occasions I need to do so. I work from home, so my wardrobe leans quite casual. In fact, I'd like something that can transition readily from bracelet to Nato strap.
My first thought was the Rolex Explorer 1 in the original 36mm size. I've noticed that Sinn makes a similarly minimalist watch in the 556A (though pushing the diameter envelope at 38.5), RGM has the model 107, and the Omega Aqua Terra is often mentioned as a competitor of the Explorer 1 (though I've seen that it's thick, which may be a deal breaker). There are a couple of Rolex ADs in town and RGM is about a 15 minute drive, so hoping to try on those two in the next few days. I'm sure I'm missing a ton, so feel free to point away. And thank you for any suggestions!