Best Watches Under $1,000
Don’t Drop Big $ on a Watch Without Reading This First
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When it comes to wearable status symbols, men arguably get the short end of the stick. The one exception, however, is the wristwatch.
Unsurprisingly, then, the first major purchase for a lot of those men is a luxury watch — something premium, eye-catching and well made. The trouble is, most watches that fit those criteria also cost a small fortune. High-end Swiss watches can exceed the cost of a new car! But don’t despair – with a little research and know-how, you can find a quality luxury watch, with serious aesthetic appeal, that doesn’t set you back an arm and a leg.
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In our current tech-crunched days, a bona fide, well-made analog wristwatch makes a statement about your values, your taste, and your approach to life in general. Now, more than ever, an appreciation of timekeeping is the mark of a man of means — or one who means to be.
You can buy a functional watch from a decent name brand for under $500, or you can splurge on a more recognizable brand name under $2,500, and when you’ve really made it, you could even drop some major cash for the best watch under $10,000. But just know that the perfect price point for any beginner lands right under a grand. Consider it in the way you would a custom-tailored suit or pair of handmade shoes: You’re past the point of growing out of something and establishing your permanent style is more a process of refinement than experimentation.
Best Watches Under $1,000
“All high-end watch manufacturers spend a great deal of money and energy in research and development,” notes David Lee, general manager of watches at StockX, the live “bid/ask” luxury marketplace backed by Eminem and Mark Wahlberg. “However, most lower-price point brands cannot do so at a similar scale. But a small number allow technological advances and techniques to trickle down to their lower end price points. A perfect example is Seiko, which borrows from the super lux Credor and high-end Grand Seiko companies.”
Another rule of thumb: “Complications are always cool,” Lee says. “So if you find an automatic chronograph or day-date at this price point, that is a great value.”
Independent brands are also trending. “One of the recent trends in the watch industry is the huge growth and popularity in small independent brands. While the big brands rely heavily on what has been popular for them in the past, a lot of innovation and new design concepts are being driven by the independents,” Lee explains. “You can find a great deal of value and originality with some of them.”
You should avoid “fashion” brands, however, whose watches are licensed out and mass-produced. “You end up paying for the brand name, and not the quality of the watch,” Lee points out. “You’ll find better value in actual watch brands.”
What to Keep in Mind
Invest in Swiss: If you can, with few exceptions, you’ll want to buy a Swiss watch from well-respected brands such as Tissot, Alpina, Seiko and TAG Heuer. “Not only will Swiss watches hold their value better, they’ll be more reliable in the long run as they are generally easier to service and maintain,” says Blake Buettner, director of watches at StockX.
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Swiss-made watches aren’t the final word in watchmaking, but they’re among the most elegant and the most respected thanks to the tried-and-true Swiss movement inside — the same movement you’ll find in watches priced much higher.
Consider the Chronograph: Chronographs — i.e., watches with multiple functions — offer more bang for the buck. They hold their value better due to the complexity of the piece, look (and are) more impressive, and are always remain in demand.
“There are plenty of reputable Swiss brands that offer chronographs under $1,000 that won’t feel out of place in a room full of enthusiasts.” Buettner explains. “In this price range, don’t expect bespoke mechanical movements or the use of exotic materials. Rather, look for tried and true workhorse movements, either mechanical or quartz movement, from well-known suppliers such as ETA or Sellita, which will maintain their accuracy, and be readily serviceable by your local watch shop.”
Don’t Be Cheap: So how far under a grand should you go? Be prepared to spend at least $500 on your investment-grade timepiece. That’s still a far cry from Rolex territory, which start around a cool $5,000, but the watches we’ve selected here will earn you respect even from self-professed watch guys, and quite possibly even admiration at your financial acumen. And don’t shy away from the styles closest to the $1,000 mark, even if it means vending machine lunches for a month. High-end watches hold their value well, after all.
When it comes to watches, most people won’t be able to distinguish the entry-level model from the higher priced pieces in any case. And if and when you do decide to trade up once more, you’ll have something worth a good chunk of change to get started with.
Here, we’re putting you wise to some of the best watches under $1,000 — with style and reliability that suggests a much higher price point.
You want to show the world that you’re someone to be taken seriously and that your time is literally valuable — as it should be if you don’t want anyone to waste it. So here we go with the best watches under $1,000.
Best Automatic Watches Under $1,000
Based in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, Longines was founded in 1832 and its winged hourglass logo is the oldest registered trademark of any watch brand. If you’re only buying one watch, and you’re OK inching above the $1,000 mark, we suggest the Longines Conquest, the brands classic go-to. But for under $1,000, the HydroConquest is as serious as it sounds, making it a reliable companion any day of the week. The stainless steel case and band give it heft and durability, and overall it’s designed to be the perfect combination of style and technical innovation complete with an automatic movement.
$849.98 at Amazon.com
Raymond Weil Freelancer Diver Automatic Watch
This diver watch is a suitable option for yacht owners and office-workers alike. It blends durable aesthetics and pricey components into an opulent, sporty-but-not-too-sporty design. A sapphire crystal face, black bezel, and folding buckle clasp with double push-security system proves that the manufacturer hasn’t compromised quality for functionality. The mechanical movement with automatic winding also has a 38-hour power reserve feature to keep the clock ticking longer.
$949.85 at Amazon.com
Luminox Atacama Field Automatic Watch
Luminox watches are 100% Swiss-made and use a Swiss-made automatic movement. These bad boys are basically built to be abused. What really shines about these bad boys — literally — is the included lume that glows unaided for up to 25 years. With a day/date function and water-resistance up to 660 feet, this handsome timepiece can prove useful every one of those 25 years.
$825 at Amazon.com
Best Dive Watches Under $1,000
Citizen Promaster Aqualand Dive Watch
This is nautical-inspired design at it’s finest. With Maximum depth memory, rapid ascent alarm, and an auto-start dive mode, this timepiece is one of the best in its class for the price. Its stainless steel case comes in at 46mm, with a blue and red bezel to match, making it the most hefty on our list, which wins points when you’re at the max 660 feet this watch will go and need to see the face — but it’s OK if you just want to keep it on land and admire its beauty.
$518.25 at Amazon.com
Orient Kanno Dive Watch
Crisp. Clean. Classic. Those are just a few of the words easily used to describe this stainless steel case beaut. What makes it different than its popular predecessor the Mako USA? It’s now powered by the newly developed caliber F6922 — a mechanical movement that is not just automatic, but also allows hand-winding. At just around 42mm and water resistant to 660 feet, this is the smallest style on our list, yet still offers all the same qualities of its bigger brothers.
$255 at OrientWatch.com
Mido Ocean Star Dive Watch
Mido effectively merges a timeless style profile with a bold orange rubber strap, or stainless steel strap shown here, and stylish black and orange bezel to create a dive watch that plays well in both worlds. Using its caliber 80 — a next-generation automatic watch movement — it offers up to 80 hours of power reserve which ends up being about twice as much as a regular caliber. Using titanium to house the automatic movement and keep all mechanics free of water up to 660 feet, we figured it was worth the extra penny.
$870 at Amazon.com
Best Dress Watches Under $1,000
Frederique Constant Classics Index Automatic Dress Watch
If understated elegance is your aim, look no further than the Classics Index from Frederique Constant. Its black, crocodile-embossed leather band and silver dial exude class, and can safely take you from the office to a formal party. As an added bonus, it’s even water-resistant to over 300 feet, so even the after-party swim won’t be off limits to you.
$980 at Amazon.com
Shinola Runwell Chrono Dress Watch
Shinola watches, assembled in Detroit, has sparked a renaissance in the Motor City and for American watch brands in general. This particular style is destined to become a classic design that will no doubt age well with it’s PVD gold case and durable leather band. With a clean ivory-colored face and luminous hands, wearing this watch makes a statement that you value good design, but don’t need an overly expensive timepiece to speak for you. It also says you have a certain pride in American-made goods.
$825 at Shinola.com
Best Swiss Watches Under $1,000
Tissot Heritage Visodate Swiss Watch
This handsome, traditional timepiece was first introduced in the 1950s to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Tissot. The Heritage Visodate boasts a topstitched leather strap with a stainless steel case and buckle closure to keep it steady and stylish on your wrist. The clean-brushed dial and hands and Arabic numerals on the face inspired by Tissot’s vintage watches also complement the watch’s vintage appeal. The Swiss quartz movement ensures time accuracy to within a few seconds a year, and at 40mm, it’s understatedly elegant, calling for quiet attention rather than loudly seeking it.
$995 at Amazon.com
Tag Heuer 300 Aquaracer
TAG Heuer, founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland, and coveted by many motorsports enthusiasts, is a name that commands respect in every watch-loving quarter. Rarely are any of its pieces attainable at under a grand, which makes the Formula 1 a steal at its current price. Sporting a black-perforated rubber strap with a stainless steel case and black bezel, the watch speaks to rugged adventurers ready to invest. While it’s not suited for scuba diving, you can submerge it in up to 660 ft. of water. Interestingly, the iconic Formula 1 model also has the distinction of being worn by actual Formula 1 drivers.
$974.97 at Amazon.com
Movado Heritage Calendoplan Chronograph
No distinguished gentleman should be without a Movado watch. What other way to showcase your sub-luxury wealth and style than with this timeless chronograph model from Movado, which draws inspiration from the brand’s fashion-forward ‘50s collection? The Calendoplan is masterfully designed, from the luminous hands and markers to the rivets on the leather strap that are reminiscent of the iconic “Museum Watch” style gold dot.
$795 at Amazon.com
Best Mechanical Watches Under $1,000
Hager Commando Milsub Mechanical Watch
This large, 41mm offering from Hager boasts sturdy construction — including a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face, red enamel bezel, and water resistance up to 1,000 feet — and elegant good looks. The burgundy bezel adds a subtle splash of color and helps to set off the black dial and luminous silver watch hands.
$965 at HagerWatches.com
Invicta Pro Diver Mechanical Watch
We get it, this watch is way, way below the $1,000 threshold, but sometimes, a watch or brand knows their stuff so well, they earn the coveted spot. Invicta is one of those brands and it Pro Diver is one of those watches. Japanese movement and a classic sapphire crystal face with a good ole’ easy-to-read analog display keep this clean style looking sharp for years to come.
$180 at Amazon.com
Seiko Presage Mechanical Watch
If you are looking for a clean looking watch, it does get much cleaner than Seiko. Seiko has long been known for its attention to detail and dedication to quality at an affordable price. This stylish time teller uses the Seiko 4R36 caliber self-winding movement which can also easily be hand wound and hacked.
$425 at Amazon.com
Best Pilot Watches Under $1,000
Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Watch
While being huge fans of the Jazzmaster series, we’ve also discovered another inexpensive Hamilton model that’s worthy of occupying space in your watch case. The Khaki Pilot chronograph combines some of the same vintage design elements and Swiss ingenuity as its higher-priced cousin. Seriously, the build quality of this crisp pilot watch is certainly reflective of its MSRP of under $1,000.
$945 at HamiltonWatch.com
Laco Aachen Pilot Watch
Using an original design from WWII, this German designed timepiece garners a lot of respect. The same can’t necessarily be said for those fighting for the Germans in WWII, but that’s a discussion for another time. The stainless steel case, jet-black dial and SuperLuminova illumination make this stylish timepiece work with whatever era you want to throw back to. The Citizen Miyota 821A automatic self-winding movement keep it working during every era in the future.
$379 at Amazon.com
AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane Pilot Watch
This classic aviation inspired chronograph features detailed dials, colors, and graphics that celebrate the spirit and adventure of WWII. Inspired by the Hurricane aircraft produced for the Royal Air Force by Hawker Aircraft Ltd, this stylish timepiece blows the others out of the water, much like the Hurricane did during WWII. Many consider the Hurricane the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain, since it delivered more enemy kills in this crucial victory than any other aircraft — combined. How’s that for a conversation-starting watch?
$235 at Amazon.com