If money were no object, finding a watch would be easy.
You could walk out and buy the exact timepiece you want without worrying about the price tag, but that’s a fantasy in all but the most extreme cases.
Unfortunately for most of us, budgets are a very real hurdle to buying a watch, and even if we could afford the exact watch we want they may not always be available (looking at you, Rolex).
The good news is that there are dozens and dozens of options available in any price range, even more so on the lower end of the spectrum.
So many people think that if they can’t buy a Swiss watch with a five-digit price tag, there’s no use shopping at all, but that’s not the case.
New models from well established companies and microbrands alike are becoming more and more popular, to the point that many people are exclusively shopping at the lower end of the price spectrum.
Watchmakers are catching on, too, as the number of high-quality sub-$1,000 timepieces has exploded in recent years.
That said, the variety of choices on the market can make it hard to pick. Luckily, we’ve researched the best budget watches choices on the market today, so let’s take a look at the best watches under $1,000.
Table of Contents
Short on time? Here are our top two picks for the best watches under $1,000:
Read on for more info and the complete list…
The Best Men’s Watches Under $1,000
In no particular order…
Squale 500 Meter Dive Watch
- Diameter: 42mm
- Movement: Swiss ETA 2824-2 Self-Winding Automatic
- Price: $899
Some of Squale’s designs lean too far into homage territory, but the company’s 500-meter dive watch has a unique and vintage aesthetic that is all its own.
At $900 before tax or shipping, the Squale is far from the cheapest watch on our list, but it’s also one of the most rugged and capable.
The 316L stainless steel case is sized at 42mm across the round of the dial and 14 mm thick, which are modern and hefty measurements, but the watch isn’t awkward or too large.
The 500 Meter dive watch comes with a date window at 3:00, a sapphire crystal, a Swiss ETA movement, a 40-hour power reserve and a tan leather strap. A stainless steel mesh bracelet is available for the Squale for an additional $150.
Seiko Prospex Alpinist
- Diameter: 39.5mm
- Movement: Seiko 6R35 Self
- Price: $725-$750
That watch was discontinued a couple of years back and has taken on a life of its own through second-hand and grey market sales since then. Seiko paid attention to the hype and has released a few updates to the line since the green model was discontinued.
Last year, the company collaborated with Hodinkee, the online watch empire, to produce a limited edition blue version of the timepiece and now they’ve come up with a whole new line of variations on the classic theme.
The Prospex Alpinist watches are available in three colors: Classic green, black dial on a bracelet and a cream white dial. All three are powered by a Seiko 6R35 movement that has a 70-hour power reserve, and all have a cyclops date window at 3 o’clock.
Seamaster 300 Vintage/Quartz
- Diameter: 36mm
- Movement: Quartz
- Price: $750-$1,000
James Bond wore one. Prince William wore one. You can wear one, too, and for not that much money.
The Omega Seamaster is one of the most iconic watches of any type that doesn’t have a Rolex crown on the dial. The legendary dive watch is available with both quartz and automatic movements and comes in a couple of different sizes.
It’s the midsize model, measuring 36mm across the round of the case, that lands in the sweet spot between size and price.
Even with a battery instead of a human arm powering the winding movement, the Seamaster is a sturdy, well-built and very premium watch that feels every bit as solid as its brand name would suggest.
If you’ve got a few extra dollars to spend down the road, you can upgrade to a newer Seamaster and get modern improvements like a ceramic bezel and high-tech coaxial movement.
Junghans Max Bill Automatic
- Diameter: 38mm
- Movement: Junghans Calibre J800.1
- Price: $659
Bauhaus design and a modern Swiss automatic movement meet in the Junghans Max Bill. Though the line is available in three sizes, it’s the 38mm size with an automatic movement that hits a sweet spot of functionality and value.
The watches are slim, measuring 10mm thin, so they’re suitable for cuffs of all sizes and can manage dress watch duty as well as a casual night at the pub.
Unique styling touches like a domed plexi-crystal give the Max Bill a premium and expensive look that set it apart in a crowded field of competition.
The Junghans faces off against heavy hitters from Nomos and others, some with very similar style and inspiration, so it’s the “little things” that add up to make the Max Bill special.
Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
- Diameter: 40mm
- Movement: H-10 Automatic
- Price: $695
It’s easy to find the Khaki Field in one of its many variations for sale on the internet today, and the price is right no matter which watch you choose.
The newest Khaki Field watches come with an updated movement that has an 80-hour power reserve and intricate decoration that far outplay the Hamilton’s modest price tag.
That’s all good news for prospective buyers, because there are precious few field watch options on the market today, regardless of brand, and even fewer in the sub-$1,000 price range.
Rolex’s Explorer is the benchmark for all field watches, but there’s no date and the price extends well above $5,000 for most modern versions.
These are worth a mention too…
Weiss 38mm Standard Issue Field Watch
The Weiss’ MSRP and tax/shipping will put it over $1,000, but even at $1,100 or so, the watch is a steal.
Cameron Weiss and company assemble everything in-house in their Los Angeles factory and the timepieces’ level of finish isn’t seen in watches costing twice as much – or more.
Oris flies under the radar for all but the most obsessed watch fans, but that doesn’t mean they’re not great watches.
The company’s Aquis dive watches are robust and feature-rich, and come with a level of finishing and detail that make them seem much more expensive than they are. You’ll have to shop used, but even second hand the watches are a great deal.
Tissot – Several Models
Like Hamilton, Tissot is a “good watch for not much money” brand.
Most watches in the company’s catalog are well below $1,000 and even those that near the limit offer better value than many watches costing twice as much.
You won’t find many modern Tudors for less than $1,000, but there are pre-owned options available in that range from Rolex’s subsidiary company.
The Tudor Prince Date/Date and Tudor Prince Date are both models that reflect the company’s deep history with the Rolex brand, and both feature automatic movements and a classic case design.
You won’t get an in-house Rolex movement or top-of-the-line finishing, but Tudors are solid watches with a solid price tag.