$500 is a pretty good chunk of change for the average person, especially when it comes to buying a watch. When you’re spending that much money on something, it’s obviously important to fully understand and research your choices. We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 best automatic watches for under $500 to help you choose the perfect timepiece to fit your needs.
|SEIKO SARG009||40.3mm||6R15||328 Feet||$$$|
|Seiko SKX007K||42mm||7S26||660 Feet||$$|
|Tissot TIST41142333||39mm||ETA 2824||99 Feet||$$$|
|Tissot T0654301105100||39.7||ETA 2836||100 Feet||$$$|
|Hamilton H70515137||42mm||ETA 2824||330 Feet||$$$$|
|Bulova 'Gemini'||42mm||Valjoux 7750||165 Feet||$$$$$|
|SEIKO Prospex||44mm||4R36||656 Feet||$$$|
SEIKO SARG009 Mechanical 5 Sports
The Seiko SARG009 is a beautiful Japanese automatic timepiece that won’t require you to take out a second mortgage on your house to afford. This watch actually performs better than some of the watches I’ve used that were just north of $1000. Looks great, feels great, and is a precise timekeeper!
The dial on the SARG009 is black with massive numbers, which is a nice change compared to some dials with micro-indices. It makes it easy enough to read at a quick glance, it’s also a great choice for those with eye-sight problems.
For me personally I sort of wish the numbers were a tad bit smaller, but I can easily overlook that for everything else this watch does perfectly. The brushed stainless steel case and band make this watch feel extremely pleasant and satisfying to wear, though it still rips out my arm hair like any other watch with this sort of band.
It’s not quite as classy-looking as the Tissot Le Locle (though almost none are), but it’s still quite impressive with a great blend of sophistication and beauty. It’s sort of cliche to say, but it definitely looks better in person than it does in the pictures online. The overall style and design of it make it seem like it’s a classic piece right out of the 50s and I think it works wonderfully.
Seiko SKX007K Diver
Seiko’s SKX007K is next up, and it’s also the first of two dive watches on the list. This is a comfortable watch and the complete antithesis of “cheap” or flimsy. You’ll notice that the watch, while not appearing like anything super fancy, is incredibly well-built and functional. The bezel on this model is one of the best I’ve ever seen and the watch itself keeps perfect time. Again, Seiko has surprised me with a watch that’s under $500 but feels like it could cost much, much more.
The watch is very modern-looking in terms of what I’m used to from a diving watch. It’s not blaringly colorful, instead reserving its color scheme to a simple black and silver style. The case is extremely heavy-duty and reminds me of an industrial-grade machine in terms of quality. The crown is, unlike the case itself, brushed steel and feels great. The bezel is really the highlight of the watch. If you want a unidirectional bezel that will absolutely not slip under any circumstance, this one’s for you. It’s smooth, accurate, and well-made.
The watch keeps a solid time of +/- 6 seconds/day, which is about as good as you can get for a watch like this. The only slight change I’d add to this watch is to allow the second hand to stop when you set it. As it stands, it keeps moving while you’re setting it, so you’ll never be able to get it right on with an atomic clock, but it’s not too big of a deal.
This Seiko piece is well worth the money, and it’s arguably worth much more than what they’re charging. Even if you’re not necessarily a diver or super active in general, this watch will certainly have something in it for you. With a great combination of comfort, design and optimized to fit an active lifestlye, the SKX007K puts many other similar watches in this price range to shame.
Tissot TIST41142333 Le Locle
When I think of the Le Locle, my mind instantly goes to “this is something James Bond would wear”. It just looks so classy to the point where it’s difficult to even put into words. As soon as you put it on, you’ll feel like you’re ready to do anything.
It’s hard to believe that Tissot was able to keep this watch under $500 for how well-made it is. I mean, it looks exactly like the picture, which is something that you can’t say for a lot of watches. It rarely ever needs a manual reset and keeps time like a gem. It’s one of those watches that projects a subtle appearance without attracting attention, but once you notice it, it’s irresistible to look at. Speaking of looks, the Le Locle has a beautiful guilloche dial design that looks absolutely gorgeous and I haven’t seen one look this good on any other watch in this range.
The Roman numerals used on the dial do a great job of being clear and legible without being too big to attract attention. Honestly, I normally dislike roman numerals a lot of the time and prefer the “II” at 12 o’clock and “I” for every other number, but the font on the Le Locle just looks awesome enough to please even the hardest of critics. Adding to the fine craftsmanship of the watch is its black crocodile leather band. It’s not that cheap knock-off material that some watches use; this feels like legitimate croc leather and looks about as classy as you can get.
Tissot T0654301105100 Automatics III
The T0654301105100 Automatics III is a gorgeous watch that essentially embodies everything that a standard dress piece should be. This watch features a high-quality stainless steel case and band, a black dial with silver characters, and an anti-reflective sapphire dial glass window. Every feature on this timepiece is crafted in such a way to increase and emphasize the aura of class that the watch itself emanates.
The best feature of this watch is the overall color scheme and unique design choice. It features entirely black and silver features, and the numbers are simple roman numerals that are made to emphasize the simplicity and elegance of the watch itself. The brushed stainless steel band is very pretty and features a beefy deployment clasp that, while sturdy, doesn’t detract from the beauty of the watch. The date window at 3 o’clock is also the perfect size and completely legible.
The build quality certainly isn’t lacking, and this Tissot maintains the brands commitment to quality engineering. Every piece of this is stainless steel and feels ready to go through the grinder if need be, though I doubt it would have to considering it’s a dress watch. It feels solid without being too heavy, and the watch band has a width of 20mm, so it definitely doesn’t feel bulky either. The deployment clasp on the band is great as well and I’ve had no issues to speak of with regards to it accidentally coming undone or anything like that. In addition, the Swiss automatic movement system also works perfectly and didn’t allow the watch to get off time for more than a few seconds each day, keeping within COSC requirements. For the price, this is a phenomenal watch and well worth being on this list.
Hamilton H70515137 Khaki Field
The Hamilton H70515137 features a brushed stainless steel body, automatic Swiss movement, sapphire glass, and other features that made me surprised it’s able to stay so affordable. Hamilton is a wonderful brand and has been around for over 120 years and it really shows with this watch.
It’s a strong and durable watch, though that’s no surprise considering Hamilton was the go-to brand that the military used to outfit the U.S troops during WWII. The sturdy build of this watch doesn’t take away from it’s beauty, however. Polished stainless steel cases and bands are fantastic while also being incredibly strong. It’s a beautiful dress watch and it’s not too thick or tall, so it’ll fit underneath a dress shirt with ease. The bracelet starts off at 22mm and slims to 20mm as it approaches the clasp, so it adds a very slick aesthetic.
Comfort is another reason I put this watch on the list. The combination of a mid-to-heavyweight watch on a 22mm metal band is extremely comfortable to wear. The band itself seems to be oddly resistant to scratches; it’s not scratch-proof, but it’s definitely resistant. Like I said, Hamilton is known for their quality, so it’s no surprise that this watch is no exception. While high quality, the band is a bit large and only has 2 micro adjust holes on the clasp. This might not be a big deal for some, but it’s something to keep in mind.
For the price, Hamilton did a fantastic job with this watch and it easily makes this list because of it. Its comfort, durability, and design make it a force to be reckoned with in the sub-$500 watch market. It is super versatile and I can see it being used as a casual or dress watch because of the spiffy design and appearance.
Bulova ‘Gemini’ Swiss Automatic
It’s rare to see a quality-made and affordable dress watch that features an automatic/mechanical chronograph. Lucky for us, Bulova was able to make one and keep it within a reasonable price range without sacrificing anything in the way of features. For such a great price, you really can’t beat having a watch like this around. Additionally, it’s one of the only watches on this list that features a chronograph
The best thing about the Gemini is its appearance, bar none. You could take the logo off and tell me it was a $5,000 dress watch and I’d probably believe you. The textured dial is simply beautiful and the design of the hands and numbers is super high-class, though I would have preferred them taking out the tinge of red you’ll notice in some spots.
Surprisingly enough, it’s more comfortable to wear than a lot of sport watches I’ve used in the past as well. I’ve always liked the appearance of a good stainless steel band, but I’ve also loathed them for the amount of pain they cause by ripping my arm hair. Oddly, this watch gave me zero problems on that front and was a pleasure to wear just as much as it was to look at. If you’re looking for a high quality chronograph machine, this one’s your best best.
SEIKO Prospex X Padi Diver
I’ll be honest, when I first saw this watch, I was not a fan. It was only after about two weeks of inspection and thought that I began to realize just how much I liked it. It’s one tank of a dive watch, honestly. I don’t usually favor the Pepsi-esque colors on my timepiece, but this one has a just the right color blend to make the whole thing “pop” in a different way than other watches of the sort. Even if you’re not a diver or swimmer of any kind, I’m pretty sure everyone can find something to love in this watch.
I’ve been reading that some folks have been having issues with the bezel being off, but the one I was using was 100% right-on. Maybe some people didn’t realize it was unidirectional instead of bidirectional? I really don’t know. I think it’s awesome and it’s one of my favorite aspects. The bracelet and case are clearly made with durability in mind, though I do think the bracelet will probably need to be resized for most people right out of the box. I have smaller hands/wrists though, so who knows?
I also think the lume on this watch is much better than what I’ve seen, although Seiko is known for making quality lumes in general. I was able to get about 7 hours of light after holding the watch under my lamp for roughly 20 minutes, and the light really didn’t get dim right until the last stretch of those 7 hours. Overall, this watch is easily worth more than $500 especially since its automatic, but I’m glad Seiko was able to keep the price reasonable enough for people like me to afford it.