One would be forgiven for thinking that all luxury watches are simply out of the realm of possibility for most guys. Just take a quick scroll around online and you’ll see Swiss watches retailing for five figures and vintage timepieces being sold at auction for millions of dollars. And while those watches certainly are something to covet, they only make up a small portion of the watch market as a whole.
There are plenty of heirloom-quality timepieces out there that are indeed expensive, but attainable for those willing to set aside a bit of cash each month to save up. In fact, we think a lot our readers would be surprised at how many high quality watches are available for under 5 grand. High-end Swiss, German, and American watch brands all have a host of references that fall within the range of 1 to 5 thousand dollars. To help narrow down the search for you, we pulled together a list of the 18 best watches for under $5,000.
Likely one of the most rugged watches on this list, this timepiece boasts a tough-as-nails carbon composite case housing a Swiss made quartz movement and a stark black dial with Arabic numerals. Rather than featuring a metal or leather bracelet, the watch has a paracord strap – making it ideal for wearing in the backcountry.
Junghans Meister Chronoscope
Swiss watches get a lot of hype. So much, in fact, that it can be easy to forget that there are other great brands out there that don’t hail from the birthplace of fondue. Take Junghans’ Meister Chronoscope, for example. The wristwatch features a striking mid-century modern design that any guy would be proud to wear on the daily.
Oris Aquis Date
Finding a dive watch that is just as at home in the urban jungle as it is beneath the waves can be hard. Finding one for under $5,000? Even harder. Thankfully, Oris’ Aquis Diver is one of the few that’ve managed to strike the balance. The 43mm stainless steel case holds an automatic winding date movement that drives three hands around the black face marked with bright orange luminescent indices. An altogether great pick.
Weiss Limited American Issue Field Watch Blue Dial
One of the only watch companies that really can hold a claim to the term ‘American made’ without adding on a laundry list of qualifiers is Weiss. They make watches by hand right in the heart of Los Angeles. This particular watch from the young company, the Limited American Issue Field Watch, boasts a CAL 1003 movement with a beat rate of 21,600 BPH. More than just being technically capable, however, the watch also features a design that derives much of its inspiration from Los Angeles’ Art Deco architecture.
Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Chronograph
Usually when you’re looking at timepieces above the $1,000 range, they tend to be a bit more elegant and a little less sporty. This watch from Tissot, however, is proudly athletic. Inspired in large part by its 1960s motorsport origins, this chronograph boasts a stainless steel case with a black tachymeter bezel and yellow accents along the pushers and second hands. A fun pick for the petrol-head.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic
While they’re more known for their stunning pens than their watches, it is hard to ignore this simple but attractive timepiece from Montblanc. Part of the ‘1858’ collection, this wristwatch harkens back to the company’s older designs but pairs it with modern technology and craftsmanship.
IWC Portofino Automatic Watch
A clean, handsome, and altogether undeniable timepiece from the Swiss powerhouse IWC Schaffhausen. The watch’s stainless steel case holds a silver dial with Roman numerals located at 12 and 6 o’clock, and a date window at 3. Three hands are driven around this stark face by a IWC calibre 35110 automatic movement with a 42 hour power reserve. To top off the striking design and high quality movement, the watch features a crocodile leather watch strap.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Automatic Chronograph
Usually chronograph watches have the feel of racing or flight instruments. Or, put another way, they just feel busy. This timepiece from Baume & Mercier, however, manages to feature three sub-dials and a day date window while still retaining an almost elegant look to it. The stainless steel case holds a Swiss-made automatic ETA 7750 movement that drives the blue hands around the watch’s three sub-dials and main silver dial.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Military Type
For those on the hunt for a uniquely shaped watch with a tactical vibe, there are really few better than Bell & Ross’ BR 03-92 Military Type. The timepiece features a matte-black ceramic case that holds an army-green dial featuring Super-LumiNova coated Arabic numerals, indices, and hands. The watch is driven by a BR-CAL.302 mechanical movement with a 40 hour power reserve and comes with a spare army-green canvas strap.
Grand Seiko SBGR257
This watch from Grand Seiko is the kind that feels at home in almost any situation. The stainless steel case measures in at nearly 40mm in diameter and holds a black dial with metallic indices and date window. In addition to its attractive look, it boasts a high quality automatic movement with a 72 hour power reserve. A great everyday or dress watch.
Zenith Elite Ultra-Thin
Looking for a watch with a starker, more high contrast design? This timepiece from Zenith may be a fit. The Swiss-made watch has a stainless steel case and domed sapphire crystal that hovers just above a sun ray pattern black dial with angular indices and a trio of hands.
One of the sharpest dive watches out there has to be the Tudor Pelagos LHD. The watch is waterproofed down to 500 meters, and boasts a big unidirectional bezel with beige luminescent Arabic numerals that match the watch’s snowflake hands and indices. It is incredibly easy to read both underwater and out on the street.
Sinn U1000 S
This watch from Sinn feels more like a piece of equipment than a timepiece. Made from German Submarine Steel and tested to European diving standards – this diving watch is pressure resistant down to 1,000 meters below the surface. The watch boasts a black bezel, bracelet, and face punctuated by bright white luminescent indices, hands, and bezel.
Nomos Glashutte Ahoi Atlantik Datum
So, like a lot of other folks out there, we’re real suckers for Nomos. All of the watches from the German maker have a clean, minimalist style with eye-popping colors on the hands and dial. The Ahoi Atlantik Datum is no exception. It boasts a deep blue dial, aqua hands, and an orangish hand on the subdial. Those hands and the date window located at 6 o’clock are driven by Nomos’ in house Caliber DUW 5101 automatic movement.
Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16
While the inspiration for this watch is rooted in car racing – it still manages to have an elegant look to it. The 43mm stainless steel case and double anti-reflective sapphire crystal hold a silver dial with rose gold plated Roman numerals and a trio of hands. The hour and minute hand are painted with white SuperLuminova, and are driven around the face TAG Heuer Calibre 16 automative movement.
Omega Speedmaster 38 Co-Axial Chronograph
A legendary timepiece for an attractive price. The Speedmaster boasts a fixed bezel with a tachymeter scale and a black dial set beneath a domed sapphire glass. That dial features three sub-dials, a date window, and a trio of hands driven by an Omega 330 self winding movement with 52 hour power reserve.
Bremont MB II
A collaboration between the British watch maker and Martin-Baker, a producer of emergency ejection seats this watch has an attractive look to it matched only by its toughness. The watch – which is driven by a calibre BE-36AE automatic chronometer movement – has been tested to the exacting standards of all flight equipment including water resistance and vibration.
Officine Panerai Luminor Marina
Most diving watches are characterized by their big, thick bezels. This one from Officine Panerai sets itself apart by eschewing the classical design and instead going for a totally unique case design. The dial on the watch features Super-LumiNova painted numerals, hour markers, and hands. Those hands are driven around the watch face by a Swiss made mechanical movement.
Best Men's Watches Under $1,000
A $5,000 watch not quite in your budget? Take a look through our list of the best men’s watches under $1,000.