Of all the pieces of gear you might carry with you on a given day, few are as stylistically timeless as a classic wristwatch, no pun intended. They’re also still remarkably useful, even in our ever-digital world of smart devices and high-tech integration. As such, they’re very much a style and gear icon we believe every man should own.
That being said, we’re not about to suggest that everyone should or even can spend a fortune on a watch collection. Luckily, you don’t actually have to give up an arm and a leg to get your hands on a worthwhile timepiece. In fact, it’s possible to find one for much less than you probably expect. Don’t believe us? Well, just have a look at our list of the 30 best men’s watches under $500 and see for yourself.
Timex Archive Camper MK1 Watch
Pulled straight out of Timex’s Archives, the Camper MK1 watch you see before you is based on an original timepiece made for the U.S. Army in the 1980s. And while it has retro styling in spades, it’s very much a modern watch you can rely upon. That’s due in part to its reliable quartz movement, non-metallic resin case, and military-inspired grosgrain strap. For the price, this is one of the best watches you can wrap around your wrist.
Horween Leather Timex Weekender Watch
Another superb budget-friendly offering from Timex, this version of the Weekender has been dolled up by the folks at Form Function Form. They’ve taken the reliable quartz-powered watch with its nickel-plated brass case and clean, minimalist dial and added to it a drop-dead gorgeous Horween vegetable-tanned leather strap. Mate that with matching silver hardware, 24-hour dial markings, and a stand-out red seconds dial and this is a style piece that looks good in any venue.
Casio G-SHOCK Carbon Core Watch
Casio and their G-SHOCK sub-brand actually offer quite a few solid timepieces for under $500. But on the extremely affordable end of the spectrum, we’re rather fond of the Carbon Core watch you see here. Available completely blacked-out, black with gray markings, or bright red, this watch is a good deal thinner than G-SHOCK’s other hefty offerings — lending a bit of refinement to its otherwise aggressive styling. And yes, the name refers to carbon fiber reinforcing in the case, which pairs perfectly with a reliable movement, matching band, and the brand’s signature toughness and durability.
Q Timex Reissue Watch
Another early reissue from the wizards at Timex, the Q Timex you see before you is based on the brand’s original dive-inspired model that was originally released back in 1979. This innovative redux boasts a reliable quartz movement, has a day-date window, comes equipped with a unique adjustable bracelet, and still boasts the original’s signature battery hatch for easy, almost tool-free replacement. Pair that with its signature Pepsi bezel and this is a retro-styled watch that looks and works as great as ever.
Jack Mason A101 Aviator Watch
Jack Mason’s take on the classic pilot’s watch, the A101 has an unmistakable beauty that’s been carefully crafted to mimic the instrument gauges found inside the cockpit of aircraft. And the clean styling is complemented wonderfully by its reliable Japanese-made quartz movement, stainless steel case, Super Luminova low-light markings, Italian leather strap, mineral crystal, and 100m water-resistance rating. For a watch this handsome, we’d usually expect to pay at least twice as much — if not a good deal more.
TID Watches No. 1
If you’re keen on the Bauhaus movement and minimalism as a whole, you might want to look into TID watches — especially their simply-named No. 1 that you see here. This watch is actually available in a few different colorways, but we’re drawn to the striking gold-and-black one you see here. Interestingly, although the case and markings are all done up in a monochromatic gold finish, it’s still plenty easy to read. It also has a 40mm stainless steel ion-coated case, a Miyota Japanese quartz movement, and a simple fabric strap.
Armogan Spirit Of St. Louis Chronograph
Another aerospace-inspired timepiece, this chronograph from Armogan was based on an entirely different era than the Jack Mason a couple of spots above. That’s because, as you might’ve guessed from the name, this one was based on the legendary plane flown by Charles Lindbergh during the world’s first transatlantic flight. And the 1920s Art Deco styling is brilliantly-executed, including the gorgeous dial, day/date window, stainless steel case, and the suede leather strap. It’s a seemingly-simple timepiece that’s actually a good deal more handy than a first glance might suggest.
Miansai M24 II Watch
For a lot of us, the ability to tell the time quickly and easily is one of the only requirements we have for a watch. In fact, we’ve been known to actively avoid cumbersome complications, choosing instead to stick with extreme minimalism — like that found in the Miansai M24 II you see here. Made to be “effortlessly elegant,” this watch is about as barebones as it gets with no alphanumerical markings, a simple two-hand dial powered by a Japanese quartz movement, a mineral crystal, and a plain-yet-gorgeous Italian leather strap. The one liberty it does take is its offset crown, which is easier on the wearer than a traditionally-positioned one.
MWC GG-W-113 Vietnam Military Watch
Another traditional take on a classic, MWC’s GG-W-113 is a modern reimagining of the U.S. government’s 1962 infantry watch of the same name. In fact, this modern take — at least stylistically-speaking — is virtually exactly the same as that field watch icon. The big difference? This one comes with an automatic movement. And that makes it a good deal less worrisome than its Vietnam-era predecessor. Of course, you still get a sturdy stainless steel case, dual nylon straps, 24-hour markings, and a seconds hacking function.
Jack Mason A102 Aviator Chronograph
Similar to the brand’s more minimalist A101, the Jack Mason A102 is an aviation-inspired timepiece. The big difference therein is that this one comes with chronograph functionality — making it a bit more comprehensively handy than its simplified brethren. And while the quartz movement, dial, and pushers are obviously different, the rest of the watch boasts the same handsome styling. This particular edition also has a PVD-coated stainless steel case with a matching buckle, a nylon band, and 100m waterproofing.
Void Watches V01MKII
If you want something a bit more unique than the competition and you’re into the idea of a digital watch, then it’s hard to go wrong with the handsome Void Watches V01MKII. Available in 10 different color combinations, this retro timepiece is actually the second iteration of the watch that launched the brand. The case is made from stainless steel, the strap is calf leather, and it’s water-resistant to 5ATM. For those who know that style is sometimes about standing apart from the crowd, this is an exceptional budget-friendly watch.
Seiko Prospex SRPC44 Dive Watch
If Seiko isn’t on your radar when it comes to budget-friendly watches that are worth more than their weight in gold, it’s time for that to change. Case in point: the Prospex SRPC44 dive watch you see here. This uniquely-shaped timepiece — nicknamed the “turtle” — is one of the brand’s most iconic silhouettes, it features an automatic movement with a 44-hour power reserve, comes with a sturdy silicone strap, and it’s water-resistant to 200 meters.
Triwa HU39-D Watch
If you like statement pieces that actually have a real, humanitarian statement to make, then you should absolutely pay attention to what Triwa is doing with their Humanium Metal watches. You see, these time-tellers are actually made from metal sourced from melted-down firearms — giving them a unique story and a unique angle not found elsewhere. Of course, they’re also just good watches — this one boasting a Miyota quartz movement, a vegetable-tanned leather strap, and a water-resistance rating good for 5ATM. Of course, if you don’t like this colorway, there are plenty of other options.
Eone Bradley Mesh Watch
Most watches, regardless of price, were designed specifically to be gazed upon. And while the Eone Bradley Mesh can definitely tell you the time at-a-glance, it’s also one of the few watches around that can also tell you the time in a tactile manner. This is because it has no crystal, opting instead for a dial with raised markings and a ball bearing to represent the passing hours. Of course, it still functions via a reliable quartz movement, has a sturdy and lightweight titanium case, and has a PVD coating for even more durability than it would already have.
Jack Mason D101 Diver Watch
In case you can’t tell, the Jack Mason brand has the exceptional ability to craft timepieces that look far better than their budget-friendly price tag. And one of their most stunning offerings is this D101 Diver. Fully-equipped with unmistakably iconic styling — including a rotating dive timer bezel, stainless steel case with a matching link band, and a black-on-silver contrast — this watch will turn heads in only the best ways. And it’s also reliable on top of that, courtesy of its quartz Miyota movement and 300m water-resistance rating.
Laco Type A Pilot Watch
Laco has been making exceptional German watches since as far back as 1925, making them a bonafide heritage brand. And that makes their reasonably-priced watches even more desirable, the Type A pilot watch you see here included. Based on an actual WWII-era design, all the styling cues you’d expect from an aviation-inspired timepiece are there — from a sturdy stainless steel case with an oversized crown to a riveted stitched leather strap. Of course, looks aren’t everything. But that’s fine because Laco also equipped it with an automatic movement.
Seiko Prospex SRPB55 ‘Black Ion’ Watch
If the previous Seiko watch on this list didn’t quite strike your fancy, perhaps this more-sinister take on a classic dive watch might do it for you. The Prospex SRPB55 ‘Black Ion’ has a 200m water-resistance rating, a silicone strap, LumiBrite markings and hands for easy low-light reading, a sturdy stainless steel case, and an absolutely stunning gold-on-black finish. And since it’s a diver, the rotating bezel is a nice edition — although we’re pretty sure most folks like this more as a style piece than a functional dive watch.
While there were some folks who thought smartwatches were a short-term trend that would die out, it’s become abundantly clear that they’re here to stay. And that is owed largely to the Apple Watch. By and large, the best readily-available option on the market, this high-tech timepiece is in its 5th iteration and is better than ever. It can accept calls, play music, text, keep your calendar, has a built-in compass and a slew of other sensors and integrated apps — all made to make your life easier, smarter, better, etc. You can even swim with it without worry. If you want a smartwatch, there’s little reason to look elsewhere.
Lum-Tec Combat B40 Watch
For those unfamiliar, Lum-Tec makes limited-run timepieces often designed for some of the most extreme environments and vocations. And their Combat B40 is no exception to that. This beefy field watch was inspired by the battlefield and is actually built tough enough to make it through one (or many) and come out the other side unscathed. It manages that with a titanium carbide PVD coating on top of its sturdy 316L stainless steel case, which protects its reliable Miyota quartz movement that keeps it ticking reliably. It also boasts a double-curved sapphire crystal with a mil-spec anti-reflective coating. And if you’re worried about batteries for the movement, it comes with a lifetime of free replacements, as well as pressure testing and seal lubrication/cleaning.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver Watch
While they’re probably most famous for their Swiss Army Knives, Victorinox is also well-known for their suite of Swiss Army Watches, like the I.N.O.X. Professional Diver you see here. A handsome, stand-out take on an iconic watch category, this one features a Japanese quartz movement hidden beneath a stainless steel case — complete with a unidirectional rotating bezel. It also comes with a matching stainless steel link band, a cleverly-positioned date window, and it’s water-resistant to 200 meters.
Braun BN0265 Classic Chronograph Watch
The Bauhaus school was so impactful in the design space that the minimalist language is still exceedingly important to this day. In fact, some of the brands from that era are reproducing designs from that time or modern takes on their most iconic pieces. Braun is one such brand and their BN0265 is one of the finest examples of a Bauhaus-inspired chronograph around. The watch is clean and unmistakable, it boasts a reliable quartz movement inside a stainless steel case, and it even has a date window at the 6 o’clock position.
Filson Chronograph Watch
Obviously, Filson is most well known for their heritage gear and apparel. But they’ve also recently gotten into the watchmaking game. And, as it turns out, their simply-named Chronograph Watch is one of the finest and most handsome timepieces you can get for under $500. Made with the same focus on durability as the brand’s previous Field Watch, this one features a reliable quartz chronograph movement, has a PVD-plated stainless steel case, and boasts a screw-down crown to protect against moisture, dirt, and dust.
Uniform Wares C35 Watch
If you prefer your watches to be handsome time-tellers and little, if anything else, then you’re definitely going to want to have a look at the Uniform Wares C35. This gorgeous minimalist timepiece is free of just about everything besides 12-hour markings and a pair of hands to indicate the time. And while that might not seem like much, its gorgeousness and reliability — courtesy of a beautifully-finished 316L stainless steel case and Swiss Ronda movement — more than make up for any perceived lack of functionality. If you want a Swiss dress watch that serves its primary purpose perfectly and looks excellent at any angle in doing so, this is that watch.
Mondaine Helvetica No1 Bold Watch
Though not quite as pared-down as the offering above, Mondaine’s Helvetica No1 Bold Watch is one of the best minimalist watches around — especially for those who love sound design and typography. Of course, its striking monochromatic appearance isn’t all it has to offer. It also features a dependable Swiss quartz movement, a black-finished stainless steel case mated to a comfortable and tough nylon strap, and it’s water-resistant to 3 bar.
Luminox Navy SEAL Chronograph
If a watch is tough enough to be used by the Navy SEALs, it’s likely more than tough enough for you to wrap around your wrist. And that’s exactly the case with the blacked-out Luminox Navy SEAL Chronograph you see here. This stealthy and aggressive timepiece features a CARBONOX case with a stainless steel caseback, a tempered scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a Swiss Ronda movement, and 200m of water-resistance. For under $500, it’s hard to find a watch tougher than this beast.
Timex American Documents Watch
Over a century ago, Timex manufactured gorgeous mantle clocks for their customers’ homes. This watch echoes the design of those beautiful timepieces, albeit in a much more portable and wearable format. This special offering is also powered by a Swiss quartz movement, but is otherwise made entirely in the USA — including its stainless steel case, “Aged Waterbury Brass” caseback, and beautiful leather strap. Plus, for safekeeping, it comes in a handsome cherry wood box — the same material the original 1854 clocks were housed in.
Tissot Sea Star 1000 Dive Watch
As it turns out, you can get your hands on a bonafide 300m dive watch for under $500, so long as you pick the Tissot Sea Star 1000 you see here. The survivable depth isn’t all it has to offer, either. This watch also boasts a tough stainless steel case with a ceramic unidirectional dive timer bezel, a screw-down crown, luminous hands and markers, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and an exhibition caseback to show off its Powermatic 80 movement.
Rossling & Co. Continental Automatic Watch
Just because a watch has minimalist styling cues, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a statement-making piece of gear, as evidenced by the Rossling & Co. Continental watch you see here. As you can garner at a glance, this sizable 40mm watch has more than a few things going for it, including striking blue hands on a clean white dial with subtle silver markings, a date window at the 3 o’clock position, and a unique tweed strap available in your choice of three colors. It’s also powered by a Japanese Miyota automatic movement, so you never have to worry about winding it.
Hamilton Khaki King II Watch
The Hamilton Khaki King II is a bit more dressed up than its field watch counterparts, but that’s a very good thing in this case. And while its refined black-on-silver appearance is perhaps a bit more dressed-up than some of its brethren, it still boasts plenty of notes taken from its military background. That includes a tough stainless steel case with a shrouded crown, 12- and 24-hour markings, and an automatic movement that has an 80-hour power reserve. It also features a bold day/date window at the 12 o’clock position for easy at-a-glance reading.
Casio G Shock The Full Metal 5000 Watch
A modern, specially crafted, all-metal take on G-SHOCK’s original DW5000C watch, this striking silver timepiece boasts a vintage aesthetic as only Casio can manage. And while it looks spot-on like the iconic original it’s modeled after, this one has loads of modern features that elevate it to new heights — like Bluetooth connectivity, a solar-powered movement, and G-SHOCK’s Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping technology (which uses radio transmissions to stay dead-on accurate). It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the Casio sub-brand’s motif, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this watch.
How To Remove Scratches From A Watch Crystal
Even if you’re not spending a fortune on your timepiece of choice, you’re still going to want to keep it looking good for years to come. And while a ding in the glass might seem like the end of the world, we’ve got a handy guide on how to remove scratches from watch crystal that will ease your troubles.
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