The 30 Best Men’s Watches Under $1,000

Mar 18, 2021

Category: Style

Watch collecting can be a fun hobby, but it can also be a dangerous one. While you may begin your journey by picking up low-priced divers or quartz beater watches, most serious watch collectors eventually turn their attention toward pricier objects of horological affection. Watches can get extremely expensive, and you may find yourself no longer enjoying the hobby if you spend all your time pining for watches that you can’t afford. That’s where we come in with our guide to the best watches for men under $1,000 to show you that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a great watch.

On our list, you’ll find practically every style of watch you’ll need to fill out your collection: dress watches, chronographs, GMTs, field watches, pilot’s watches, everyday watches, and of course, dive watches. You’ll find selections from all of the usual suspects at this price point like Seiko, Hamilton, and Tissot, as well as a few that perhaps you weren’t expecting to see like Longines, Doxa, and even Omega (yes, really). So take a look below to discover the 30 best watches you can get for under $1,000 and decide which (or rather, how many) of them you’d like to add to your collection.

Seagull 1963

It’s not often you’ll find a mechanical chronograph for less than $1,000 new, let alone one with some history behind it, but that’s exactly what you get with the Seagull 1963. Made by China’s largest mechanical watch manufacturer, this watch is a reissue of one that was commissioned by the Chinese government for use by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in the ‘60s. This Seagull houses the company’s in-house ST19 manual-wind column wheel chronograph movement, a clone of the venerated Venus 175 movement that powered many a Swiss chronograph in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Case Size: 38mm
Movement Type: Manual-wind
Water Resistance: 30m

Purchase: $329+

Apple Watch Series 6

However you feel about smartwatches (and the inclusion of one on a list such as this), the impact of the Apple Watch cannot be denied. Within just a few years, this wearable computer has become not only the world’s best-selling watch, but it also outsells the entire Swiss watch industry. Even for traditionalists, there’s likely room for an Apple Watch in your collection thanks to the device’s various health and fitness features, like its blood oxygen sensor and ECG app, that can potentially offer you life-saving insight.

Case Size: 40mm, 44mm
Movement Type: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $399+

Laco Augsberg

Conceived as an easy-to-read pilot’s watch for the German military during WWII, the Flieger watch has endured as one of the most iconic watch styles in existence. Just five brands were originally authorized to manufacture them — IWC, Stowa, Wempe, A. Lange & Söhne, and Laco — with the latter being the only one who makes them for under a grand. For just over 400 bucks you can get yourself a German-made mechanical Flieger watch from a true heritage brand, and that’s what makes the Augsberg such an attractive proposition.

Case Size: 42mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $410

Bulova Lunar Pilot

Practically every watch fan knows that an Omega Speedmaster Professional adorned the wrist of Buzz Aldrin as he became one of the first two men to set foot on the moon in 1969. But you may not know that a similar-looking Bulova prototype was also worn on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission in 1972. This watch is a modern-day reissue of that historic Bulova, and it not only features Speedmaster-esque good looks, but also Bulova’s smooth-sweeping, high-performance quartz movement and a sapphire crystal.

Case Size: 45mm
Movement Type: Quartz
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $440+

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

Hamilton’s Khaki Field line is considered by many to be the definitive series of field watches, with the former American (now Swiss-based) manufacturer having produced mil-spec watches for the Allied Forces during WWII. The modern Khaki Field Mechanical is the evolution of those wartime tools, featuring the same classic styling and rugged nature as their battle-worn predecessors, but with modern amenities like a sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova, and Hamilton’s H-50 caliber hand-wind movement with an 80-hour power reserve.

Case Size: 38mm
Movement Type: Manual-wind
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $495+

Zodiac Grandrally

Over the last several years, once-forgotten Swiss brand Zodiac has come roaring back to life with a range of vintage-style watches inspired by its iconic mid-century releases. Among them is this affordably-priced racing chronograph. The ‘70s-inspired design includes a tonneau case, two-register layout, an inner tachymeter bezel, and a number of fun color combinations. The watch houses a quartz movement but still offers a mechanical-style sweeping central seconds hand for the chronograph, lending a high-end feel at a low-end price.

Case Size: 41.5mm
Movement Type: Quartz
Water Resistance: 100m

Purchase: $495+

BOLDR Expedition

Singapore-based BOLDR is a newer watch and gear brand with a focus on adventure, and the Expedition is their thoroughly-modern take on the classic field watch. With a design that was inspired by tanks, the Expedition is certainly built like one, with 200m water resistance, magnetic resistance to 20,000 A/m, an AR-coated sapphire crystal, two screw-down crowns, a Swiss automatic movement, and a rugged natural rubber strap. The Expedition also has buckets of two-tone Super-LumiNova and arguably looks even better at night than in the daytime.

Case Size: 41mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $599

G-SHOCK GMWB5000GD-1

G-SHOCK made a name for themselves by crafting extremely rugged digital watches, but these days they’re just as known for their stylish urban-ready pieces. This blacked-out version of the company’s successful Full Metal 5000 line was based on the very first G-SHOCK, the DW5000C. The watch features 200m water resistance, G-SHOCK’s typical shock protection, and a Super Illuminator LED backlight. It’s also solar-powered, Bluetooth-capable, and boasts Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping for ultimate accuracy.

Case Size: 43.2mm
Movement Type: Solar Quartz/Radio-Controlled
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $600

Yema Flygraf Pilot

Yema is a French watchmaker who had some success in the mid-century before fading from memory for several decades. But lately, they’ve come back in a big way, mining their back catalog for a number of reissues. But Yema is looking forward, too, with a number of entirely-new watch releases that aren’t tied to their past — like this one. The Flygraf is a unique take on a pilot’s watch with a superbly-finished Patek Aquanaut-like vertically-brushed bezel, gobs of lume on its brushed dial, and a bonkers 300m water resistance that puts many dive watches to shame.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 300m

Purchase: $690+

Baltic Aquascaphe

Yema isn’t the only French brand making waves. Paris-based microbrand Baltic has been churning out vintage-inspired mechanical timepieces since 2017, and they just keep getting better at it. The company’s mid-century-inspired Aquascaphe diver has arguably been their biggest hit. With a refreshingly modest case size, original-yet-familiar styling, and quality components like a sapphire crystal and bezel and a Japanese automatic movement, the Aquascaphe provides the look and feel of a vintage timepiece with the added benefit of modern horological know-how.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $693+

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival AIR Series

Swiss watchmaker Luminox and adventure icon Bear Grylls have released a number of watches together through their ongoing alliance, but their latest release may also be their greatest. The AIR Series is a rough-and-ready GMT watch that’s built for worldwide adventure while still looking stylish enough for a night out. The watch is bursting with Luminox tech, like a bidirectional CARBONOX bezel and always-on illumination that glows for up to 25 years, while its Swiss-made Ronda 515 HF 6 movement keeps accurate time in two timezones at once.

Case Size: 45mm
Movement Type: Quartz
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $695+

Seiko Prospex “Alpinist” SPB121

Seiko makes loads of worthwhile watches that cost under $1,000 — and many that cost several times that much, too — but none sit higher than the Alpinist. The latest in Seiko’s decades-long lineage of mountaineering watches, this Alpinist is part of the company’s premium Prospex line and is outfitted with a sapphire crystal, 200m water resistance, an inner-rotating compass bezel, Lumi-Brite lume, and the bulletproof in-house 6R35 movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

Case Size: 39.5mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $725+

Stowa Marine Classic

Part of the lure of German watchmaker Stowa is the brand’s customizable range, with most models offering your choice of movements, case sizes, and finishes. The bulk of their options run north of $1,000, but this heritage-inspired marine watch can be had for less. With a traditional case size, high-polished white dial with contrasting black Arabic or Roman numerals, and real temperature-treated blued steel hands, this value proposition offers a boatload (get it? Marine?) of traditional style at a great price.

Case Size: 36mm
Movement Type: Automatic or Manual-wind
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $743+

Halios Fairwind

Vancouver-based Halios is often cited as one of, if not the greatest microbrand around, and it’s easy to see why. Owner Jason Lim often spends years between releases getting all the details just right, and it shows with his new dive watch, the Fairwind. With angular case styling and an impeccably-finished flat-link bracelet, this diver looks like it could easily cost three times what it does. Throw in a Swiss automatic movement, double-domed box sapphire crystal, and an on-the-fly push-button adjustable clasp that is literally unheard of at this (or almost any) price point, and you’re really in uncharted waters.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $775

Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium

Having been around since 1853, heritage Swiss brand Tissot has had their share of memorable watch releases. But few made as big of an impact as the Gentleman. Considered by some to be the best Swiss watch under a grand (not to mention a venerable stand-in for a Rolex), the dressy sports watch features versatile styling, high-grade finishing, and plenty of durability. But its movement is the real standout, with the Powermatic 80 boasting 80 hours of power reserve and a silicon hairspring — an anti-shock, anti-magnetic feature previously relegated to only high-end brands.

Case Size: 40mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

Purchase: $775+

Formex Essence

Established at the turn of the 21st century, independent Swiss watch brand Formex took a while to gain a significant foothold in the industry. But now that they’ve got the ball rolling, watch out. The brand’s Essence has been a runaway hit thanks to its high-quality hand-finishing, bold styling, and its unique innovations. The watch has two patents, one for its Case Suspension System and another for its carbon fiber composite clasp with patented micro-adjustment, making it one of the most comfortable and R&D-heavy watches for the money.

Case Size: 43mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

Purchase: $785+

Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding

The German brand Junghans is well known for its association with the Bauhaus design movement and especially designer Max Bill, and its classic manual-wind dress watch is the purest distillation of the brand’s identity. This minimalist beauty remains nearly unchanged since its 1961 debut, with a mid-century appropriate 34-mm case size, hand-wound movement, and domed plexiglass crystal. Given its specs and lineage, this is arguably the closest you can get today to buying a brand new vintage watch.

Case Size: 34mm
Movement Type: Manual-wind
Water Resistance: 30m

Purchase: $795+

Lorier Hyperion

GMT watches remain some of the most desirable among collectors, but they can be difficult to obtain for under $1,000 — especially a mechanical one. But NYC-based microbrand Lorier not only managed to accomplish this feat with their Hyperion, but they did so with one of the best-looking GMTs on the market. The Hyperion is vintage-inspired with its lumed plexiglass Pepsi bezel, roulette date wheel, and domed plexiglass crystal, and manages to recall the legendary Rolex ref. 6542 — aka the “Pussy Galore” — without getting into dreaded homage territory.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

Purchase: $799

Victorinox I.N.O.X. Mechanical

The I.N.O.X. was already one of the toughest and most durable watches on the market, but when Victorinox fitted its beefy case with a Swiss-made automatic movement, then watch enthusiasts really took notice. Combining classic steel sports watch looks with adventure-ready capability in a statement-making size, the I.N.O.X. Mechanical doesn’t really have any direct competitors at this or any other price point. So if what we’ve described is what you’ve been looking for, then you can stop looking because you’ve found it.

Case Size: 43mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $825+

Squale 50 Atmos 1521

Squale’s association with dive watches goes back almost as far as the modern diver itself. In the ‘60s, they even made dive watch cases for Blancpain — the company that invented the style. Squale still exclusively makes divers today, and their 1521 line is arguably their most recognized, dating back to the ‘70s. The series features vintage-inspired looks, extreme diving capability, and that iconic Squale case, with the “Ocean” blue colorway seen here in particular regarded as a modern classic.

Case Size: 41mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 500m

Purchase: $829+

Glycine Airman DC4 GMT

Rolex gets a lot of press for creating the world’s first GMT watch back in 1954, but fellow Swiss brand Glycine’s Airman actually pre-dated the GMT Master by a year, having first been released in 1953. Like the Rolex, it was created for airline pilots so they could tell the time in two timezones at once thanks to an innovative fourth hand. Unlike the Rolex, the Airman utilizes 24-hour time for both the first and second timezones, making for one quirky and historically-important watch that can be had for less than ten percent of the cost of a GMT Master II.

Case Size: 42mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $860

Gorilla Fastback

Traditionalists may scoff at this pick, but hear us out. Oversized and loud watches from Richard Mille and the like are rapidly changing the watch industry and watch culture, and they can’t be ignored. But since RM watches go for six-figures, anyone who’s looking to cop the look for less should take a good look at Gorilla. Created by the former creative director of Audemars Piguet, Gorilla watches are well-made and make use of some high-end materials. For example, this Fastback model has a case made of ceramic, carbon, titanium, and aluminum. They may not be for everyone, but they’re just right for some.

Case Size: 44mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 100m

Purchase: $880

Farer Bradfield

For only having been around for a handful of years, UK-based Farer has quickly established an easily-identifiable design language thanks to their innovative use of color and highly-detailed dials. The Bradfield is part of their line of pilot’s watches and it certainly exemplifies the hallmarks of the brand. Yellow hands paired with sky blue and red accents on a white dial aren’t exactly common on a pilot’s watch — or on any watch for that matter. The stepped dial also features multiple finishing levels and outstanding depth, not to mention some innovative and very legible applications of bi-color Super-LumiNova lume.

Case Size: 39.5mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $887+

Marathon MSAR Automatic Arctic Edition

Built for search and rescue dive missions and worn by U.S. service members in the field, Marathon’s mid-size diver will easily stand up to whatever adventure you have in mind. This hand-built Swiss watch is built to ISO 6425 diver standards and is water-resistant to 300m. Its tritium gas tubes provide constant illumination in any light, and its unpierced vulcanized rubber strap allows you the opportunity to create a custom fit. The Arctic Edition, with its stark white dial, adds a touch of stylistic flair to what is at its core a high-functioning mil-spec tool watch.

Case Size: 36mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 300m

Purchase: $900+

Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire

Christopher Ward’s C60 Trident diver was already arguably the greatest dive watch available under a thousand dollars, but the Swiss-made, British-based independent brand has never been one to rest on its laurels. In 2020, the brand released a new version of the C60 with a sapphire dial. Sapphire being a notoriously difficult material to work with, CW showed off their manufacturing prowess by creating a dial from it that requires over 80 operations to make and is just 0.6mm thick. The end result is a luxe transparent dial that allows a view of the Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement below.

Case Size: 40mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 600m

Purchase: $910+

Doxa Sub 200

Considering the fact that Jacques Costeau, the most famous undersea explorer in history, was a fan of this dive watch brand is really all you need to know. Doxa is one of the premier names in dive watches, but all of their watches are priced above $1,000 — except this one. The Sub 200 is no bargain-basement watch, either. It offers everything you’d expect from a Doxa, including a Swiss-made automatic movement, AR-treated sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova on the hands, indices, and bezel, and 200m water resistance. And you can even get it in Doxa’s signature “Professional Orange.” Jacques would be proud.

Case Size: 42mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 200m

Purchase: $950

Mido Baroncelli Heritage

Every collection needs a good dress watch, and Mido makes a great one. The Baroncelli Heritage is striking, with an eggshell-textured dial, faceted dauphine hands with contrasting finishing, and a blued steel seconds hand. The watch measures just 7.3mm thick, which is absurdly thin for a watch with an automatic movement and a display caseback. And that rear window isn’t wasted either, as the watch’s ETA 2892 automatic movement is fully decorated with Côtes de Genève, perlage, and even blued screws.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 30m

Purchase: $990+

Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage GMT

The importance of Rolex in the modern watch industry can’t be overstated. The Crown is considered the gold standard for sports watches, and virtually all brands find themselves compared to Rolex at one point or another — usually negatively. This frequently happens with Rolex’s GMT Master II, which features an individually-adjustable hour hand that fans praise as a “true GMT.” That type of GMT movement is rare outside of Rolex and a few other high-end manufacturers, but Aplina has managed to outfit their gorgeous retro Startimer with a modified automatic movement that does this very thing. Rolex probably isn’t sweating over it, but you should be cheering it.

Case Size: 42mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $990+

Longines Conquest VHP

Is there really a quartz watch at the highest price point on this list? Yes, yes there is. But this is no ordinary quartz watch. Longines’ VHP — Very High Precision — movements are among the most accurate watch movements in the world, keeping time to within ± 5 seconds per year. This watch also features a perpetual calendar complication, making it the ultimate expression of a “set it and forget it” watch. You’re also getting luxury-level finishing, classically-versatile sports watch styling, and the benefit of true Swiss heritage thanks to Longines’ long and illustrious history.

Case Size: 41mm
Movement Type: Quartz
Water Resistance: 50m

Purchase: $1,000

Photo: Treasure0ut on eBay

Vintage Omega Seamaster

If you thought there was no way you could get an Omega for under a thousand bucks, think again. Vintage Seamasters can readily be found in that price range in all manner of styles on sites like eBay. Most will be mechanical mid-century dress watches in 34-37mm, but you may find the occasional quartz diver from the ‘80s as well. The hunt is half the fun, and nothing beats the thrill of getting a great deal on an iconic quality watch from one of the most prestigious brands in the world.

Case Size: Varies, Mostly Below 40mm
Movement Type: Varies, Mostly Automatic
Water Resistance: Not reliable due to age

Purchase: $TBD

The 24 Best Affordable Alternatives To Iconic Luxury Watches

If you didn’t see anything on this list that strikes your fancy because you’ve got your eye set on a high-priced iconic luxury watch instead, don’t worry, we thought of you too. Just head on over to our list of the best affordable alternatives to iconic luxury watches to discover some great non-homage swaps for the Rolex Submariner, Patek Philippe Nautilus, AP Royal Oak, and more.

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