A watch does not have to cost you thousands of your hard-earned dollars in order to be handsome, reliable, and worth wrapping around your wrist. That being said, there is often a direct correlation between the overall quality and craftsmanship of wearable timepieces and their price. Simply put: a more expensive watch is — more often than not — a more exceptional piece of machinery than its lower-priced counterparts, pretty much across the board.
While there are some ultra-luxe wristwatches that are priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, there are also plenty of truly exceptional timepieces for a fraction of the scratch. For less than ten grand, it’s possible to get your hands on some of the most beautiful, reliable, long-lasting, durable, and eye-catching watches presently available for purchase. These are functional tools and style accessories of the highest caliber and mark an investment worth making for those that can afford the entry price. These are the 12 best men’s watches you can get for under $10,000.
NOMOS Zurich World Time Watch
Headquartered in Glashütte, the birthplace of the German watchmaking tradition, NOMOS has been a staple of the high-end timepiece industry since its founding in 1990. And the brand’s renowned and highly-respected reputation can be credited largely to their exceptional combination of top-tier craftsmanship and unmistakable minimalist styling. Their aptly-named Zurich World Time watch is certainly no exception. This absolutely stunning world timer watch — which features a whopping 24 timezones represented around its striking dial — masterfully balances usefulness and cleanliness. It also boasts an in-house automatic self-winding movement, simple push-button functionality, an anti-reflective domed sapphire crystal, a Horween leather strap, and a spectacular stainless steel case. Every serious watch collector should own at least one NOMOS offering and you can’t go wrong with this option.
Case: Stainless Steel
Case Size: 39.9mm
Movement: DUW 5201 Automatic
Type: World Timer
Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G Watch
The sister brand to Rolex, Tudor doesn’t have the fame or name recognition of its bigger sibling brand, but that’s absolutely not at all a reflection of Tudor’s overall quality and craftsmanship — of which it has both in spades. A perfect example of the brand’s superb timepiece design and manufacturing can be found in the brand’s legendary Black Bay series of dive watches. We’re particularly fond of this Chrono S&G edition — with its silver, gold, and black case detailing and matching band; an in-house-developed automatic movement; rotating dive timer bezel; chronograph sub-dials; and more. Better still, if you happen to appreciate this watch but you want something just a touch different, it is also offered with a black fabric strap or a bund-style leather strap. If you want a watch that says you know a thing or two about timekeeping and you’re not just a slave to big-name pop-culture brands, don’t pass this one up.
Case: Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold
Case Size: 41mm
Movement: MT5813 Automatic
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Extra Special Watch
Here in the United States, most people recognize Zenith as a now-defunct electronics brand that peaked and plummeted before the turn of the century. However, long before consumer electronics were even a thing, a watchmaking brand by the same name was started in Neuchâtel, Switzerland way back in 1865. For a long time, it was impossible to get these watches in the United States (without some tricky importing, that is) because of the existence of the electronics brand. Now, however, these stunning Swiss watches are widely available — including their stunningly beautiful Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Extra Special that you see here. Powered by the brand’s near-mythic El Primero automatic movement, this is one of the most striking and reliable pilot watches around. And while it certainly costs more than many are willing to spend on a watch, that investment comes with a lifetime of returns in style and reliability.
Case Size: 45mm
Movement: El Primero Automatic
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Watch
Few watchmaking brands are quite as synonymous with the world of motorsport racing as TAG Heuer. We are talking about the brand that crafted one of Steve McQueen’s favorite chronographs of all time, the Monaco. And while that watch is quite exceptional, they do offer some higher-end options, like the Carrera Chronograph you see here. Though this watch has the same spirit as the rest of the Carrera lineup, it’s elevated in a number of interesting ways. For starters, the skeletonized dial allows the wearer to showcase the in-house HEUER02 automatic movement within and the whole thing is protected by a striking carbon fiber case with a matching tachymeter bezel and a sapphire crystal. Furthermore, it boasts a titanium and sapphire exhibition caseback for an even better peek at the exceptional inner workings. For those who can appreciate a bit of sinister styling in their race-ready timepieces, this one is hard to beat.
Case: Carbon Fiber
Case Size: 45mm
Movement: HEUER02 Automatic
Type: Racing Chronograph
Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Watch
The Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso Classic Medium Duoface watch you see before you might actually be the most unique watch on our list, but maybe not for the reasons that are immediately apparent. You see, while it’s iconic rectangular case certainly sets it apart, this dress watch has a pair of hidden features that elevate it even further above the competition. You see, as the name suggests, this watch was actually made to rotate while you are wearing it. Originally, this design feature was meant to help protect the watch face in potentially dangerous situations. However, this particular dressed-up edition forgoes the solid steel caseback in favor of a second alternative black dial. What that means is that this manually-wound watch is more like two stylish watches built into one and you can choose which face you want on display depending on your mood, outfit, or otherwise. This is a dress watch with some impressive hidden talents.
Case: Stainless Steel
Case Size: 25.5mm
Movement: 854A/2 Manual
IWC Portugieser Watch
Another really superb and somewhat under-the-radar Swiss timekeeping brand, IWC has been crafting exceptional mechanical marvels since as far back as 1868. Of everything they’ve come to offer since that time, however, the Portugieser series of watches might just be their most important and impactful. It also serves to illustrate one of the things that IWC does best: understatement. They don’t rely on flash or gimmicks, instead letting their movements and subtlety speak for themselves. This can be seen in the slenderness of this Portugieser’s 60-second bezel, which serves to make this 41mm watch look like it has a dial that’s much larger than it actually is. It’s a clever design element that speaks to the brand’s detail-oriented approach. Of course, that’s just one of the many things that makes this timepiece standout — alongside its house-made automatic movement, exhibition caseback, alligator leather strap, and so much more.
Case: Stainless Steel
Case Size: 41mm
Movement: 69355 Automatic
Panerai Luminor Watch
For many of us, automatic watches are the name of the game. However, for people with a taste for history, tradition, and perhaps just a touch of the flare for oddities, a manually-wound movement is nigh-unbeatable. There’s just something about the historical significance and the ritual of having to remember to physically wind up your watch that really sets these pieces apart. And while Panerai definitely offers their legendary Luminor dive watch with “set-it-and-forget-it” auto movements, this one happens to have a more traditional manual movement housed inside. Pair that with its oversized uniquely-shaped case, shielded crown, minimalist dial elements, big bold markings, and more and you’ve got yourself one of the most recognizable high-end timepieces around. Inspired directly by the history of the brand and boasting throwback mechanisms, this is a dive watch for purists if there ever was one.
Case: Stainless Steel
Case Size: 47mm
Movement: P.3000 Manual
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph Pan Am Watch
Though the company went belly-up back in 1991, Pan Am is still fondly remembered by many as an important piece of Americana and aviation history — marked by the brand’s distinct design language, imagery, and mythos. To honor the former airline, Breitling has taken one of their most distinctive timepieces, the Navitomer B01, and dressed it in Pan Am’s iconic colors — alongside the company’s iconic logo on the watch’s caseback. Of course, that’s only one of the many things that makes this watch so desirable and, thusly, a great addition to any collection. That includes things like a reliable 47-jewel in-house automatic chronograph movement, a rotating bi-directional slide rule bezel, a glare-proof sapphire crystal, and a stainless steel case with a matching upscale mesh band.
Case: Stainless Steel
Case Size: 43mm
Movement: Breitling 01 Automatic
Grand Seiko SBGH255 Sport Watch
When most people think of luxury timepieces, it’s the Swiss that come to mind. However, on the other side of the planet in Japan, Seiko’s high-end brand — Grand Seiko — has been quietly and steadily releasing some truly magnificent ultra-luxe watches of their own. And while just about everything they make is spectacular, we’re especially fond of the Grand Seiko SBGH255 Sport Watch you see before you. What helps this particular timepiece stand out is that it’s styled like an upscale version of the brand’s legendary Sumo dive watch. It’s also a good deal more capable — with its case offering waterproofing to depths as deep as 600 meters (~1969 feet), an automatic movement with a 55-hour power reserve, a pure iron dial to protect the movement beneath from electromagnetic interference. It also features Zaratsu polishing, which creates “distinctive clean edges and distortion-free mirror surfaces” for an extremely refined overall appearance. If you thought Japan couldn’t produce high-end luxury timepieces that are also remarkably functional, think again.
Case Size: 46.9mm
Movement: 9S85 Automatic
Rolex GMT-Master II Watch
Rolex — headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland — actually has a fairly extensive collection of really superb high-end watches, many of which you can get your hands on for less than $10,000. However, if we’re being forced to pick just one, there’s a high likelihood that we’re going to always reach for the GMT-Master II you see here. Not only is this one of the Swiss watchmaking brand’s most iconic and recognizable models, but this particular version also benefits from a striking black-and-blue “Batman” Cerachrome rotating bezel (a legendary colorway in the watchmaking world) offering the ability to tell the time in two different timezones simultaneously, a house-made self-winding GMT automatic movement, an Oystersteel case with a matching jubilee bracelet, and an easy-to-read dial with a date window. There are a lot of really exceptional Rolex watches out there, but this one is particularly special.
Case Size: 40mm
Movement: 3285 Automatic
OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 Watch
For those who are unaware, NASA contracted OMEGA to build the space agency’s original moonwatch — the timepiece that was wrapped around the Apollo 11 astronauts’ wrists as they took their first steps on the lunar surface. Since that time, OMEGA has remained the go-to timekeeping brand for every manned space mission to this day. And they even offer a range of tribute watches that pay homage to their spacefaring watches and are available to the public. This particular version — done up in striking obsidian with white and yellow details — honors the Apollo 8 mission, which was the first manned craft to travel over the dark side of the moon. It also has a sturdy corrosion-proof ceramic case, an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, a perforated racing-style strap, an automatic movement, and a dial meant to mimic the shadowy lunar surface.
Case Size: 44.25mm
Movement: 1869 Manual
Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium
A sister brand to both Zenith and TAG Heuer, Hublot is pretty well-known within the watch community but might seem obscure to those just over the event horizon. Their lack of pop-culture recognition, however, is absolutely not an indication of their timekeeping prowess. That being said, many of their offerings might be considered a bit over-the-top or gaudy to those with a taste for subtlety. Then again, they’ve also proven multiple times over that they can do understatement alongside the best of them. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in their Classic Fusion Chronograph you see here. This titanium-cased watch isn’t as boastful as some of the brand’s other avant-garde pieces, but a keen eye will recognize that it has style and substance in spades.
Case Size: 42mm
Movement: HUB1143 Automatic
The 40 Best Men's Watches For Any Budget
Admittedly, $10,000 is a pretty steep ask for most people. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a millionaire to afford a timepiece worth wearing every single day. And you’ll find the cream-of-the-crop on our comprehensive list of the best men’s watches for any budget.