The Cheapest Men’s Watch from 15 Luxury Brands in 2022

Jun 7, 2022

Category: Style

While there are of course exceptions, in our experience it seems like virtually every watch enthusiast eventually succumbs to the siren song of luxury watch brands. You may begin your watch collecting journey with affordable Seikos and Timexes, but sooner or later you’ll find yourself pining for a Rolex or Omega. It’s OK, we’ve been there, too. We understand that this hunt for luxury watches can be discouraging because, well, luxury watches are expensive. But they don’t have to be… or, at the very least, they don’t have to cost as much as you think.

While your typical luxury watch costs many thousands of dollars, not all high-end timepieces require such a fortune. After all, every luxury watch brand has to have its entry point. That is, the one watch that’s priced more affordably than all others. And those are the watches we’re highlighting in this guide. We’ve sought out the cheapest men’s watch from 15 different luxury brands, running the gamut from a grand and change to $20K+. So while some of the following 15 watches may stretch your definition of “cheap,” they are all affordable when compared to their brethren.

TAG Heuer Formula 1

After TAG purchased Heuer in the 1980s, the newly-formed TAG Heuer stormed the modern watch world with its blockbuster quartz-powered Formula 1 watches, which came to define the brand in the ‘80s and ‘90s. While no longer the brand trendsetter these days, TAG still produces the motorsports-inspired Formula 1 as a quartz-powered diver-esque watch that’s ideal for everyday use and stands as a very affordable entry point to one of the most recognizable names in the luxury watch industry.

Case Size: 41mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $1,300+

Tudor 1926

As the kid brother to Rolex, Tudor is known for offering up some of its more elusive stablemate’s styles for less, like the Daytona-inspired Black Bay Chrono, the GMT-Master-derived Black Bay GMT, and the Explorer II homage Black Bay Pro. But for its cheapest watch, Tudor takes a much more original route with the 1926. This simple three-hander comes in a wide range of colors and configurations, but all boast an automatic movement, applied indices, and a textured dial — all while offering membership in the Rolex family for less than $2K.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $1,800+

Grand Seiko SBGX

As the independently-run luxury offshoot of Seiko, Grand Seiko keeps its watches upmarket to differentiate itself from its budget-priced parent. As a result, GS offers no timepieces priced below $2,000. The cheapest you’ll find from the Japanese watchmaker is the SBGX series from its Heritage collection — specifically, the SBGX259, SBGX261, and SBGX263. All three watches feature classic Grand Seiko styling in a Zaratsu-polished case with an in-house HAQ 9F movement that’s accurate to within 10 seconds per year.

Case Size: 37mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $2,200+

Cartier Ronde Must de Cartier

While sports watches from the likes of Rolex, Omega, and Breitling tend to set tongues wagging the most around these parts, Cartier should not be underestimated. The dress watch king ranks as the number two best-selling Swiss watch brand in the world after Rolex, and you can gain entry to its ranks with this 36mm quartz-powered Cartier dress watch. And while we would respect your choice if you go this route, it’s worth noting that for an extra 120 bucks you can get a quartz-powered version of a true watch icon with the Cartier Tank Must.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $2,810+

Breitling Endurance Pro

Quartz movements are a bit of a theme when it comes to affordable luxury watches, but you can rest assured knowing that the battery-powered engine in this Breitling is far from basic. The COSC-certified, thermocompensated SuperQuartz movement at the heart of this big and brash athlete-aimed chronograph watch is designed to perform in rough environments — as is the proprietary Breitlight case, which is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and highly resistant to scratches and corrosion.

Case Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Quartz Chronograph

Purchase: $3,300+

Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Chronometer

If you’ve had your heart set on a Seamaster or Speedmaster and were hoping to find one here… well, you’re out of luck. But don’t put away your wallet just yet, because Omega still offers plenty of value at this price point. Housing an in-house, co-axial chronometer automatic movement, this attractive member of Omega’s long-running De Ville dress watch line arguably offers the most prestigious and interesting movement for the money. The hands and indices are all heat-blued, too.

Case Size: 39.5mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $3,750+

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36

When you think of IWC, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the brand’s iconic Flieger-style pilot’s watches. And believe it or not, you can get one for less than anything else in the Schaffhausen brand’s catalog. Granted, it’s not the famed “Big Pilot,” but this mid-sized IWC Pilot’s Watch with its striking sunray blue dial and classic Type A layout offers just as much style and prestige as its larger siblings.

Case Size: 36mm
Water Resistance: 60m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $4,250+

Panerai Radiomir Base Logo

If you’re looking for something with a ton of wrist presence, there’s no beating Panerai. And despite the Italian brand’s pricey and exclusive reputation, you don’t necessarily need to pay an arm and a leg to get it. The most basic version of Panerai’s vintage-inspired Radiomir line, the Base Logo still offers classic Panerai styling cues in the form of a 45mm polished stainless steel case and dynamite lume on the hands and indices against a matte black dial.

Case Size: 45mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Hand-Wind

Purchase: $4,500+

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34

The most basic watch that Rolex makes is the Oyster Perpetual. Its The Crown stripped down to its barest essentials, with an Oyster case, an Oyster bracelet, and a Perpetual no-date movement. Available in a slew of colors and sizes, including 36mm and 41mm variants for men, the cheapest way to get your foot in Rolex’s door is by going for the 34mm version. Rolex markets it as a women’s watch, but 34mm is historically in unisex territory (there are plenty of vintage 34 men’s watches from Rolex) and will wear slightly larger than expected due to the Oyster case.

Case Size: 34mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,500+

Zenith ELITE Classic

Zenith is best known for its El Primero movement, one of the first automatic chronographs with over 50 years of history behind it. And while Zenith charges a pretty penny for its El Primero-powered pieces, you can get started with this enthusiast-favorite brand for less by checking out its ELITE line. This stunner of a dress watch still features an in-house automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve, and its radial sunray dial is one of the most striking you’ll find at this price.

Case Size: 40.5mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $6,000+

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic

JLC is often referred to as the watchmaker’s watchmaker, on account of the brand’s unrivaled technical mastery over complications and its long history of making movements for other prestigious brands — including, once upon a time, each of the big three in Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. But JLC also makes its own tremendous timepieces, and the most affordable is the killer Polaris Automatic. This sporty all-rounder boasts a dual-crown layout with an inner rotating timing bezel, a date-free display, and an exhibition caseback for admiring the brand’s in-house handiwork.

Case Size: 41mm
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $7,300+

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape Cal. 1150

By and large, luxury watch brands aren’t offering watches from their most iconic product lines for an entry-level price. But Blancpain is the exception. The oldest extant watch brand, Blancpain invented the modern dive watch in 1953 with the original Fifty Fathoms, and today you can pick up a version of that watch for less than anything else from the brand. While the most iconic version of the modern Fifty Fathoms starts at around $15K, this smaller, stainless steel Bathyscape reference powered by the ultra-slim Cal. 1150 movement can be had for under five figures.

Case Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $9,500+

Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Self-Winding

If your goal is to gain entry to Swiss watchmaking’s Holy Trinity while spending as little as possible, this is the watch for you. Vacheron brings up the rear here when it comes to the big three, offering up a gorgeous dress watch in stainless steel for a comparative bargain. The Fiftysix is inspired by a Vacheron watch from its titular year, so naturally it’s brimming with mid-century style. But it’s also got plenty of class, with a thickness of just 9.6mm, an alligator leather strap, and a solid 22k gold rotor visible through the sapphire caseback.

Case Size: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $12,300+

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Self-Winding 34mm

Blancpain isn’t the only exception to the rule when it comes to offering up their most iconic watch as an entry-level model. Then again, considering that variations of the Royal Oak are practically all AP makes these days, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this. While smaller quartz-powered takes on the form can be had for less, we rank this 34mm automatic Royal Oak in stainless steel as the most affordable option for men, and it’s the cheapest way to obtain one of the most recognizable watch designs ever made.

Case Size: 34mm
Water Resistance: 50m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $22,800+

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167A

If we’re going by market value, then there’s no way the Aquanaut is the most affordable Patek you can get — not with the way these things have been trading on the secondhand market. But according to MSRP, this dive-ready sibling to the famed Nautilus is as cheap as Pateks get. With its impeccably finished stainless steel case, grenade-like embossed dial, and “Tropical” composite strap that’s tough as nails, the ‘90s-born Aquanaut is fast becoming an icon in its own right. We’d say get one while they’re still “affordable,” but we’re afraid it may already be too late for that.

Case Size: 40.8mm
Water Resistance: 120m
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $23,070+

The 15 Best Grail Watches

Looking to check out the other side of the coin when it comes to luxury watches? Then have a look at our guide to the best grail watches where we break down more than a dozen of the most impressive and extravagant timepieces on the market.

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