The Playbook For The Modern Man

The Best Men’s Watch Brands You Can Get For Under $1,000

Stay on time without breaking the bank.

No one is born rich. Okay, some are, but for the rest of us there are transitionary timepieces – the watches which introduce one’s journey into the vast world of precision timekeeping.

We’re talking about the magic $500 – $1,000 mark – a price point which demonstrates watches with a distinct character and certain build quality without breaking the bank.

Luminox

Adorned by those who love a bit of outdoor adventure, and thousands of US military service people, Luminox make solid durable watches. I mean, if Bear Grylls wears one, they must be fairly robust, right? This Atacama Field Automatic 1900 is actually produced and assembled in Switzerland with a fully certified Swiss movement. It’s waterproof up to 200m, with a stainless steel and sapphire crystal case. And as an added plus, the leather strap is held in place with black PVD coated stainless steel hardware.

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Martenero

Their designs may look like classic European time tellers, but Mantenero is New York through and through, – and they have been causing a stir in the watch world over the past six years. Why? Because their watches have a distinctively vintage feel with a modern twist, such as this excellent Kerrison piece – which can be worn whether you’re dressing up or down. Uniquely, it has a Miyota 9015 Japanese movement, protected by 316L stainless steel case. It also features a minimalist dial with numbers on the 12, 3, 6 and 9, held against the wrist with an American leather strap.

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Farer

In 2015, Farer set out to make a range of vintage watches inspired by great explorers and adventurers – those who pushed the limits in their respective fields. To combat an overpriced market, they create exceptional timepieces of great value, such as this vintage-looking Ainsdale Chronograph, named after the beach where Sir Henry Segrave broke the land speed record in 1924. Its three chronograph buttons are positioned on the 2, 4 and 10 of a stainless steel and sapphire case, held against the wrist with an elegant Barenia bridle leather strap.

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Timex

There has certainly been a lot of variations to come out of the Timex workshop since they first set out in 1854, from pocket and wristwatches to more modern digital creations. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is their dedication to value. Their American Documents is a great example, a beautifully designed timepiece fitting of office or dress wear. Although it is American made, it has a Swiss Quartz analogue movement, which sits in a 41mm brushed stainless steel case.

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Hamilton

Hamilton has a close affinity to aviation going all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. They can proudly claim to have made the first battery-powered electric watch, along with the world’s first digital LED creation. Not bad, hey? These days they still produce sought-after pieces, such as this Khaki Field Automatic. Its case is made from Black PVD Titanium, with scratch-resistant sapphire. The analogue dial also has luminescent hands and markers, that lays against the wrist thanks to a textured textile strap.

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Unimatic

A project that actually started out as a watchmaking research lab eventually turned into Unimatic, a brand now closely associated with high-quality timepieces. The Uno U1-F is one of their most celebrated models, and its recently undergone an upgrade. This newer version has a more refined, sleek design yet remains highly functional. There’s water resistance of up to 300m, for a start, and a shockproof stainless steel case. Add to that a comfortable nylon strap and anti-reflective coating on its sapphire lens and we’re talking fantastic value for money.

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Magrette

Margrette was started by Dion McAsey in the 90s after a lifelong fascination with watches, specifically vintage designs from the 1940s. His brand is closely associated with sailing in the Pacific waters of New Zealand, a country which inspires his creations to this day. This Moana Waterman is a fine example. It features a Swiss-made ETA automatic movement enveloped by a 316L brushed stainless steel case. Its bezel, which bears a resemblance to the Rolex GTA Master II, has a red-blue contrast and is made from blue ceramics, lumed with Swiss Super Nova. And for the true sailors out there, there’s also a reassuring water resistance of up to 500m.

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Longines

You may be surprised to see a Longines watch on this list, as the mark is more associated with high-end luxury pieces. But there are a few models out there, such as this Hydroconquest Automatic. It’s silver-tone stainless steel case and fold-over clasp bracelet promote a real quality aesthetic, with a dial inspired by classic Rolex. It features a uni-directional bezel also made from stainless steel, wrapped around a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal lens.

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Alpina

If you’re in the market for that crossover watch that can serve you in the mountains as well as alongside a smart-casual ensemble, then provide just that. This Seastrong Diver 300 is a stunning piece that has an eye-catching face, and back. It has an automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve and an analogue dial with luminescent hands and marker. Turn is over and it reveals a nice clear skeleton back for those with an eye for the intricate art of watch making.

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Certina

Adolf and Alfred Kurth created Certina in 1888, and the brand has since gone on to become a mainstay in Switzerland’s hugely competitive watch industry. This elegant Action Diver is one of the brand’s go-to designs thanks to its rich emerald dial – a colour chosen in reference to sea turtles – that contrasts beautifully with its stainless steel case and strap. As you would expect, it has a water-resistance of up to 300m and works perfectly with both smart and smart casual attire.

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Men’s Watch FAQ

How to pick a men's watch?

It is important that you choose the right size. If you have a smaller wrist, go for timepieces with small or thin dials. Measure the circumference of your wrist. If it is between six to seven inches, choose a watch with a case diameter of 38-42 mm wide.

How is a men's watch supposed to fit?

If your watch leaves imprints in your skin, it is too tight. Ideally, it should be loose enough to slide more than two inches down your wrist when your arm is perpendicular to the ground.

How many watches should a man own?

Most men only own one watch, but fashion experts say you should have three – an everyday watch, a workout watch and a dress watch for special occasions.

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