No one is born rich. Okay, some people are, but for the rest of us spending an obscene amount of money on a watch is simply out of the question.
However, a quality watch is a must-have for the modern man; especially one that has reasonable water resistance; a decent quartz movement or automatic movement; and a genuine polished stainless steel or leather strap as opposed to some fabric number.
If you’re willing to part with a little of your hard-earned cash you can easily get a high-quality watch with all these features; a watch with distinct character and sophistication. We’re talking about that magic $500 – $1,000 mark, which when considering that you’ll most likely wear your new watch every day for years to come, the cost per wear works out to be the same as a cup of coffee.
In this best watches under $1,000 article…
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Seiko 5 GMT
Let’s kick things off with the new Seiko 5 GMT. You couldn’t have a list without high-quality affordable watches without including Seiko, and the Seiko 5 range is of particularly outstanding value. The ‘5’ is in reference to the five base qualities Seiko demands from Seiko 5 watches: automatic winding, a day-date display, high water resistance, a protected or recessed crown, and a durable case and bracelet.
The 5 range encompasses a wide variety of different watches including field, dress and dive watches. The Seiko 5 GMT is modelled after the latter, but it’s something new for the Seiko 5 line: it’s a GMT watch. That means it can tell the time in multiple time zones thanks to its additional hour hand and bidirectional bezel.
It also boasts an automatic movement with a 41-hour power reserve, is water-resistant to 100m and comes on a ‘Jubilee’-style metal bracelet as standard. In short, it’s a hell of a lot of watch for the money.
Hamilton Khaki Field
Easily Hamilton’s most iconic timepiece, the Khaki Field is the go-to field watch for any watch aficionado. Rugged, utilitarian and versatile, the Khaki Field is available in a wide variety of sizes, dial finishes and either quartz or mechanical movements – we’ve opted for the latter as it’s more ‘authentic’ for a field watch and a more premium choice.
Its sandblasted stainless steel case houses a manual-winding movement with a ‘weekend proof’ 80-hour power reserve and comes mounted on a hardy textile NATO strap. You can also get this one on a steel bracelet.
Hamilton is a great brand that makes many quality timepieces at this sub-$1,000 price point, but we think this white dial field watch is the cream of the crop. Pun entirely intended.
Casio G-Shock GA2100 “CasiOak”
Casio is synonymous with affordable, high-quality watches, so it’s hard to pick just one Casio for this list. G-Shock is Casio’s high-performance line and G-Shocks are some of the toughest watches on the planet. Water, shock and dust-resistant, they’re the final word in durability and affordability.
There are heaps of different G-Shocks, but the ‘CasiOak’ is hard to look past. A favourite of collectors and the style-conscious, it’s called the CasiOak as its octagonal case resembles that of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, one of the most famous luxury sports watches on the planet… But where a Royal Oak will set you back at least $50,000, you can pick a CasiOak up for only a few hundred dollars.
Not only does it look good, but it’s packed with features, including chronograph, alarm and world time functions; a powerful backlight and dual analogue/digital display, plus it’s incredibly tough, shock-resistant and water-resistant to 200m.
Continuing on the theme of watches that look far more expensive than they are, the Tissot PRX is another fan favourite that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Why? It’s the cheapest entry point into the integrated bracelet watch game.
Slim on the wrist and brimming with 70s charm, the PRX is a versatile piece that’s perfect for both casual wear and more formal occasions. The satin-brushed case and bracelet are very classy, and it boasts 100m of water resistance.
Like many watches on this wrist, the Tissot PRX is available in a variety of dial colours, as well as with either quartz or automatic movements. The latter, however, comes in above the $1,000 mark, as does the recently-released chronograph variant of this popular watch.
Marathon Pilot’s Navigator
A Canadian-based watch company that manufactures its watches in Switzerland, Marathon has a long history of producing military and field watches – indeed, Marathon is the sole supplier of watches to the United States Armed Forces. They offer exceptional durability and value plus a rather unique aesthetic.
The Marathon Pilot’s Navigator (which, as the name suggests, was originally designed for US Air Force pilots) features a unique high-impact fibre shell case that is sweat and shock resistant, as well as lightweight. The case has a matte stealth finish to avoid unwanted reflections and the special asymmetrical shape ensures the matte grey steel crown is fully protected.
If the fibre shell case wasn’t unique enough, it also features tritium tubes instead of lume – something few modern watches offer. Tritium tubes are self-illuminating gas tubes, meaning they will not dull down in brightness like normal watch lume, which needs to be ‘charged’ by an external light source to glow.
Timex M79 Automatic
Timex is another brand that’s synonymous with quality affordable watches. Inspired by the popular 1970s Q Timex, most watch aficionados are actually drawn to the M79 Automatic because has a colour scheme that resembles the much more expensive Rolex GMT-Master ‘Batman’… Although this isn’t a GMT watch.
Still, you’re getting plenty of watch with the M79. Unlike a ‘Batman’, it boasts a very 70s day-date window at 3 o’clock, as well as an appealing blue sunburst dial. A unidirectional dive-style bezel completes the look.
With its stainless steel case and highly comfy folding clasp bracelet, this Timex is a great entry point into the world of automatic stainless steel sports watches.
Apple Watch Series 8
Is it cheating to put a smartwatch on this list? We don’t care. Horological purists might scoff at the Apple Watch but the fact remains that it is one of the most popular watches on the market thanks to its impressive collection of features, stylish form… And let’s be honest, the Apple brand.
Prices for the Apple Watch Series 8 vary significantly depending on case size, strap option as well as whether you bundle in GPS and cellular capability, or just GPS. $839 will get you the larger case size, GPS + cellular and a basic rubber strap – i.e. maximum capability, minimum fuss.