If the idea of a thousand-dollar watch makes you blanche, this might not be the list for you. But we find that watches around the $1000 price range offer some of the best value around. They combine some of the best features on the market with elegant design, and they manage to do so at a fraction of the price of the best and most expensive luxury watches.
A watch is an investment. When you consider that the best watches under $1000 can last a lifetime and offer both a symbol of status and a universal anchor for accessorizing your outfits, that price tag actually makes a whole lot of sense. But you also want to make sure you get your money’s worth. Let HotRate help with that. We’ll spotlight the best watches under $1000 and give you the advice you need to shop smarter.
Quick Look: Best Watches Under $1000
- Citizen Eco-Drive AT4010-50E Watch
- TAG Heuer Men’s Formula 1 Watch
- Bulova 96B251 Men’s Moonwatch
- New Seiko SRP777 Prospex Diver’s Watch
- Tissot Swiss Automatic Dress Watch
- Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Pro
- Hamilton Khaki King Automatic Watch
- Seiko SSC745 Quartz Watch
- Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph
- Bulova Marine Star
- Citizen Promaster Professional Diver Watch
- Seiko Men’s SRPC07 Prospex
1. Citizen Eco-Drive AT4010-50E Watch
The World's Most Advanced Solar Watch
The Eco-Drive legacy is one of the strongest in the world of watches, and it's a legacy that continues proudly with the AT4010-50E. Not only does this watch include the best solar battery in the world, but it's also one of the most precise watches available. Since it's synced to an atomic clock, you can count on this watch to stay precise to within a second over a staggering 100,000 year period.
You may not have an excuse for being late ever again, but we think it's worth it. And there's a pretty incredible amount of information displayed here too. Built-in chronograph subdials include the ability to quickly adjust to the time zone you're in.
2. TAG Heuer Men’s Formula 1 Watch
A Flashy but Professional Statement Piece
Tag Heuer has no lack of handsome looking watches, but for our money, the best-looking could be the Tag Heuer WAZ1110.FT8023. Inspiration was taken from Formula 1 racing for the design of this watch, and that's reflected in everything from the stark white on black dial color scheme to the bold, squared-off edges on the numbering.
This is a watch that will look great in the boardroom, but the rubber band will feel secure but comfortable on your wrist even when running or swimming. This Tag Heuer watch is durable enough for a Formula One driver too. You won't need to worry about the synthetic sapphire glass protecting the face scratching any time soon.
3. Bulova 96B251 Men’s Moonwatch
Accurate Atomic Clock Timekeeping
This Bulova timepiece is more than just one of the best watches under $1000. It actually comes in for roughly half the $1000 price point for this list, and it offers an incredibly dense amount of timekeeping features for that relatively budget level price. Three internal chronograph subdials allow for independent and accurate timekeeping.
Bulova even makes use of the outer dial thanks to the inclusion of a tachymeter. The timekeeping here is managed by a radio frequency of 262 kHz. That means you can spend less time winding up your watch and be confident that your timekeeping will always be on point.
4. New Seiko SRP777 Prospex Diver’s Watch
A Respected Leader in the Dive Watch Market
The automatic watches in Seiko's Prospex line might not be as rugged as those in Casio's G-Shock series, but they're still some of the best luxury sports watches around, and they're generally easier on the eyes as well. The SRP777 keeps things simple. That helps keep the price tag here to under $400, but it also keeps everything tight and lean.
The black dial and white text color scheme and smooth circular indices look great while displaying the time very effectively, but all the fundamentals of an automatic dive watch are here. You'll find both a unidirectional bezel for dive timekeeping and a brightly luminescent face.
5. Tissot Swiss Automatic Dress Watch
A Watch That Treats Elegance Like Art
Tissot understands that elegance comes from a place of simplicity. This isn't the most unconventional automatic dress watch on the market, but it's the little details that make it stand out as one of the best dress watches we've ever seen.
The blue dial employs a subtle but distinct sunburst design that adds some much-needed texture to the otherwise conventional face, and the lack of numbering makes it come across as one of the most adult dress watches for under $1000. And the ticking heart of this automatic watch is some of the most dependable Swiss craftsmanship produced by any watch manufacturer.
6. Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Pro
Built to Withstand a War
We can guarantee you one thing - there's no watch on the market that looks quite like the Victorinox I.N.O.X. It's bold, vibrant, and industrial design, but it's also classy enough to wear in the office without it sticking out. And it manages to offer a variety of different color schemes while still keeping the profile of this watch distinct even from a distance.
It can take a beating without scratching the surface either. The face is triple-coated in sapphire glass that's both durable and strongly anti-reflective. In addition to including all the standard dive watch features, this watch under $1000 can read in military time.
7. Hamilton Khaki King Automatic Watch
A Watch You Can Wear Anywhere
If you want an automatic movement watch that's going to cost up to $1000, do you really want one that you can only use in a narrow variety of circumstances? That's the logic behind the Hamilton Khaki field watch. It's dressy enough to wear around the office or formal engagements, but the blocky numbering and a design that prioritizes legibility over flash mean that it won't look strange worn at the beach or out to the club in the automatic Khaki field watch either.
The face itself is coated in some resilient sapphire crystal, and the stainless steel case is resistant to scratches. All told, the Khaki field watch is a reliable standard. It may not be a statement piece, but that's a statement in its own right.
8. Seiko SSC745 Quartz Watch
Seiko has managed to make casual look sexy. There's no mistaking the SSC745 for a dress watch, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in style. The ridged rubber band and sharp corners evoke the look of a sports watch, but the quality of the materials and the quality of the craftsmanship take this watch a step beyond that.
Both the watch itself and the chronograph subdials packed in can be completely powered on solar energy. And the chronograph is highly precise too. With the ability to read time in segments of a fifth of a second, you'll always be accurate with your times in the gym or on the track.
9. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph
A Standard Bearer for Solar Power
It's likely that at least one Eco-Drive watch will constantly be on our list of the best watches for men, and that's down to one thing: quality. The Eco-Drive battery is undoubtedly cool and tops our list of best solar batteries, but that level of thoughtfulness is extended to every aspect of watch design here.
Both sunlight and natural light can be used to keep this battery charged, and it comes with overcharge prevention, so you can safely just set it under the light when you go to bed or walk around with it in the sun all day.
10. Bulova Marine Star
At a cursory glance, the Bulova Marine Star may look like just another dive watch - but it's in the details where this quartz movement watch really excels. Detailed accents and smart marker design means that it's easy to read even when things get cluttered. And things will get cluttered here.
The chronographs take up a decent portion of the blue dial, but the information is conveyed clearly and elegantly. And that loving attention to detail means that this watch can work underwater, but it will still leave an impression if you decide to wear it into the office.
11. Citizen Promaster Professional Diver Watch
The Gold Standard for Diving Watches
People simply looking for the best watch for men's diving needs should pay attention to the Promaster. It's been a favored choice by divers for years. It doesn't accomplish that from being innovative. It accomplishes it from being dependable. The face lights up bright, and the unidirectional button rolls smoothly but is still firm enough to prevent any potentially disastrous errors.
If you need more precise timekeeping (and aren't submerged in deep waters), there's a three subdial chronograph that you can take advantage of. And since the battery is solar powered, you don't have to worry about your battery dying at an inconvenient time.
12. Seiko Men’s SRPC07 Prospex
A Loud Counterpart to the Traditional Diving Watch
Seiko isn't afraid to get playful with their Prospex series, and that's an attitude that's really played out well with the SRPC07. This automatic watch sports a bright orange face that works surprisingly well with its otherwise traditional diving watch sensibilities, and the bold white indices add a sense of play to an otherwise overworked aesthetic.
It's not just for looks either. The unidirectional bezel works exactly like it should and even marks off the last quarter of the segment in red so you'll know to watch out when you're diving in deeper waters.
Shopping for the Best Watches Under $1000
If you asked us to strip down our guide to the best watches under $1000, we’d tell you it’s impossible. That’s just because the best watches under $1000 have such a diversity of personalities. From precision-crafted luxury watches to fully functional dive watches, all of these watches meet some incredibly high standards of quality, but they also come with some distinctive feature sets that sometimes give them more narrow use cases.
Those specs, combined with the huge range of features available, don’t have to be intimidating. Below, we’ll walk you through what the different specs features mean, and we’ll also help you sort through the exciting choice of features available to you and pick out the ones that suit your unique personality.
The “style” of a watch is a somewhat ambiguous thing. Sometimes fashion dictates what category a watch falls into, and sometimes features do, but niches rise and fall depending on demand. That said, if you’re going to be dropping anywhere in the range of $1000, you should get the best watch for you. In any style, you can expect the watches on our list to represent the best of the best.
- Dive watches have become popular fashion statements, but they continue to have serious utility to divers. A unidirectional bezel helps scuba divers accurately time their submersion underwater, and the water resistance is suitably high to compensate. These watches also tend to feature displays that can light up for easier reading in darker waters. For that same reason, bezels are often segmented by color since a mistake could be dangerous.
- Dress watches feature prominently in our best watches under $1000. Dress watches tend to be classy, understated, and well designed without being ostentatious. If you want a watch with versatility in a variety of situations, a dress watch could be the choice for you. Dress watches will typically use a leather strap and sport a smaller profile so they can slip easily under your sleeves.
- Fashion watches are generally categorized as watches developed by fashion houses without extensive watch design experience. With fashion watches, making a statement comes first, and telling time accurately or reliably comes second. Still, they’re some of the best-looking watches available, and a solid choice for special occasions where you’re looking to leave a big impression.
- Luxury watches combine the best of both worlds. They’re produced by well-recognized watch manufacturers, but they pull out all the stops to include precious metals and gemstones. The definition of “luxury watch” can be a bit vague, but you can expect to spend well over $1000 for the best watches in this category.
- Field watches were initially designed for soldiers, so it makes sense that they’re sturdy. They tend to be made from materials that offer the best protection available and tend to prioritize features that help you survive in the wild – like a compass and altimeter. Many field watches justify a price tag of close to a thousand dollars for their versatility, but they’re the best watches under $1000 for people who spend a lot of time outdoors.
The hands of your watch don’t move along by magic, even if it can feel that way sometimes. But many of the techniques used to keep wristwatches accurate have been employed since before wristwatches were a thing. Others rely on more modern batteries. Different movements all have their advantages, and there’s no clear winner in the best watches for under $1000.
- If you’ve ever heard the ticking of a watch, you’ve come in contact with a quartz movement. A quartz movement relies on an internal battery and ticks the second hand with the passing of each second. A quartz movement is inexpensive, durable, and easy to use, but quartz is sometimes looked down on by collectors. That’s because the mechanical intricacies of quartz is less elaborate than automatic, and the craftsmanship isn’t as precise. If you want functionality, the best watch under $1000 will probably be quartz.
- The oldest type of movement is mechanical, and a mechanical movement is still an astonishing work or precision today. The interior of a mechanical movement is akin to a Rube Goldberg machine. The wearer winds the watch which then sets the complex network of gears that make up the movement itself. A mechanical movement watch is more expensive than its quartz and automatic movement counterparts, but these are also some of the coolest wristwatches around and particularly praised by collectors.
- An automatic movement is similar to a mechanical movement, but instead of needing to be wound by the wearer, the movement is instead wound by their movements. If you’re going to daily wear a men’s watch, the automatic movement is the way to go. But an automatic movement typically has a weaker 24- to 72-hour power reserve. That could make an automatic watch a frustrating choice if you want a special occasion watch. In that case, mechanical or quartz movement could be the way to go.
In terms of the watch case, almost all of them are going to be made from stainless steel. While brass is commonly used, they’re reserved for cheaper watches, so they don’t tend to make it onto this list. If durability is a priority, you may want to trade up a stainless steel watch for a titanium model instead. A titanium automatic watch is less prone to scratching or other damage than one made from stainless steel.
You have more variety in terms of bands. A steel bracelet is common in dive and luxury watches, while leather tends to be more predominant in dress watches. If you find a watch that comes with a nylon, plastic, or rubber band, it’s probably better intended for active or sports use. This isn’t necessarily a sign of cutting corners in terms of quality. It’s simply more comfortable when sweating to wear a band that’s not made from leather or metal.
All watches are also going to come with a protective glass or crystal layer for the face. The most basic models tend to come with what’s known as “mineral glass”, but if you want the best automatic watch for men uses, you’ll want to look for the sapphire crystal. They’re common in super durable watches like the G-Shock. There’s also Hardlex – a proprietary mineral blend from Seiko that finds a nice balance between durability and pricing.
Finding a watch that fits right can be tricky, but finding a size that suits your wrist doesn’t have to be that difficult if you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple rule of thumb for watch sizing. Measure your wrist. If it’s 6 to 7 inches, you should look at cases with a diameter of 38 to 42 millimeters. Wearers with larger wrists should instead turn their attention to watches with case diameters of 44 and 46 millimeters.
Of course, what feels comfortable is a matter of personal preference, so we highly advise you to try out watches in person. While you don’t have to buy them there, just getting a feel for the comfort of different case sizes can help you find a watch that fits you like a glove.
Water-resistance is something you should pay attention to if you want to go swimming, but it can also be useful if you forget to take your watch off in the shower or the rain. Dive watches of course offer some of the best water resistance around (along with tactical molds like G-Shock watches), but how deep you can go before the water will start affecting your automatic movement really comes down to how water resistant it is.
- Most wristwatches should be water-resistant to at least 30 feet (15 meters, 1.5 ATM). This is strong enough to withstand the occasional splash, though you shouldn’t be wearing it into a downpour.
- At a water resistance of 100 feet (30 meters, 3 ATM), a watch can go in the shower with you. It’s resistant to a consistent spray of rain but still not fully protected when totally submerged. The water resistance can also wear down over time due to not being fully sealed against pressure.
- At 165 feet resistance, a watch can be worn swimming, as long as it’s done in shallow water and you stick close to the surface. It shouldn’t be used for diving, for instance.
- Once you reach 330 feet a watch can be taken snorkeling with you. It’s still not an appropriate choice for deeper diving, but it will meet the needs of most active wearers.
- 660 feet or more is the standard for a diving watch. At this level of water resistance, you can take your watch with you just about anywhere.
If you specifically like dive watches, we recommend taking a look at our guide on best watches under $1000 for diving.
Picking out a new timepiece is a very personal process, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get guidance. We’ve outlined the best wristwatches available in 2020, but that’s just scratching the surface of what we have to offer. Dig deeper, and you’ll find a generous catalog of the best printers in a wide variety of categories – as well as some instructional articles that can help you understand the technology you use in the office.