There’s an argument to be made that $500 represents the lower limit for an entry-level luxury watch. We think there’s cause to disagree. Whether you’re looking for a state of the art smartwatch, a timepiece to impress around the office, or a tactical watch to take with you on the trail, you can get a whole lot for less than half a grand. You just have to know where to look.
While there are plenty of super cheap watches on the market, spreading your search to include the best watches under 500 dollars gives you more opportunity to get a truly high-quality and specialized timepiece. Before spending your hard earned cash, check out our comprehensive list.
Quick Look: 20 Best Watches under $500
- Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Diver Watch
- Bulova 96B251 Men’s Moonwatch
- Michael Kors Slim Runway Watch
- Nixon A105 Sentry Quartz Movement Watch
- Samsung Galaxy Watch smartwatch
- Tissot PR 100 Swiss Quartz Dress Watch
- Seiko 5 Sports Automatic Watch
- Fossil Men’s Nate Stainless Steel Quartz Watch
- Seiko SNKN37 Automatic Self-Wind Watch
- Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph
- G-Shock GG-1000 MUDMASTER Watch
- Orient Japanese Automatic Diving Watch
- Citizen AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion
- Seiko SSC139 Excelsior Solar Watch
- Michael Kors Lexington Chronograph
- Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Touchscreen Smartwatch
- Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Watch
- Seiko SSA346J1 Presage Cocktail Watch
- Swatch YVS444G Irony Night Flight
- Seiko Men’s SRPA21 Prospex X Padi
1. Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Diver Watch
Still the World's Preeminent Dive Watch
Every feature that a serious diver could want is available in the Promaster, and they're all expertly handled. But the coup de grace is the phenomenal Eco-Drive technology powering this watch. Just expose it to light -- natural or artificial -- and it will automatically charge for its entire life. It's easily the top solar battery in use on a watch, and it offers an incredibly impressive power reserve of six hours.
2. Bulova 96B251 Men’s Moonwatch
Pilot Watch Essentials, Elegantly Displayed
Bulova's Moonwatch takes the vast amounts of information available on a pilot watch and repackages it well. All the information is here, but Bulova's exceptional sense of style shines through as well. The use of textured surfaces, simple indices, and a color scheme of black, silver, and white makes all the information accessible without being ugly or overwhelming.
3. Michael Kors Slim Runway Watch
Matte Black is the New Black
Michael Kors provides entry-level luxury, but the sensibilities of this designer watch suggest something that goes well beyond the price tag of around $200. The simplicity here really works, and while our favorite is the completely black on black model, there are nearly a dozen bold choices to pick from here. Its slim design means it can fit a variety of different wrist sizes, and it can fit comfortably under the sleeve of your suit jacket.
4. Nixon A105 Sentry Quartz Movement Watch
Traditionally Casual but Catered to Your Personality
The baseline A105 Nixon Sentry is conservative with its simple white and gray color scheme with red highlights, but that's just one option of over two dozen. Regardless, there's a nice sense of consistency to every watch in the line. This isn't going to be the watch that grabs the attention of the entire office, but it's a steady and reliable timepiece with a quartz movement that can provide you good performance for a modest price and the means to express your personal style.
5. Samsung Galaxy Watch smartwatch
A Feature-Rich Smartwatch, Fairly Priced
The Apple Watch may be the most popular smartwatch around, but the Galaxy gives Apple a run for their money for a reasonable price. But this particular model is in touch with its roots. It includes dial choices that look absolutely analog while providing you with all the best men watches features from a smart device. That more stripped-down design approach also allows these wristwatches to stay charged for days at a time.
6. Tissot PR 100 Swiss Quartz Dress Watch
The Definition of Boardroom Luxury
The Tissot PR 100 may look like some of the best mens watches on the market, but it doesn't demand the same prices. The band is loudly silver and makes use of some meticulous links, but the dial is as reserved as can be. That helps rein back what otherwise might be gaudy design choices, but it also makes the dial easier to read than most watches, even accounting for the three chronograph subdials. And holding it all together is Swiss design praised from all over the world.
7. Seiko 5 Sports Automatic Watch
A Watch For True Sportsmen
The Seiko 5 has been a constant presence in entry-level mens best watches lists for a year, and the latest entry is just as solid as ever. This is an outdoor watch through and through and tough enough to handle even the most extreme activities. A Seiko automatic movement is designed to last a lifetime, and the Seiko 5 includes both Hardlex crystal protection and a water-resistant level appropriate even for the most enthusiastic beach bums.
8. Fossil Men’s Nate Stainless Steel Quartz Watch
For Men Who Love Black
The entirety of the Nate's body may just be variations on black, but Fossil has managed to create some serious distinctions in the spaces in between. This is largely accomplished through textured and raised lettering, but it's a bold design choice that's easier to read than you might imagine and certain to draw eyes just about anywhere. And for sports enthusiasts, there are subdials on this quartz timepiece for the second, minute, and hour.
9. Seiko SNKN37 Automatic Self-Wind Watch
A Blast From the Past
The SNKN37 is a watch your grandfather might have worn, and we mean that as a compliment. It's classic without being nostalgic and retro without being kitsch. More importantly, it's reliable. The self-winding automatic movement ensures that you never have to worry about losing time, just so long as you keep wearing it. The leather strap feels soft and comfortable on the wrist while also expressing a uniquely textured surface.
10. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph
Highly Functional and Powered by Light
The Citizen AT2141-52L takes dive watch design and updates it without making everything cluttered. Three subdials and a date window all share space without getting too crowded, and a large part of that comes down to the muted but outstanding gradient of the blue dial. But the coolest inclusion is Eco-Drive technology - a "solar" battery that lets you charge Eco-Drive watches in both the sun and artificial lighting. and the stainless steel case is sturdy enough for rough use.
11. G-Shock GG-1000 MUDMASTER Watch
The Standard for Rugged Performance
G-Shock watches are designed for the roughest of use, but the Mudmaster is specifically designed for people who like to play in the dirt. It's entirely mud resistant and makes use of some complex sensors that let it double as a thermometer, a compass, or a stopwatch. And the bright LED means that this watch is easy to read even in the dark. And in case something fails, there's both a digital and analog display built-in. This Casio G-Shock is a great watch strong enough for the military but budgeted for the average consumer.
12. Orient Japanese Automatic Diving Watch
Perfectly Executed Dive Watch Essentials
Orient recognizes that "ornate" and "attractive" aren't always synonymous. This watch is focused on the dive essentials of dive watches: durability, water resistance, and accuracy. They excel in every aspect while still managing to put their own spin on the aesthetics of dive watches. There's a nice layer of depth to the shades of classic blue in the face, and the indices and hands both have unique personality without straying too far from a formula that works.
13. Citizen AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion
A Sublimely Easy to Read Pilot Watch
Pilot watches may not be the necessity they once were for aviators, but Citizen makes a convincing argument for their continued value. The "Type B" dial this watch uses is both fun to navigate and incredibly functional, and all three arrays of numbers are easy to parse thanks to the clear lettering and the thoughtful spacing. It also comes with a phenomenal feeling leather band with some exquisite stitching holding it together.
14. Seiko SSC139 Excelsior Solar Watch
Looks Like It's From Another World
The Excelsior doesn't look like any other Eco-Drive watches on the planet. It doesn't look like any other watches on the planet, period. But its futuristic design definitely transforms it into an instant conversation piece, and it manages to pack in a lot of utility to boot. That includes a functional three-dial chronograph and a four-piece step motor. These wristwatches are even water-resistant enough to take with you snorkeling.
15. Michael Kors Lexington Chronograph
Fashion and Functionality For a Budget
Michael Kors is a fashion house, not a watch manufacturer, and that's to their benefit with the Lexington. These are black dial timepieces under $500, but they look like they cost significantly more. There's a nice balance of flash with substance thanks to the combination of ostentatious gold accents and a chronograph that puts those bright accents to more practical use. And if you find yourself not liking the traditional black and gold design, there are over a dozen variations to choose from.
16. Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Touchscreen Smartwatch
A Fashion-Forward Approach to Smartwatches
The Wear OS is a notoriously finicky smartwatch operating system, but Fossil does an incredible job making the most of it. Beneath the steel case is a battery that can keep pace with the big boys and a processor that won't slow down even during more complex operations. But while Fossil's biggest strength might be what they've done with the OS here, they've also created a clean interface that evokes Apple Watches while still maintaining its own personality.
17. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Watch
The Standard For Field Watches
The Hamilton Khaki field watch isn't the cheapest watch on this list, but its unobtrusive stainless steel case belies a watch that's built for reliability. The numbering is bright, legible, and backed by some serious luminosity. But the real appeal will be to collectors. This is a watch that was designed to mimic the look of the original field watches to every painstaking detail, and that's reflected in the self-winding mechanical movement. The only concessions they've made for the sake of modernity come down to durability and precision.
18. Seiko SSA346J1 Presage Cocktail Watch
Seiko's Most Elegant Budget Watch
Seiko may be most known for their sports watches, but they can get dressed up too. The Presage Cocktail evokes art deco sensibilities and the romance of the Jazz Age, and the dial devoted exclusively to tracking the date is a refreshing change from the simple numerical windows packed in so many timepieces. This is a special occasion watch, and that's reflected in the relatively long power reserve.
19. Swatch YVS444G Irony Night Flight
A Modern Spin on the Pilot Watch
Pilot watches are often designed through the narrow expectations of nostalgia, but Swatch is blazing new territory with their Night Flight model. It reads bright in day or light and displays all the information you need in an easy to parse format. The three chronographs are fairly easy to read and accompanied by a small but legible date window. And the tachymeter, a crucial necessity in pilot watches, is a real delight to use.
20. Seiko Men’s SRPA21 Prospex X Padi
A Legendary Dive Watch With an Earned Reputation
The Seiko Prospex line is one of the most praised sports watch lines in the world, so it's worth paying attention to when they partner with PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors). This is a diving watch that takes its intent seriously, from the responsive but solidly unidirectional click of the bezel to the strict water resistance regulations. Even the emblematic blue and red coloring scheme serves a useful purpose of tracking elapsed time in less than clear waters.
If you’re looking for the best watch for mens, there are only so many hours in the day and so many options to pick through. But whether you’re looking to kick it old school or find the latest and coolest timepiece around, we can help you find the top watches under $500. And if you’ve had the chance to test out any of these wristwatches yourself, we encourage to share in the comments below.