Now the holidays have passed and we can start spending money on ourselves again. If you’re anything like me and you had to buy a lot of gifts this year for family and friends, your wallet may be feeling a lighter than usual. But don’t let that stop you. Here are five great mechanical watches for under $500.
So, let’s get started (in no particular order):
Seiko Orange Monster (SKX781)
If you’ve read my Seiko Orange Monster review, you know I’m a huge fan of this piece. It’s bold, comfortable and high quality. I don’t have much else to say about this one that I haven’t said already. If the orange dial isn’t your thing, no problem. Pick up the black one on a bracelet and you won’t be disappointed.
Tissot Visodate (T0194301603101)
This dress watch embodies a new mode in watchmaking to revive the clean, classic designs from the 1950s and ‘60s. Curved sapphire crystal, exhibition caseback, day-date complication–it’s got some bells and whistles. The applied logo on the white dial is exquisite. It comes on a alligator grain deployant strap, which is unfortunately its weakness. Much like the famed PRC 200 quartz chronograph, this strap is a little stiff at first but does relax with wear. In the $500 range for Tissot, I think most expect to hear a recommendation for the Le Locle, which is a nice watch, but having tried on both I’d go for the Visodate because the Mad Men look is in right now.
Orient Mako (CEM65001B)
You can read my review of the Orient Mako again for more detail, but this watch is the cheapest one available that will still get you respect from hardcore watch nerds. From the in-house movement to the bracelet, it has a clean design with quality construction for the same price as a Fossil.
Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic 42mm (H70515137)
Hamilton is always a go-to brand in the Swiss Made value category, but I often don’t care much for their designs. Most of their military inspired looks are too busy and shiny for me, but I’m a big fan of this. Imagine a Swiss Army Original if it were all grown up and dressed for prom night. At 42mm, it’s not going to blend in with your wrist and looks great on a leather strap or steel bracelet.
Steinhart Ocean-1 GMT Automatic
I’m not the biggest fan of Rolex “homage” watches, but these guys really set the bar in terms of value for the money (that is to be expected, however, because the don’t really have to pay for a designer to crank out something unique and the cost savings in design can be reallocated to promoting production quality). The watch has that “quality heft” and boasts a fully brushed oyster-style stainless bracelet with screw pins that, unlike its role model, does not taper so dramatically at the clasp, a sapphire crystal, independently adjustable GMT hand and bi-directional rotating bezel. At about $450, these guys just can’t be making a lot of profit here!
Here are some pictures of the Tissot, Hamilton and the Steinhart. All of the photos below are borrowed. For pictures of the Orient and the Seiko, check out the reviews linked within the text above.