Last Updated November, 2017. This post has been updated with new picks for 2017. Prices and links have also been updated.

You can get a pretty damn good watch for less than the cost of a big night out, that’s for sure. But while there are plenty of great dirt-cheap timepieces under $150, if you’re looking for more features, more capability and more impressive designs, you need to bump up the ceiling of your budget. But only a little. For a mere $500 you can enter the world of geeky timepieces, where complications, mechanical movements and daring design elements are plentiful. These ten timepieces prove it.

Under $300

Timex Marlin


With few exceptions, Timex long abandoned mechanical movements in favor of digital and quartz movements years ago. That’s exactly why Timex’s latest watch, a reissue of the famed Marlin, is so exciting. It comes with a hand-winding movement underneath, and if that weren’t enough, it comes with a sleek case, dial and strap design that truly look like they were plucked from the 1960s.

Key Specs
Movement: hand-wound
Size: 34mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Braun BN0211


If you want excellent modern design in a watch, you don’t need to pay much, fortunately. Braun’s BN0211 has won both an iF and a Red Dot award for its minimal, stealthy aesthetic. A yellow seconds hand pops against a stealthy black dial and sleek black case, and the watch comes mounted on a comfortable stainless steel mesh bracelet.

Key Specs
Movement: quartz
Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Seagull 1963


Want a new mechanical chronograph under $500? The Seagull 1963 is pretty much your only option. That’s no concession, though. It uses a hand-wound mechanical movement made by Tianjin Seagull Watch Co. (one of China’s best movement manufacturers), housed in a compact and authentically sized 38mm stainless steel case.

Key Specs
Movement: Seagull ST21 hand-winding chronograph
Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Under $400

Orient Bambino V4


The latest iteration of Orient’s beloved, mid-century-style dress watch. The domed dial now comes in an excellent slate-gray colorway and features rose gold accents. The watch also gets an updated suede strap. Ticking underneath is an automatic movement from Orient featuring hand-winding and hacking seconds.

Key Specs
Movement: Orient F6724 Automatic
Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Citizen Stilleto


When Citizen launched its mind-blowingly thin (less than 3mm) Eco-Drive One in 2016, it captivated watch enthusiasts, but with a price tag over $2,000, it was steeply priced. At under $500, and with a still crazy-thin case thickness of 4.7mm, the Stilleto is a fantastic compromise, given its sleek proportions and classy guilloche dial. Of course, that solar-powered quartz movement is also a gem, making battery changes a thing of the past.

Key Specs
Movement: Eco-Drive solar quartz
Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: splash-resistant only

Tissot Everytime Swissmatic


Yes, an automatic mechanical watch from a Swiss watchmaker for under $400. The Tissot Swissmatic makes use of the revolutionary Sistim51 automatic movement from its sister brand, Swatch, which in turn keeps the cost low. But where Swatch’s Sistim51 watches are boldly designed and difficult to make work for everyday use, the Tissot utilizes a clean design in a slim, almost Bauhaus-like package that could dress both up and down.

Key Specs
Movement: Sistim51 automatic
Size: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Merci LMM-01


Parisian “concept store” Merci recently launched its first timepiece, and it’s one hell of a looker, like a crossover between a modern Mondaine watch and a vintage field watch. The dial is adorned with Helvetica numerals and red accents, and for under $400, you can even get it equipped with a Swiss-made, hand-winding mechanical movement from ETA (a quartz version is also available for less).

Key Specs
Movement: ETA 2801-2 hand-winding
Size: 37.5mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Under $500

Laco Augsburg


German watch brand Laco is perhaps best known for its super simple, super legible flieger pilot watches. This Augsburg doesn’t stray far from that formula: it comes with a stark black dial adorned with numerals given a healthy dose of lume, plus a big 42mm case (a smaller 36mm variant is also available for fans of small watches). Inside ticks an automatic movement from Miyota, and the whole thing comes affixed to a thick brown leather strap.

Key Specs
Movement: Miyota 821A automatic
Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Seiko Alpinist SARB017


Seiko’s JDM favorite Alpinist is one classy field watch. Aside from the deep forest green dial, the watch comes packing an automatic movement and an inner rotating bezel that can be used as a compass when synched with the position of the sun. And with a case diameter of 38mm, it’s a great mid-size watch that should work for just about anyone.

Key Specs
Movement: Seiko 6R15 automatic
Size: 38mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Seiko Prospex SRP777


Yes, two Seikos. With its big cushion case, knobby bezel and simple dial, the SRP777 is a faithful homage to the original Seiko 6309 “Turtle” from the 1970s and ’80s. But unlike the Turtle, the new watch is water resistant up to 200 meters (the old one was only rated for 150) and has an automatic movement with hand-winding capabilities. It’s a fantastic option for those who want the look of a vintage diver, but the capabilities and reliability of a modern watch.

Key Specs
Movement: Seiko 4R36 automatic
Size: 45mm
Water Resistance: 200m
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