One doesn’t have to be intimately familiar with the state of today’s watch market to know that there are a good deal of timepieces on both ends of the spectrum that don’t actually offer a whole lot of value. The trick, of course, is distinguishing between watches that lean maybe a little too much on their recognizable brand name and a lofty price tag, and those that stand out purely on merit.

We did the heavy lifting for you and found watches that pack the most value at five different price points. Each of these picks offers more watch, dollar-for-dollar, than most all of its peers. So whether you are looking to make your next step in watch collecting really count, or you’re just dipping a toe into the world of mechanical wrist watches, this list of best value watches should prove a solid guide.

Under $250

Swatch YIS40G Irony Sistem 51

For those looking for an affordable everyday watch, this option from Swatch is worth considering. Not only does it come with a steel bracelet, but it features a transparent case back that shows off a Swiss automatic movement with date function. Those qualities, paired with a cool blue sunray dial, make this an incredibly attractive pick for the price.

Movement: Swiss Sistem 51 Automatic
Size: 42mm
Water resistance: 30m

Seiko SKX007K2 Dive Watch

Affordable mechanical dive watches are hard to come by — especially when you’re looking for one under $200. That is why this classic reference from Seiko is such a gem. It features an easily legible black dial with luminescent indices, a day-date window and a unidirectional bezel that sits atop a Hardlex crystal. And to top it off, the watch features a jubilee bracelet that’s just as handsome out of the water as it is beneath the waves.

Movement: 7s26 Automatic
Size: 42mm
Water resistance: 200m

Orient Sun and Moon Version 3

Complicated watches for less than several thousand dollars are often few and far between. While the look of the Sun and Moon is striking enough with its Roman numerals, calfskin leather strap, and sizable case, it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that the complications are all driven by the Japanese brand’s own in-house, automatic-winding movement.

Movement: Calibre F6B24
Size: 42.5mm
Water resistance: 50mm

Under $500

Apple Watch Series 4


Some watch lovers don’t like to think of anything that has the word “smart” used as a prefix in its title as a “true watch.” Wherever one falls on that argument, it’s hard not to consider this newest release from Cupertino when it comes to bang-for-buck. For a little less than $500, this watch does more than just keep the time; it tracks your fitness, connects you with work and family, and even takes and receives calls. “True watch” or not, that’s impressive.

Movement: Apple
Size: 40-44mm
Water resistance: 50m

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical


The value a watch offers isn’t tied only to its functionality. In fact, a good deal of what a great watch offers is a story or a piece of history. Take this watch from Hamilton for instance. Inspired in large part by watches that Hamilton produced for the U.S. military during Vietnam, it has a throwback martial look to it that pairs really well with a modern wardrobe. All things said, the watch is a damn near perfect for daily wear.

Movement: ETA 2801-2 Manual Winding
Size: 38mm
Water resistance: 50m

Bulova Lunar Pilot


Omega may be the most recognizable watch brand to have sent its timepieces to the moon, but it’s not in a class of its own. This pick from Bulova also made a journey outside of Earth’s orbit in 1971 with the Apollo 15 mission (albeit in a slightly different form). This updated version features a handsome dial with a trio of subdials, a tachymeter scale and a highly accurate quartz movement. While this watch is usually marked at around $600, it can often be found for a steal at prices closer to $300 online.

Movement: Quartz
Size: 45mm
Water resistance: 50m

Under $1,000

Seiko Presage SARX019


When it comes to getting a great value watch, few brands are better than Seiko at consistently delivering a feature-laden product. The Presage, for instance, features an in-house movement sandwiched between a transparent case back and enamel dial adorned with the more formal Roman numerals. A leather strap with a deployant clasp completes the classy, formal look.

Movement: Seiko 6R15
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 100m

Autodromo Stradale Automatic


Correctly or not, the heritage and longevity of a watchmaker add value to any watch that comes out of its shop. Autodromo has found its own way to short-circuit this paradigm by producing watches inspired by dashboard instruments in mid-century cars. The Stradale dial’s flawless reproduction of the 1950s and ‘60s style paired with a beautiful leather strap and 24-jewel mechanical movement give this watch a sense of refined historicity that many of its contemporaries lack.

Movement: Miyota 9015
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 50m

Junghans Max Bill


Like an Eames chair or a Castiglioni Brothers lamp, this watch is as much about the design movement it was born out of as it is the actual function it was originally built to serve. Designed by Max Bill, an original member of the Bauhaus movement, this faithful reproduction of the watch represents practical minimalism at its finest, all at an affordable price.

Movement: Self Winding J880.1
Size: 38mm
Water resistance: 50m

Under $2,000

Mido Multifort Datometer


Small changes can sometimes make an outsize impact on a watch’s attractivenss and utility. Take the Mido Multifort Datometer for exmaple: it’s not the only watch to bring back the the pointer-date complication, but it does so in the form of a gold-colored dress watch that looks like a million bucks without actually costing a million bucks. Add in a multi-faceted dial, automatic movement and matching brown leather strap, and you’ve got yourself the perfect dress watch with just the right amount of different.

Movement: Automatic Mido Cal. 80
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 50m

Nomos Glasshute Club


This watch from the German manufacturer is proof that a timepiece need not be gaudy in order to be remarkable. What this timepiece offers is more in the details: a beautiful silver-plated dial and an in-house movement with a 43-hour power reserve. And while the watch is restrained in many respects, the playful color of the baton hands and Arabic numerals along the edge of the dial add a kind of youthful, sporty quality to the watch. All in all, the Club manages to be refined without taking itself too seriously.

Movement: Manual-Winding Caliber Alpha
Size: 36mm
Water resistance: 100m

Weiss Limited Edition American Issue Field Watch


Modern watches are rarely truly ‘American-made’, but Weiss strives to get as much of its manufacturing done Stateside as possible. Many components are made by hand in Cameron Weiss’s Los Angeles studio, which by necessity means production quantities are low. This special edition of the watchmaker’s field watch features a transparent sapphire glass case back, a Horween leather strap and a beautiful deep navy dial.

Movement: Manual-Winding Calibre 1003
Size: 42mm
Water resistance: 100m

Under $5,000

Omega Speedmaster


Story and history add value. This is why Paul Newman’s Daytona broke records, why Robin Williams’ Hamilton from the Dead Poets Society hammered for over 32k and why Eric Clapton’s Pateks fetch millions. So it’s pretty remarkable that one can strap on the same watch model that first ventured out of orbit and onto the surface of the moon for under $5,000. Sure, a Speedmaster is by no means cheap, but when you consider the history in addition to the striking design of the watch with its in-house, hand-winding movement, it’s hard to beat.

Movement: Manual-Winding Calibre 1863
Size: 42mm
Water resistance: 50m

Grand Seiko SBGA285G


Generally speaking, most all of Grand Seiko’s high-end timepieces offer incredible value. The Japanese watchmaker’s attention to detail rivals — and in many cases exceeds — their Swiss counterparts, while often costing much less. This particular example from across the Pacific features an in-house Caliber 9R65 movement with a 72-hour power reserve and a stark black dial with contrasting metallic indices.

Movement: Automatic Caliber 9R65
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 100m

IWC Schaffhausen Portofino


Getting your hands on a limited-edition watch is always an exciting prospect — especially when it’s from IWC. Released as part of a celebration of the Swiss watchmaker’s 150th anniversary, this Portofino’s case back on the watch features a special stamp marking the occasion. Of course, the case back isn’t the only exciting thing this watch offers. The lacquered white dial, blued hands, roman numerals and in-house movement all come together to make this watch truly special.

Movement: Manual Winding 3511 Calibre
Size: 40mm
Water resistance: 30m

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