10 Watches Under $500 – and Some Under $200 – That I Love

While we tend to focus on the upper end of the watch market on Quill & Pad, the vast majority of collectors have much more limited disposable income to satiate their desires. However, as American college student and founder of the Campus Watch Chronicle blog, Sam Loiterstein explains here, there are a plethora of great options available for less than $250.

Here are 10 of his favorites.


Earnshaw Drake Dual Time Automatic Green Gold Skeleton

I love my Earnshaw Drake Dual Time Automatic Green Gold Skeleton. The Earnshaw Green Gold is a timepiece with a classic design that appeals to those with a refined taste in watches. However, while the prices listed on the website may initially seem steep, it’s worth noting that they often come with hefty discounts.

Earnshaw Drake Dual Time Automatic Green Gold Skeleton

This makes the Earnshaw Green Gold a more attractive option for those looking to invest in a high-quality watch without breaking the bank. With its timeless aesthetics and occasional promotional offers, the Earnshaw Green Gold presents an opportunity to own a luxurious timepiece at a more accessible price point.

Price: $500, now on offer at $300 at https://thomas-earnshaw.com/products/drake-dual-time-automatic-green-gold-es-8291-66

Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green Dial

The Citizen Promaster NY0040-09EE’s captivating green dial is a standout timepiece that combines style and functionality. Its sleek submariner design is complemented by a vibrant green dial that adds a touch of personality to any outfit. As part of the Promaster series, this watch boasts exceptional durability and reliability, making it suitable for both everyday wear and outdoor adventures.

Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green Dial

With features such as a unidirectional rotating bezel and water resistance up to 200 meters, the NY0040-09EE is a stylish accessory and a dependable tool for divers and water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re exploring the depths of the ocean or simply navigating through daily life, the Citizen Promaster is sure to make a statement on your wrist.

Price: unfortunately has gone up, now $521.25 (discounted down from $695) at www.citizenwatch.com/us/en/product/NY0155-58X.html

Bulova Wilton Automatic Stainless Steel

This watch is an impressive timepiece that blends sophisticated design with exceptional craftsmanship, all available at a budget-friendly price under $250. Bulova is a huge name in the watch world and owning one is a source of pride for most collectors. Featuring a classic stainless steel construction, this watch exudes timeless elegance suitable for any occasion, whether it’s a formal event or everyday wear.

Bulova Wilton Automatic Stainless Steel

Powered by a reliable automatic movement, it offers precise timekeeping without the need for a battery, making it an appealing choice for watch enthusiasts. With its polished stainless steel bracelet and versatile design, the Bulova Automatic Stainless Steel Watch is both stylish and practical, providing excellent value for its price.

Price: should still be available under $500 www.bulova.com/global/product/96A206.html



Orient Ray Raven II

Wow. This orange dial pops off the wrist of its wearer in a big way. Another stunning dive watch, however unique in its own right, this watch features a cream-white bezel with matching hands and a day-date window.

Orient Ray Raven II with orange dial

I would recommend this watch to enthusiasts with an already somewhat expansive collection due to the limited styles that can match this timepiece. But in its own right, this is a watch that stands out in a collection for an incredible bargain.

Price: $210 and has now been upgraded with Orient caliber F6922 and a more robust 120-click bezel www.orientwatchusa.com/collections/sport/faa02006m9

Seiko Arabic Day-Date

In wearing the Seiko Arabic Day-Date timepiece, one embraces more than a mere accessory; it becomes a profound narrative of personal experience. With its distinct design featuring Arabic numerals denoting both day and date, this watch transcends its functional purpose to symbolize the wearer’s individual journey.

Seiko 5 Automatic Black Dial Ref: SNK063J5

For those who have deep connection to the script on the dial, this watch is a great example of how a timepiece tells a story about its wearer.

Price: $135 at www.amazon.com/Seiko-Automatic-Black-Watch-SNK063J5/dp/B00820EXJO

Timex Expedition North Automatic

The Timex Expedition North Automatic is a robust timepiece designed for outdoor enthusiasts, blending rugged functionality with timeless style. Its stainless steel case exudes durability and sophistication, complemented by a comfortable fabric strap that adapts to any adventure. Powered by a reliable automatic movement, this watch eliminates the hassle of battery changes, ensuring uninterrupted performance on the go.

Timex Expedition North Automatic in titanium

With a water resistance of 100 meters and luminous hands and markers for low-light visibility, it’s equipped for any outdoor challenge. As a trusted name in watchmaking since 1854, Timex combines quality, durability, and affordability, making the Expedition North Automatic a reliable companion for those who embrace adventure.

Price: Note that unfortunately the steel version is no longer available, and the titanium model is a pricier $349 at https://timex.com/products/expedition-north-titanium-automatic-41mm-eco-friendly-leather-strap-watch-tw2v54000



Stuhrling Legacy Collection

The Stuhrling Legacy Collection epitomizes timeless elegance with a contemporary edge, showcasing meticulous craftsmanship and innovative design. Each watch in this collection exudes sophistication, boasting sleek stainless steel cases, intricately detailed dials, and genuine leather straps that add a touch of refinement to any ensemble.

Stuhrling Precision Masterpiece Automatic Skeleton 40mm

Whether featuring minimalist indices or intricate chronograph subdials, every timepiece in the Legacy Collection seamlessly blends style with functionality, powered by automatic movements for accurate timekeeping. As a brand renowned for its dedication to quality and innovation since its inception in 1999, Stuhrling continues to impress with the Legacy Collection, offering luxury timepieces that capture the essence of enduring style and craftsmanship.

Price: from $99 at https://stuhrling.com/collections/legacy

Swatch Sistem 51

The Swatch Sistem 51 stands as a revolutionary timepiece, merging Swiss precision with innovative engineering to redefine the concept of automatic watches. Its distinctive design showcases Swatch’s signature flair for vibrant colors and playful patterns, making it a standout accessory for any occasion. Beneath its eye-catching exterior lies the groundbreaking Sistem 51 movement, comprised of only 51 components, all assembled robotically.

Swatch Sistem51: Petite Seconde Blue

The self-winding movement offers impressive accuracy and a remarkable 90-hour power reserve, setting new standards for automatic watches in terms of reliability and longevity. With its fusion of cutting-edge technology and bold aesthetics, the Swatch Sistem 51 represents a new era of watchmaking innovation, making luxury accessible to all.

Price: from $165 at www.swatch.com/en-us/sistem-51.html

Vincero The Chrono S2

The Vincero Chrono S2 is a testament to the brand’s commitment to blending timeless style with modern functionality. Boasting a bold and commanding presence on the wrist, this timepiece features a stainless steel case with intricate detailing and a refined Italian leather strap, demonstrating sophistication and luxury. Its chronograph functionality adds a practical element, allowing for precise timekeeping and convenient stopwatch capabilities.

Vincero The Chrono S2

With its attention to detail and impeccable craftsmanship, Vincero continues to redefine affordable luxury with the Chrono S2, making it a standout accessory for the discerning individual who appreciates both style and substance.

Price: from $160 at https://vincerocollective.com/collections/chrono-s-40-series

Fossil Townsman Automatic

Combining vintage allure with contemporary functionality, the Fossil Townsman Automatic Brown Leather Watch stands out as a masterpiece of timeless sophistication. Its stainless steel case and luxurious brown leather strap create a captivating aesthetic, while the exposed automatic movement offers a captivating glimpse into the watch’s inner workings.

Fossil Townsman Automatic

With Roman numeral hour markers on a minimalist dial, this timepiece exudes understated elegance, perfect for both formal and casual settings. Crafted with Fossil’s trademark attention to detail and quality, the Townsman Automatic Brown Leather Watch is a unique fusion of style and substance, destined to become a cherished addition to any discerning watch enthusiast’s collection.

Price: $240 at www.fossil.com/en-us/products/townsman-automatic-brown-leather-watch/ME3110.html

For more Campus Watch Chronicle articles, please visit www.campuswatchchronicle.com/

You might also enjoy:

Why I Bought It: Timex Marlin Re-edition

Own a Piece of Watch History for Under $200: The Swatch Sistem51

Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch Owner Review: The Good, The Bad, The Complicated

Christopher Ward The Twelve In-Depth Review: The Science of (Relatively) Affordable Perfection

7 replies
  1. Rudolf Staub
    Rudolf Staub says:

    I can recommend the watches of Pagani, most of them with Seiko NH 35 movement, saphire glass, stainless steel, perfect watches, good design, very fair price.

      • Patrick
        Patrick says:

        Unfortunately you can´t even replace the movement. In most cases the watch case made from plastic is sealed and cannot be opened without damage. So it´s nothing else than a 100% disposable product as the lifetime of the plastic escapement system is limited too. My own watch failed after less than 3 years. No recommendation from my side.

  2. Lawrence
    Lawrence says:

    The Earnshaw watches are questionable, as they look quite similar to other Chinese made watches that are produced for brands like Stuhrling and Forsining. And just as in the case of Stuhrling, their prices are inflated, so their discounts are deceiving, because the discounted prices are still above the value of the watches. There may be some exceptions there, but thread with care.

    I don’t mind watches made in China, but I would rather look to brands that price them realistically and do not hide the origin of their components. For example, Berny and Boderry make some good quality watches that are priced very well. And San Martin has just started a new brand for marketing original designs: JiangHun. There is also a Singaporean company, Pi Ratio, that makes a selection of diver watches with great specs for their price.

  3. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    Thank you very much for this very interesting overview of budget optimized watches which could be a starting point for beginners or those who are looking for an everydays watch in order to conserve some high priced and valuable pieces from dust and scratches during a long days use in sometimes rough environment.
    However I do not agree with evey example you have choosen. The Sistem 51 from Swatch is such an example I would never buy again. The movement ist far away from being innovative or fascinating. It´s nothing else than trash. An escape system made from cheap plastics (anchor wheel + anchor itself) were worn out in my watch in less than 3 years. The sealed watch case cannot be opened and the movement itself is riveted. So no service is possible. You can just throw the whole arrangement in the bin. And that does definitely not meet our todays sustainability expectations.
    The best choice in my opinion are the watches from Citizen and Orient. In both cases you get high quality in material and workmanship. The watches can easily be adjusted and serviced.by any standard educated and equipped watchmaker around the corner.
    However you might have as well a closer look to some chinese manufactureres offering their watches under their own labels, e.g. Pagani Design, Mysterious Code, Sugess, AddiesDive, FEICE, Corgeut. These labels have watches in their portfolio you find on platforms like Amazon and/or Aliexpress and they offer in most cases an amazing quality for little money, mostly between less than 100 to a maximum of 250 $.


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