For a guide on the reasons why these watches were chosen, please see the Watch Buying Guide below.

For Women’s watches, please see Best Women’s Automatic Watches.

Marketplaces: Instead of purchasing high at retail and taking a large loss when selling, we recommend buying and selling watches at a discount on tax-free and transaction-fee-free secondhand markets such as either reddit.com/r/WatchExchange , Moda Watch Club FB Group , Moda Watch Club – $5k & Under FB Group, or Watchuseek. Chrono24 is another marketplace albeit there are a lot of price gougers.

Divers: Rolex Sub Styles $150-$500

Steinhart Ocean 1 Black Submariner homage James BondWith history in Scuba, divers are rated water resistant for deep waters (200m+) and as such usually have screw down crowns and closed case backs. Superb in that they are both super classy and sporty (tool-ish) at the same time, not to mention very legible with the white hands over black dial. Because of the style’s popularity, many great value for homages are available to the iconic Rolex Submariner. We’d recommend the regular submariner style (13mm thick, 40mm case size) and not Sea-dweller (14.8mm, 43mm) or Deepsea (17.6mm, 44mm) as those are too high profile (thick), heavy, and unwieldy except for people with the thickest of wrists – you will bump it into objects frequently.

Recommended – Squale ETA $590 such as 20 ATMOS 1545 Classic from [GnomonWatches]. The Maxi version has larger more vintage indices markers. Squale has their BlueRay model as a Rolex Smurf homage. It’s slightly smaller than the Steinharts (40mm vs 42mm). Squale is a micro-watchmaker with a solid history from the 1950s (was making cases for other brands such as Tag Heuer, Doxa, Blancpain). Compared to Steinhart, Squale is more reputable, more true case size, slightly worse bezel action, better rounded lugs instead of Steinhart’s straight lines.

Steinhart Ocean 1 Black $400 with Ceramic Option (Rolex Submariner 16610 homage, most famous dive watch) [Steinhart]
Ocean 44 $440 (bigger, Rolex Sea-Dweller 116660 homage, flat bezel) [Steinhart]. Ocean 1 Vintage Red $400 (more sporty color, Rolex 1680 Red / Rolex 5513 Red homage, most famous military-issued dive watch, as seen in the classic James Bond 007 movies) [Steinhart] – a better homage than Ocean One Vintage Military (OVM) [Steinhart]. Ocean One Vintage $470 (Rolex 6200 homage) [Steinhart]. Rolex Smurf: Ocean 1 Premium Blue [Steinhart]. Steinhart also has green for Kermit (black dial, green bezel) and Hulk (green dial, green bezel).

Orient: (not sapphire glass though) Orient Ray $140 [Amazon] (classic round hour markers), Orient Mako XL (aka Mako II, Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean homage, markered dial / bigger size / worse lume than Mako) $140 [Amazon, also EM75004B Orange bezel – classic Planet Ocean style version]


Divers: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Style

Produced in collaboration with the French Navy and also official watch for the US Navy’s combat divers and Navy SEALs, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms retails for $15,700.

Recommended – Squale 39 Sub: [GnomonWatches] $1200 is a great alternative to the full priced Blancpain, as Squale even used to manufacture the cases for Blancpain.

Seiko SNZH Series: $300 As a more budget version, a Seiko with FiftyFive Fathoms dial (50 Fathoms + Seiko 5 = 55), Personal opinion: gold trim SNZ57 looks the best [eBay] (SNZH series also similar to the Breitling SuperOcean, especially if adding a numberless bezel insert).


Divers: Doxa Scuba Diving Style

Doxa watches were designed in consultation with U.S. Divers, of which included Jacques Cousteau as the chairman and his companion Claude Wesly, the first man to spend seven days thirty-three feet underwater. They have orange dials after research that it was the most legible color underwater. The aqualung, the first breathing apparatus for scuba, was invented in France during the winter of 1942–1943 by two Frenchmen: the engineer Émile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau.

Doxa Sub 300T – with the Old school case

Doxa Sub 600T – with the Modern case


Divers: Non-Traditional Styles $150-$400

Irreantum MagellanSome good value unique diver watches:
Seiko Monster (hard to find) (i.e. Black Monster SRP307 2nd gen, SRP313 “Bloody Tooth” or the more popoular Orange Monster SRP309, 1st gen is SKX779 and SKX781 had square hour indices, Seiko 5 Mini / Neo / Baby Monster is not as preferred because not as rugged look and crown isn’t screw down)

Tuna-homage Citizen Ecozilla BJ8050 $200 (Solar) [Amazon, eBay] (a classic, big, similar size to Seiko Tunacan, however you need $70 adapters to switch the strap out). Big and ugly looking.

Citizen BN0000 (solar eco-drive) $200 [Amazon]. Solid quality and great value but cartoonish bezel numbering.

Halios unique divers made by a small Canadian company, beautiful but Miyota movement like Magrette, but I’d be more inclined to get a [Halios]. Delfin and Tropik SS models unavailable. Order with metal bracelet.

MKII [MKIIWatches] great but $800+ (and the Vantage or Kingston are no longer for sale)

Prometheus [PrometheusWatch] (not sure of quality, and overpriced even with lower quality seagull/sellita movements, Baiji and CR1 models look good though)

Seiko Prospex Marine Master Professional 300m Diver SBDX001 or SBDX017 (MM300) the ultimate diver $1800, with a movement at in-house Swiss movements / Grand Seiko level. Might be too high profile to fit under dress shirts. [Amazon, eBay]

Squale 50 ATMOS (500m) Shiny and beautiful, coin edge bezel $830 [GnomonWatches]

Longines Hydroconquest (diver) $1k Modern submariner, 80 years of horse racing history [eBay, Amazon]

Christopher Ward C65 ~$750 tad expensive [CW] and Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro (semi Omega Seamaster homage) $850 [CW] – Could get a blue wave dial like the classic discontinued Seamaster

Certina DS Action Diver $700 (Note: little hard to find even though big brand in Swatch group) [eBay]

Mido Multifort $800 [eBay, Amazon Multiforts], or Mido All Dial $800 [eBay, Amazon All Dial], or Mido Baroncelli Chronograph [eBay, Amazon]

Don’t get: Seiko “Tuna Can” (e.g. baby Tuna SRP637 or SRP641). Even though they are better than the old quartz $900 Tunas SBBN015 and SBBN017, they are still too large, bad bezel action and bad bracelet. 


Aviation: Flieger Watches (German WWII Pilot) $200-$500

A Flieger is the classic German WWII aviation watch. Compared to other options, it is more casual and toolish than classy, especially with its classic riveted brown strap (one can switch it out with a metal bracelet or black leather). Titanium isn’t worth the extra money and is more prone to scratches (although it’s “lighter” for the real pilots). A dial is the more historically common variant (B dial was produced in small quantities), for some the B dial is “too busy” (especially for the smaller Poljot $100-$200 Russian aviators [eBay])

Because of the style’s simplicity you could go budget ie an Orient/Poljot. Cheaper than a Hamilton Khaki, Seiko SNK809K is too small 37mm (better than the miyota $200 Ticino or slightly more modern miyota Maratac $290 CountyComm or bad Parnis). For more quality, go ETA movement Steinhart $400 [A dial 44mmA dial 47mmB dial 44mmB dial 47mm] (note the titanium ones not listed here are $469 with vintage-yellow font), OR Laco Augsberg/Aachen miyota $400 for its historical signification (100% true to history). [Amazon A-Dial AugsbergB-Dial Aachen]. Other ETA: Aristo ~$425 at [LongIslandWatch Discount]. Archimede is pricey. 


Aviation: Rolex GMT Master II Style $500-$800

The classic Rolex GMT aviation style is the two-color bezels (original being the Pepsi – Blue/Red). For pilots, the 24h hand is directly linked to your home time, and a turn of the bi-directional bezel in either direction, based on the timezones you’ve hopped through, can quickly indicate the current time.

Steinhart GMT [Steinhart Watches Search] e.g. Steinhart GMT-Ocean 1 Black [Steinhart], Steinhart Vintage GMT $440 [Steinhart]

Squale Dusky $600-800 [Gnomon Watches Search]


Aviation: Other World Time Watches

Citizen AT9010-52E [Amazon]
Citizen Skyhawk A-T [Amazon BL5400-52A Silver/White, Blue Angels World A-T, Other Promaster Sky eBay]
Orient Worldtimer $300-$500 Automatic [eBay, Amazon All Models]. Orient Star GMT (Star Seeker) would be another one.


Aviation Chronographs: Breitling Navitimer Style $150-$300

Rotary Breitling Navitimer homageAffordable automatic chronographs are difficult to find. Navitimers have the slide-rule bezel, which allows for metric to standard conversions, fuel consumption, air speed and distance calculations, etc.

Quartz: Seiko SNA413 [Amazon], Casio Edifice EF-527 $87 [Amazon]
Automatic: Julian Kampmann Poljot24 Russia. Make sure to get only Poljot 3133 movements (3017 redesign made by MakTime, faithful copy of swiss Valjoux 7734).
Solar $200: Seiko [SSC009 black, SSC013 white], Seiko SSC289 [Amazon rubber, eBay SS261 metal bracelet], more contemporary Citizen Nighthawk (GMT but no chrono) [Amazon], Citizen chrono $300 [BL5400-52A Silver/White, BL5403-03X Gold/Black]

Budget Classy Automatics $80-$130

Lowest priced automatics that are still quality.

Rolex Explorer homage / Military Field style: Smiths Everest $400 [Timefactors], Bernhardt Binnacle Anchor Miyota movement $259 [Bernhardt Anchor Black], Seiko SNKM77 can look similar with $50 worth of dagaz hands and possibly also dial (but only 32mm compared to 39mm Rolex)

Hamilton Khaki King or Khaki Field

Seiko military field style: SNZG13 [Amazon]

Cartier Tank Style: Seiko SUP Series: Seiko SUP880 Solar $100 [Amazon]

Patek Philippe Nautilus: Seiko 5 SNKK 40s-50s  $60 (but are smaller size 36mm instead of 42mm of the official models, hard to find)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore: Casioak, Maurice Lacroix Aikon $1200

Rolex Oyster Datejust or Day-Date homage: Orient Union Day Date $100 [Amazon] or Orient Oyster Classic $300 [Amazon] (Orient is 40mm similar to the 41mm Datejust II and Day-Date II, better than the too small 36mm Seiko SNXJ series which is similar to 36mm Rolex Datejust and Day-Date or 34mm Rolex Air King)

Other Styles / Miscellaneous Budget Brands:

Vostok Amphibia (Russian divers) ~$80 [eBay, Meranom, Chistopolcity, Vostok USA]

Sekonda ~$80 [eBay] (Another Russian watch but classy, only cheap if bought used)

HMT (Indian classy ultra-cheap automatic) $30-$80, find them on Ebay, ie Sona, Janata (both better than Pilot)

Seiko 5 SNK series smaller classic size ~38mm $70-$100 ie SNK795 (modern) [black Amazon, white SNK789, blue SNK793] looks more classy than the older looking SNKL series (45, 41, 43). Hard to find

Orient $130-$190, some classy models are: Orient Goldeneye / Open Heart / Esteem [Amazon] or Orient Bambino [Amazon] (preferred over the Symphony due to Bambino’s more unique domed crystal)

Sea-Gull $220+ Classy automatics and skeletons and divers and chronos, many styles [SeagullWatchCompany, Amazon] ie D58


Racecar Driving Chronographs: Rolex Daytona and Omega Speedmaster homages $150-$300

Affordable automatic chronographs are difficult to find.  Tachymeter on “racer” watches is solely for speed. While Omega Speedmaster, it has history with astronauts in space – first watch worn by an astronaut walking on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission and is one of several watches NASA-qualified for spaceflight and is the only one so qualified for outside spacecraft usage (spacewalk, moonwalk, etc.).

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman/Omega Speedmaster Professional homages:

Quartz / Solar:

Seiko SSC813

Solar Diver Chronographs: Seiko SSC015 $205 [Amazon], Seiko SSC017 $205 [Amazon], Citizen VO10-6771F ALTERNA Eco-Drive Chronograph

Casio Edifice $60 [Amazon1, 2], Seiko SSB Series $120 [Amazon SSB073, SSB033, SSB031, SSB025], Also Invicta Speedway (many models) [Amazon All Models] ie Speedway 9211 [Amazon], Citizen AN8070-53E [eBay], Quartz 7a28 [eBay] or 7a38 [eBay] (hard to find), Alpha Daytona Paul Newman – chronograph automatic Seagull mvmt $215 [Alpha]

Automatic:

Russian: Strela $600 or other 3133 models [eBay (best value), Julian Kampmann Poljot24 Russia] Note: 3 similar quality Strela brands: Strela, Poljot International, Sturmanskie. Like above, get only Poljot 3133 movements (3017 redesign made by MakTime, quality copy of swiss Valjoux 7734), ie Poljot Chronograph “Classic”

Steinhart Ocean One Vintage Chronograph $1k [white, black]

Girard Perregaux

Omega Speedmaster Michael Schumacher “Mini Speedmaster”: Comes in yellow, red or blue varieties. 39mm as opposed to the full size 42mm Speedmaster Moonwatch.

Absolute Best Daytona Alternatives:

Zenith Chronomaster Sport $10k

Longines Heritage 1967 $2000


Simple Chronographs $150-$300Stowa Marine Chrono

Stowa Chronograph $1500 [StowaShop]

IWC Portuguese homage: 

Steinhart Marine $430 [Marine Chronograph] Super classy and great value for the quality, only gripe is that they might be too classy for everyday watch. Roman (Roman numerals) is more classy than Arabic (regular numerals). Better value than the double-the-price Stowa Marine Original. Discontinued – [Marine Chronometer II Roman, Marine Chronometer II Arabic]

Junghans Max Bill Automatic Chronoscope or Meister Telemeter (classic Bauhaus, but plexiglass, $1800 for chronograph “Chronoscope”) [eBay]. The Meister Telemeter looks a little too cartoony, although a great value chronograph.

Active Duty Tactical Military Watches $50-$300

G-Shock RangemanNote: ABC watch means Altimeter (altitude tracking), Barometer (predict rain), Compass. Atomic means its time is corrected by radio tower
Cheap Beater: Casio G-Shock DW-5600E $41 – digital/quartz

Most Iconic G-Shock: Casio G-Shock GW-5000 $320 solar [Amazon] (the modern version of the older DW-5000C)

Size/Some Features/Mudproof Combo: Casio G-Shock G-9300 “Mudman” $129 [Amazon or Yellow – Amazon] is more mud/dirt/dust resistant, big and mudproof like GX-56 King (not quite as big but easier to press buttons), compass, has moonphase (Rangeman doesn’t), No altimeter/barometer/sunrise-sunset/atomic

Feature Rich / Bang-ability: Casio G-Shock G-9400 “Rangeman” (new version of GW-9200 Riseman) $180 [Amazon GW94001CR, GW9400J-1JF, GW9400BJ-1JF black negative display]. Solar, ABC, temp sensor, auto light by turning wrist towards your face, but no mud-resist (can take mud but not operate buttons). Compared to Riseman, the Rangeman is larger/heavier, newer sensor/module, added compass, slightly less comfortable, and illuminated by LED (though people say LED is uneven and too bright vs EL). The J (Japanese models) have the more expensive/stiff carbon fiber strap, not necessary as the regular rubber resin strap is super durable and soft/comfortable. Negative display is generally not recommended, looks cool but more difficult to read the time.

Most Features: Suunto 9 Peak All Black $500 [Amazon]. All the features and most precise sensors (ABC, storm alarm, sunrise/sunset indicator). Quartz – battery lasts 1 year but only takes 2mins to swap and weather-seal yourself

Best: Casio G-Shock Rangeman $180 for lots of bang-ability or Suunto Core for higher sensor precision and less rugged/bulky. DON’T get Casio Pro Trek (new version of Casio Pathfinder): bigger screens but not as resistant to bumps and scratches (you can actually replace the bezel on G-shocks). Seiko (ie SBEB001) and Tissot may be working on ABCs.


Mid-level Classy Automatics $200-600

Steinhart Marine Chronometer II Roman

Tissot Visodate $375 [Amazon, eBay] (albeit black has a white day/date). -OR- Powermatic 80 [Amazon, eBay]

Hamilton popular solid American brand and great value ETAs (however sometimes known for poor lume and strap/band quality and no anti-reflective coating) Note that they are on sale often. Classier models include Jazzmaster Viewmatic $500 [Amazon, eBay], Intra-Matic $600 (best value Bauhaus style) [Amazon, eBay], Thin-O-Matic $600 [Amazon, eBay]

Seiko Spirit (SARB) is a super classy series including the $390 iconic green Alpinist SARB017 [Amazon], the black dial SARB033 [Amazon, eBay] or white SARB035 [Amazon], SARB065 Shinobu Ishigaki “Cocktail Time” [Amazon, eBay]. Don’t believe the extra $200 is worth it for the $570 SARB021 or SARB023, Secondarily: Orient Vintage Power Reserve $200 [Amazon] or Orient Star Classic $400 [Amazon]

Zenith Defy Classic


Moonphase and Grand Complication Automatics $600-$1k (all ETA movements)

Patek Philippe 3970P Perpetual Calendar:

Perpetual Watches: Superb beautiful watches at good prices (albeit Seagull movement). Sold out frequently. Models include: Chronograph C-05 or C-07 $500


Richard Mille, Tourbillons and Skeletons $500-$2k

Tourbillon is a movement invented by Abraham Louis Breguet, to counteract the gravity of a watch. Nowadays appreciated for aesthetic reasons.

Richard Mille Style:

TSAR Bomba – Quartz $189+ [Amazon]

Zerootime T4 Archer $1300 on Indiegogo. Cheapest real tourbillion. We do not recommend, as users have reported power reserve not holding many hours of time (power reserve) and losing seconds.

Perpetual Watches Tourbillon T-01 $1450. Recommend this over Zerootime.

Random Skeletons:

Seiko Skeleton Eye (SSA) [Amazon] or Coutura [Amazon]

Zenith – Either Defy or a Chronograph

High End Tourbillon:

Breguet – We recommend Breguet for high-end, the brand from the inventor.


Other Homages and Styles $500-$2k

Junghans Max Bill ChronoscopePanerai Homages

Magrette Regattare $545 beautiful but Miyota movement [Magrette] or Vantage Bronze [Magrette].

Precista PRS-20 $580 is a good value Panerai Radiomir homage [Timefactors]

Bauhaus

Nomos Tangente (classic). Or Tangomat (larger Tangente with date and/or GMT)

Junghans Max Bill Automatic (classic Bauhaus, but plexiglass, $850) [eBay]. 

Stowa Antea $850 beautiful Bauhaus [StowaShop]


Popular but Unorthodox Styles

Oris (ie Aquis Date $1k) and Glycine $800+ both widely known to be great quality/resale value, but I don’t find their lower-end watches awe-inspiring. Oris uses Sellita movements (just as good as ETA). Glycine Stratoforte chronograph is discontinued. [eBay]

Sinn ie 556 $1.1k [SinnWatches]. This is unpopular opinion but Sinn (reminiscent of IWC), is very simple style at high price point, even if it looks super clean.


Holy Grail Watches $10k+

While personally not condoning the acquisition of “Holy Grail” iconic watches for most budgets (i.e. average / median income), and disagree with them being investments, as they get scratched up and lose value as daily wears. Safer purchases are those of Rolex or the “trinity” brands – Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.

Preferences: 

  • Precious metals – Gold is preferable if the premium is not much greater than the steel models, as even though they get scratched more easily, there is value in the metal. Platinum is not recommended as models are more expensive but the metal is less expensive than gold. We believe yellow gold is more classic than white gold.
  • Ceramic Bezel is valuable as it is much less vulnerable to dings and scratches

Watch Brands and Models: 

  • Rolex Daytona (Note: Oyster means waterproof as opposed to Cellini)
  • Patek Phillippe – Nautilus is a Gerald Genta Design. A simple hour/minute/second and for 6 figures. We would rather have a Patek Grand Complication watch for closer to $200k. Patek’s brand philosophy is to maintain classic designs that will be in-style forever (passing down for generations), as opposed to AP which experiments with many designs, including obnoxious color combinations.
  • Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – Royal Oak is the brother Gerald Genta Design to the Nautilus. We prefer the Nautilus although some would say it looks more boring. The AP has a beautiful integrated bracelet which is nice, however, the case bezel screws are more industrial-looking and we appreciate Patek’s brand philosophy more.
  • Vacheron Constantin – Under-appreciated third of the trinity. We love the case design on the VC more than the Nautilus and Royal Oak. However, Patek has beautiful dials and complication designs on almost all models.

Would not recommend:

  • Jewelry style: Rolex Day-Date or Datejust (too classy and not versatile), Jaeger-LeCoultre (reverso is gimmicky), Cartier Tank or Santos (boring and more jewelry focused than horology)
  • Oversized and/or goofy styling: Panerai Radiomir (boring and oversized), Breitling, Hublot, Omega Seamaster (doesn’t feel as classic of styling or elegant, too sporty), Bell & Ross BR01 homage, Bvlgari
  • Boring: IWC (boring except for high end grand complications), Rolex Submariner or GMT (too many great homages and overdone styling), Tudor (for people who cannot afford a Rolex, weaker design, however the titanium Tudor Pelagos is nice for people who appreciate the snowflake hour markers and hands).

Conclusions & Favorites

After all the watch styling, branding, and market pricing research, we have concluded: Watches aren’t investments because 1) scratches cause loss of value and 2) expensive timepieces entail high maintenance costs (ie $500 for a $10K Rolex). For best quality to value, go for automatic, don’t spend much more than $600 for an ETA Swiss or much more than $300 on a non-Swiss movement because one could get a decent-condition gold watch on eBay or a used high-end brand for $600, ie Omega (both of these options will better hold their value). If you plan to have only one, choose a versatile style (or have two: one professional and one casual). Regarding homages, buy only from a quality company ie Steinhart (that looks a little different) instead of cheap Chinese copies that look the same as the real thing.

Watch Accessories

Best Watch Winder: WOLF Viceroy (2.7) Single $235 [Amazon], or Triple $750 [Amazon]. Only buy the Wolf brand, as cheaper ones are worthless. However, I’d say these are an optional luxury, as the only benefit is to have multiple automatic watches but not having to worry about setting their time when you switch them up.

Best Brands for Watch Straps / Bands / Bracelets

Nato vs Zulu: For straps / bands, recommend Nato type over Zulu, as Nato runs thinner, has a watch keeper strap, and thinner squared metal hoops instead of rounded. With its thick nature and more numerous hoops, Zulu looks more rugged than sporty.

  • Leather Strap Brands: Da Luca – highest quality leather (shell cordovan) but expensive $100+)
  • Nato / Zulu Strap Brands: (22 lug width)
  • Don’t get: Hadley Roma (doesn’t seem high quality)

Best Watch Spring Bar Tool for changing out bracelets/straps

Bergeon 6767-F Watch Spring Bar Tool (F-tool) $25 [Amazon], which is an F-tool is for metal bracelets. The Bergeon 6767-S (S-tool) [Amazon] is for leather and rubber straps (the F tool can too easy accidentally damage a leather strap because it is more fine). If you have watches with both bracelets and straps, you either need to purchase both tools or buy the other tip at $8-15. Bergeon (Swiss repair tools) is much better than the cheaper non-branded ones

Best Watch Repair Tool Kit

Best Value: Mannesmann M11760 $65 [Amazon]
Value Substitute: GTU 20 pcs $35 [Amazon]
Best Premium: Bergeon 7812 $275 (full set) [eBay], Bergeon 2819-08 $175 (just the wrench for removing casebacks) [Amazon], Bergeon 55-605 2868 Set of 5 Chrome Plated Brass Screwdrivers Watch Repair Kit (screwdrivers) $90 [Amazon]

Best Thread Locker Glue

In the case that the screw-in pins on your bracelet pop out, it is good to lock them in with Loctite Purple 222 glue $9 [Amazon]


Watch Buying Guide

Desirable Watch features:

  • Movement type – Watchphiles most recommend Automatic: no battery replacement required, seconds hand moves smoother (higher bpm – beats per minute), and holds value due to the craftsmanship and tradition of a complicated movement. Mechanicals are either Automatic (winded by wrist-movement) or Manual (winded manually) and charges last ~40 hours (recommended servicing every 5-10 years). Quartz is most accurate, powered by battery (lifetime ~2 years). Some quartzes self-recharge (hold ~6 months charge, lifetime ~10-20 years), ie Kinetic (Seiko) recharges with wrist movement but not recommended (battery weakens if let fully discharge), and Solar (Seiko Solar, Citizen Eco-Drive, Casio Tough Solar) recharges with light.
  • Automatic Movement brands – ETA (highest quality, Swiss-made – non-chronograph watches start at $400+ and ETA Valjoux chronographs start at $1k), Miyota (Japanese-made great/reliable with watches $250+), Seagull (okay quality Chinese, $100), followed by cheap unnamed Chinese movements ($50+). Some movements are made in-house, ie Seiko or top model Rolexes.
  • Hacking is a movement feature that stops the seconds hand for better time setting
  • Quality of the finish, Quality of [metal] bracelet. Bracelets usually worth more than a leather band/strap
  • Sapphire Crystal glass (scratch resistant and prettier than Mineral), Seiko uses Hardlex which is decent
  • Watch Size: It is not ideal to have too huge of a watch case size or thickness. The bigger and thicker the watch, the more easy to bang it into things. Also generally more complicated watches are thicker but not necessarily. For comparative purposes, a Rolex Submariner is 13mm thick, Sea-Dweller 14.8mm,  and Deepsea 17.6mm.
  • Brand: Don’t buy a fashion-brand watch (ie Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole): usually quartz and overpriced for their contracted-out quality. Buy from a watch-maker for better quality/price and resale value.

Note: Take your time shopping as there are many styles and tastes change. For more “lifelike” pics, look them up on Google Images or Youtube. ~38mm size is more classic while 42mm+ is more sporty.

Watch Diagram:

rolex Watch Diagram

Watch Straps/Bracelets:

See common Metal Bracelet Types below. Not shown, other styles include Milanese (Shark Mesh) and NASA style that was worn into space on an Omega Speedmaser (e.g. JB Champion brand is the reputable one). 

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Hey. Like the article. I agree with most of your conclusions. I own a Steinhart GMT with ceramic bezel and and a CW C60. Future purchases will be Steinhart OMV, Hamilton Lord Jazzmaster. Also like the look of Sekio SKX007, great value.
    I know what you mean about Rolexs, but that GMT II keeps calling 🙂
    I’m also keeping my eyes open for a new dress watch. Top of the list so far are either a new Tissot or Hamilton, or a second hand Omega from eBay. Just not sure on automatic movements that are 40 years old.
    Cheers.
    Ps. I also looked at the Prometheus dress watches – also very nice.

    1. Wow you have two amazing watches already! Not sure if I would need the OVM or Jazzmaster after those 🙂 Yes I like the Tissots for a dress watch (maybe Le Locle or Visodate) or for a better “investment” a used solid gold Omega De Ville on eBay. You’re right the Prometheus Dress Watch looks amazing!!! I’m too much of an ETA or upscale Seiko movement fanboy to accept the Sellita movement in it though 🙁 But I didn’t know that was out there, thanks for mentioning it 🙂

      Thank you for commenting!

  2. Thanks for a refreshing article. A good balance to many other watch articles online. But, seriously, “Note: Real pilots wear titanium because it’s lighter!” We are talking 30-50 grams difference. And you’re right, most quartz watches use batteries. You need to change the battery normally every 3-5 years. It takes a minute and costs a few bucks. A mechanical watch needs service at the same interval. A service takes from a day to several weeks. And cost hundreds of dollars. Those who know the difference and prefer mechanical watches will buy that. To everyone else, I recommend quartz

    1. You’re welcome and thank you for the appreciation! I was kidding about the Titanium. I wouldn’t say mechanicals need service at the same interval (much less frequently) and servicing shouldn’t be hundreds of dollars unless we’re talking expensive parts (ie Rolex). Then again, quartz is just as reliable but automatic is still higher valued in the watch community! Thank you for your opinion 🙂 Hope to maybe add more quartzes in future, if I find more with great styles. Best

  3. So the best value automatic WITH ETA is ?

    1. There is no absolute best. It’s in the eye of the beholder, but check out my Conclusion for my personal favorites 🙂

  4. I have had a few nice watches.  Nothing super fancy but  Glycine Combat (regret selling it) Hamilton Below Zero 1000m diver (regret selling it)  St Moritz Superstorm (regret selling it)  St Moritz Storm (regret selling it) Wenger Chrono 77009 (twice) (regret selling both times) haha oh and a Rolex sub homage (if thats the right term) it was an Ollech & Waj auto.  Plus a limited edition Seapro World Racer swiss auto black pv with red carbon fiber face.   Plus many more I forget.   Now I wear a 25 dollar digital I use at the gym and have a Dreyfuss & Co Rose Gold PV 1925 series auto.   Maybe someday if I win the lotto (hard since I have never bought a lotto ticket) I will buy a Ball or a Fortis.  My 2 fav watchmakers.  Nice article.  Cheers

    1. Looks like you’ve had quite a collection over the years! And damn, those St Moritzes look unbelievable. Similar in style to Seiko Tuna and they’re Miyota! I wish they were still sold so I could pick one up (if it was a reasonable price ie ~$200-$300)! Even the Wenger has a great chonograph look. How come watchmakers stop making these amazing looking styles?!?! (Now I see St Moritz is called Momentum Watches but they don’t have as cool unique styles as before!) The Dreyfuss & Co looks beautiful also, I’ll look into that brand! What makes Ball and Fortis your favorites? Thank you for your appreciation! Best

  5. Hi
    What do you think of Swisstek watches? Looking a a men’s Sk12630G with an ETA and sapphire crystal for under $400.

    1. Hello! I’m surprised you were able to find a nice Automatic for that affordable by Swisstek. They seem to be selling even Quartzes at high premiums ($300-$500)! That watch you found looks like a modern curvier Cartier Tank!

  6. Great article by the way!

    1. Thank you for the appreciation 🙂

  7. Hi,

    This is one of my most visit webpage to look (re-look) for affordable watches advices. Very good recommendation. Since then, I have been ‘dived’ into many new watches, i.e. Steinhart(s) for diver & pilot watch (still keep looking forward for my budget to come… LOL!); & other like Seiko & Orient too.
    I hope to see more update & refresh content, especially on World time & GMT & other segments too. Recently Orient have 2 new world time models. First Orient Star & 2nd is ‘non-star’ FA06003Y, include some review (not by me, of course) links below.

    http://yeomanseiko.com/2014/03/14/pictorial-review-orient-star-wz0031jc/
    http://yeomanseiko.com/2015/03/05/orient-classic-automatic-fa06003y-world-time/

    Thanks man!

    1. Hello! Thank you for visiting and appreciating my content. I see that you like cream-colored complicated GMT watches and I definitely approve of the fantastic value that Orient prices its watches at. The second one seems to be more reasonably priced for an Orient at $300, while the first is $840. That’s a little high! Happy hunting for the perfect watch that fits your tastes 🙂

  8. What do you think of the Raymond Weil maestro automatic?

    1. Very classy style! Skeleton / Tourbillon watches are not my personal style (I enjoy divers more), and it’s a smaller size than I’d like (39mm). I’d be sure to check out other brands, as the Raymond Weil is pricey and I’m skeptical of the quality. Check out Seagull or Orient (Goldeneye) if you want a more affordable but superb quality Tourbillon!

  9. Hi, thank you very much. A very helpful review. In regards of Steinhart.
    The bezel from the NEW 840 Euro PAN AM Homage is a BIG FAT joke when it comes to print quality and is really not premium build as it should be. But they have found a new great calibre with outstanding accuracy I hope that the aftermarket will cover this issue.
    Again, thank you very much. LG, Tom

    1. You’re welcome! And thank YOU for visiting my humble site. Thanks for your opinion on that Steinhart homage, I hope it helps out a fellow reader, as I have not had the chance to look at that homage!

  10. Great great site thanks for providing this resource!

  11. Many thanks for such a well-curated list. I’ve been reading a lot of forums to narrow down my choices for two watches to replace my cheap, scratched quartzes. I found the perfect dress watch for me, the Tissot Visodate Heritage (black) before finding this page. I’m also looking for a stainless steel Submariner homage with a reliable automatic movement at 300 or less, but I’m afraid to go any bigger than 40mm diameter because I have a wrist that is 6.75″ in circumference and more round than flat. I had the Seiko SKX007 on my list originally, but the size is the issue. I plan for these to be my dress watch (Tissot) and work/everyday wear watch (stainless bracelet), but can’t seem to find the latter in the right size.

    1. Sorry this reply is 2 years late but may still be useful. I also have small wrists so I opted for the Seiko SKX013, which is the mid-sized (38mm) version of the 007. The handset is slightly different but I prefer them. Some people have commented on forums that it is too thick for its size but it hasn’t bothered me. The SKX007/9 does wear smaller than its size suggests so it may be fine for you, nothing beats trying one on.

      In terms of classic mid-sized dress watches take a look at the Seiko (again 😊) SARB033 (black dial) or the SARB035 (cream). They are 38mm so should be just the right size. These were originally Japanese Domestic Models (JDM) only but they are available on the web.

      Happy hunting!

  12. Thanks I really enjoyed the piece very much. I agreed with some of what you said and disagreed with otherspoints…but isnt that the point. Where do you rate Alpina as a brand I really like and find it a fair value for the money. More over what I found very helpful was was the review of watch tool sets and accessories as I need to upgrade the quality of my watch tool. It is time to put quality ahead of price in that area now. Thanks again

  13. Interesting list, thanks. Small correction: HMT from India did produce some automatic watches (Kanchan, Rajat, etc) but the HMT watches you named (Sona, Janata, Pilot) are all handwinders, they’re not automatic. HMT Sona, Janata, Pilot come with HMT standard handwind movement (HMT 0231) that was made as an ebauche of Citizen Caliber 0201 (as found in 1960’s Citizen Homer). I have an HMT Sona so I’m quite sure of that. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the details!

  14. Just starting my watch education. This has opened up many possibilities. Thanks for sharing your watch expertise, and thanks to all the commenters.

  15. Hi,

    Great site! Just wanted your opinion on a very classy dress watch. I’m looking at a 38-39mm white dial, automatic, not more than 10mm thick, date only dress watch. Any suggestions? I really like this Longines Elegant watch (https://www.longines.com/watches/the-longines-elegant-collection/l4-910-4-12-2), but am a bit put off by the price. My budget is under $1000.

    Also I see you have Junghans Max Bill as an ‘overpriced’ watch. Why do you say its overpriced? This is also a watch I’m considering (but would rather get something classic first, like the Longines watch)

    1. Neil! Hello – The Longines looks fantastic, elegant indeed! Very classy look but I’m sure other brands make similar looking faces, so I’d still shop around.

      Junghans Max Bill is $500 for quartz (I’d only pick up a quartz for max a couple hundred if I really liked the design), and the chronograph automatics are $1300+. I’d say $1k is a super value for a swiss chronograph (and $500 for non-chronograph swiss automatic i.e. Steinhart), but $1300 is not that bad I would say, so only it’s slightly overpriced in my eyes. If you’re in love with it over all others, get it!

      1. Thanks. Do you update this article? Because there are new watches coming out every year

  16. Fantastic list! Easily the most comprehensive of anyone looking to spend between $200 – $1000 on a watch. Its a super tough area to buy in since there is so much value but also so much garbage.
    I would love to get my hands on the steinhart marine officer bronze but the duties and taxes for delivery to Canada scares me. Whats your experience with getting steinharts delivered?

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