A good watch is an investment. It’s a statement piece to add to your wardrobe that you can literally wear every single day.
A wristwatch says a lot about you as a person, too. Employers, dates, friends — they’ll all take notice of a nice watch, whether they say something about it or not.
However, just because a watch is an investment, that doesn’t mean you have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for a luxury timepiece like a Rolex. You can easily find a great watch for under $500.
What to Look For When Buying a Watch
If you’re new to watch shopping, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you go about picking your new accessory.
Firstly, what kind of style do you already have and what kind of watch will fit that style best? Are you more sporty or classic? Do you want something that looks casual or luxurious? Do you want a vintage watch or a dress watch?
Look at a watch’s band and face and what materials they’re made from, as this should also match your current wardrobe. Is the band made from leather, silver, gold, rose gold?
What about the size of the face? How does it look compared to the size of your wrist?
Look at your wardrobe and what you currently wear on most days and then make a decision on a watch style based on what you could wear with your favorite outfits.
Do you want a digital or analog watch? Typically, analog watches are considered to be more luxurious — they have that classic look and feel that you expect from a high-end timepiece. Digital watches are generally considered more sporty and casual (and also, unfortunately, cheap, unless you’re going for a timepiece that’s more tech than watch).
Watches come with a range of features that you may or may not need. If you want a watch that simply shows the time and date, you’ll have plenty to choose from. If, though, you want something a little more tech-savvy, like a watch with a GPS, alarms and more (or even a full range of tech features, like you get with an Apple Watch), then you’ll have to be more selective and likely choose a digital watch versus an analog watch.
Other features to consider include water resistance, luminosity and the watch’s power source. A mechanical watch needs to be wound every few days, while automatic watches wind automatically with movement and solar watches simply power themselves via the light your wrist is exposed to throughout the day.
Best Men's Watches Under $500
If you’re in the market for a men’s watch, here are a few options to consider.
Casio is a very trusted watch brand and this Casio Edifice timepiece can stand up to even the most active wearer — all while looking super stylish in the process. The watch comes in at only a few hundred dollars from Macy’s, and can be delivered straight to your door.
The stainless steel watch is outfitted with a silver-tone resin bracelet. You have a black and red analog and digital face with LED lighting. Features include alarms, a stopwatch, countdown timer, speed indicator and world time indicator. The watch is water-resistant for up to 100 meters.
This Japanese quartz movement watch from Seiko will last you a lifetime. It has a 60-minute chronograph, stainless steel case and 6-month power reserve. Seiko is known for making high-quality timepieces.
The Seiko SSC143 has a solar chronograph, meaning there is no battery required. This black dial finish wristwatch is also water-resistant up to 100 meters and shows the time in different time zones. It is always good to know what time it is in London and New York City, right?
This watch is $425 and offers free returns in case you change your mind.
At $315, this eye-catching watch from Undone is one that’ll definitely gain the approval of any of your watch snob friends. The rugged look is somewhat vintage, with an orange hour hand, plexus crystal face and blue dial. It’s automatic, affordable and very durable for everyday use, no matter what your day’s activities usually look like.
Watches with wooden faces and bands are beginning to become more mainstream and less “hipster.” This watch from Holzkern is a great example of a trend-forward, stylish watch that still remains high quality. The case is made from walnut and stainless steel in a brushed blue hue, while the dial is fine Brazilian walnut. The bracelet itself is adjustable and also made of a mixture of walnut and stainless steel.
The price? Only $259, and that comes with free shipping, a 24-month warranty and a 24-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
Related: The 6 Best Smartwatches of 2020
Best Women's Watches Under $500
Women’s watches are often more on the delicate side, smaller and often in lighter colors for a less aggressive aesthetic.
Whatever your look, you can easily find a women’s watch for under $500.
If you want something that looks a little more classic, you can always go with this women’s watch from Nordgreen. The Danish design features a simple, brown, leather strap (that’s interchangeable) and a white and gold analog face that shows the date and time only. At a price of just a little over $200, you really can’t go wrong with this classic look that will withstand years of use and changing styles.
Want something a little more original and unique? What about this Olivia Burton Lucky Bee Watch for $240? The gray and rose gold dial sports a lovely little bee design on the analog watch face, while the rose gold ban is made from a mesh-like, stainless steel material.
If you’re not a fan of the gray face hue, you can also get a version with a glittery white face. It’s also possible to get the watch bundled with other Olivia Burton accessories, such as a matching bracelet.
This Movado watch is simple, sleek, minimalistic and oh-so-sophisticated. At $350, it’s pretty budget-friendly, too.
The face and band are all a pale, blush pink, while the case is a rose gold, ion-plated stainless steel.
Don’t like pink? Movado offers similar watch styles in brown and then brown and gray.
Don’t have $350 to drop all at once? Movado also offers a payment plan, so you can buy your new watch for as little as $30 per month.
Best Watches Under $500 for Anyone
Let’s not box ourselves in with men’s versus women’s watches, though. Unisex watches are on the rise, and more brands are creating watches that fit any style, regardless of gender.
This is especially the case when it comes to smartwatches. This Fitbit smartwatch is a great pick for those who want an affordable, tech-savvy watch that will fit any lifestyle or personal aesthetic. At less than $150, it features a built-in GPS, activity monitors, workout modes, smartphone connection capabilities and more. The Fitbit watch is water-resistant, meaning although it is for fitness, it is not a dive watch.
This Citizen Eco-Drive unisex, axiom, stainless steel mesh watch is sleek, stylish and suitable for any wearer as well. It features a minimalistic analog face and is solar powered, so you’ll never need to purchase a watch battery. And, while the watch itself is not water-resistant, it does come with a five-year limited manufacturer’s warranty, in case something else goes wrong.
At full price, the watch is $275 from Macy’s, but you can sometimes find it on sale for as little as $165.
If you like big, bulky jewelry, including watches, then one of the unisex offerings from GUESS might be up your alley.
GUESS offers gold, silver and rose gold versions of this classic, stainless steel watch for just $100. In addition to the time, the analog face shows the military and international time, day and date.
Super-Budget: Best Watches Under $100
Want to save even more cash? Maybe you’re just buying your first “real” and “adult” watch and you don’t want to make too big of an investment?
If that’s the case, you can still find high-quality watches from trusted brands for under $100.
Take, for example, this Timex MKI. Everyone knows the Timex brand. You’ll definitely be in good hands when you decide to go with this watch manufacturer, even with a watch under $100.
This option has a fabric band that comes in three different colors. The analog face is pretty straight-forward and there aren’t any fancy features, but it does the job and looks good while it’s doing it.
If you want something in the vein of one of those gorgeous and ultra-stylish wooden watches, take a look at the variations available from TruWood. Made with wooden cases and sapphire-coated glass, they’re sleek and casual, while coming in at price points less than $100.
TruWood offers men’s, women’s and unisex watches.
MVMT also offers watches below the $100 mark for both men and women. If you peruse the various styles on the MVMT website, you’ll find more of those sleek and modern looks that are popular with analog-face watches. To see MVMT watches styled, you can check out the brand’s Instagram page, where you can also shop what you see, thanks to the platform’s integrated shopping features.
Tips for Watch Shopping
Whatever type of watch you’re shopping for or think you want, there are a few basic tips that will come in handy when you’re shopping.
1. Do your research ahead of time.
Research, research, research. Whatever kind of watch you want, make sure you know the ins and outs of watches before you make your final purchase. Even if you’re spending $500 on a watch versus $5,000, you want to ensure that the investment is one you want to make. While $500 isn’t a lot on a piece of jewelry, it’s still frankly a lot for a lot of people and you can definitely find a watch with impeccable craftsmanship for under $500. You don’t want to regret your purchase just because you didn’t do enough research into the watches available in your price range.
2. Think on it.
So you think you found the watch you want. You find a jewelry store or watch dealer in your area that carries that watch, and you go try it on. You think everything’s fine and you’re ready to buy.
But not so fast — give it a day or two to think on the purchase. Again, this is can be a pricey investment for some, and you don’t want to rush into something just because you fell in love with a style in the store.
Whatever the sales associate says to try to pressure you into buying right then, remember — you can always find that watch another day, either at that store or another.
3. Buy from a reputable dealer.
Along those lines, you want to make sure that you purchase your watch from a reputable seller. Think twice before buying secondhand or from a friend. You never know when you’ll run into a counterfeit product.
Plus, when you do buy from a reputable dealer, it’s more likely that you’ll receive expert service, a warranty and other perks that can come in handy if your watch breaks or you have any problems after your purchase.
Before You Buy Your Watch…
Before you buy your watch, ask yourself.
- Do I need a smart or traditional watch?
- Do I want an analog or digital face?
- What kind of style do I want?
- Do you want a date window or subdials?
- What kind of price do I want to pay for my watch?
Answering just these few questions before you start shopping can make diving into the world of watches seem much less overwhelming (after all, there are hundreds upon hundreds of options out there, and you want to choose the best for you).
Ready to Start Watch Shopping?
Even if you don’t purchase one of the best watches under $500 we’ve listed above, if you’ve started considering the watch shopping questions and tips we’ve asked and provided, then you’re well on your way to making a smart new watch purchase. From quartz watches to automatic movement watches, there is something out there for everyone!
All that’s left to do now is find the watch that’s calling your name.
You might also be interested in: Our 12 Favorite Watches For Under $100 [For Men And Women]