The term “affordable luxury” is oftentimes overused and doesn’t necessarily live up to its hype. Affordable luxury watches are unfortunately not an exception to the rule.
Many up-and-coming watchmakers abuse the catchy phrase in their aggressive marketing campaigns to gain (and inevitably lose) their first customers.
With that said, there’s some excellent value to be found if you know how and where to look for affordable luxury timepieces.
As on our website we know a thing or two about watches, today you are in luck. The article you have just begun reading covers some of the best affordable luxury watches under $500 available on the market. The goal of an affordable luxury watch is to make you feel like a million bucks without breaking the bank and we believe each of the models on the list does just that.
Whether you’re looking for something flashy or more subdued, there’s sure to be a watch on this list that’s perfect for you. So, let’s get started!
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Affordable Luxury Watches Under $500 (Top 5 Review)
Note: At the time of writing, all watches discussed in the article were available for $500 or less. If you’ve noticed one of the products exceeds the $500 price point, please let us know.
Affordable Luxury Watches Under 500 (Top 5 Reviewed)
Tissot Seastar 1000
We open up a list with an affordable luxury dive watch from Tissot.
For most, the Swiss watchmaker doesn’t need an introduction. The brand has been around since 1853 and is known for its innovative designs and exceptional craftsmanship. Especially when it comes to affordable-yet-top-quality Swiss timepieces, Tissot is the go-to choice for many.
The Seastar T1204171104100 is one of the latest additions to the brand’s sports watch collection – T-Sport. The timepiece is unique in the sense that it’s both an excellent diver and a highly accurate chronograph timepiece at once.
- Read Also: Tissot Seastar 1000 or 2000?
With a water resistance of up to 300 meters, the Seastar is definitely one of the best affordable luxury dive watches on the market. The unidirectional bezel with a blue aluminum insert is both functional and stylish. The bezel goes a long way in tracking your dive time and can also be used as a regular stopwatch.
Size-wise, the Seastar is pretty standard for a dive (or chronograph) watch. It has a stainless steel case measuring 45.5mm in diameter and 12.8mm in thickness. The watch comes with a 3-link stainless steel bracelet, with the outside links brushed and the central one polished, giving the watch a unique and stylish look.
The blue dial of the Seastar is clean and legible, with large indexes and hands coated with Super-LumiNova for improved underwater visibility. The 3 sub-dials (small seconds, chronograph minute counter, and 24-hour) are placed symmetrically around the main dial, which is a nice touch. As you’d expect from an affordable luxury watch, the face has the best possible protection against damage in the form of sapphire crystal.
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Powering the watch is a Swiss-made quartz movement – ETA G10.212. The battery life is estimated to be roughly 38 months and, naturally, being a quartz timepiece, it’s ultra-accurate (shouldn’t gain more than 10 seconds/month).
The so-called skeletonized watches are probably one of the most unique and luxurious-looking timepieces on the market. These watches have see-through dials (and sometimes casebacks) that offer an insight into the inner workings of the watch movement.
Certainly, the Bulova 96A187 model you see above is a great representative of this watch type.
The timepiece is perfect for formal stylizations. Its structure consists of a round case and an elegant bracelet made of high-quality stainless steel, a transparent dial that provides insight into the mechanism’s operation, and mineral glass, which provides solid protection against cracks and scratches.
- Related: Affordable Bulova watches
The watch, belonging to Bulova’s “Classic” line, is fairly standard-sized with a case measuring 43mm in diameter and 12mm in thickness.
The dial itself is a thing of art. It’s skeletonized, which means that most of its surface is see-through. The only thing obscuring your view of the movement is a thin ring with Bulova branding and Roman hour numerals which give the watch an even more sophisticated and vintage look. When you turn the watch over, you’re greeted with an exhibition caseback that lets you see the inner workings of the Japanese automatic movement (Miyota 8N24)
Water resistance of 100 meters allows contact with water, e.g. when swimming or diving at shallow depths.
Next on the list, we have a solar-powered watch from Citizen.
Utilizing the brand’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology, the Brycen CA0649-06X is a true workhorse of a watch that can run for up to 6 months on a single charge (without any exposure to any light). Some users report as many as two decades of trouble-free use with Eco-Drive watches so it’s no wonder they’re considered one of the best-value timekeepers in the market.
Citizen is another well-known Japanese brand in the affordable (mid-price) sector, offering great quality at reasonable prices. Founded in 1918, the company has a long history of watchmaking excellence and innovation.
This particular model, the Brycen CA0649-06X, is a great choice for those who are looking for an elegant and sophisticated timepiece that can be worn on various occasions – both formal and informal.
- Related: Affordable Citizen watches
It’s a men’s timepiece that is both sporty and casual. It has a brown leather strap with a buckle closure and a silver case made of high-quality stainless steel. The watch wears fairly big thanks to the 49mm case that’s also on the thicker side (17mm!).
The legible, black dial is covered with mineral glass, which is more than enough to protect against possible scratches and bruises. The watch is additionally equipped with a date calendar, located at 3 o’clock, chronograph dials, and a 24-hour time function. Additionally, the bezel features a tachymeter scale which is why this watch is quite popular amongst car enthusiasts. Finally, for hassle-free after dusk, the minute and hour hands are luminescent.
As already mentioned, this Citizen model is powered by the extremely reliable Eco-Drive mechanism, which, through the solar panels installed in the dial, solar charges the watch battery, which in turn will eliminate any need for battery replacement (with proper use). Naturally, this is a Japanese-made quartz movement.
The water resistance of the model sits at 100 meters, which makes it a safe companion for short swimming sessions.
All the models on the list are great examples of affordable luxury watches under $500 but if you’re looking for one that really screams luxury, then the Rado DiaStar R12391103 is the way to go.
Of all the brands discussed in today’s article, Rado has the strongest claim to the title of “luxury watchmaker”. The company was founded in 1917 and over the years they’ve gained a reputation for making some of the most beautiful, innovative, and well-crafted watches in the world. The Swiss watchmaker is particularly known for the use of its proprietary High-Tech ceramic in the timepieces, which gives them a very unique look and feel.
While the model in question here doesn’t utilize the High-Tech solution (these models are way more pricey), the DiaStar R12391103 is still a beautiful watch that’s sure to turn heads wherever you go.
This is a luxurious and elegant timepiece that can be worn on both formal and informal occasions thanks to its extremely uncluttered design. The watch has a round case made from polished hard metal while the 3-link bracelet is made from stainless steel. Of all the timepieces discussed in the article, this one wears the smallest. With a case diameter of just 35mm (thickness 8.4mm), this model will suit slender wrists best.
Like all Rado watches, this one is equipped with sapphire crystal glass.
The dial is extremely minimalistic and devoid of any complicated functions. The day and a date window positioned at 3 o’clock is the only thing that interrupts the otherwise perfect symmetry of the watch face. The silver-tone hands and markers on the dial are also luminescent, which makes reading time in low-light conditions a breeze. At first sight, the hour markers might look like diamonds (Rado often ornaments its watches with these precious stones) but they’re actually just applied indexes. Not many will notice that, however!
The model is powered by a Swiss-made quartz movement (caliber 03.114.031). As you’d expect from a Swiss quartz watch, the movement delivers excellent accuracy (+/- 10 seconds/month).
Finally, the watch’s water resistance is rated at just 30m so it’s best to avoid any contact with water.
Orient Sun & Moon
Just like skeleton watches, timepieces with moon phase complications are quite popular among watch enthusiasts. They offer a beautiful and intricate way of displaying the current phase of the moon, which can be a neat little conversation starter.
While there are many different moon phase watches out there, one that really caught our eye is the Sun & Moon model from Orient. It’s an elegant and understated watch that will look great on the wrist of any discerning gentleman.
Orient is arguably the best value option when it comes to affordable Japanese automatic watches. The company has been in the business for over 80 years and has built a reputation for making high-quality, yet affordable timepieces with all of the brand’s movements manufactured in-house – a feat not many watch companies can boast.
The Orient Sun & Moon is a perfect example of the company’s excellent craftsmanship.
The watch features a case (42.5mm in diameter and 14mm in thickness) made from stainless steel, with a see-through exhibition caseback that lets you take a peek at the inner workings of the Japanese automatic movement. Both the front glass and the caseback are protected by sapphire crystals, making the watch an even better value. The watch has a brown leather strap with a deployment clasp closure.
Looking at the design of the model, we could classify it as an elegant vintage watch. The combination of subdued and classic colors perfectly matches the white dial with Roman numerals. Complementing the dial with date stamps for the day of the month, the day of the week, and the day/night indicator certainly gives it a unique design. The transparent case back, made of mineral glass, allows you to see the inside of the watch.
The caliber used with this model is Orient’s F6B24. It’s a 22-jewel automatic movement with a power reserve of approximately 40 hours and accuracy of +/- 10 seconds/day which is a solid value in this price range.
Water resistance is rated at 50m and it protects the watch against splashing and rain but doesn’t make it suitable for swimming or diving (not that swimming with a leather strap watch is a brilliant idea anyway).
We hope that the list of the best affordable luxury watches under $500 has inspired you to find your next timepiece.
Remember, when choosing a watch, always go for quality over quantity. A well-made watch from a reputable brand will last you a lifetime, whereas a cheap knock-off will likely fall apart after just a few years.
Do your research and buy from a brand that you trust. With so many great options out there, you’re sure to find the perfect luxury watch for you – without breaking the bank!
If you’ve decided to go with one of the watches on our list, then congratulations! You’ve made a great choice. We’d love to hear which one you ended up going for, so feel free to drop us a comment below.