It is no secret that you don’t have to spend a fortune on high-quality watches these days. Even with a budget of up to €500, you can purchase watches from renowned brands (or interesting newcomers) that will serve you faithfully for many years. However, you shouldn’t just go for it blindly, because especially in the price range between €150 and €500 there are many models that only deserve the title “fashion watch” and as such should be treated with caution.
We have therefore picked out 10 models that not only look great, but are also a perfect introduction to the world of high-quality watches. From quartz to automatic and from traditional Swiss brand to Kickstarter microbrand, this list leaves no one behind.
Timex can justifiably be called a true institution of the US watch industry. Founded in 1854, the brand has been committed to producing high-quality and affordable watches for everyone since day one. This of course has not changed with the reissue of the Q Timex.
The reissued Q Timex – a classic from the 1970s – presents itself as a colourful quartz watch. Thanks to its rotating colour bezel, domed acrylic glass and slender steel bracelet, it is the perfect weekend watch with a good dose of vintage charm.
Lorier is one of the most popular microbrands out there right now. The watch brand is based in New York City and is the brainchild of a husband and wife team consisting of Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega. Their goal was to bring classic designs of older watches back to life, but without sacrificing everyday practicality. In other words, a daily rocker for all situations, from hiking to fine dining.
The Lorier Neptune in particular fulfills this self-claim perfectly. With its clearly laid out dial without any distractions, such as a date window or too much lettering, the watch draws the eye to the essentials. Aspects such as the oversized crown, the domed glass or the strongly tapered bracelet are borrowed from older watches, which gives the Neptune a great deal of vintage vibes.
Tissot has really knocked it out of the park with the launch of the PRX (more on that here), as the watch perfectly captures the current zeitgeist: tonneau-shaped case, integrated bracelet and elegant sunburst dial. The formula for success can be so simple.
Thanks to its affordable price point, the watch is also perfect for starting (or expanding) one’s own collection. The watch was modelled on the original PRX from 1978, which was precise (P), robust (R) and water-resistant to 10 bar (X).
Baltic has been on our radar since the early days, as our Baltic Aquascaphe review shows. However, in addition to the well-known diving watch, Frenchman Etienne Malec’s brand also has an often overlooked collection of three-hand watches: the HMS (for Hour-Minute-Second).
The model HMS 002 is our favourite, as it successfully bridges the gap between vintage and modern. On the 38mm case sits a strongly curved acrylic glass, under which a silver, so-called sector dial has been mounted. Together with the blued hands, the result is a 1940s aesthetic that few other modern watches convey so successfully (and at this price).
Casio is not only the world market leader in pocket calculators, but also produces some of the most rugged watches in the world. That’s why the brand has already made it into our Top 10 list of Japanese watch brands, and rightly so.
In particular, the watches of the iconic G-Shock series, of which over 100 million have already been produced, enjoy great popularity today due to their robustness and look. With the model GA-2100-1AER aka “CasioOak” (in reference to the Gérald Gentas Royal Oak), Casio has succeeded in offering the much sought-after case shape in a significantly more affordable overall package, which has opened up entirely new customer groups for the brand.
In January 2018, the first pictures of Emmanuel Macron during his trip to China surfaced. On his wrist: the LMM-01. Not only was the watch completely sold out shortly afterwards, but it also helped the Parisian fashion and decoration shop Merci to gain a lot of media attention.
The 38mm watch is a kind of French interpretation of a field watch, but it is made in Switzerland. Inside ticks the ETA hand-wound calibre 2801, boasting a power reverse of 42 hours.
Orient is not only a true veteran of the Japanese watch industry. No, the brand is also a master at offering robust diving watches with great designs at a low price. However, anyone who thinks that Orient is cutting corners is mistaken. All movements are developed and manufactured entirely in-house – and of course in accordance with the Japanese drive for perfection.
The Kamasu model measures 41.8mm in diameter and takes its name from the Japanese word for barracuda, one of the most aggressive predatory fish on our planet. Accordingly, the triangular hour markers and the arrow hands resemble predatory fish teeth, according to Orient. Thanks to its unidirectional rotating bezel and 200m water resistance, the watch is also predestined for diving.
Furlan Marri is a relatively young watch brand founded by two friends and business partners, Andrea Furlan and Hamad Al Marri. Their joint idea was to reinterpret the most sought-after and exclusive watches of the 1950s in a contemporary way – at a fair price.
Our favourite is the Havana Salmon model. By combining two warm colours, in this case salmon and chocolate, the watch pays tribute to Latin America. The result is an elegant chronograph with a Meca quartz calibre that is reminiscent of Patek Philippe timepieces of days gone by.
The Khaki Field Automatic is admittedly an obvious choice. However, we didn’t want to leave it unmentioned as it has everything you would expect from a perfect entry-level watch: high quality, reliable movement and a far-reaching history.
The 38mm case looks great on most wrists and the H-50 hand-wound calibre powers the watch for 80 hours. The olive green NATO strap and the uncluttered dial, which features both a 12- and 24-hour scale, also make this a field watch par excellence.
No list of entry-level watches is complete without Seiko, or so the law would have it. And for good reason: With almost no other brand in the world can you get so much watch for so little money as with the Japanese cult brand from Tokyo.
Whether SKX, Presage or Prospex, the watch brand founded in 1881 has helped several generations of watch lovers to a solid start in their collecting passion. The Seiko 5 Sports, essentially a successor to the legendary but discontinued SKX, is a perfect everyday watch with a date and day display, automatic movement and Hardlex crystal.
Did you know that many of the watches shown here are also available in our shop?