best men's watches under £5,000

The best men’s watches under £5,000

13 Jan 2023 | By Richard Brown

From Bell & Ross and Breitling, to Cartier and IWC, welcome to the big-league of watchmaking

All products are chosen independently by our editors. Luxury London may earn commission on items purchased.

If steadily ascending prices in jewellery shop windows, and the bonkers premiums being paid on the pre-loved watch market, have you resigned to the fact that you’ll never own a proper, Swiss-made mechanical timepiece, allow us to be bearer of some rather good news. Rolex might have jacked up its prices so that entry to the Submariner club now starts at a lordly £7,700 – astonishingly, you’ll struggle to source a second-hand version of the world’s most famous dive watch for anything less than that online – but there are bucket-loads of big-hitting horologists offering blockbuster men’s watches under £5,000.  

Not exactly pocket change, granted. But if you can justify the outlay, £5,000 provides access to the top flight of watchmaking, an arena in which you’ll find some of the most celebrated – ‘iconic’ even – watch designs from the most fêted of brands: see Breitling’s Superocean Heritage, Cartier’s Santos and IWC’s Portofino, among others.  

Look hard enough, and you might even unearth an ‘in-house’ movement. The extent of the buzz you’ll get from doing so will very much depend on the value you attribute to the provenance of the movement inside your watch. But that’s a different topic for a different day.  

Here are some of the heaviest-hitting watches you can bag for under £5,000…

IWC Schaffhausen Portofino Automatic

Looks more expensive than it is, right? Most likely because IWC’s three-hand Portofino Automatic is one of the chicest, most considered and most elegant dress watches out there. Pared back gold-tone hands and sleek baton hour markers on a clean (silver-plated) white dial. Pure class.

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Bell & Ross BR 03-92

Few are the modern watch brands that can boast a genuine Hall of Famer among their ranks. Bell & Ross can. Not long after the Swiss-French horologist dropped the BR 01 in 2005, the square-faced, cockpit-inspired timepiece took on cult status. The watch’s modern iteration, the BR 03, has garnered similar credentials among watch types. The ‘Black Matte’ version punches hardest.

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Hermès Arceau Automatic

Hermès has built its reputation on paying meticulous attention to the finer things. Case in point: the brand’s Arceau Automatic dress watch. At first glance, it may look restrained. But look again. See the italicised typography, the two-tone dial, the asymmetrical lugs, the fluted crown. As ever, the devil is in the detail.

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Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph

An endurance motorsport rally that ran from 1927 to 1957, since 1977 the Mille Miglia has run as a classic car rally between Brescia and Rome, with only cars made prior to 1957 eligible to compete. For the last quarter-of-a-century, family-owned Chopard has acted as official timekeeper to the event. The appropriately retro, and fittingly robust, Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph celebrates that partnership.

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Breitling Superocean Heritage

An updated reissue of the original Superocean from the 1950s, Breitling’s modern Superocean Heritage is available in wide sweep of case materials, dial colours and strap options. But it is this entry-level chronograph – with a black ceramic bezel, silver-on-black indices, and black rubber strap – that boasts the most presence on the wrist.

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Bremont Argonaut Bronze

Like getting your money’s worth? Then you’ll like Bremont’s Argonaut Automatic. A COSC-certified automatic movement, a harder-than-standard-brass brass case, a date-window at three o’clock, and a case-back embossed with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces heraldic badges. The watch is water resistant to 300 metres and is guaranteed to be accurate to -4 and +6 seconds per day. All of this from an indie brand based in Henley.

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Cartier Santos-Dumont

It’s horologic folklore. In 1904, renowned Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont asked his chum, Louis Cartier, to help him tell the time while flying. The jeweller aided his sky-bound friend by manufacturing one of the world’s first wristwatches. With its famously square dial and angled Roman numerals, Cartier’s modern Santos has become one of the brand’s flagship models.

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Rado Captain Cook

Rado remains something of an under-the-radar brand outside of watch circles. Known, among those who are familiar with the brand, for its pioneering use of ceramic, Rado also does a line of lesser-celebrated tool watches. See the robust construction and stylish detailing of the brand’s Captain Cook dive watch for why the brand deserves more time in the limelight.

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Nomos Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik

Here’s that in-house movement we were telling you about. Manufactured within Nomos Glashütte’s own Saxony workshops, the DUW 6101 inside the brand’s Club Sport Neomatik is just 3.6mm thick, resulting in a watch that’s closer to dress watch dimensions than typical ‘sport’ watch size. It also provides for a date function at three o’clock and small seconds at six o’clock. A watch guy’s watch from a watch guy’s brand.

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Longines Presence Automatic

It’s called Presence for a reason. Longines’ dress watch collection is full of sleek, black-tie ready pieces that possess plenty of charisma. Take, for example, this stainless-steel, 38.5mm automatic. Simple silver baton markers on an uncluttered ice-white dial, the only numerals being the date window at three o’clock. A snip at less than £1,200.

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Read more: The best men's watches under £500