best watches under £500

The best men’s watches for under £500

20 Nov 2023 | |By Richard Brown

Seiko, Swatch and G-Shock prove that you don’t need to spend a fortune to bag yourself a serious watch

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

Another year, another round of price hikes in the rarefied world of luxury watches. In the case of Rolex, make that two price increases in the space of 18 months. And, while 2023 might have seen a reduction in the price of certain ‘grail’ pieces on the pre-owned market, second-hand watches from Switzerland’s pedigree watchmakers remain, by and large, further out of reach than they were before the pandemic.  

Not on a footballer’s salary? No problem. Because you don’t need to turn to heavyweight horologists from the Jura Mountains to bag a serious watch. Nor do you need to ply your trade in the Premier League to score something stylish for your wrist. Some of the most interesting watches on the market today slide in under the £500 mark. Indeed, the two most-talked-about watches of the past two years – the Bioceramic MoonSwatch and Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms, both from Swatch – cost less than £350.

From big-name brands to plucky independents, and from quartz to mechanical, we’ve rounded up a selection of watches that punch well above their price tag. In this case, £500 or less.

Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms

18 months after its all-conquering collaboration with Omega, Swatch was at it again – watching queues build up outside of its stores across the world for another tie-in. This time, with Blancpain. Rendered in Swatch’s propriety Bioceramic, the Scuba Fifty Fathoms, or ‘Scuba Fifty’, reinterpreted Blancpain’s legendary dive watch in a suite of five colour options, each named after a different ocean. Unlike the MoonSwatch, the Scuba Fifty is powered by an automatic movement.

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Tissot PRX 35mm

Riding the wave for smaller sports watches, the stainless steel case of Tissot’s new PRX timepiece weighs in at 35mm and is connected to an interchangeable quick-release bracelet. There’s scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on the front and a Swiss-made quartz movement on the inside. The watch’s icy-turquoise face rides another wave – the trend for Tiffany blue dials.

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Hamilton has made a name for itself as Hollywood’s go-to watchmaker, its products having featured in more than 450 films. The brand’s own leading actor is the Jazzmaster. The Thinline version possesses the main prerequisite of any great movie-star – a classy timelessness.

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Certina DS-8 Moon Phase

Certina’s main claim to fame is that it produced the world’s first digital watch back in 1936. The brand’s experiments with tungsten carbine also led to some of the most scratch resistant timepieces on the market. This DS-8 model pairs a moon-phase indicator with a COSC-certified quartz movement. A decent amount of watch for the money.

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Mr Jones Watches The Accurate

Mr Jones is on a mission to make you smile. The Accurate did that for us. So called because the watch is ‘accurate’ in a rather more fundamental sense than the traditional measurement of the passing of minutes.

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AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane Classic Chronograph

Founded in 2012, Avi-8 is big into pilot’s watches (get the name now?). Early aviation and the RAF are big influences, as you might be able to tell by the retro styling, and red, white and blue, of this Hawker Hurricane. A Japanese quartz movement powers a stopwatch function and a date window at three o’clock.

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Timex Marlin Automatic x Snoopy Easy Rider

Snoopy in sunglasses driving an easy-rider on the dial of a self-winding mechanical watch for less than £250. What’s not to love about that? The watch is fitted with a quick-release strap system, so you can switch up your look by swapping between straps. Oh, and the watch is water resistant to 50 metres.

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Casio Full Metal GM-B2100

Nicknamed the ‘CasiOak’ in reference to its similarities to Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, Casio’s octagonal-cased GA2100 series has been around for a few years. But it wasn’t until 2022 that we got a full-metal stainless steel version. Cue hysteria from the online watch community. In this case, justified.

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Swatch Bioceramic MoonSwatch

The threat of the Apple Watch had some corners of the traditional watch sector panicked. Those corners needn’t have worried. Swatch’s collaboration with Omega on a low-cost, quartz version of the latter’s holy Speedmaster, the Bioceramic MoonSwatch, became the world’s most-hyped watch in well, perhaps, ever. Proof there’s still plenty of appetite among Gen Z for wearing time-telling devices on their wrists.

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Seiko 5 Sports SRPD79

For less than £350, Seiko’s 5 Sports SRPD79 gets you an automatic, manually-wound movement, a 41-hour power reserve, chronograph function, date and day display, a stainless steel case and sapphire crystal glass. Plus, it’s good to a depth of 100 metres. We make that an absolute steal.

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Baltic Aquascaphe Black Cream

Baltic is a French outfit heavily into vintage-inspired dive watches. There’s more than a sniff of Blancpain’s 50 Fathoms about Baltic’s Aquascaphe. It may not share the pedigree, but it does get you an automatic dive watch with a uni-directional bezel, screw-down crown and double-dome sapphire crystal glass. You can’t knock it for that.

Approx. £500
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Junghans Form C

Okay, it may tip just over the £500 mark – but this one is worth it. German watchmaker Junghans traces its beginnings back to the 19th century. And while the brand may now be synonymous with its ultra-minimalist Max Bill watch of the 1960s, there are plenty of other design successes within its cache of clean-line timepieces. Such as this, the supremely elegant Form C chronograph.

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