The Best Swiss Watches for Under $500, in 2021

There are literally millions of Swiss watches, but not all of them are created equal. Although it is worth a paying premium for Swiss watches, there are quite a few really nice watches for a smaller budget.

Despite the price, these watches have a lot of unique personalities and solid brand or watch story that every gift watch should come with.

When you see someone with an expensive watch, how often do you wonder if it is fake?

Some people with tighter budget decide to go for a fake watch. But, this mostly backfires. Most often such watches are of low quality that you feel sooner or later – it is not waterproof, metal wears off, or it stops working altogether. Also, if you wear a $100K watch, then the rest of your lifestyle should match up. If not, then people just assume that you are buying fake watches.

Instead, I suggest going for an impressive looking and functional watch that serves you well and gives you the right image. Especially at this budget, you could potentially change your watch based on what you are wearing – i.e. go for a classic look at work, and sporty one on the weekends.

These watches will serve you long, they will be functional, and you might discover some smaller watch brands that do their job really well.

Movado Core Museum Classic

Movado is a watch brand that has really made its name amongst watch fans for its unique design. I respect that. They do not have many styles, and The Museum style with just one dot is their strongest statement.

This is definitely a watch to have if you are attending a lot of formal events. This style will go very well with a suit as well as smart casual wear. Hence I would recommend this watch as an evening wear watch for those special occasions.

Recognised for its style and sleek look it is also a long-standing brand that made its name amongst Swiss watchmakers for its strong following amongst art and design lowers – indeed it is a watch to have in any collection.

$329 – buy it on amazon.com

Victorinox Swiss Army Sport Chrono

It is a great looking watch and a famous brand, but what truly makes this watch stand out is the fact that it comes with Sport Chronograph. Such feature typically comes with much more expensive watches. It is a specialised function that requires a more advanced movement.

Victorinox is, of course, known for its Swiss Army Knives famous around the world. It is a brand that expanded to other products and hence now makes, travel accessories, kitchen knives and even perfume.

Watchmaking is relatively new to them – it started making watches from the 1980s, and interestingly, initially sold it in the US exclusively – to test the market.

Overall it is a famous Swiss brand and unique watch with great features.

$355 – buy it on Amazon.com

Frederique Constant Men’s Slim Line

This is the ultimate classic Swiss watch. Note the hands called “pomme hands” in the industry (meaning “apple” in french) as well as the texture on the face – these are the design inventions by Frederique Constant. Many watch brands later adopted the whole or part of this design in their very expensive watches. Hence, for me, it is a steal to carry such look at the budget bellow of $500.

It will work for anyone aiming for a sleek look that comes from a trustworthy brand. It also has a touch of luxury, and hence I would not feel uncomfortable wearing this in the most exclusive parties.

Unfortunately, this price comes with some surprises. I am not a big fan of the slim look, and it is a great shame that it is not waterproof.

$400 – buy on amazon.com

Glycine KMU 48 Kriegs Marine Uhren Rose Gold Plated Steel

Differently from the rest of the watches on this list Glycine KMU 48 is a manual wind watch. Usually watches with such Swiss movement would cost much more.

Other features also meet my expectations on what quality watch should have: sapphire scratch-resistant glass, real leather strap and luminous hour indicators. It is also unusually large – at 48 mm in diameter, this watch is enjoying a spot amongst big boy club of watches. A perfect companion for a manly man with larger hands.

Although the brand is not as well known, it is a long-standing watch maker with strong credentials. Glycine started in 1914 and has been growing its base in Bienne, Switzerland ever since.

$415 – buy it on amazon.com

THE SECRET

So why do these watches cost less?

Most of the watch brands listed here will have much more expensive watches on offer. So how come we found these ones to be under $500?

The reason is simple – price very often depends on what is under the hood. Many luxury and higher-priced watches will have expensive movements offering unique features.

For example, all except one, these watches have quartz movement as opposed to an expensive mechanical one. Perpetual calendars and high water resistance would be other features to go too.

To be honest, even at this price, they are more than functional what contemporary man might need.

Wenger Men’s Seaforce Stainless Steel

What a great watch. Just look at it – it is a mean looking machine at 43 mm in diameter. I especially love the red button and red hand for tachymeter which brings out a feature usually reserved to much more expensive sports watches.

Although it is not suitable for full diving experience, it will withstand all vigorous surface activities with ease. I wish it could go scuba diving with me, but at this price point, I can’t be too demanding.

Overall, I adore the look and the colours of this watch. I would have never guessed that such sporty and the functional watch would cost under $250 and that with Swiss movement and prominent brand behind it.

$229 – buy it on amazon.com

Tissot Men’s Seastar 660/1000

We all know Tissot a brand that is sponsoring so many sports events including NBA, racing and even ice hockey. It has been making watches since 1853 and definitely solidified its position as a great watchmaker.

This watch typically costs just over $500, but there are regular deals on Amazon that take it within our budget. So, if you don’t see it now, wait for a few weeks.

It is a great looking watch with a solid stainless steel case and strap, which comes with a cool clasp. It’s quite a big watch at 45.5 mm in diameter and whooping 12 mm in depth.

Despite the name, it is not advisable to dive or snorkel with it thought, which places it within the decorative and not the sporty watch section.

$430 – $490 – buy it on amazon.com

Certina DS Podium

This watch is my personal favourite. I owned one for over three years and could not be happier. Its classic works for me well and, most importantly, it meets my very strict practical requirements.

Certina name comes from the Latin word “certu” meaning “certain”. And that summarises brand values very well. It is the company that patented a waterproof seal that is used in many other watches. “DS” in the name stands for “Double Security” highlighting additional technology implemented to ensure that watch is waterproof and shake resistant.

Overall, it is a trustworthy and time tested Swiss watchmaker that contributed many patents to Swiss watchmaking, reliability and image.

$330 – $400 buy it on amazon.com

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