Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re talking finding value in affordable watches.

Disclaimer: The idea of what is “affordable” varies greatly from person to person, something I am fully aware of. To pinpoint a price, we’re going to stick to $500 and under being “affordable.”

I’ve long been of the opinion that nobody should waste their money, whether it’s $200 or $2,000. If there’s $200 burning a hole in your pocket, and you don’t have anything to spend it on but you have to spend it, then just pick a charity and make someone’s day a little brighter. If you’re committed to picking up a watch, though, then I encourage you to not just pick the flashiest, or the biggest, or the most in demand piece that you can find, but one that is really going to add to your life in some way.

So what are some high-value pieces that can be found in the under-$500 price range? Well, I’ve already touched on this a little bit in a previous article, but I do have three additions to the pieces mentioned on that list that I think make them worthy of this article here.

Orient Bambino Small Seconds – $199

Orient Bambino Small Seconds
Source: Long Island Watches

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first – that date window is a little bit out of place. It breaks up the flow of the watch, but it might not to you, so to each their own. Beyond that, this specific reference, the RA-AP0003S10A, features a beautiful, kind of muted champagne dial, and a dial design that is very reminiscent of a certain Baselworld release from Omega, while still kind of doing its own thing in the process. It runs the Orient in-house caliber F6-T22, a movement that features hand-winding and hacking, and comes in at 40.5mm. It’s only major let down, as far as I’m concerned, is the 21mm lug width, because finding aftermarket straps that fit the thing is going to be a bit more trouble than it should be (most aftermarket straps come in either 20 or 22mm). If you can get past that, or can find a solid strap to put this thing on that is the correct lug width, it’s definitely worth consideration.

Seiko Prospex 200m Diver (Sumo) – $488

Seiko Sumo Blue Dial
Source: Seiya Japan

Now the Seiko Sumo is the definition of “one hell of a watch.” A 200m water resistant (Check out our video on what “water resistance” really means) dive watch from one of the most well-respected manufacturers in the game, with a strong blue dial/bezel combination, Seiko’s signature Hardlex crystal and LumiBright lume on the hands and indices, and the Seiko 6R15 caliber inside. As a dive watch, it’s definitely a step up from the more traditional SKX series (the movement’s increased accuracy and hand-winding/hacking capabilities being the big ones), and manages to maintain all of the same heritage as a part of one of the most important brands in history.

Tissot Swissmatic – $395 – $495

Tissot Swissmatic
Source: Hodinkee

This is an interesting watch across the board. It’s from Tissot, a highly respected Swiss manufacturer, featuring a very classic, clean design, and one fascinating freaking movement. Tissot calls is the caliber C15.111 which, if you’re a movement geek, might sound familiar. That’s because it is based on the ETA C10.111, otherwise known as the Swatch Sistem51 movement. Tissot steps things up a bit from the Swatch, including more steel in the movement components and adding a full steel rotor, but the basic idea remains the same. It boasts a 3 day power reserve, only slightly off from the 90 hours boasted by the Swatch. Plus, it just looks damn good on a leather strap.

Alright geeks, so hopefully after this list you’ve gotten a real sense for some of the value props that can be had under $500. As always, thanks for reading and remember: keep it classy, watchfam.