It goes without saying that, if you want to look good and send out a vibe of confidence and style, you must find the right accessories. As such, a gorgeous timepiece featuring a classic design and high-quality materials is a fantastic choice!
While there are many options and styles, automatic watches remain the top choice for most people. The classic designs, the high-end materials, and the intricate mechanisms that keep these time-keepers going are true markers of quality and style!
Still, given the time and effort it takes to create only one piece, these watches are a bit of an investment. Of course, there are models that won’t break the bank, but you need to make sure they maintain the same level of quality.
As such, we did the research, and below you can read reviews for the best automatic watches under $500 that bear the same markers of quality as more expensive designs.
Best Automatic Watches
1. Hamilton – Men’s H64455533 Khaki King Series Automatic Watch
This timepiece is not just gorgeous and eye-catching; it also comes with a series of impressive features! First, the design has a strong classic vibe due to the leather band and large stainless steel case with an analog dial. In addition, the mechanism is protected by an anti-reflective sapphire dial window, and the back is transparent, offering a peek inside.
Like most Hamilton automatic watches for men, this model is Swiss-made and has a self-winding mechanism. Also, the analog round, black dial features day/date display, a 24-hour timer, and sword-shape hands. Moreover, the hour markers and hands are lumed, so they are visible in low light conditions.
- Classy design with large stainless steel case
- Analog dial with Day & Date feature
- Water-resistant for up to 50m
- Self-winding, Swiss-made mechanism
- Lumed hour markers and hands for low-light conditions
- Some slight accuracy issues
- The date is a bit difficult to read
Why We Chose ThisThe Hamilton H64455533 stainless steel watch is ideal for people who want a classy timepiece with great features, that doesn’t break the budget. The design is attractive and elegant enough to be a good fit for any outfit, while the automatic mechanism and calendar features make it a great choice for most people.
2. Seiko – Men’s Automatic Analogue Watch
Equipped with advanced Japanese automatic movement, the Seiko SKX007K watch keeps accurate time without needing a battery (it’s a self-winding mechanism powered by the movement of your arm).
Starting with the rugged but attractive design and ending with the fact that it can be used by swimmers and divers alike, this is definitely one of the best affordable men’s watches available right now. In addition, the black analog dial features luminous hands and hour markers (marked with white for better visibility), and a white date and day window in the 3 o’clock position.
This model comes with a black rubber strap that’s flexible enough to fit most wrists comfortably. Also, the mechanism is protected by a Hardlex crystal lens and the back cover makes it clear this is a watch designed to be used in water. Lastly, the black bezel (unidirectional) and the crown positioned slightly to the right add charm and functionality to this gorgeous timepiece.
- Classic, rugged design
- Water-resistant for up to 200m (660ft)
- Luminous hands and hour markers for visibility in low-light conditions
- Calendar feature with day and date
- Accurate time-keeping and good power reserve (up to 40h)
- The rubber strap can be a bit uncomfortable
- Bezel marks are painted on and fade over time
- It is sensitive to shocks or drops
Why We Chose ThisThe large stainless steel case, flexible rubber strap, and the impressive set of features make this design one of the best watches for men under $500 on the market. Moreover, it truly is water-resistant for both diving and swimming, and luminous markings and hands are the perfect addition!
3. Marathon – WW194003 GPM Military Field Automatic Watch
The Marathon WW194003 model was designed to be durable under any environmental conditions and provides simple but accurate time-keeping functions. This is due to the dual winding movement and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal lens that protects the mechanism.
The dual winding movement (or DWM) allows you to wind it both manually (using the crown) or automatically, using a self-winding rotor that takes energy from the wrist movement. This way, you can make sure there won’t be any accuracy issues, which tends to happen to self-winding only designs.
In addition, the watch was built according to government specifications so it can be used in the field by military personnel or infantry. As a result, it packs a series of unique features such as titanium gas tubes that glow without needing an external light source and a high-impact fibershell case.
The titanium gas tubes are applied on the dial and hands for improved visibility in low-light conditions. Moreover, the mechanism is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire lens that is 3mm thick for better resistance in the field.
- High-durability to the elements and use in the field
- Dual winding movement, for better accuracy
- Titanium gas tubes on dials and hands
- Nylon strap that’s durable and comfortable
- The design is extremely simple
- It is a bit small for people with big hands and/or forearms
Why We Chose ThisWhile it may look simple in design, the Marathon WW194003 is one of the best affordable watches for men who want a durable and accurate timepiece. Not to mention that, since it was created for military personnel, it also makes for a fantastic watch for outdoor adventurers who need a reliable and easy-to-use piece!
4. Seiko – Japanese-Automatic Watch
The Seiko SARB017 model features the design of a classic timepiece with a large stainless steel case, sapphire glass, and a crocodile-patterned brown leather strap. In addition, it is equipped with 23-jewel Japanese automatic movement that supports both manual and automatic winding.
The dial is green with lumed golden hands and hour markers, which combines perfectly with the rest of the watch. There is also an inner rotating compass ring and a date indicator, that add to the watch’s functionalities. As such, this design can be used as a dress watch, for formal events and situations, or as an adventure companion. In addition, it is suitable for various water sports, except for diving.
- Stunning design
- Dual winding mechanisms
- Around 50h power reserve
- Lume hands and hour markers for better visibility
- It can be used in contact with water
- The strap is low-quality and stiff
Why We Chose ThisEven though it is on our list of watches under $500, this design fits perfectly amongst midtier Swiss watch brands! It features a solid build, a gorgeous design, impressive color combinations, and a superb case. In addition, the green dial offers amazing visibility from most viewing angles, and the compass feature is a really nice touch.
5. Bulova – 96C132 Men’s Classic Automatic Watch
If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that will compliment all your outfits, Bulova 96C132 comes with sophisticated detailing and refined features that impress at first sight. The stainless steel case and bracelet are enhanced by the black analog dial with silver markers and hands protected by flat mineral glass.
In terms of functionality, the watch features a date and day calendar, a 40-hour power reserve, and is water-resistant for up to 30m. Since it comes equipped with automatic self-wind movement, it doesn’t need a battery or mechanical winding to keep going.
Lastly, the watch is perfect as a gift as well, due to the gorgeous box in which it is delivered.
- Elegant and attractive design
- Stainless steel build
- Easy to read dial
- Beautiful packaging
- It doesn’t come with a link removal tool (for the bracelet)
- Some accuracy issues
Why We Chose ThisThis design is extremely eye-catching, so if you like receiving compliments for your style, it may be the best option. It’s also well-built and features a self-winding mechanism, which encourages daily wear. Still, as part of the best automatic watches that don’t break the bank, it doesn’t support any other functions besides calendar and time-keeping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Also known as a self-winding watch, this timepiece features a weighted rotor installed at the back of the movement of a mechanical mechanism. This rotor is usually shaped like a semicircle and uses a series of gears to send power to the mainspring.
The rotor responds to the motion of your wrist, which makes it spin, thus winding the mainspring, which in turn keeps the watch going.
This depends on the power reserve of the watch you own. The power reserve is explained as the amount of time it takes for a fully wound watch to unwind. As you can see from the models we reviewed, some watches have a power reserve of about 40h – this means that once fully wound, the watch doesn’t need winding for the following 40h.
An automatic watch needs to be manually wound using the crown. To do so, you first need to know if your watch has a regular crown or a screw-down crown. A regular crown needs to be in the push-down position and turned clockwise to wind the mainspring, while a screw-down crown needs to first be unscrewed and then wound.
Once you set and manually wind an automatic watch, if you wear it on a daily basis, it should be enough to keep it going. However, if you are not very active during the day, wrist movement may not be enough to keep the mechanism fully-wound.
A high-quality automatic mechanism is fairly accurate if wound properly. However, most mechanical watches tend to gain or lose a few seconds of time, which is barely noticeable (especially with analog dials).
Also, each design is different, so it takes a while to learn just how accurate your watch is.