Smart Dressing

The 12 best watches under £500

Twelve timepieces that prove that you don't need to spend four figures to get a seriously stylish watch

Let’s face it, for most of us, spending four figures (or more) on a wristwatch is a big outlay. It might be something you get to do once in your life, to mark a big birthday (I can recommend one of these new chronographs if it’s that time) or a handsome promotion. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t still hanker after a watch wardrobe full of stylish, well-built timepieces. You wouldn’t make do with one pair of shoes now, would you? Here are 12 gateway watches that fit the bill.

Bamford Mayfair Sport

Water-resistant up to 100 meters, Bamford’s sporty iteration of its Mayfair model has wide-appeal thanks to the fact it’s available in a wide range of jazzy colours. With a Miyota quartz calibre 2035 as its life source, it comes with a rubber strap providing comfort for all sorts of sporting activities. What’s more, it has glow in the dark indicies, making that midnight swim all the more enjoyable.

£350, bamfordlondon.com

Braun Classic

A go-anywhere watch that’s wonderfully simple and not overcomplicated by fussy design details, Braun’s classic watch is for any lover of minimalism no matter their budget. With a 42mm stainless steel case, it has a quartz movement and scratch-resistant glass and is water-resistant up to 30 meters. 

£135, braun-clocks.com

Bulova Curv chronograph

This five-hand chronograph from Bulova, a New York-based watchmaker founded in 1875, boasts a high-performance quartz movement. In stainless steel with a graphite centre dial, this is a sporty and large chronograph that won’t break the bank.

£429, bulova.com

Casio classic alarm chronograph

Quartz watches entered the watch market 50 years ago with a blitzkrieg-like effect, upsetting many – if not all – Swiss timepiece makers. However, it’s undeniable that this movement also laid the foundation for some real design classics. Casio is a great example, with this champagne-dialled, gold-effect chronograph conjuring up visions of Roger Moore as James Bond.

£46, at thewatchhut.co.uk

Certina DS Caimano Powermatic 80

With a mechanical winding movement that has a power reserve up to 80 hours thanks to its Powermatic 80 calibre, this is a low-maintenance everyday watch that’s elegant and dressy with a neat date window at six o’clock. Certina, which was founded in 1888, has installed an open caseback, allowing you to admire the mechanism within, plus alligator-print leather strap.

£475, certina.com

Daniel Wellington classic petite sterling

Small but punchy, Daniel Wellington’s petite model is a fine option if you’re looking for a dress watch that still leaves you with enough loose change to buy a bottle of something fizzy at your next black tie event. It’s crafted from stainless steel (always a great look with a black dial, in our opinion) and powered by a quartz movement.

£149, danielwellington.com

Farer Stark II

This model from the British watchmaker Farer takes its name from Dame Freya Stark, who was a traveler and adventurer throughout much of the 20th century (side note: she’s well worth falling into a Wikipedia wormhole over later). It features a cleverly put-together dial that’s nostalgically curved, with bright blue numerals and batons that glow in the dark. It’s powered by a Swiss-made Ronda 6004.D movement and is waterproof up to 50 meters. All in all, exactly the sort of watch that combines practicality and style whether you’re up the side of a mountain or on the Metropolitan line.

£380, farer.com 

Hamilton khaki field watch

Attention. Hamilton is a watchmaker that has great military heritage, having supplied the US Army with hundreds of thousands of watches during World War Two. With a state of the art quartz movement, this watch underlines Hamilton’s military pedigree with a striped NATO strap, khaki dial and large crown. 

£315, hamiltonwatch.com

Larsson & Jennings Code Classic Milanese 38mm

With a gold-plated case and a Milanese strap, Larsson and Jennings produces reliable and affordable quartz timepieces that can sit at the big boy’s table with ease and glamour. At 38mm, it’s a classic size and features scratch-resistant sapphire glass. Wear it during the week, wear it at weekends – this is a great everyday watch that’s simple and elegant.

£105, larssonjennings.com

Seagull Ocean Star mechanical diving watch

Coming in at 44mm, this automatic self-winding diver’s watch from Seagull (a specialist in this aquatic genre of timepiece) can withstand pressures under water up to 200 meters. In stainless steel with a navy bezel that’s matched with its navy dial, the indices are large and, as a result, readable – which is helpful when you’re trying to see how long you’ve been underwater through a diving mask, of course.

£255, seagullwatchcompany.com

Swatch Ben

A Swatch might well have been your first watch as a boy (show us a kid who didn’t want a Flik Flak in the Nineties and we’ll show you a liar), but they are just as relevant to a man’s wardrobe too. We suggest starting a collection of the watchmaker’s Ben models, which come in a wide variety of colours. Tough and light, in our opinion this is one of the most sophisticated-looking plastic watches on the market.

£47, at thewatchhut.co.uk

Tissot Carson Premium 

With large, elongated Roman numerals and a compact date window at six o’clock, this simple and elegant watch from Tissot comes in at 40mm and is an excellent all-rounder timepiece. With a power reserve of 80 hours, it comes with a comfortable leather strap that will slip nicely under your suit.

£245, tissotwatches.com