There's a great timepiece for everyone: best watch under £500 2020 guide
From divers to dress watches, from tactical to digital watches.
One of the best things about watches is that price is never an issue in the sense that no matter what your budget might be, there's always going to be a great watch available for you. You don't have to spend a million billion to enjoy a beautiful timepiece.
There are so many valuable options out there, and also some bad ones, so what I thought I'd do to help is put together a list of watches that you can buy for under £500.
Hamilton is a Swiss company that was actually originally founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892. They're best known for producing the Ventura, the famous Elvis watch that was also featured in the Men in Black franchise, and the Khaki, which is one of the company's flagship models and produced in several different variants. Leather strap, Nato strap, stainless steel bracelet. You name it. This particular Khaki, ref. H64455133, is a day-date timepiece powered by an automatic movement, with sapphire crystal, which makes it scratch resistant and durable, and 50m water resistant. It's hard to beat Hamilton, as a brand in general, in terms of value for money and the Khaki is definitely one of the best watches under £500 out there.
The SKX is a bit of institution in the world of watches and definitely one of the best watches under £500, hands down. The SKX, reference 009K2, is an automatic diver made from stainless steel with scratch resistant mineral crystal, with a 200m water resistance. It weighs around 200 grams, which means it has that solid, reassuring feel to it while also being relatively lightweight. When in doubt, it's hard to go wrong with Seiko.
Citizen makes a lot of great watches that are available for £500 or less. They're great at making divers, they're great with everyday watches and they know how to build a amazing pilot watches. In this instance, we're talking about the Pilot RC, powered by the Eco-Drive system, invented and patent by Citizen themselves, which converts any source of light, including solar light, into usable energy that can be harnessed and stored in the watch. It is also an excellent all-rounder because, apart from its credentials as a pilot watch, it is also a chronograph, a diver (200 mt water resistance). It also features scratch resistant sapphire crystal, a perpetual calendar up the year 2100, a world timer with 24 time zones and a bunch of other things. In terms of bang for your buck, this is probably the best watch on the list.
Bulova, now part of Citizen, was founded in 1875 in New York and it is one of my favourite brands. Every watch they make is awesome, and most are affordable with price tags under £500. This particular model is the the Bulova 98A161 and it's a chronograph powered by the brand's proprietary meca-quartz movement. This means that the watch vibrates at 262 kHz, which makes it more accurate than a standard quartz and the seconds hand sweeps, instead of ticking. Very distinctive and striking shape, I think it looks great, and the only downside, if I had to nitpick, is the fact that you're fundamentally stuck with the factory strap because the lugs aren't designed to accommodate aftermarket straps.
The Tissot T-Sport is one of the best watches for car lovers, especially if you're looking for watches under £500. The beautiful blue dial is complemented by the black bezel with white markers and a rally-style leather watch strap with gradual holes for better ventilation. It is powered by a quartz movement and the sapphire crystal is scratch resistant. Obviously, this being a racing-inspired watch, it is also a chronograph, perfect for when you're at the track.
Zeppelin is a German watch maker which specializes in vintage and aviation-inspired watches. This particular watch, the Hindenburg LZ129, features a gorgeous cream dial, paired with a chestnut brown leather strap. It is powered by an automatic movement and features a strongly domed sapphire crystal. It is only 50m water resistant but that's hardly relevant, you definitely want to wear this for cocktails by the pool, just as long as you don't actually dive into the pool.
There's definitely a growing demand and appetite for military/tactical watches, rugged timepieces with highly specialized features, and this is one of the best options under £500. The Luminox Navy Seals Anniversary Limited Edition (ref. XL.8802), is an actual military grade watch built wiith an ultra-resistant carbon case, scratchproof glass and water resistance up to 200 metres. The Luminox was indeed designed for world elite forces, including the U.S. Navy Seals. It's rugged, dependable and impossible to kill.
Now, some people may find this a bit controversial for a variety of reasons. First of all, I know what you're thinking, and while I agree that the Apple Watch is well deserving of a place on the list, I'm not sure it should be here because the Apple Watch is a piece of a technology more than it is a product of horology.
Which is the main reason why I'd go for the G-Shock Mudmaster instead. And yes, I know, spending anything over 100 pounds on a G-Shock feels wrong and counter intuitive but the Mudmaster could survive just about anything you could throw at it. It features the usual endless lists of functions and, just like any G-Shock, comes with a battery that's going to last for a very, very long time. It is also a diver, with 200 water resistance, and it incorporates a compass, a thermometer, world timer and auto calendar functions.