Watch collecting can be an expensive hobby, just check out the watch-porn in T3's best watch guide and ludicrous best watches to invest in right now guide. There are prices in there that would make an oil baron's eyes water.
It doesn't have to be like that – we've collected some excellent affordable watches for anyone's budget – from the best watches under £500 to the top timepieces under £1000.
You'd be surprised what you can get for under £1000, for example, a new Tag Heuer or an automatic Longine, both from the big leagues of Swiss watchmaking.
If you're after even more budget timepieces, you should check out our favourite watches under £200.
What to look out for when buying the best watches under £1000
If you need a little help deciding what watch to buy, here are a few things to consider:
- Ask yourself what you want a watch for. If it's to wear on the weekends then you might want a sporty tool watch, like a diver or chronograph, or, if it's to wear at formal work events, then you'll want a classy dress watch.
- Fashion brands like Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, and Michael Kors can make attractive watches, but if you're serious about watchmaking, there are higher-quality pieces out there which offer better value for money…
- … on the other hand, if you're not too bothered about traditional watch brands, and are more interested in how a watch looks, then buy that Daniel Wellington watch and wear it proudly.
- If you're planning to wear a watch swimming or around water, you'll need a watch with around 10ATM (100 metres) of water resistance. 3ATM is splash resistant, but probably wouldn't survive a quick shower. If you plan on diving, then you'll want a watch with 20ATM+ water resistance.
- If your current budget is £1,000, but the watch you really want is £1,500, then keep saving, don't just buy a watch for £1,000 because that's all you can afford now.
- Think about what size watch looks good on your wrist.
- Choose between a watch with an automatic movement, hand-wound movement, or quartz movement using information in the section below…
Automatic vs Hand-wound vs Quartz
If you're buying your first watch, you may not know whether you want one with an automatic movement, hand-wound movement, or quartz movement. Here's a quick description of the different types of movement below:
Automatic: powered by the movement of your body
Hand-wound: requires regular winding of the watch crown
When it comes to buying a watch, you've got to ask what movement is best for your needs.
Quartz movements are generally reliable and accurate. They don't need to be worn or wound regularly, meaning you can put your watch down, then pick it up again a month later and it'll still show the right time (as long as the battery hasn't died). If you're not too bothered about the craftsmanship of watchmaking, then this could be for you, especially as they're generally more affordable than mechanical watches (with some exceptions).
If you do prefer the art of mechanical watchmaking, and want to feel more of a connection with your watch, then you'll want either an automatic or hand-wound piece.
Automatic watches are powered by the movement of your arm, which means if you wear your watch regularly then it won't need to be wound. However, if you don't wear it for a few days, it will stop and you'll need to set the time when you next go to wear it. These are generally preferred over hand-wound watches, which need regular winding to keep going.
Hound-wound watches are usually smaller than automatic watches and less expensive.
Best affordable watch brands
Wondering what are the best brands to invest your £1000 in? Check out this selection below:
Starting life as a watch and clock repair store in Tokyo in 1881, founded by the current CEO's Great grandfather, Seiko is the king when it comes for affordable watches. The name derived from 'Seikosha' or 'House of precision', with a purpose to pursue timekeeping excellence. It's perhaps most famous for creating the first-ever quartz watch in 1969.
Shop Seiko watches at Goldsmiths (opens in new tab)
Known for the combination of American spirit and Swiss precision, Hamilton has a long history of creating watches with world-class design and functionality. The brand was established in 1892, in Pennsylvania, USA before ending up in Biel, the world’s capital of watchmaking in Switzerland. Hamilton is famous for its Khaki field watch, aviation watches, and being Elvis Presley's watchmaker of choice.
Shop Hamilton watches at Watch Shop (opens in new tab)
Tissot was founded in Switzerland in 1853 and boasts a rich watchmaking heritage. Since its inception, Tissot has been one of the most innovative watch brands, even releasing a touchscreen watch before Apple. It's been the official timekeeper of a number of sports, including basketball, cycling, motorsports, rugby, fencing and ice hockey.
Shop Tissot watches at Goldsmiths (opens in new tab)
Looking for a British watch brand? Try Christopher Ward on for size. The brand was created in 2004 with the idea of creating premium quality watches at a fraction of the usual prices. Now, they're one of T3's favourite watch brands, with a number of stylish, well-made, and affordable models on offer.
Shop watches at Christopher Ward (opens in new tab)
Where to buy watches under £1000
These are the best places to buy watches under £1000:
Goldsmiths has more than 230 years experience, with its first showroom opening in Newcastle in 1778. Today, Goldsmiths is the one of the leading quality jewellers in the UK with over 90 showrooms in every major town and city from Aberdeen to the south coast. It also operates the largest distribution network for Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer and many more, as well as running a servicing & repairs centre. They also frequently run luxury watch sales and promotions.
Buy watches under £1000 from Goldsmiths (opens in new tab)
Watch Shop is an official stockist for a number of large watch brands. It has one of the most efficient shopping systems available, with communication at every stage to inform you of your order status, as well as an excellent sales, customer service and support team who are glad to assist you with any enquiry. It's perfect if you're looking for really affordable watches.
Buy watches under £1000 from Goldsmiths (opens in new tab)
Jura Watches is the UK’s leading independent family-run luxury watch retailer with a growing network of boutiques and a massive online store. Jura is an authorised stockist for a number of premium brands including Breitling, TAG Heuer, Bremont, Grand Seiko, Oris and Longines.
Buy watches under £1000 from Jura (opens in new tab)
New vs Vintage watches
Are you having trouble deciding between buying a pre-owned watch and a new watch? We don't blame you, it's a tricky decision.
Obviously you get a lot more for your money buying pre-owned, and you can find pieces from more expensive brand such as TAG Heuer, Oris, and Tudor under £1000. These will be pre-loved, however, and could show signs of wear, or, in a worst case scenario, the movement could be broken or in need of a service (which could be expensive).
If you buy a new watch from an authorised dealer, the watch will come with a manufacturer's warranty. Newer watches are also more reliable than vintage watches, and will require servicing less frequently.
If you would prefer to buy a used watch, then we suggest you buy from reputable companies like WatchFinder (opens in new tab), Chronext (opens in new tab), or WatchBox. All of which offer their own warranties and returns policies.
Chronext is the Europe’s largest platform for the buying, selling, and trading of pre-owned watches. It has luxury pickup locations in London, Germany, Switzerland, France and Hong Kong. The team evaluates, authenticates and services every watch that they sell.
Shop pre-owned watches at Chronext WatchBox (opens in new tab)
The best watches under £1000 you can buy today:
Christopher Ward has taken the Trident range to a whole new level, with striking, bold designs which really set this British brand apart from its more conventional Swiss rivals. The best example of this is the C60 Sapphire, which features a see-through dial made from sapphire crystal. The updated design is significantly sleeker and more legible than previous versions, and also feels better on the wrist, with a slimmer profile than, and clean sides which play with the light. It's a very attractive piece.
Resistant to water, drastic temperature changes, shocks and eight tons of pressure. The Victorinox I.N.O.X. is a force to reckoned with. Our favourite model features a genuine American paracord strap, which is hand-woven and also allegedly serves as a versatile survival tool.
Hamilton is a historic name when it comes to watchmaking, first established in 1892 in America. Perhaps its most iconic design is this Khaki field watch. Its 38mm stainless steel case houses an automatic calibre H-10 movement, with an 80-hour power reserve, and a date complication.
Yes, you can buy a brand new TAG Heuer for less than £1000. This quartz Formula 1 timepiece features a 41mm steel case with sapphire crystal protecting the legible monochrome dial. A black leather strap, designed for ultimate comfort, completes the watch. A quartz movement provides the power and is water resistant up to 200 Metres.
The Junghans Max Bill is elegant and refined, as well as perfectly simple. Inside the watch is a manual winding automatic movement, which powers the second, minute and hour hands, and luminous dot markers at the 4 quarters. We love the matte silver plated dial, slim batons and black numerals. The case is crafted from stainless steel, and is attached to a soft calfskin leather strap.
Automatic dive watches with a design similar to those by Tudor, Omega and Rolex usually command a high price - but not so with the Tissot Seastar 1000, which can be had for around £600.
For that, you get a 43mm stainless steel case with a matching strap and unidirectional rotating bezel. The Swiss-made watch has an automatic self-winding mechanical movement with a date complication at six o’clock. With its classic dive watch design, this is a must-have timepiece for any collection.
We think the Certina DS Action GMT Automatic, with its separate 24-hour indicator, lightweight, and high durability, is the ideal companion for your travels. The case of the DS Action GMT measures 43mm and is made from black PVD-coated stainless steel. It houses an automatic Powermatic 80 calibre with a long power reserve of 80 hours.
The Seiko 5 Sports is an iconic watch that has delivered consistently high levels of reliability, durability, performance and value for over 50 years. Now, with the creation of a new, more modern design, this much loved timepiece is re-born with all of the same values as the original. We think this makes the new Seiko 5 an ideal 'holiday watch', a piece you can wear on your travels without the fear of scratching, denting, or swimming with it, whist still looking impossibly cool.
Longine is one of the world's oldest watch brands, founded by Auguste Agassiz in the Swiss town of Saint Imier in 1832. It's amazing, then, that you can get such an affordable timepiece from the brand. The Conquest comes with a stainless steel case, water resistant up to 300m, which houses the 41mm blue dial and an automatic movement which powers the watch. Attached to the case is the stainless steel bracelet which comes with a deployment clasp.
At a glance, you'd assume the Sistem51 is another peppy quartz timepiece from Swatch. Turn it over to look and you'll find an automatic mechanical movement made from just 51 components. For that reason, the Sistem51 gains a lot of kudos. Sure, there are cheaper mechanical watches from China, but this Swatch is made in Switzerland and features an exceptional 90-hour power reserve. It is a steal at 108 quid.
Mondaine's most fascinating watch has a red second hand that takes just 58 seconds to turn full circle. It then waits for two seconds at 12 o'clock for the minute hand to advance, before resuming its rotation. This mimics the original Swiss railway clock, which used that two-second pause to synchronise station clocks across the country. A lovable little novelty.
Everyone needs a G-Shock, whether you work outside and wear it everyday, or need a durable watch to wear while gardening. This Casio G-Shock Mudmaster features a stainless steel case with black dial, and is fastened with Resin bracelet.
Rado are the kings when it comes to elegant timepieces, and this bold watch is a prime example of that. The bold, contrasting dial is easy to read, while the 45mm steel case is durable and stylish.
Maurice Lacroix Eliros is a very impressive chronograph, especially considering the price. The case material is stainless steel and the black dial gives the piece a unique look. It's water resistant up to 50 metres, but we don't recommend you go swimming in this handsome timepiece.
Bringing together contemporary and traditional design, this Citizen Eco-Drive watch is functional, to the max. The piece is synchronized to an atomic clock for superior accuracy. Why is the face so busy? It can display multiple timezones, a perpetual calendar, power reserve indicator, and can be used by pilots to calculate fuel consumption rates, fuel quantity required to complete a trip, as well as cruising time remaining.
Having trouble choosing between a stylish GMT and a functional dive watch? The Raymond Weil Tango 300 Diver does both! Its case is made from stainless steel, and has an impressive water resistance for 300 metres. The red and blue 'pepsi' bezel and 24-hour GMT hand can be used to tell the time in a different time zone.
The collection takes its name from the famed diving pioneer Frédéric Dumas, and they feature strong octagonal watch chassis, 120 click uni-directional turning bezel and luminous calibrations. A precise, workhorse NH35 TMI Seiko automatic self-winding movement sits inside the Dumas. Our favourite model is the SP-5081-11, with its black, cream and orange colours, but there are many more available on the Spinnaker website.