20 BEST Automatic Watches under $2,000 (Value Meets Luxury!)
The words affordable and accessible are words thrown out there in the watch world for enthusiasts and collectors, and it usually consists of watches close to or near the luxury level of horology. For the price point in the range of $2,000, it is not inexpensive, but it’s at a point where you will receive an excellent watch for the value.
This list will be my look at mechanical and automatic watches that really hit the mark on value, design, wearability and overall look and feel. I have experience with some of these watches on a personal level and from my own collection. The other watches on this I would love to try on and maybe one day purchase.
What I look for in a Watch
What I look for in a watch is usually that it doesn’t just fit in one box. It should have elements of a sports watch, dress watch and just have a feel that it could be a piece I could wear everyday.
I’m a design person first, I like a watch that I think looks good and I also respect the movement it holds like an ETA, Sellita, in-house movement for example. I respect the work and care it goes into making a good, solid movement that can last the test of time in between servicing.
Here are the 20 watches in no particular order I would recommend for those looking for a quality timepiece in the range of $2,000:
20 watches around $2,000
1. Sinn 556A
The first watch on my list is the Sinn 556A, which is a watch I recently owned. And it’s a beautiful representation of the simple, yet well designed tool watch. It has notes of a Rolex Explorer with its arabic numerals at 12, three , six and nine. It also has an excellent matte black dial, very clear white indices and small yet, well placed date window at the four o’clock position.
At around $1,500 USD in value it could be the only watch you need. A note that the sapphire crystal has a layer of AI coating on the bottom and top layers of the crystal. It allows for great readability in direct sunlight but be aware that the AI coating can be more easily scratched than the crystal itself
The Oris Aquis Date is on this list and is another watch I’ve owned in the past and keeping that the list is under $2,000 it cost just slightly more than the aforementioned price level (I’m discussing the 39.5 mm Selitta based option – SW 200-1, on the rubber strap) I think it’s important to be on this list because of the value you get. Oris is unique as it’s an independent Swiss watchmaking company and is a favorite of many enthusiasts for good reason.
It punches way above its weight class. With 300 m water resistance, a screw down crown and it has a unique design, with its pseudo-integrated bracelet. It’s not just another Submariner clone. It has its own original design elements. Most people may be looking for the company’s new caliber 400 for their next Oris, but if you want a little more value for your money and the same great fit, finish and design, the SW 200-1 version is the way to go.
3. Seiko SPB143
Seiko needs no introduction in the affordable watch market, even though this particular Seiko is somewhat more expensive than some models. The Seiko SPB143 has a beautiful dial as it harkens back to 62MAS, Seiko’s first dive watch from 1965. Seiko knows how to make a dive watch, not only is it certified 200m diver with it being in the Prospex lineup of watches it also boasts a more robust in-house movement, the 6R35 movement with tolerances of +25 to -15 seconds per day.
This is a watch I’ve coveted, but haven’t purchased, but it’s one that is definitely on my radar. It has vintage and modern touches, which makes it a candidate for one-watch collection.
Longines has one of the longest histories of any Swiss watchmaker, with the company dating back all the way to 1832. Longines still makes high quality watches today and the Heritage Classic is no different. This is a reissue from their back catalog and it has a beautiful simplistic sector dial design with a subdial with small seconds.
Silver dial with the leather strap would be my choice and at 38.5 mm in size with just 11 mm of thickness it fits in that goldilocks zone of wearability. It sits at just over $2,000, but it deserves that little extra bit of money because of the quality it exudes.
Official site – Longines
When it comes to the world of watchmaking Germany is no slouch. The country produces high quality timepieces and one of those is Nomos. The Campus Club 38 at just under $2,000 is almost a steal as it has the beautiful in house movement Alpha.
This is a manual wound watch, not automatic, but that adds to the character of the watch. It also has a California dial (combination of roman numerals and arabic numerals) that adds to the impeccable style of the watch. This watch is a no-brainer for those going off to school or venturing into their new careers.
Hamilton, now part of the Swatch Group and located in Switzerland, has its roots in the USA and you can see through the ruggedness of its watches and design elements that it doesn’t shy away from the vintage aesthetic in a lot of its timepieces. The Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer, even though a pilots watch has that railroad/train stopwatch look and feel.
It does show that it’s a true pilot’s watch with the oversized crown and clear Arabic numerals. The see through caseback allows you to see the workhorse ETA 6498-1 caliber inside. The black dial mixed with the fauxtina on the small seconds, minute track and numerals adds to its charm. At just over $1,000 it’s an easy choice for any watch buyer.
Another German watchmaker on this list and they utilize the Bauhaus house of design. The minimalist dial is why this watch stands out, but it doesn’t take out any of the modern qualities of this watch. On a svelte milanese bracelet it adds a silver touch to the tasteful white design of the dial. If you are a true minimalist, then this watch is for you.
Official site – Junghans
Tissot has a rich heritage and its dive watches hot the mark at the just above $1,000 price point. With all of the design elements of a rugged dive watch, the professional can take you into the water, if you so choose with its 600 m of water resistance. It also houses the well-known Powermatic movement (a modified ETA movement), which gives the wearer an 80-hour power reserve. That is hard to come by at this price point or any other one for that matter.
Official site – Tissot
The Rado Captain Cook is another modern dive watch with some vintage appeal. IT rivals dive watches like the Tudor Black Bay and the Oris Divers 65, but it has its own unique look. Almost a bowl shaped bezel with a broad arrow hour hand. The beads of rice bracelet adds to the vintage charm and it’s a watch that is hard to say no to. It has modern touches like a ceramic bezel. At around $2,700 it’s a watch you may take everywhere with you.
Official site – Rado
The Tissot PRX has been a big hit for Tissot over the last couple of years in both the quartz and automatic versions. There are currently numerous colorways and sizes as well a gold bezel version. Coming in at just below the $2,000 mark at retail the fairly new PRX chronograph is sure to be a great seller for the Swiss watchmaking company.
Watch has a beautiful integrated bracelet based off of an old Seastar design from the 1970s and reminiscent of the classic Gerald Genta like design. On top of all the good things going for this watch it now includes a chronograph complication set on the classic three sub dial design. My vote would be for the almost brushed-like look of the blue dial version.
Official site – Tissot
The dive watch history for Zodiac started at a pivotal time in 1953 alongside Blancpain as possibly the first two commercially available dive watches to hit the market. Zodiac’s horological importance in history can’t be denied and over the past few years have been producing some great watches. One of them being the Super Sea Wolf Pro-Diver.
It comes in at 42 mm in diameter with a 20 mm lug width and great legibility. IT is also COS-C certified, which you don’t see at the price level of around $1,700. The watch has great lume including the bezel, which most divers don’t have, so this watch is the total package if you are looking for that one and done diver.
The Longines Dolcevita is a sleek rectangular automatic watch that can be dressed up or dressed down. Like the previous Longines watch mentioned in this list, it has a sector dial design. It’s slim on the wrist at just over 10 mm in thickness and pairs with a suit or t-shirt and jeans. You can’t go wrong with this watch as part of your collection.
13. Doxa Sub600T
Doxa has a rich history in dive watches going back to the adventures of Jacques Cousteau who popularized the brand. The watch being looked at is the Doxa 600T in Aquamarine. It’s a funky and fun watch that would be a great addition to any collection. The great thing about this particular model is it comes with a ceramic insert bezel. I would also pair this with the aquamarine rubber strap. It’s a great watch for the summer and doesn’t break the bank at just over $1,500.
Official site – Doxa
Oris is well known for its dive watches with the popular Aquis and Divers 65 line, but they also know how to make a well built and well designed pilot’s watch. The Oris Pro Pilot Big Crown Pro Pilot Big Date is no exception. It has great legibility as any pilot’s watch should and the machine knurled-like bezel adds that little extra something to the look of the watch. It also fits nicely into anyone’s budget looking for a sub-$2,000 watch.
Official site – Oris
King Seiko is back and given the modern update from Seiko. King Seiko has a long history as one of the flagship brands under Seiko, but slowly disappeared in the mid-1970s, but with this reissue the SPB283 with its 6R31 movement inside brings a beloved icon back to the Seiko fold. It’s another watch you can wear at a casual or formal affair.
Official site – Seiko
Chronographs are a fan favorite of many watch buyers because of their timeless design and functionality. Hamilton recently released a manual wind version of their Intra-Matic Chronograph series. I especially like the white cream dial panda-style version. This watch has a heritage feel to it that makes you think you are ready to step on a train from the 19th century. Hamilton brings people back to the American past with a warm nostalgic feel of steel and leather. It’s an American Classic.
Official site – Hamilton
17. Sinn 104 St Sa A
Another German entry and another very popular Sinn model, the 104, specifically the St Sa A with the arabic numerals on the dial. It’s the epitome of a well-made pilot’s watch. This particular pilot’s watch has a unique 60-minute bidirectional bezel. Introduced at BaselWorld in 2015, this watch has a beautiful display caseback with its signature gold rotor and with its 200 m of water resistance, you can take it in the sky and sea.
18. Baltic Tricompax
I’m adding this watch as microbrands have a spot in the watch world as well. This specific model of Baltic, the Tricompax was just recently announced with pre-orders just occurring. I added this watch because of its iconic design choice. It reminds anyone of a certain Paul Newman like design (from the company with the crown) and that’s a good thing. This will be a watch I have my eye on and possibly it will become part of my collection.
19. Marathon GSAR (automatic)
The Marathon GSAR or the Government Search and Rescue watch is a Swiss made watch based out of Canada. Marathon has made and continues to make watches for the Canadian and American armed forces. Knowing that this dive watch has to take a certain amount of wear and tear and that’s why it makes for a great rugged watch.
Official site – Marathon
A funwatch to add to the list is the Ball Engineer II Rainbow. Rainbow watches have been a unique novelty in the watch world and Ball’s take on it is funky. Not only is it fun, it comes in titanium and is COS-C certified. Funky and functional all at the same time.
The functionality of the watch doesn’t stop there as the colorful indices are lit up by 15 micro gas tubes for extreme legibility at night as well as 5,000 Gs of shock resistance. It also is quite affordable for all that it offers at just over $2,000.
These are 20 great watches for the value they offer and a great way to venture into the world of watch collecting or two have that one piece that does it all for you.
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