When we talk about affordable dress watches, we first need to define what we think ‘affordable’ means. Typically, what is considered to be a luxury watch will cost you around $500. Dress watches can go for double this, and then some. Of course, it depends on the brand you’re looking at. For this article’s purpose, we’re defining affordable dress watches as those under $1000.
Dress watches usually have a classic design that is uncomplicated and clean. You’ll likely find a white or cream dial, something subtle, with an hour and minute hands, maybe a second hand. No complications.
Though we did say ‘usually’. Of course, brands like to bend the rules, and today you’ll find dress watches with all kinds of features and styles. You can still keep it minimalist and classy with a few handy features, though.
Now, we don’t think a good dress watch has to be costly. Consequently, we’ve come up with a list of the 9 most affordable dress watches that come under $1000.
Men’s Prestige Automatic White Cocktail Time Dress Watch
Seiko is a Japanese brand that has undoubtedly been giving Swiss watchmakers a run for their money for quite some time. Their ‘Cocktail Time’ watch comes in many different colours, but we like the white version for making a statement.
- You can read more about Seiko watches for men here.
As you’ll see, it’s got that clean and classic look. However, the closer you get, the more detail starts to emerge. Firstly, take the guilloche sunburst dial, which shines in the light. Secondly, this is complemented by the silver hour and minute markers with matching hands. Finally, at the 3 position, you’ll find a date window.
The 40mm case is stainless steel with a matching 22mm bracelet. The watch itself is water-resistant to 50m. It’s automatic, meaning you can hand-wind it, and the second hand is hackable, and these features certainly boost the value.
You’ll find this watch for under $350.
Bambino – 2nd Generation
Similarly to Seiko, Orient is known for making high-quality timepieces, but its ethos is to offer these at an accessible price.
As such, one of the best affordable dress watches comes from the Bambino collection, of which there are six types to choose from with a total of 30 variants in total.
Here we have a minimalistic face with sword hour and minute hands and a slender second hand. It has triangular/sword hour markers, small minute markers on the outer rim and a date window at the 3 position.
The 40mm stainless steel case is attached to a brown leather 21mm leather band with an alligator print. Inside is a Japanese quartz movement, outside is domed mineral crystal and on the whole, water-resistance to 30m.
We’ve chosen to demonstrate the brown leather case, but there are others to choose from, including a black face with other case colours.
All for under $200.
- Read more about other Orient watches available here.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic Yellow Gold PVD Mens Watch H38735751
Over to an American brand now. This is a little slimmer than the Cocktail Time at 38mm but has some similarities. As you’d expect, the dial is clean with a more subtle sunburst pattern. It has thinner hour markers, and the date window here is at the 6 position. There is no second hand (which is typical for dress watches). Inside is a Swiss automatic movement known for offering superior quality. The power reserve here is 42 hours, and there is no hand-winding or hacking.
Protecting the dial is sapphire crystal, which usually increases the cost of a watch as it’s the hardest material that can be used. The case is polished and brushed stainless steel. The band is leather. The watch itself is water-resistant to 50m.
This is a great example of a simple, clean dress watch with no business to distract you. Furthermore, if you want to stray from tradition, there is a version with a black face.
You can find this watch for under $570.
- Learn about the big three American watch brands here.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Thinline Quartz Blue Dial Men’s Watch (H38411540)
As the name of this watch might suggest, the Jazzmaster steps away from the traditional minimalist look.
Again as the name hints, this is a thin watch at 40mm by 7.35mm with a 20mm strap. Inside is a quartz movement which was purposely chosen for its limited space demands inside the watch to keep it slim. So, no, you don’t get an automatic movement, but regardless it will run forever and won’t need to be wound (unless your battery dies). It has scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protecting the dial and a fixed bezel.
The dial is blue with Arabic numerals on the hour and markers every five minutes on the surround. There is a sub-dial offering 10-minute intervals. This addition of a complication is unusual for a dress watch.
The 40mm case is silver-tone stainless steel, and the band is brown leather. The watch is water-resistant to 50m.
You can find this for under $700.
- You can find out about other Hamilton watches available here.
Swiss Army Men’s Alliance Sub-Seconds Watch
You may not know this (although we’ve mentioned it in other articles), but Victorinox is the brand responsible for the famous Swiss Army Knife. Did you know the company makes watches, too?
Victorinox comes through with its well-known and distinctive masculine elegance here. This watch has an understated design that takes a few functions and uses a minimalist style to display them.
There are a few colour options, from two-tone gold and silver to black and blue dials and a black dial with a leather band.
The stainless steel case is 44mm, and the watch is water-resistant to 100m, which is sensational for the price. Inside is a Swiss-made quartz movement. An anti-reflective crystal protects the dial.
The face offers luminous hands and hour markers, an hour and a minute hand, a date window at the 3 position. Note that there’s no second hand, but there is a sub-dial for one minute with red numbers for 30 and 60.
You can find this gorgeous (and surprisingly durable) dress watch for under $200.
- Read more about the Victorinox brand here.
Stainless Steel Dress Watch (T1274071104100)
Tissot is another brand offering affordable quality. This is another Swiss brand that specialises in dress watches.
- If you’re looking for an affordable Swiss watch then read our post here.
The stainless steel case is 40mm by 11.5mm, so quite chunky compared to others on this list. The bracelet is also stainless steel and measures 21mm, and a synthetic sapphire crystal protects the dial. Furthermore, the watch is water-resistant to 100m.
The blue face offers silver-tone hour indices, a date window at the 3 position, hour and minute hands, and a second hand against tradition. Because inside, you’ll find a Swiss-automatic movement.
Great value at around $640.
Tradition stainless-steel Dress Watch
Another Tissot made this list of affordable dress watches because affordable, classic style is the design sweet spot for this brand.
- Look at some further Tissot watches specifically for men here.
The Tradition has few markings aside from the Roman numerals around the face and an unobtrusive date window at the 3 position. Around the furthest rim of the face are minute markers with numbers in 5-minute intervals. Interestingly this also has a second hand.
Inside is a Swiss quartz movement, so there’s no need to worry about winding it. You get a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on the face. Finally, it’s water-resistant to 30m.
You’ll find this watch around $225.
Men’s Classic Analog Display Swiss Automatic (73375944031MB)
I think it’s time we admit that affordable dress watches of 2021 come with second hands. The no-second hand tradition seems to be out the window.
- Our recent article shows some other brands breaking traditions here.
This Swiss automatic from Oris has a 42mm stainless steel case and matching bracelet and bezel.
Though the face looks uncluttered, if you look closely, it has two contrasting patterns. It has silver-tone index hour markers with Arabic numerals for 3, 9 and 12 with a date window at the 6 position. Around the outer rim, there are minute markers. The hands, including the second hand, are luminous, therefore allowing easy reading in all lighting conditions. What’s cool about this watch is the transparent case back so you can see the inner workings.
Inside is an automatic movement; the watch is water-resistant to 50m and protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
You can find this watch for a little under $900.
Classics Silver Dial (FC225ST5B5)
To find a Frederique Constant under $1000 is a rarity. This brand is typically in the luxury category and for good reason.
- Check out the luxury watches here.
This watch, part of the Classics collection, has a 40mm stainless steel case, yellow-gold plated with a silver-tone dial. The face is protected by sapphire crystal. On the face, you find gold-tone hands and matching index hour markers. Also, around the rim, you’ll find black minute markers and, for the first time on this list, a day and a date window at the 3 position. Typically the addition of the day would over-complicate the face, but thanks to indices over numbers or numerals being used, there is space to play with.
The case is quite slim at 9mm. The strap is a 20mm brown leather with an alligator pattern. Inside is a quartz movement, and finally, the watch offers 50m water-resistance for longevity.
We think this is a defining example of what a contemporary dress watch looks like.
You can buy this for less than $500.
There you have it; affordable dress watches are real! You can get your hands on a high-quality dress watch that looks (and acts) way pricier than it’s actual cost.
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Last Updated on May 18, 2021