Watches can be expensive. Horrendously so in fact, with the upper echelons coasting close to a million without a gemstone in sight. While that’s a little too rich for my blood, they are outliers; in fact, you don’t even need to ruin your bank balance to get a decent watch on your wrist. Affordability is becoming an unignorable buzzword, with entire brands popping up devoted to good-quality watchmaking with a budget price tag. Whether you’re not ready to invest in a true fine timepiece or you just want a knockabout watch you don’t need to worry about, there are pieces under the 1k mark that I’d not be ashamed to be seen wearing. Here are some of our favourites.

1. SEIKO PROSPEX STREET SERIES, £370

Seiko Prospex Street Series

The quintessential Japanese watchmaker was always going to be here, especially since it’s been expanding its incredibly cool Prospex diving collection. At one end it has upped the horological ante by equipping its famous spring drive movements; at the other we have this more urban take on the classic Prospex. Still able to survive 200m deep, it’s a modern, camo-slanted piece that tones down the big, bulky case for a more everyday, wearable piece. The flagship grey is particularly cool; seikowatches.com

2. JUNGHANS MAX BILL AUTOMATIC, £825

Junghans Max Bill Automatic

If you’re after something a little more design-led, a watch inspired by architect, artist and typeface designer Max Bill seems like a good place to start; all the better if it’s available for £825. Clean and minimal, it leans into Junghans’ Bauhaus inspiration (the movement incidentally celebrates its 100th birthday this year), despite the German manufacture and Swiss subject matter. Clean, clear and beautifully simple, it’s the kind of everyday elegance your collection shouldn’t be without; junghans.de

3. AUTODROMO GROUP B SERIES 2 WINDUP EDITION, $975 (£770)

Autodromo Group B Series 2 Windup Edition
© Jerry Wang Photography

We have enough racing watches around, most of which are various rip-offs of the Daytona and Carrera. Not so this timekeeping engine of a watch from Autodromo. It’s a boutique exclusive for watch retailer Windup but don’t let that put you off. The monochrome grey look with teal highlights, not to mention the tool ‘survive the apocalypse’ construction make it one of the coolest, automotive-inspired pieces out there; autodromo.com

4. UNIMATIC U1-EMN, €625 (£550)

Unimatic U1-EMN

A more minimal take on the usual Submariner clone here from design-led Italian watch brand Unimatic. Its stealth to the extreme, with a full black DLC case and lume-outlined indexes. It’s still flawlessly practical however, with 300m water resistance and a unidirectional rotating bezel. In fact, stripping things back makes it more legible than many other divers – and the Seiko NH35A 21,600 bph movement makes it more accurate than most in this price range; unimaticwatches.com

5. BULOVA OCEANOGRAPHER DEVIL DIVER SPECIAL EDITION, £509

Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver Special Edition

There are a lot of cool, vintage-inspired divers out and about nowadays but Bulova’s is still one of the best. Essentially a re-edition of the original Devil Diver – so-called because of it’s 666-foot water resistance – it’s more firmly rooted in the 60s than Austin Powers. Everything from the blue dial to the red-and-black bezel to the charmingly chunky hands and indexes make for a great watch stylistically, backed by a decent automatic movement. What’s not to love? intl.bulova.com