Editors Pick Guides Watches

The 5 Best Automatic Watches Under £500

Mechanical watches can be expensive, we’re as aware of that as anyone. Tourbillons for 50k, perpetual calendars for 70k, it’s all a bit much sometimes. Anything with a rotor seems to have a substantial price tag attached. But what about if you don’t want to break the bank? Are you stuck with cheap quartz and nothing else? No, you are not.

There are plenty of solid, automatic timepieces out there under the £500 mark, offering more value than you might have thought possible from a mechanical watch. Rather than hunt down as many as possible to prove our point however, we’ve kept the selection small and varied to prove that, no matter what your taste or how small your budget, there’s a decent watch that you’ll love.

Here then are the five best automatic watches for under £500.

Unimatic Modello Quattro U4-A

Unimatic Modello Quattro U4-A

If the Italians made vintage field watches, they’d look something like this. A military take on Unimatic’s ever-versatile Modello Uno, the Quattro offers a more stripped-back, rugged 40mm case and a utilitarian look designed to conquer anything you care to throw at it. It’s a tough piece of metal and comes equipped with the reliably accessible Seiko NH35A automatic movement.

Price & Specs

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel, black dial   |   Water resistance: 300m   |   Movement: Calibre Seiko NH35A, automatic, 24 jewels   |   Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)  |   Power reserve: 41h  |   Functions: Hours, minutes, hacking seconds   |   Strap: Olive NATO   |   Price: $518.50 USD (approx. £383), more details at Unimatic.

Studio Underd0g Mint Ch0c Chip

Studio Underd0g Mint Ch0c Chip

Cards on the table, we love this watch. The mint green dial with a chocolate subdial and tachymeter plus choc chip indexes is fun incarnate, colourful and unpretentious. It’s also super wearer friendly with a double domed sapphire crystal on top combined with a flat exhibition caseback and the 38.5mm steel case is perfect for a slimmer wrist. The strap is also amazing, a textured, handmade Alran Chevre Goatskin piece totally in keeping with the chocolate theme.

Price & Specs

Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter x 13.6mm height, stainless steel case, 2-layer dial with a satin sandblast base and coarse dégradé top   |   Water resistance: 50m   |   Movement: Seagull ST-1901 (with Swan Neck Regulator), manual winding   |   Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)  |   Power reserve: 45h  |   Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, and tachymeter   |   Strap: Bespoke Alran Chevre Goatskin made by The Strap Tailor   |   Price: £440, available at Studio Underd0g.

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Sake Limited Edition

Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Sake Limited Edition

Given most automatic watches in the sub-500 category boast Seiko movements, the Japanese watchmaker themselves were always going to feature, especially given just how handsome their latest Presage is. The entry-level dress watch boasts a lovely textured gold dial with gold indexes, inspired by the Japanese tradition of post-work drinks (a tradition we can all get behind). It’s equipped with the 4R35 automatic movement with a 41-hour power reserve, plenty enough to know that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

Price & Specs

Case/dial: 40.5mm diameter x 11.84mm height, stainless steel case, gold dial   |   Water resistance: 50m   |   Movement: Seiko calibre 4R35,  automatic & manual winding, 23 jewels   |   Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)  |   Power reserve: 41h  |   Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date   |   Strap: Calfskin leather   |   Price: £450, limited to 5,500 pieces, available at Seiko.

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

One of the biggest names in great value luxury watches has to be Timex so it’s no surprise that they produce many watches that could qualify for this list. The Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic combines that signature accessibility with a refined sunburst dial and a single synthetic ruby paying homage to the jewels included in the movement. The movement itself is the Miyota 9039, as you’d expect it’s a solid workhorse with a 42-hour power reserve and decent accuracy of -10/+30 seconds per day.

Price & Specs

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 11mm height, stainless steel case, silver dial   |   Water resistance: 50m   |   Movement: Miyota 9039 calibre,  automatic, 24 jewels   |   Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)  |   Power reserve: 42h  |   Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds   |   Strap: Black rubber   |   Price: £425, available at Timex.

Baltic Aquascaphe Black Cream

Baltic Aquascaphe

Seriously cool dive watches that draws on iconic vintage models aren’t just the remit of big brands and big price tags. The Baltic Aquascaphe oozes retro diver charm to the same degree as any Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and for only a fraction of the cost. Like the Timex above, it also houses the Miyota 9039 automatic movement but combines it with a sportier case with 200m water resistance. Additionally, Baltic also produce a line of micro rotor models which add an extra layer to the automatic movement experience, although not currently for the Aquascaphe.

Price & Specs

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 12mm height, stainless steel case, black dial   |   Water resistance: 200m   |   Movement: Miyota 9039 calibre,  automatic, 24 jewels   |   Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)  |   Power reserve: 42h  |   Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds   |   Strap: Black rubber   |   Price: £494, available at Baltic.

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