There’s something very special about mechanical automatic watches. While we clearly live in an age of digital gadgets and devices, including digital watches, that doesn’t mean mechanical watches are obsolete. They’re far from it. In fact, mechanical watches are now something of a luxury. While they can keep amazing time and you never have to worry about the battery running out, most watches are also handmade and are done so exquisitely.
Of course, with watches that hold such a statement, it should come as no surprise that many of these bespoke watches are incredibly expensive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there if you’re shopping on a budget.
With this in mind, we’re going to explore the best mechanical watches available, all of which are under the $500 mark.
View The Best Mechanical Watches Under $500 Below
1. Orient ‘2nd Gen. Bambino’ Japanese Dress Watch
This second-generation Orient watch is a true beauty. One of the best watches for men, this super-affordable watch has an older, more traditional style that looks great.
With a mineral glass display and the iconic domed black dial, there’s a vintage feel to this watch that you simply won’t get anywhere else.
While this timepiece doesn’t come with a sapphire crystal display, nor a power reserve, it does function in the way any movement timepiece should; you won’t be left disappointed. What’s more, with automatic movement based on traditional Japanese techniques, you’ll never have to worry about this watch running out of power. It’s always going to be with you and working just as good as new.
+ Comes with a traditional vintage design
+ Powered by traditional Japanese automatic movement technology
+ Lightweight and easily adjustable for maximum comfort
Why We Like It – Are you looking for a particular style to suit your taste? This specific Orient watch comes with five unique designs and black styles to choose from. When shopping with Orient, you’ll easily discover an aesthetic you’re going to love.
2. Bulova Classic Watch
Once you put your eyes on this Bulova Classic, you won’t be able to take them off again. It’s hard to believe this watch is under $500, but it is. There’s a definite prestigious feel to this watch; there’s no denying it’s perhaps the most beautiful on our list today.
With a sporty style that uses chromatic metals, this is one of the best watches men will love, which is why customers all over the world have given it flat-out five-star ratings.
Water-resistance comes as standard and provides protection up to 10 bars, so you can pretty much wear it anywhere. The durable stainless steel strap features a handy deployment clasp. There’s no way you’re not going to feel executive when wearing this watch.
+ Comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty
+ Linked chain strap for a one-size-fits-all design
+ Water resistance up to ten bars
+ Luminous hands so you can see the time easily in the dark
Why We Like It – Want to ensure your watch is built to last? Don’t worry; Bulova offers a two-year warranty with this watch, so you know you’re protected just in case anything goes wrong.
3. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
Even if you’ve only heard a little about the watch industry, you’ll have heard of the powerhouse manufacturers and designers known as Timex. They sponsor the timing equipment for the Olympic Games; that’s how prestigious this brand is.
This Expedition Field watch is a perfect example of the amazing devices they can create. It’s Military-styled with a black dial (not a sapphire crystal one), date window, and a durable nylon power strap. The durability remains even when subject to strain on adventures you may find yourself on.
Containing a 30-minute chronograph that’s accurate within 1/20th-second, and a water-resistance rating nature that protects your watch up to 100-feet, if you’re looking for a mechanical watch that’s built to last, this is it.
+ Available in eight different styles and designs
+ Water-resistant up to 100-meters
+ Contains a 30-minute chronograph that’s accurate with 1/20th of a second
+ Made to be durable with a tough nylon strap and with luminous hands
Why We Like It – The popularity and design of this Timex watch are some of the reasons why it’s one of the best watches for men’s consideration. With over 5,000 five-star reviews from critics and customers alike, you really can’t go wrong.
4. SEIKO Self-Winding Watch
SEIKO is another one of those watch brands which has stood the test of time; it’s adored by a loyal fan base that can be found all over the world. This watch is a testament to what they can achieve.
Beautiful and sleek, this Japanese based watch contains the traditional automatic movement technology that means it stays accurate within 45-35 seconds per day.
All in all, this is a fantastic watch that you’re going to love the minute you put it on. However, bear in mind that it doesn’t come with a power reserve.
+ Accurate within 35-45 seconds per day
+ Uses Japanese automatic movement to keep accurate time
+ A ton of five-star ratings across the board from critics and customers
+ Made by one of the most reputable watch brands in the world
Why We Like It – The scratch-resistant dial and window on this watch is one of the highlight features. It can easily withstand pressures, knocks, and bashes from everyday life, ensuring your watch always looks beautiful in its pristine condition.
5. Orient ‘Bambino Open Heart’ Japanese Automatic Dress Watch
This is our second Orient entry now, this time focusing on the Bambino Open Heart. It’s a glorious name for a glorious watch. This specific watch holds another traditional style that looks like a classic in the modern age.
With dozens of five-star reviews, a Japanese automatic movement, and even a water resistance rating up to 30m, this is one of the most fully-featured automatic watches you’ll get – it could even complete with automatic watches over $500.
With four unique styles to choose from, it’s safe to say there are very few water-resistant watches out there that are this beautiful.
+ A stunning open heart design found on few other affordable watches
+ Water-resistant to 30m and brief immersions in water
+ Made from stainless steel that oozes style and durability
+ Perfect for anybody of any age or generation
Why We Like It – The Open Heart design, in which this watch gets its name, is one of the best and most stunning features. Being able to see the inner workings and mechanical movements of this watch is a pride and joy to behold. It adds a feeling to wearing this watch that no other watches under 500 can provide.
6. Bulova Men’s Automatic Watch
Bulova is never short of stunning automatic watches. One of the best examples of mechanical movement watches comes in the form of this one.
Made from durable and sturdy gun stainless steel with a stainless steel strap, this is a professional and sleek design. You can see all the automatic movement mechanics behind in the dial – it just looks incredible.
It’s water-resistant up to ten bars and one of the most lightweight watches on our list, coming in at just 204 grams. This is a hidden gem in the watch industry and one you’re sure to fall in love with.
+ Comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty to help keep your device protected
+ One of the most lightweight affordable watches
+ Luminous hands so you can see the time in the dark
+ Made from gunmetal stainless steel for ultimate durability
Why We Like It – There’s no denying that the design of this mechanical movement watch is the best bit about it. Despite being under $500, at the $300 mark, this watch looks like it could easily compete with watches in the $2,000 range. It’s simply beautiful.
7. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch
Seiko are never short of fantastic automatic watches, and their second addition to our mechanical watch list is not to be ignored. As far as gent’s watches go, this one is a steal. With a classic military aesthetic, it’s suitable for anybody and for any purpose.
With a green dial and green nylon strap that’s been chosen for its strength and durability, there’s no denying this watch makes you think and feel the outdoors. It provides a great overall watch experience in any condition.
While not water-resistant, it does come with the classic automatic movement. This means the time is always accurate, and you’ll never miss a beat!
+ Classic military styles with green dials and straps
+ Traditional and highly accurate Japanese automatic movement
+ Nearly 5,000 highly rated reviews from customers all over the world
+ Made from durable stainless steel
Why We Like It – To help you keep peace of mind that this is a watch that’s going to last, each unit of this watch comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, guaranteeing this watch as one you can trust.
8. Stührling Original Automatic Skeleton Dial Watch
Simply wow. The moment you lay your eyes on the Stührling skeleton automatic movement watch, it will leave you breathless. Described as a window into time, being able to see the inner movement workings of these affordable watches is an experience on your wrist like no other.
Made using professional-grade stainless steel and a real U.S. leather strap that’s alligator embossed, this luxurious watch is only going to leave you wanting to more. Try taking your eyes off it. We dare you.
Each unit of this watch comes with a Comprehensive International Warranty, so you know the device is always protected. You’ll never have to worry about winding it up, thanks to the automatic movement technology!
+ Made from professional stainless steel and genuine U.S. leather
+ A luxurious skeleton design that’s rare with affordable watches under $500
+ Comes with a Stührling Comprehensive International warranty
+ Winds itself using automatic movement technology
Why We Like It – Despite being a skeleton dress watch, it’s amazing to see that this watch is still incredibly clear to read. The jet blue markers and hands are fantastic. You’ll have no trouble checking the time in an instance.
9. Invicta Russian Diver Skeleton Watch
So many people around the world adore Invicta watches. There’s never been a better time to enjoy one yourself. This black dial stainless steel watch is another skeleton watch, which means you’ll get the joy of seeing all the inner workings of these automatic watches in detail.
Hailed as one of the best mens watches, this automatic watch offers five bar water pressure resistance, meaning it’s one of the best dive watches on our list, ideal for swimming, showering, and diving.
With quality from Invicta themselves thanks to the included two-year warranty, this is one of those die watches where you really can’t go wrong, unless you’re looking for a power reserve timepiece!
+ One of the most popular water-resistant dive watches on our list
+ High quality build with up to three years warranty to protect it
+ A stunning dress watch and one of the most beautiful skeleton watches under $500
+ Crisp, clear and easy to read markers and hands
Why We Like It – To extend your warranty, you can easily register your watch on the Invicta website, and you’ll get a year of warranty free from the moment you register. This is how confident Invicta are with the quality of their watch.
10. Swatch Automatic See Through Dial Watch
For our final watch, we’re going to draw your attention to another iconic watch brand known as Swatch. The chances are, you’ve heard of them.
This affordable automatic watch comes with a large round stainless steel case with a stainless steel bezel which, we’re sure you’ll agree, looks incredibly beautiful. This is backed by the skeleton design; you can see all the automatic movement workings.
With a water-resistant rating up to 30m, you’ll never have to worry about taking this watch off any time of day, and you’ll never have to worry about damaging it accidentally. In short, this is a watch that’s built to last.
+ Water-resistant to 30m but doesn’t come with a power reserve
+ A beautiful skeleton dial design that displays inner movements
+ Made from pure stainless steel for a sleek aesthetic with added durability
+ Comes with a safety clasp that helps keep these automatic watches securely on your wrist
Why We Like It – The price is by far one of the best selling points about this watch. While under $500, this watch has ap RRP under $200, meaning if you’re shopping for a desirable watch on a budget, you may not need to look any further than this.
Mechanical Watches Under 500 Buyer’s Guide
Now that you’ve seen some of the best watches available, we’re hoping you’ve found one that you’ve instantly fallen in love with. However, if you’re still scratching your head about which one is best for you, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’re going to give you a complete breakdown of what to look out for with these watches, and how you can make the best purchasing decision for you.
You obviously don’t want a watch that can’t keep accurate time. Where digital battery watches can do this easily, it’s a little different here.
While technology known as automatic movement is used to keep the watch time in check, you could want to check that it’s a suitable technology to use. As you can see from our list above, many devices will use Japanese automatic movement to keep time.
While many devices won’t come with batteries, if you can’t afford to have your dress watch run out of power, you may need to look into a watch that comes with a power reserve, but this will make your final price more expensive.
However, you must bear in mind that no timepiece is perfect. You can afford to lose or gain around 30 seconds a week. This is the accuracy level that most devices will work to.
This can change over time since most automatic movement workings are different. The easiest way to check is simply to read customer reviews. This will give you a broad understanding of how accurate your preferred options are.
Ability to Read Watch
A lot of watch designs these days, especially on our list, come with the skeleton design. This means you can see the inner automatic movement workings through the black dial of the watch.
However, this may make the watch difficult to read in some cases, so consider this. The best way to avoid it is to look for a watch with clear markers and hands. Some watch devices will even come with luminous hands and markers, which means you can read them in the dark as the markers glow.
Always make sure you’re checking for clear markers so you know you can read your watch dial, especially if you’re not comfortable with just line markers, but would rather have the numbers themselves.
The Aesthetic Design
There’s no doubt that this style of watch brand is one of the most beautiful. If you’re going to get yourself a functioning watch like this, you might as well get one that makes you smile every time you look at it, simply because it looks so good.
You could go for a perfect black dial aesthetic since devices like this are minimal, sleek, and professional-looking. Or you could opt for a green military-style, which consists of green straps and dial.
These are perfect-looking classic watch devices that function well, no matter what walk of life you’re from and still provide all the benefits of an automatic movement watch, despite being generally smaller in size.
As you can also see from our list, skeleton dial watch devices also make for an incredibly unique watch viewing experience. These devices are perfect for watch lovers everywhere, and function just as well as any other automatic movement watch.
Water Resistant Properties
One key feature you may want to look for with your automatic movement watch is how waterproof it is. From the dial to the power reserve and the little crown that helps you change function aspects like the date and the time, most people want their watch to be waterproof.
This is important, not just if you want to swim and dive, but even as you go about your day and wash your hands regularly, or if you get caught in the rain.
Of course, even if your automatic movement timekeeper gets a bit of water on it, you’ll still want it to function properly, so get a waterproof one. If you want to go deeper with your device, then remember there are perfect devices out there with more water resistance.
Always read the product description to see what’s on offer.
Finally, you’re going to want to make sure your device is comfortable to wear. There’s no point wearing a timepiece that weighs a ton and has a tight strap you can’t adjust and doesn’t fit perfectly, because you’re only going to want to take it off and never wear it again.
Instead, always check the weight of the device to ensure it’s right for you. Look for an adjustable strap and safety clasp so you can guarantee yourself the right size.
Don’t forget that, with most timepieces, you’ll be able to adjust the straps and switch them out with other versions, or even straps from other brands altogether. Bear this in mind if you see a timepiece you love but hate the wriststrap. There are always alternatives available, which is ideal to remember when you’re shopping for a timepiece under $500.