Mechanical watches, at least the best of them, are priced so ridiculously that only the top 15% of the population can own one or two in their respective lifetimes. Swiss mechanical watches, for example, the likes of Omega, Blancpain, and of course, Rolex, are priced at no less than tens of thousands of dollars. And that’s just the base model!
But not all mechanical watches are ludicrously priced. If you look hard enough, there is a steady mid-range industry in luxury watches that offers almost the same features without draining your savings account. These brands have always been in the dark, but for watch enthusiasts, they’re superstars in their own right. Here are the most fashionable mechanical watches under $500 you can buy in 2020:
Hamilton American Classic
Hamilton is arguably the mid-range king when it comes to Swiss-made mechanical watches. From the Jazzmaster to the Khaki King, this Swiss watchmaker with an American heritage has been turning great watch collections since its early days of conception. The Hamilton American Classic is not just a perfect fit for when you’re on a budget; it actually looks like you had money to burn when it’s worn on the wrist!
The American Classic boasts of a specced-out inside with classic styling, great legibility in the dial, and overall versatility. The movement is an automatic H-10, featuring a three-hand movement without the date function and a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. The crystal is sapphire, like the ones on expensive luxury watches, with a water resistance of 5 bars.
Seiko Men’s SARB017 Mechanical Alpinist
The SARBs from Japanese watchmaking giant Seiko have time and again, one of the greatest starter mechanical watches for enthusiasts looking for a deal without sacrificing quality. The SARB017 Mechanical Alpinist is not only a great-looking watch, it’s also a versatile piece of accessory that you can wear on any occasion.
The movement is an in-house caliber automatic, featuring a power reserve of 50 hours. The dial is in a muted, yet rich green color, paired with a deep brown crocodile-pattern leather strap. At 200m water resistance, it’s not quite the diver’s watch, but you can take it on a dip to the pool or a swim in the ocean. You can also easily change the straps since the lug width is at a standard 20mm.
Tissot Men’s Le Locle Powermatic 80
Tissot may be too mainstream for some, choosing the more “mass” approach in its marketing, but the charm of the brand comes from how it takes time to perfect its watches. The Le Locle Powermatic 80 is a study of classic styling, with cursive fonts on the dial and luxurious leather strap to boot. Under the hood, a Swiss automatic power the watch, with an impressive 80-hour power reserve.
It’s available in seven variations, but the one in black dial paired with a deep jet black leather strap should do the trick. Perfect for an evening with your partner, or a day shopping. It also pairs quite well with business attire, so if you’re the corporate type, it can be your everyday driver. Water-resistance is at 100m, so don’t worry about wearing it when lounging on the pool either.
Timex Expedition Scout
Timex isn’t known for its automatic watches, as the company seems to focus on the quartz side of watchmaking these days. No one can blame them, though since quartz is saleable. But the Expedition Scout is not only worthy of a second look; it’s actually an excellent timepiece when you really delve in on its features.
At 40mm, it wears quite smaller on the wrist, but the classic leather buckle takes it to the next level. Make sure that you choose the automatic movement, as the model also comes in analog quartz. Crystal is a mineral material, which is not scratch-resistant, to say the least, but with the price you’re paying, we think it’s apropos.
Getting a mechanical watch is a right of passage of some sort. Mechanical movements, either manual or automatic, is considered the big leagues when it comes to watchmaking. This is because you’re getting a watch that’s basically working because of the gears and springs inside, without a battery to power it! It’s a craft that has been present since the early days of the industrial revolution and is still an industry on its own nowadays.