Four Grown-Up Watches Under $2000
Here are four watches that you can own by paying anywhere from $1000 to $2000. These are vintage watches and yes, that is a lot of money. You can save up, you deserve it.
Having a nice watch isn’t all about balling-out on your peers. A big part of it is proving to yourself that you can take care of a nice thing. To harp on the beauty of time-telling once more, there is just really something beautiful about a dedicated tool that serves just one (or a few, in the case of chronographs) purpose. Watchmaking is an icy, quiet, solemn pursuit. Watches are the Arvo Pärt of useful tools.
Also: weird as it sounds, I do think having a nice watch is a mark of being a grown-up. Deal with that controversial statement, Internet.
Plus, when you die, you can pass on your nice watch to your children, who will promptly sell it for the iPhone 23s.
First up are two watches from Omega.
The Seamaster Professional dive watch is a classic. While these have always been popular, they had a sizable boom in sales after Goldeneye came out in in the 90s, which is when James Bond started wearing Omega. Yes, that is all marketing and James Bond isn’t real, but people still bought ‘em. This was my first nice watch and even though I eventually sold it, I’ll find myself wistfully thinking of it fondly from time to time, with a small tear in each eye. I still miss it. I’ll get another one another day.
The watch above sold for around $1000 on eBay not too long ago. Plus these watches have a helium release crown, which serves no purpose to most people, but c’mon: that’s cool.
The Speedmaster is famously the first watch worn on the moon, which Omega is quick to point out in almost all advertising for the Speedy to this day, as they should. This is a busy dial for sure, there’s a lot going on, but it has grown on me over the years. Again, quiet pursuit of a singular goal: timing the shit out of things. The watch pictured is from 1976 and sold on eBay recently for around $1700 bucks.
Similar to the Speedmaster is the Hamilton Chrono-matic.
This is a two-register chronograph with the date. The black and white design is cool and it really is a unique looking watch. They usually sell on eBay for around $1500.
Last up is Tudor, which is basically Rolex’s little brother.
Tudor watches famously have Rolex-made cases, but NOT Rolex movements inside. The attention paid to quality from Rolex is still unmatched though, so Tudor watches are going to be better made than 99% of the stuff out there anyway. Tudor appeals to me because they have the mark of Rolex without actually being Rolex. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to own a Rolex one day, but for now a Tudor is more appealing to me. This Tudor Submariner recently sold on eBay for $1350. At a watch show over the summer, I passed on the opportunity to buy one of these for STUPID CHEAP (compared to $1350) and regret it to this day. I am a fool. Goodbye.
Watchchoo Want For Christmas??
So I’ve successfully navigated my life to the point where people are asking me for watch recommendations. Instead of shooting off emails with my go-to watchmakers, I thought it would be fun to put things together in a lil list.
Here are the touchstones of a good watch, to me:
- A quality movement that will not break (movement = watch guts).
- Great design
- Functional perks (like the day, date, chronograph/stop watch function)
Plus a good watch reminds you and the world that you care about yourself at least a little bit.
Yes, you can just use your phone. Having a watch is better than using your phone. You care enough about yourself that you don’t have to pull your damn phone out every time you want to know the time. A person who pulls their phone out constantly is not the type of person anyone should want to be right? Also don’t you appreciate the fact that mankind made something that, without anything more than springs and physics, can tell the time? That is amazing. It’s seriously amazing. Look at the inside of a mechanical watch. It is beautiful. Do you hate beauty and achievement? Get a watch.
On to the meat and potatoes of this post. The watch recommendations.
"I’d like something under 200 dollars that isn’t a Timex or Casio."
Seiko Seiko Seiko Seiko Seiko. They make great watches that will last your entire life, and even their lower budget watches have automatic movements (meaning: not Quartz). Added bonus: they don’t get too wonky with design. A Seiko dive watch from 1979 basically looks the same as a Seiko dive watch from 2013.
For example: here’s a Seiko 5 dive watch in black. It looks like a classic dive watch. It will function like a classic dive watch. People will say “Oh hey nice watch.” It is 200 dollars.
Here it is in blue and red (a “Pepsi bezel”). That’s a fine looking watch. It is 158 dollars.
Dive watches aren’t for everyone, although they practically are for everyone nowadays. You will see bankers with dive watches on, you will see people at the liquor store with dive watches on. No one is diving. They still love the watch.
There’s a Seiko 5 in a dressier style too. It is under 100 dollars! That is so cheap. It doesn’t need a battery. C’mon.
"I’d like a ~$200 mechanical watch that isn’t like everyone else’s"
Vostok. Cold, heartless mechanical watches made in unforgiving Mother Russia. Steve Zissou wore one. They are weird. eBay is the place to get them. I don’t think you can buy them in the United States, period. Why is no one importing these watches?
"I do not care about mechanical movements at all and want to tell the time accurately and fashionably. I’d like to spend anywhere from $200-$600."
Cool. I’ll recommend four companies but don’t forget Timex and Casio. Let no one fool you into thinking a $500 quartz watch is any different than a $30 quartz watch. The watch guts are the same. It is just as good of a watch. A Heuer or Omega quartz is just as much watch as a Casio quartz.
"I am an interesting and adventurous person. I believe that my watch should reflect that. I’d like a vintage watch, please. My price range is $100-$500"
Welly welly well, you should head on over to eBay, the greatest second-hand watch market out there. For surprisingly little money, you can owe some seriously nice watches. Pretty much every non-Rolex, non-Patek, Non-JLC watch is available in that price range if you dig around enough.
Buyer beware: ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS OF YOUR SELLER. Ask if every function of the watch works. Determine if the seller seems reputable (lots of fake watches out there). Look at seller feedback. Figure out what lengths you are willing to go to own the watch in working condition. Are you willing to take it to a watch repair place after purchase and have it fixed up? If not, make sure the listing says the watch works. It’s also worthwhile to take note of listings that say things like “This watch works perfectly, but because of the nature of the US mail, I’m selling it as-is.” That means the seller is selling a broken watch, they know it’s a broken watch, and they are an awful person.
Ok on to the watches. eBay is endless. Vintage chronographs are my personal fav. I love timing things. I like how watch faces with multiple dials look. I just came across this one, for example:
Gorgeous! Another thing to remember is that vintage watches are generally smaller than today’s watches. That will look classy. Trust me. Even if you have a “big wrists,” which is a weird thing watch people say who are insecure about watch size.
Here’s a custom eBay search with just a few of my fav vintage watchmakers. These are “Buy It Now” and in the US. You can change the parameters of the search to fit your needs.
Happy watch buying!