Choosing the right luxury watch on a budget can be a daunting task. You want to be sure you get a good value without sacrificing quality or style. If you’re budget is $5,000 or less, you’re likely browsing entry-level models. As is the case with most products, entry-level is the largest and most varied area of the market. The good news is that you can get a watch from a respected brand without the hefty price tag. However, you may need some guidance to discern the best options. Here, we’ve compiled some great examples of watches under $5,000 to help you in your search.
The Rolex Datejust is a classic for a reason. This model is proof that high-caliber timepieces aren’t out-of-reach even if you’re on a budget. Sure, one of the latest Datejust models, like Reference 126334 that debuted in 2017, might retail for more than $5000. So long as you’re open to an older reference or pre-owned model, you can get a Datejust for under $5,000. Just because you might not have the latest edition doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. You can still choose from stainless steel, gold, or two-tone and a ton of dial options. All in all, the Rolex Datejust is a great-value watch for under $5000.
Breitling released the original Chronomat 1941. As one of the brand’s flagship models, the Chronomat has proven itself time and time again. It has a decorated service history and steady commercial demand. Common features of the Chronomat include a stainless steel construction, iconic rider tabs, an oversized case, and a chronograph function. Whether you’re looking for one of the latest models, like the Chronomat Colt Automatic 41 that debuted in 2018, or a classic iteration, the Chronomat is an excellent choice. Clocking in below $5,000, the Breitling Chronomat is an excellent value for a premium brand and design.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is an incredibly proven timepiece – an understatement for the first watch on the moon. It’s a no-nonsense model with a stainless steel construction and an easy-to-read chronograph on a black dial. In addition, most variations of the Speedmaster employ a manual-winding movement inside a modern-sized 42mm case. Of course you won’t be able to get a limited edition version, like the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary model, for under $5,000. However, for a standard model you’ll pay just around $4,000, making it an awesome option for a watch under $5,000.
For a more modern and minimalist design in watches under $5,000, look to the IWC Portofino. IWC has long been a stalwart presence in the sports watch world. The Portofino, its entry-level stainless steel offering, employs an automatic movement and 40mm case size. You can even get a limited edition variation, like the Portofino Automatic Edition 150 Years, for around $4,700. Overall, this model is a highly functional and highly elegant watch under the $5,000 mark.
In terms of brands that offer high value without a high price tag, Nomos is hard to beat. Since they launched in 1990, Nomos has developed a reputation for its instantly recognizable aesthetic and affordability. Designs like the Tangente showcase hallmarks of the brand’s signature style. It features a simple, understated dial layout all neatly packaged in a modest 37.5mm case. However, functionality is where Nomos really shines. Models like the Tangente come equipped with one of the brand’s in-house calibers – a fantastic value for around $2,000.
TAG Heuer Carrera
The Carrera first launched in 1964 and quickly became one of the most famous sports chronographs in watch history. TAG Heuer has given it a few updates since then. The modern Carrera Chronograph featuring an oversized design is a worthy heir to the legacy started by the original. It showcases a stainless steel case, tachymeter bezel, and a variety of dial layouts. Like a number of the watches we’ve discussed here, one of the latest editions of the Carrera, like the Carbon 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, carry a hefty price tag. However, you can swing a classic TAG Heuer Carrera for under $5,000.
Bell & Ross Vintage
Though it may not be as big a name as some of the other models highlighted here, the Bell & Ross Vintage is a serious watch contender for under $5,000. The Bell & Ross Vintage collection features all of the Swiss/French watchmaker’s design hallmarks: optimal water resistance, precision Swiss mechanical movements, and clear visual indicators. These elements demonstrate the brand’s roots in aviation instruments. Even the latest models in the third generation of the Vintage collection won’t break the bank. Ranging anywhere from $1,900 to $4,600, the Vintage is serious value for the money.
Panerai Luminor Marina
There’s just something about Panerai. Initially conceived and used for military purposes, those very origins live on in the Luminor. It’s sheer functionality and usability under any circumstances is more than impressive. The Luminor Marina is one of the base-level options in the Luminor line. Models feature a small seconds indicator and occasionally a date window at the 3 o’clock position. Additional key features include a signature black dial, 40mm case, and a fantastically intuitive and performance-focused design. This robustness combined with its modern elegance makes the Panerai Luminor Marina a very tempting and high-value watch.
Longines Heritage Legend Diver
Longines has been creating purpose-built watches for nearly two centuries. As the name suggests, the Heritage Legend Diver perfectly encapsulates the brand’s history of dive watches, specifically those from the 1960s. It comes equipped with standard dive watch features, like a highly legible dial and water resistance up to 300 meters. In addition, it comes with an inner rotating bezel. You can use as a minute chronograph or simply to time a dive. Despite the nods to models past, the Heritage Legend Diver also gets some modern updates, like an oversized 42mm case. All in all, it’s a tempting vintage-inspired model for under $5,000.
All in all, there are a lot of good-quality, classic watches out there under the $5000 limit. But the fact is, when you’re spending this kind of money, you need to be making an informed decision. Remember, this is potentially the watch you’re going to wear for a while. If you do your research, you can get a really nice watch for under $5,000.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 28, 2016. We have updated it in 2019 to include more watches.