Don't get fooled into those "affordable luxury" watch advertisements you see on social media. Brands like Daniel Wellington and The Fifth definitely produce great-looking, minimalist watches but most importantly, their marketing team is amazing. However, the quality is far from luxury and you can get much better timepieces for the price you are paying - not just the quality but the history of the brand and also get better value retention.
So here is the list of brands and watches you can get under $1,000 USD... And no, this list does not include smartwatches.
The only two brands I would recommend at this price point is Casio and Timex. Casio's vintage collection looks timeless and super affordable. In addition, these watches will last for over 10 years if you take care of them well! My favourites in this collection are A158WA, A168WG and A700WM. Pictured below is the A158WA.
And for Timex, check out the Weekender and Fairfield.
I personally recommend Orient over Seiko at this price point. And with Seiko aggressively increasing their price point to enter the entry-level in the luxury market, they no longer give you the good value as they used to. Do note though, Orient is part of Seiko and Orient watches are much more exclusive. Because, unlike Seiko where you can find their movements used in many other micro-brands, Orient not only produces in-house movements but they are used exclusively for their watches.
Take the Orient Ray II below as an example. It is more affordable than the over-famous Seiko SKX007. Not only the price, but the movement is also more modern, has a hacking feature and can be hand-wound.
If you don't want an automatic watch, get anything from Citizen Eco-Drive.
From this point, you can start looking into respectable Swiss watches such as the ones from Tissot - particularly the Le Locle. You could also grab Hamilton Khaki Field when it's on sale - Khaki Field is one of my favourite watches at this price point.
If you want to look into Japanese watches, I strongly recommend Seiko Presage Cocktail Time.
However, if you really want something minimalist like Daniel Wellington watches, look into Tissot Everytime.
There are too many great Swiss timepieces at this price point. From brands such as Tissot, Hamilton, Alpina and even Mido. I strongly recommend you look into Mido, particularly the Ocean Star and Baroncelli - Baroncelli is possibly the best looking dress watch under $1,000.
If you want to try something a bit different, Junghans Max Bill is also a great choice. You can get their manual wind around this price point.
Founder & Editor | Say Seowon Song
I run Caramel, a hospitality strategy and creative agency, and teach business and life strategies to ambitious people. I am also heavily involved in other industries such as restaurants, cryptocurrency, NFT and design.