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Looking for a watch under $5,000? My five top picks in 2024

Choosing a price cutoff point for your watch is important, as the sky is the limit, but we’ve found that watches under $5,000 are a sweet spot for your first luxury watch. If you’re in the median income bracket or above, this represents about a month’s or less than a month’s salary. With proper care and maintenance, a watch can last a lifetime, and make for a nice heirloom.

So, as you look these watches and consider this price band, keep the scale and context in mind as well as consider your own priorities. There’s nothing wrong with going with a popular watch instead, if you just want to live for the moment. If you’re ready to dive into watches under $5,000 keep reading. Otherwise, our watch primer dives into the matter of budgeting for a watch headfirst.

Tudor Black Bay GMT

A man wearing a Tudor Black Bay GMT with his hand in his pants.

Tudor’s Black Bay GMT line features a series of men’s watches that all sit below the $5,000 line. Their most notable features are the numerals surrounding the dial going to 24, a split-color design around the ring, and an hour hand that takes “cathedral hands” to their logical extreme. The Black Bay GMT’s have straps that range from fabric to steel and nearly all feature a line that splits the watch down the center. And that, of course, is the overall theme of the watch — splits and doubles — that we see in so many parts of the watch. Tap the button below to find the watch that will highlight both halves of your personality.

Cartier Tank Solo XL

An image showing the face and band of the Cartier Tank Solo XL.

With a silver dial and stretched boxy colors, this Cartier oozes style. Harsh black on pure white create a dazzling, almost dizzying effect that is only accentuated by small notes of blue in the hands and crown. The watch gives off a feeling of warpedness and gravitational attraction, pulling eyes to you. For example, we particularly love how the traditional “IIII” style four looks opposite the “VIII” eight, giving the impression of shadows running behind invisible columns, cast by a brilliant glowing center. Whether you’re a belated white rabbit or just want a subtle source of attention, the Cartier Tank Solo XL is worthy of a first (and second) look.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M's face and steel chain on clear display.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re the type to hit the best diving spots and get so excited about the journey that the watch stays on, you really need to check out this Omega Seamaster. It’s one of Omega’s best watches, it’s rated to weather up to 300 meters (1,000 feet) under the water, and has a Helium escape valve. This Helium escape valve is a unique mechanism that lets Helium out of the watch when the watch is exposed to high-pressure situations, such as when you’re doing underwater work on the long-term. Oh, and expect to be able to actually use the watch under the water as well, it sports a scratch-resistant sapphire covering that keeps the interior clearly visible.

Grand Seiko SBGA285

The Grand Seiko SBGA285's front, showing the dark black dial.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Grand Seiko SGBA285 is a small watch, which focuses on subtlety over power. It has a sub 40mm case and no crown guards (the things beside the exterior knob, or crown, that protect it) so that the watch can avoid the bulky shape you often find on men’s watches. Furthermore, while the dial is quite delightful to look at, it is rather reserved, with a deep black base coloring that keeps the eyes focused on the practical elements. Note that this is a Grand Seiko not Seiko watch, meaning it uses more premium components and a better timekeeping mechanism. Another thing to note about this watch is that you might find its price displayed in “SGD” or Singaporean Dollars, so the price may initially appear over $5,000, but this is solidly one of the best watches under $5,000.

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Spitfire Watch

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot's Spitfire Watch

One of the best watches for men, this IWC Pilot is a plain-faced watch with an understated green cloth band. Featuring bold, thick Arabic numerals over a solidly black background, this watch is highly readable. Much of the watch’s glory comes from solid design, lightly textured stainless steel case, and glowing hands and primary dial graduation lines. And that’s not even to begin with it’s history; the watch was originally designed for the British Royal Airforce.

Editors' Recommendations

John Alexander

John Alexander is a former ESL teacher, current writer and internet addict, and lacks the wisdom to know what the future holds. His writing has appeared in PopSci, HeadPhonesty, WIRED, and Digital Trends. When not working, he can be found playing board games, drinking too much tea, taking long walks, and attempting to read foreign language books.

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