One of the most popular topics of discussion for watch enthusiasts in online forums and social media is how to get the most bang for your buck at a given price point. Today, we’ll be focusing on exactly that, taking a look at some of the most impressive value propositions at or around $2,000. And while price points like $500 and $1,000 each have their standouts in terms of what you’re getting for your money, it is right around two grand that we start to experience some of the more luxurious elements of watchmaking when it comes to case and bracelet finishing, movements, and specifications. We’ll be taking a look at brands like Longines, Oris, Tudor, Sinn, NOMOS, and many others that are producing excellent watches packing a lot of enthusiast appeal within the confines of this price range.
Before we get into the watches, here are some ground rules:
In order to keep the list organized, we’ll arrange it by category, focusing on some of the most popular broad segments of the watch industry including everyday, Flieger, dress, dive, GMT, and chronograph watches. We also won’t be terribly strict about coming in under $2,000, but rather concentrate on watches that are priced around $2,000 as factors like currency exchange rates, local taxes, and whether or not you’re buying pre-owned have a profound effect on final pricing. We’ll make an effort not to include more than four watches from any single brand and will also limit the inclusion of micro-brands, not that there are many in this price range, to begin with. Of course, we can’t include everything out there, so be sure to also take a look at The Best Watches Under $1,000 and The Best Watches Under $5,000 for even more options that are both above and below this price range. With all of that out of the way, if you’ve got $2,000 to spend, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dig into the watches.
Price: $2,000, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 9.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49.2mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
Released in 2018 — the same year as the gilt dial Black Bay 58 and Black Bay GMT — the versatile 1926 collection now spans over 100 variants, with a whopping four sizes, a wide variety of dial color and texture options, and several case material combinations, aiming to be a more refined yet attainable option for both men and women within Tudor’s collection. In addition, the 1926 stands out as the single least expensive watch in Tudor’s catalog, coming in either right at or just under our target $2,000 price point depending on which individual reference you select. Unlike some of Tudor’s more expensive watches including the diving-oriented Black Bays, the 1926 leans into a third-party caliber from Sellita, helping to allow this more attainable price point. And given Tudor’s legitimacy as a luxury brand, the finishing is especially strong with the 1926 case and bracelet, and the versatile design combined with an impressive 100 meters of water resistance make this an excellent, more refined option from a major Swiss brand to consider when shopping for an everyday option.
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date
Price: $1,750 - $2,000, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
While it's the best-selling Aquis diver’s watch with its integrated bracelet design that garners the most passionate devotion from Oris fans, the Big Crown Pointer Date is actually the brand’s longest-standing icon. Dating back to 1938, the original Big Crown was designed with an oversized crown for easier manipulation by gloved pilots, and equipped with a rare pointer date complication for easy at-a-glance legibility. The modern Big Crown Pointer Date family is vast, spanning a number of case sizes, dial colors, and case materials, with the majority of the standard Sellita-powered collection coming in right around our $2,000 mark. Combining a legible, vintage-inspired dial with a charming complication, capable lume, and a screw-down crown, We see the Big Crown Pointer Date as the best and most versatile Oris to reach for when looking for a budget-friendly option from an impressive independent brand.
Sinn 556 I
Price: $1,270 - $1,510, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
Coming in well under our target price point, we have the utilitarian 556 I from Sinn, a brand based in Frankfurt, Germany since its inception in 1961. Among its impressive collection of dress, aviation, and diving watches, the 556 aims to combine capable specifications and incredible legibility with a more versatile overall design format. Combining a wearable 38.5mm case, short 45.5mm lug-to- lug, and excellent H-link bracelet, the 556 is one of the more comfortable everyday options on this list while still providing a screw-down crown, 200 meters of water resistance, and a reliable Sellita caliber inside that also tends to be well-regulated. For anyone appreciating the utilitarian German design aesthetic, the Sinn 556 I is an excellent alternative option that might lack only in more refined situations, in which the blasted finish might present a challenge.
Nomos Club Campus 38
Price: $1,650, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 8.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.6mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Alpha Manual, Crystal: Sapphire
Providing another German option in the everyday section of this list, we have the Club Campus from Nomos, a brand founded in 1990 by Roland Schwertner in the famous German watchmaking city of Glashütte. In contrast to many brands in its price range, Nomos differentiates itself with a collection of in-house calibers developed after interrupted and challenging supply from ETA led the brand to develop its own calibers. In 2017, Nomos released the Club Campus collection to emphasize a sportier package at a new entry-level price point. With 100 meters of water resistance and a variety of dial colors and case sizes, the Club Campus offers arguably the most versatile option to Nomos’s collection with a marketing angle firmly directed toward younger enthusiasts like college students, as the name implies. Capped off with the in-house manual Alpha caliber, the Club Campus is an excellent option with a more avant-garde design that pairs well with students or anyone else who appreciates Germanic design principles.
Ball Engineer III Starlight
Price: $1,799, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 13.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic ETA 2836, Crystal: Sapphire
As a company based in Cleveland, Ohio, we have a soft spot for Ball Watch, a brand originally based in Fredericktown with heritage intertwined with Ohio’s substantial railroad history. Looking beyond that association, Ball also produces some impressive watches for the money, a great example being the Engineer III Starlight with 100 meters of water resistance and a novel visual display utilizing tritium tubes to create Arabic indices. The additional everyday utility is provided by way of a day and date display, and the black dial and brushed steel case combine to create a versatile package that can be worn either casually or in more refined settings depending on your tastes. Compared to other watches on this list, the effect of the tritium tubes is impressive and makes for some of the clearest nighttime legibility of any watch on this list. If you’re shopping in this price range and simply looking for something off the beaten track that offers charm and impressive heritage, Ball Watch is an excellent brand to consider.
Longines Spirit 37mm
Price: $2,150 - $2,400, Case Size: 37mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44.9mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto ETA A31.L11, Crystal: Sapphire
The Longines Spirit made waves last year when it was released, combining the brand’s established aviation heritage and association with pilots like Charles Lindbergh with a modernized design format that seemed to land (no pun intended) with both enthusiasts and the mass market alike. However, many found the lugs on the original 40mm variant to be on the long side, making the recent introduction of the 37mm variant all the more exciting. At its core, the Spirit is an aviation-inspired everyday watch pairing just enough heritage with modern specifications as well as an excellent COSC-certified caliber produced exclusively for Longines by ETA that offers an extended power reserve of 72 hours. And while Longines has a truly excellent collection overall, especially in recent years, the ever-growing Spirit collection seems poised to take the brand into a new era especially when it comes to appealing to finicky enthusiasts like us. The 37mm Spirit in particular is one of the most capable and charming watches with aviation undertones on the market at this price point or any other.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot
Price: $1,700, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.6mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
Where the aforementioned Big Crown Pointer Date has in many ways taken the more versatile everyday route despite its aviation heritage, Oris now places the flying emphasis on the Big Crown ProPilot collection. Like many Oris collections, the ProPilot offers myriad variations of a basic design format centered around a traditional case format, large crown (of course), and a unique angled coin-edge bezel motif. Despite its status as a true pilot’s watch, the ProPilot still offers 100 meters of water resistance that adds additional utility to the legible dial design that is key in an aviation setting. Like so many Oris models and indeed a lot of other watches on this list, the ProPilot series starts under $2,000 equipped with a Sellita caliber that should offer easy regulation or service should the need arise.
Fortis Flieger F-39
Price: $1,900, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50.2mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
Based on the first Fortis Flieger released in 1987, the newest update to the brand’s Flieger family offers a 39mm or 41mm case paired with a modernized take on the established Flieger ("pilot") format. And while many enthusiasts would rate the Cosmonaut series of watches that have been the official watch of the Russian Space Program (Roscosmos) for decades as the most important collection for the Swiss brand, recent events have seen Fortis steer toward the rest of its largely tool-oriented watch collection, including this new Flieger. In contrast to many aviation-oriented watches on the market, the Fortis Flieger is equipped with a screw-down crown and rotating, secondary-time-zone bezel, both of which add additional versatility and utility to what is already a capable design.
Sinn 105 UTC
Price: $1,870, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.4mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto SW330, Crystal: Sapphire
When it comes to newer brands that already offer impressive aviation heritage, Sinn has to be a part of the conversation with the founder, Helmut Sinn, having been an active military and recreational pilot for decades. Released in 2020, the 105 UTC takes the established design from the well-loved 104 series and offers subtle changes that add up to a completely new model family including this GMT variant. With a blasted 41mm case, minimalist dial design with a pop of orange, and impressive specs including a Sellita SW330 caliber, a “tegimented” or hardened bezel for durability, and 200 meters of water resistance, the Sinn 105 UTC is a solid modern pilot’s watch that stands out amongst its peers in this price range. And while this watch could just as easily be lumped into our GMT section that follows, the Sinn 105 UTC is much more a pilot’s watch, with the GMT function intended not as the center of attention, but rather as a useful addition to the distinctive aviation-style case.
GMT & Worldtimer:
Monta Atlas GMT
Price: $1,950, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Auto ETA 2893-2, Crystal: Sapphire
We decided to limit the inclusion of microbrands on this list mainly because the vast majority of them tend to fall under (if not well under) the $1,000 price point. However, Monta, based in St. Louis, is worthy of mention even when stacking it up against larger, more established brands. The Atlas GMT is the brand's sport GMT watch, offering 150 meters of water resistance as well as the reliable modular 2893 caliber from ETA. Where Monta differentiates itself from other microbrand watches is in the finishing, which is extraordinary for a watch in this price range. On the wrist, the Atlas GMT feels much more expensive than its price, with a well-executed dial, micro-adjusting clasp on the bracelet, and neatly executed chamfers throughout that catch the light well. If you’re interested in traveling off the beaten path for a capable GMT sports watch, the Monta Atlas is one to consider.
Mido Ocean Star GMT
Price: $1,250, Case Size: 44mm, Thickness: 13.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49.5mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto ETA C07.661, Crystal: Sapphire
Generally speaking, the world of GMT watches is segmented between “office” GMTs with independently adjustable secondary time zone hands and “true” GMTs with jumping local-hour hands. While both have their merits, “true” GMT watches, which often cost in excess of $3,000 at a minimum, are considered more premium because they allow for easy adjustment of local time while traveling without needing to reset a watch or stop the balance. An outlier to this trend is the Mido Ocean Star GMT, a Swiss-made dive watch with a true GMT caliber and extended 80-hour power reserve that comes in at a remarkable $1,250. Along with the movement, the Ocean Star GMT is remarkably well finished for the price and offers capable water-resistance of 200 meters, with the only real downside being a relatively large wearing profile enabled by the 44mm case. If you can pull off the size and this premium GMT functionality is your preference, this watch is a true outlier in terms of price.
Seiko Sharp Edged Presage GMT (SPB217, SPB221, & SPB225)
Price: $1,400, Case Size: 42.2mm, Thickness: 14.1mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.8mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto Seiko 6R64, Crystal: Sapphire
Released in 2021, the Presage GMT collection from Seiko follows the general format established by the time-only Sharp Edged models released in 2020, but with the addition of a “true” GMT caliber, the 6R64. Like other Sharp Edged models, the new Presage GMTs distinguish themselves with a textured dial surface inspired by Asanoha, a traditional Japanese pattern modeled after hemp leaves. The finishing here is a large step above the average $500 Seiko sports watches, leading many to call this new collection a “Baby Grand Seiko” GMT. And where the majority of Seiko’s calibers rely on a slower 21,600 VHP or 3 Hz beat frequency, the new 6R64 oscillates at the Swiss standard 28,800 VPH or 4 Hz, giving the sweep seconds hand a smoother appearance. Combining the elevated dial finishing, new caliber, and charming angular case construction that defines the Shard Edged collection, these Presage GMTs are perhaps the other best value in the world of true GMTs along with the aforementioned Mido Ocean Star GMT.
Farer Lander IV
Price: $1,445, Case Size: 39.5mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto SW330, Crystal: Sapphire
Another charming microbrand that deserves a place on this list is Farer, a British-born producer of vintage-inspired timepieces that often also offer a surprising pop or two of color. The Lander IV is the brand’s newest GMT watch, pairing a glossy metallic blue, multi-dimensional dial surface with syringe-style hour and minute hands, a red GMT hand, and an orange sweep seconds. While it feels like all the colors would clash, for whatever reason it simply doesn’t. Along with the eye-catching display of color, the Lander IV offers 100 meters of water resistance to complement a highly wearable set of dimensions headlined by a 39.5mm case diameter and svelte 45mm lug to lug length. For the money, this is one of the more visually interesting GMT watches on the market from a microbrand — or any other brand, for that matter.
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf World Time
Price: $1,795, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 13.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto Soprod C125, Crystal: Sapphire
Since being purchased by the Fossil Group in 2001, Zodiac has had a challenging time in determining where the brand should be positioned between the enthusiast and mass markets. However, recent years have seen an impressive influx of new models based on the original Zodiac Sea Wolf and Super Sea Wolf dive watches of the 1950s. The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf World Time takes the basic silhouette from other modern Super Sea Wolf models, adds a GMT hand, and adapts the bezel and dial for “world time” functionality. While utilizing a GMT caliber from Soprod as opposed to a “true” world time movement (which is typically not available for under $5,000 or so), the Zodiac World Time provides a pleasing vintage vibe with improved functionality for the frequent traveler.
Nomos Orion 38
Price: $2,260, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 7.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.6mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Manual NOMOS Alpha, Crystal: Sapphire
When it comes to pure dress watches priced around $2,000, Nomos of Germany has to be a front runner thanks to its trio of core dress models, the Orion, Ludwig, and Tangente. And while we could have listed any of the three here, we'll go with the Orion as the model that best exemplifies what Nomos is all about in terms of design from a more refined position. Pairing a now-iconic dial format highlighted by linear indices, gold-tone applied hour markers, and blued hands with the impressive Alpha manual calendar, the Orion is almost unfair in terms of what you’re actually getting for the price point. If you appreciate this more understated Germanic design language, While it is available in several sizes, it’s important to note most Nomos watches have proportionally long lugs, making a watch like this 38mm option wear larger than that diameter might suggest.
Longines Silver Arrow
Price: $2,225, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.2mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Auto ETA A31.L11, Crystal: Sapphire
Similarly to Nomos, Longines offers a number of excellent dress watches that fall near this $2,000 price range that are worthy of consideration here. In contrast to Nomos, these models are so different from one another that they warrant being covered separately. Starting with the Silver Arrow, we have what is essentially a 1:1 recreation of a midcentury design updated with more modern materials and finishing standards. If you’re looking for that Mad Men type of look but adapted to suit modern sizing tastes, and with the inclusion of an ETA calibers that is made especially for Longines, this is one to consider. Compared to the other two Longines dress watches on the list, this one is also just that bit more casual with its brown leather strap, meaning you could likely get away with wearing it in somewhat more casual settings.
Longines Heritage Sector
Price: $2,325, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Auto ETA A31.501, Crystal: Sapphire
Moving over from the Silver Arrow, which is more of a specialty vintage-style piece within Longines’ collection, we have the Heritage Sector, one of our favorites from the modern era. What the Sector does so well is take a Longines dial design from the 1930s with the classic sector format and updating it just enough to stand alone as a modern design. Compared to many other heritage-inspired models, the Heritage Sector has an element of modernity and even minimalism in its design. In addition, the brushed finish on the 38.5mm case offers contrast and versatility compared to many other dressier models, meaning this is another one that spans the boundary between dressy and casual situations. Inside, Longine opted for an ETA caliber with an impressive 72-hour power reserve enabled by a reduced 25,200 VPH or 3.5 Hz beat rate. The Heritage Sector can fairly be called one of the few modern icons for Longines.
Rado Golden Horse 1957
Price: $1,800, Case Size: 37mm, Thickness: 10.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Auto ETA C07.611, Crystal: Sapphire
Staying within the Swatch Group but moving over to Rado, we have the Golden Horse 1957, a charming time-only dress watch that offers impressive finishing and a solid caliber for the price. Available in three dial colors, the modern Golden Horse 1957 calls back to a historic Rado reference from that year, keeping the restrained midcentury wearing dimensions while adding a sapphire crystal for enhanced durability and a bracelet that far exceeds the standards of decades past. For anyone searching for a more obscure and eye-catching Swiss dress watch that lies far off the beaten path, the Golden Horse 1957 is an excellent timepiece to consider.
Price: $1,675, Case Size: 27.7mm, Thickness: 9.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43.8mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Auto ETA A20.L01, Crystal: Sapphire
In the dress watch category, there will always be a subset of enthusiasts looking for the rectangular case format offered by iconic watches like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso and Cartier Tank. And to fill that void in this more challenging price range, we have the Longines DolceVita, a straightforward, Art Deco-inspired dress watch equipped with a smaller automatic caliber to suit the rectangular case as well as an adapted sector dial that feels right in line with the design of the aforementioned Heritage Sector. At under 28mm in width and 44mm in length, the watch presents with a set of dimensions that would work well on a wide variety of wrists while still offering the high level of refinement that is at the heart of Longines’ core values.
Doxa Sub 300
Price: $2,490, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 13.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Auto ETA 2824 (COSC), Crystal: Sapphire
Compared to some of the other categories we’ve covered here, in which finding options for around two grand can present a challenge, the dive watch offers numerous options stacked around this price point that are worthy of consideration including the iconic Doxa Sub 300. Dating back to 1967, the Doxa Sub family of watches grew to iconic status thanks to its use by recreational and military divers as well as the watch’s inclusion in Clive Cussler’s popular series of novels chronicling the adventures of Dirk Pitt. Known for its cushion case, no decompression limits bezel, beads-of-rice bracelets and rubber straps, and a wide variety of dial colors, the modern Sub 300 takes the original design and adds a COSC certified ETA 2824 caliber. For anyone who actually loves diving or is a fan of the retro design era of the 1970s, the Doxa Sub is an undersea icon among watch enthusiasts.
Oris Aquis 41.5mm
Price: $2,200, Case Size: 41.5mm, Thickness: 12.7 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48 mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
While the Doxa Sub is clearly an icon, the Oris Aquis is the modern gatekeeper that in many ways defines what it means to be a $2,000 dive watch. Dating back to 2011, the Aquis is Oris’s most popular watch in terms of sales and also demonstrates the brand's impressive finishing capabilities at this price point. Defined by an integrated case with prominent lugs, the Aquis is a professional-level diving watch with enough refinement to give it impressive versatility. And given the popularity of the Aquis, the watch is available in a wide variety of different dial colors and case sizes to suit a variety of different wrists out there. Despite the popularity of vintage-inspired dive watches these days, the distinctive and modern Oris Aquis continues to build its cult classic status by offering an impressive list of specs, well-executed case and bracelet finishing, and a reliable Sellita caliber, all for around $2,000.
Rado Captain Cook
Price: $2,000, Case Size: 42mm, Case Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.2mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Auto ETA C07.611, Crystal: Sapphire
One of the more underrated brands of the Swatch Group is Rado, known for its use of ceramic in the modern era and for having a deep catalog of archive models to choose from for inspiration for its modern collection. The Captain Cook is an update to a model family born in 1962 amidst the madness of the early years of dive watches as a genre. The modern Captain Cook faithfully re-creates the basic visual design while adding a ceramic bezel insert set into a sloping bezel, a much-improved fit and finish, and an ETA caliber offering 80 hours of power reserve. Another charming touch is a rotating anchor icon signature at 12 o'clock. Available in both 37mm and 42mm cases, the Captain Cook offers a wide collection of color variants and is available in both steel and bronze. Now one of the most popular vintage-inspired dive watches on the market, it has also become an anchor (pun intended) in Rado’s modern collection.
Mühle-Glashütte ProMare Go
Price: $2,099, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50.5mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Auto SW200, Crystal: Sapphire
As we’ve established at this point, we're big fans of German watches and minimalism in watch design. With that in mind, we were always going to have to include Mühle-Glashütte on this list, here with the excellent ProMare Go diver’s watch. Mühle-Glashütte as a brand dates back to 1869 with a long history of producing marine chronometers and other instruments for general industry including speedometers for BMW motorcycles. In 1995, a shipyard requested capable nautical watches, and Mühle-Glashütte’s history with wristwatches began. Pairing a clean dial design with an angular case construction, the ProMare Go manages to straddle the line between a chunky professional dive watch and understated German minimalism offset by a pop of blue. With solid finishing for the price, a clean dial design, and 300 meters of water resistance, the only possible issue some might have with this piece is the larger format presented by the 42mm-by-50.5mm case, which is mitigated to some extent by a svelte (just over 12mm) thickness.
Price: $2,180, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Water Resistance: 500m, Movement: Auto SW300, Crystal: Sapphire
Staying with the German theme for a moment, we have one of the most-hyped dive watch releases of 2020 in the U50, effectively a downsized version of the venerable U1. The U50 takes the basic design format from the iconic U1 to a more midsized package with a 41mm diameter, 47mm lug-to-lug, and slender 11.2mm thickness. Viewed on the wrist, the U50 wears even smaller than those metrics might suggest while maintaining an impressive 500 meters of water resistance. If you’ve never experienced a U-series dive watch from Sinn, they are the brand’s most rugged undersea designs intended for the hardest-use diving conditions. The dial design pairs black, red, and white to impressively legible effect with an overall look that is polarizing, to say the least. If you have a smaller wrist and want to get in on one of the best-made and most durable dive watches from Germany, the U50 should be on your list of watches to check out.
Sinn EZM 3
Price: $2,070 - $2,290, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.5mm, Movement: Sellita SW200, Water Resistance: 500m, Crystal: Sapphire
Where the U50 stands out as one of Sinn’s professional diving-oriented watches with its unique case shape, the EZM collection, which stands for Einsatzzeitmesser (German for “mission timer”), is designed for use by military and police special operations. The EZM 3 is the most diving-oriented of the EZM collection, pairing a left-handed crown like other EZM watches with a dial design that places legibility above all else. Unlike many more extreme dive watches, the EZM 3 is relatively restrained in its size, offering a 41mm diameter and slim 12.3mm thickness. The EZM 3 also offers some of Sinn’s up-spec including an Argon gas-filled case intended to displace moisture, certification to an impressive 500 meters of water resistance, and special lubricants in the Sellita caliber that allow the watch to be used across a huge range of temperatures. If your proclivity towards dive watches comes from a more military or operational point of view, the EZM 3 from Sinn is an excellent tactical diver’s watch in this price range.
Price: $2,400, Case Size: 49.4mm, Thickness: 16.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49.4mm, Water Resistance: 1000m, Movement: Quartz Seiko 7C46, Crystal: Sapphire
When it comes to Seiko enthusiasts and dive watches, there are a number of icons to consider, each with its own charming nickname. In this higher price range, the so-called “Darth Tuna” is an excellent option to consider with its hybrid titanium and ceramic case and proven 7C46 quartz caliber. The Darth is based on Seiko’s first-ever quartz professional diver’s watch from 1978, which was a quartz version of the original mechanical Tuna that was developed at the request of a Japanese commercial diver who challenged the brand to create a watch that could withstand the rigors of his profession. The modern Darth is a 1000-meter rated professional dive watch that is so well sealed that it does not require the use of a helium escape valve for saturation diving purposes. In addition, the watch packs some of the best lume in the industry, full stop. As a warning for the interested, the Tuna is huge, but does wear smaller than its almost 50mm case diameter might suggest thanks to hidden lugs that are located well beneath the watch case. It’s not for the faint of heart, but this cult classic diver’s watch from Seiko packs some impressive specifications and tech while also giving a nod to one of Seiko’s most interesting dive-watch stories.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono
Price: $2,195, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 14.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic ETA 7753, Crystal: Sapphire
Hamilton in the modern era is most commonly associated with the Khaki collection of affordable field watches (more on its history here), but the brand also produces one of the most appealing and attainable Swiss mechanical chronographs in the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono. Pairing a midcentury design inspiration with more modern dimensions as well as a Valjoux 7753 base caliber, the Intra-Matic Auto represents one of the clearest contenders for the best Swiss chronograph from a major brand for around $2,000. Launched as recently as 2018, the collection has already expanded to include multiple dial colors and even a new hand-winding variant known as the Chrono H. With its panda-dial format, prominent pump pushers, and capable water resistance, it is genuinely tough to beat the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono as a versatile chronograph for daily wear in this price range.
Tissot PRX Chrono
Price: $1,750, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 14.54mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.5mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic ETA 7753, Crystal: Sapphire
Perhaps the most recent release on this entire list is the Tissot PRX Chrono, an unexpected update to the PRX family that debuted in 2021. While slightly upsized from the standard 40mm PRX to 42mm, the PRX Chrono should still wear well on a wide variety of wrists thanks to its shorter 46.5mm lug to lug measurement and restrained (for a Valjoux, anyway) thickness of 14.5mm. Like other PRX models, the finishing across the case and bracelet is truly impressive for the price, offering an elevated sense of value while checking off the integrated sports watch box that is so popular at the moment. Even looking beyond the charming panda dial and impressive finishing, the PRX Chrono is also just plain inexpensive for a Valjoux-powered chronograph from a major Swiss brand, making it an excellent option for anyone searching for a funkier, retro-inspired chronograph in this range.
Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope
Price: $2,100, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 13.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 42mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Auto Valjoux 7750, Crystal: Acrylic
Released way back in 2010 before the vintage-inspired craze had completely taken over the watch world, the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope is one of the definitive chronographs in this price range. As an evolution of the basic Max Bill Auto, which is itself inspired by a wall clock designed by the iconic Max Bill, who attended the Bauhaus School, the Chronoscope tastefully integrates the chronograph functions without otherwise disrupting the clean design for which the model is known. In addition, the extremely short 42mm lug to lug means this is a 40mm watch that can fit a variety of wrists well while depending on the Valjoux 7750 chronograph caliber for reliable timekeeping. If Bauhaus or Minimalist design is your thing and you’re looking for a chronograph that integrates that type of design language, the Chronoscope should be at the top of your list.
Price: $1,955, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 13.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Auto SW510, Crystal: Sapphire
To throw one more microbrand into the mix, we include the Bernina from Farer. Like other watches from the brand, the Bernina chronograph offers a pleasing pop of color in the form of a ceramic bezel executed in white with red markings that complement the dial’s red, white, and blue color scheme. The 41mm cushion-style case is highly wearable on a wide range of wrists thanks to an abbreviated 44mm lug to lug measurement. Adding sporty utility in a 100 meter water resistance rating and of course the combination of a tachymeter scale on the bezel and a rarely-seen telemeter scale on the dial’s outskirts. This color profile likely means this Sellita-equipped chronograph isn’t for everyone, but the Bernina is a fun chronograph in this price range that lies well off the beaten track.