Buying an automatic watch is an exciting endeavor—it is an essential for most watch enthusiasts. There is undoubtedly something magical about the tiny parts clicking-clacking together in perfect harmony, powering the watch seemingly forever. No wonder: automatic movement is where a watchmaking skill can really shine. It is a nod to tradition, and high-level skilled craftsmanship.
In this article, we collected the best watches on the market under $1000, an amount that is a rather comfortable budget for finding excellent quality pieces without sacrificing the design aspect. As far as style, the range is fabulously wide: from dive and pilot to vintage-inspired, and everything in between. Most importantly, we kept an eye out for timeless design and outstanding quality.
*By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto
Luxury meets sport in this Hamilton diver watch. Designed to be equally functional during a vacation near the beach or during deep sea exploring. The ceramic bezel protects it from corrosive elements such as sand and saltwater. With a larger 43mm case, increased water resistance to 30 bar (300m), this high performance watch is ready for all your adventures on, in or under the water.
For more information, read our in-depth Khaki Navy Scuba review.
Benrus Orbit Robot Skindiver
The Benrus Orbit Robot Skindiver is a show-stopping reissued version of the 1972 original model. The classic design is tastefully updated with modern materials to harmonize vintage and contemporary elements. The cushion case design retains the retro feel of the watch, boasting a comfortable 41 mm width, which works well for most wrist sizes. The brushed stainless steel bezel, case, and bracelet pair beautifully with the grey fumé dial. The dial has a lighter metallic color at the center—connecting it visually back to the case—while progressively getting darker towards the outer edge, providing a great contrast and visual frame. The orange wide baton hour and minute hands make the watch look very robust. It comes equipped with the Soprod P024 Swiss automatic movement, providing a 38-hour power reserve. The Orbit Robot Skindiver is an elegant statement piece.
Read our BENRUS brand review.
Vaer D5 Meridian Navy
Vaer watches are assembled in the USA and they go through rigorous testing: the D5 goes to the limits of real-world depth exposure, so they can be ocean-ready. While the style of this watch is distinctly military-inspired, the fine details on the dial make it an interesting cross between elegant and rugged. The D5 comes with the Vaer’s standard 24-month warranty, and the comfortable case size make it a perfect fit for most wrists.
Read our in-depth VAER D5 Meridian Navy review.
Raymond Weil Freelancer
The Freelancer collection by Raymond Weil is one of the most well known collections, and rightly so. Our pick here is a perfectly sized 42.5 mm case diameter, making it a great fit for all wrist sizes. The classic design ensures an evergreen appearance for virtually all situations. Can’t go wrong with this one!
Mido Ocean Star GMT
Mido’s Ocean Star is a good looking, functional timepiece with an added GMT function showing you accurate time in two different time zones. As a nice finishing touch, on the back of the beautiful blue and black dial you will find a map of time zones across the world. Excellent option for the active or aspiring world traveler.
Hamilton Khaki Field Murph – The Interstellar Watch
Hamilton Khaki Field Murph 42 mm
Hamilton Khaki Field Murph 38 mm
Okay–we had to include a few more from Hamilton. Not just any watch, mind you. This is the watch that saved the world in the movie ‘Interstellar’. The beautiful Hamilton classic that Coop (Matthew McConaughey) left for his daughter before departing on his mission to the stars. The watch was then used as a tool to communicate coordinates in Morse code from another dimension, enabling Murph Cooper (the daughter) to complete an equation and therefore save humanity from complete destruction. As a well-deserved nod to the movie, the word “Eureka” is printed on the seconds hand in Morse code in lacquer. A great watch that’s available in two different sizes (42 and 38 mm, and an awesome background story? YES please.
Vaer A3 Tradition
Vaer watches are assembled in the USA, and the Vaer A3 blends class-leading durability with a combination of a rugged look and classic elements to display an evergreen field watch design. The 36 mm case width is on the smaller side (like the classic field watches), therefore it’s a great fit for smaller wrists as well.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Auto
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic’s transparent case back provides the ideal view of modern watchmaking and fine craftsmanship coexisting in harmony. Fortunately, this watch’s front is equally as eye-catching as its back. The intricate guilloche (also called engine-turning) pattern brings back traditional craftsmanship into a new modern design. The Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Auto is an absolute favorite!
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
The Tissot PRX is a recent release (from 2021) and it leans towards a more sporty look due to the integrated bracelet. PRX is an acronym for Precise, Robust, and X for water resistant up to 10 bars (100 meters). The bezel is lifted from the core case, giving the timepiece more depth. And let’s face it: it’s a cool looking watch that has already generated a lot of buzz – and rightly so. We can only recommend it.
Nomos Tetra Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue
The square NOMOS Tetra Neomatik 39 has an ultra-thin and very accurate automatic caliber. The movement itself is only 3.2 millimeters in height, and case is 7.2 millimeters, which allows the watch to fit very elegantly beneath the cuff.
One word: classy. The Longines HydroConquest strikes a perfect balance between elegance and active lifestyle. The 41mm case diameter makes it a great size for all wrists, and you can wear this classic design to a wide range of occasions, from a date night at a restaurant to a diving expedition. All around a great pick that will last you a lifetime.
Certina DS Action GMT
The incredibly durable DS Action GMT Automatic is the ideal travel companion since it is renowned for accuracy and exceptional toughness. The GMT hand doesn’t take the attention away from the overall design, yet remains highly visible, so it’s easy to track time in a second time zone. The 80-hour power reserve is as impressive as the black and dark green combination, which makes the Certina DS Action GMT a very unique watch.