Automatic watches are durable, good looking and most of all, insanely cool. However, you’ll have to be really careful when choosing a watch for yourself. There are many badly made automatic watches out there.
We’ll help you find the best watch while staying within your budget. So, let’s get to it.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s run through the specs of our top picks.
This watch looks amazing. It has a gunmetal body, so it’s all about elegance.
The watch’s dial is pretty cool too. It’s open aperture so you can see its gears at work. If you’re bored and have nothing to do, its display is always fun to look at.
There’s a mineral crystal window through which you can look through. Mineral crystals are fine, but they’re not the toughest glass out there.
As it has a full skeleton display, you’ll have to use the outer ring to read the time.
It’s an automatic watch that’s water-resistant. It can last up to 100 m (330 feet) underwater. You may be tempted to dive with it on, but don’t. Bulova advises against this.
If you’re a fan of big watches, the Bulova is perfect. Its gunmetal case stretches 1.811 inches (46 mm) across.
The watch has a 40-hour power reserve which is always useful.
Bulova is known for its thorough warranties so with the Men’s 98A, you’re getting a global 3 year one. To me, this is the ultimate cherry on top. This makes it the best mens automatic watches under 500, easily.
What makes it special: Its skeleton dial.
Although this is a men’s watch, the Orient Sun and Moon looks pretty dainty. Its feminine flair actually makes it more appealing.
Unlike the Bulova, the Orient is not fit for larger wrists. Its case is 1.67 inches (42.5 mm) across which makes it perfect for regular-sized wrists.
If you’re looking for a waterproof automatic watch, the orient would satisfy you. It can take a 165 feet (50 m) dip underwater. However, 165 feet isn’t the best degree of water resistance out there.
The Orient can take quite a beating. It has a sapphire crystal window which means it’s impermeable.
It’s a Japanese Automatic watch which many users would approve of. The watch comes with self-winding which is useful if you’re a forgetful individual.
The ability to hack the watch is also possible. This lets you halt the automatic mechanism completely, letting you adjust the seconds to a more accurate clock.
The day and date function along with the sun and moon indicator help if you’re a busy individual.
It comes with a brown leather strap that ties in with the rose gold crown and off-white dial. All in all, this colour combination compliments the large, roman numerals on the display greatly.
Of course the model comes in multiple colour combinations, but we like the black one as well.
What makes it special: Its feminine flair
The SARB035 is a vision in silver. It’s a petite automatic watch that comes with a fully stainless steel body.
Its small design is especially seen in the size of its case. The watch stretches 1.511 inches (38.4 mm). However, it’s not the smallest out there.
It comes with a Japanese automatic movement but what’s so noteworthy is the fact that its power reserve is so huge. The Seiko has a 50-hour power reserve which is insane. It’s not the most expensive watch on our list, so this is appreciated.
The SARB035 has a sapphire display so you can be as rough with it as you want, especially since its body is stainless steel.
If you’re constantly out and about, you’ll be a fan of the watch. It comes with LumiBrite all over its dial. This easily lets you read the time when it’s dark out. The luminous paint isn’t just on the hands but also the watch’s markers.
Not only does it has a massive power reserve, but the watch also comes with a hand winder. So, it’s the ultimate watch for a forgetful watch owner.
The first few watches on our list were water-resistant, and this is true for the Seiko as well. It’s resistant up to 100 m which is 330 feet. Once again, you’re advised not to dive with it on.
However, you’re advised not to dive with it on.
What makes it special: It’s petiteness.
The Most Functional
It’s one of Seiko’s most loved automatic watches, and arguably the best Seiko watch under $500.
The watch looks and feels very premium. For starters, it doesn’t have a regular leather strap. The SARB017 is made from calfskin.
The emerald green dial makes the watch look regal, especially since the markers have gold accents.
Not only does the watch look good, but it’s also pretty handy. It has a fully-fledged compass in one of its outer rings. There’s another outer ring that marks the minutes passed.
This is especially seen in its display as it’s made from sapphire crystal, which guards against the occasion drops.
The watch is very water-resistant. From the watches discussed so far, it can take the deepest dip underwater, at 660 feet (200 m).
With all of this in mind, it’s clear that Seiko designed the SABR0 to be a watch that’s perfect for hikes and lengthy journeys.
The Seiko borders the smaller size as its case is a little under 1.57 inches (40 mm).
All in all, it’s a great automatic watch. It comes with a 50-hour power reserve and 23 jewels in its gears.
Similar to its brother discussed above, the SABR0 comes with LumiBrite on its hands and markers.
The fact that its dial is full of large, Arabic numerals makes the watch even easier to read.
What makes it special: Its compass.
The Most Premium
Although Tissot is considered an entry-level brand, the Seastar 1000 is an amazing automatic watch.
For starters, it has the biggest power reserve on our list. You can not wear the watch for around 80 hours without worrying about its gears.
Moreover, it’s called the ‘1000’ for a reason. It’s water-resistant up to 1000 feet or 300 m. This allows you to dive with it on, unlike the other watches we’ve featured.
Being a superb water-resistant watch, we’re not surprised that the Tissot has a rotating bezel.
The watch isn’t too small or big. It’s a perfect size as its case stretches 1.69 inches (43 mm) across.
Since it’s the most expensive watch on our list, we wouldn’t expect anything less than a scratch-resistant sapphire display, which is present.
You don’t get just any automatic mechanism. The Seastar comes with a Swiss automatic movement, so a lot of craftsmanship has gone into its build.
Its dial comes with circular markings instead of numerals. Meanwhile, it has a ceramic top ring which hosts Arabic numerals, making the watch easier to read. Surrounding the ring is a surgical grade stainless steel strap.
Before we forget, there is a calendar feature, but it only reads the day’s date.
What makes it special: It’s a great dive watch.
Although it’s not the most conventional-looking watch, it’s easily the coolest on our list. This is due to its curved display.
The watch has a mineral window that arches, which makes for a spectacular dome. This is great as its dial has a dark-to-light gradient.
The dial is eye-catching, and this is amplified by the simplicity of its leather band. This makes it the perfect looking dress watch.
The Bambino is Japanese Automatic and comes with a 40-hour power reserve. However, after we tested the 80 hour Tissot, it raised the bar considerably. The Bambino is almost $400 cheaper, so we’re not too disappointed.
If you’re wondering, the Bambino has 22 jewels in its gears. This is enough to keep the gears moving smoothly.
Like any great automatic watch, it comes with self-winding. This is especially useful since the watch doesn’t have the longest power reserve out there. And it comes with the ability to halt the seconds which is a sweet add-on.
If you’re wondering how big the watch is, its case stretches 1.65 inches (42 mm) across. This makes it unsuitable for smaller wrists.
It’s water-resistant if you’re wondering. However, it’s not the best at this. It can only last 165 feet (50 m) underwater. For a dress watch, this is more than enough.
What makes it special: It’s a good looking dress watch.
The Best Looking
The number of heads you can turn with the Stuhrling is crazy. It’s probably the best looking watch we’ve ever come across, period. It has a full skeleton display, with silver and gold gears that have stunning purple jewels.
The fact that its back is exposed lets you have a field day watching its gears move.
The watch looks like it’s straight out of the 19th century, but it’s perfect for life in 2020. It comes with a comfortable calfskin leather strap. The dark hue of the strap contrasts with the bright blue case stunningly.
Moreover, the Stuhrling helps you track 2 different time zones at the same time. There is a GMT sub dial at the bottom of the display. The fact that it has a moon/sun tracker makes this even easier.
Water-resistance isn’t an issue with the Stuhrling. It can last up to 165 feet (50 m) underwater, which is appreciated. However, it isn’t the deepest you could go.
Its case is pretty big. The watch is 1.811 inches (46 mm) across, so keep this in mind.
No, you don’t get a sapphire crystal display. Arguably, you get something better with Sturhling’s patented Krysterna crystal. It’s as strong, if not stronger than its sapphire counterpart.
And to top it all off, the Stuhrling has a 60-hour power reserve.
What makes it special: Its Krysternna crystal display.
The Best For Diving
As its name states, it’s water-resistant up to 3281 feet (1000 m). Easily, this is the most waterproof watch on our list.
The NEYMAR comes with a surgical grade stainless steel body. This helps with diving and there’s no way corrosion will ever be an issue.
The fact that it has a helium valve keeps the watch safe during dives as nothing will interfere with its gears.
It’s a functional dive watch as it comes with a rotating bezel that has around 120 clicks.
The watch has a sapphire crystal display that’s quite thick. According to Neymar, it’s around 0.19 inches (5 mm) in width which basically means it’s bulletproof.
Being so deep underwater, you’ll love the fact that it comes with SuperLuminova all over its dial. If you’re not aware, SuperLuminova is the brightest lume out there.
Of course, it’s a great automatic watch. It comes with the Seiko NH35A mechanism which means it has a 42-hour power reserve and 24 jewels in its gears, which is the most jewels in a watch we’ve seen on this list.
What’s more, it comes with a winder which is always appreciated.
It has circular markings to read the time. If you have an issue with this, there’s a ceramic top ring with Arabic numerals.
The model comes in various colours, but our favorite is the gunmetal one as it exudes modern living.
What makes it special: It can last 3281 feet (1000 m) underwater.
The SRPC07 is one of Seiko’s most beloved automatic watches, which is why we had to add it to our list.
The first thing you’ll notice about the watch is its bright orange display. It contrasts with the simplicity of its bracelet, making the orange even livelier. We have to say, it’s a piece that would turn a few heads.
The watch is perfect for diving due to its bezel. It’s segmented into orange and black, having the orange in the ‘danger zone’, which is the first 15 minutes a diver spends underwater. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Rolex GMT, so in a way, you just found yourself a dupe.
So, how deep can you go? The automatic watch can take you up to 660 feet (200 m) underwater.
You may be wondering how good of an automatic watch it is. Well, it comes with a 41-hour power reserve and fortunately, the ability to hack and self-wind.
Seiko’s favorite Hardlex crystal is used on the watch. If you’re not aware, Hardlex is Seiko’s mineral display. You could argue that it’s a harder version, but there isn’t evidence to support this.
The SRPC07 is quite big. Its case stretches 1.73 inches (44 mm) across which means it isn’t fit for just regular wrists.
While on the topic of its case, it’s made from stainless steel.
Since it’s an automatic watch fit for diving, the Seiko has LumiBrite all over its dial.
What makes it special: Its orange and black take on the ‘Pepsi’ bezel.
We mentioned above that the SRPC07 looks like a dupe of the Rolex GMT. Well, the SRPA21 is as close to a dupe as you can get. They both have a Pepsi bezel and stainless steel bracelet so if you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.
The red marks the ‘danger zone’ and instead of stopping at 15 minutes like the SRPC07, it goes all the way to the 20-minute mark.
If you guessed that its bezel can rotate, you were right, it is a watch fit for underwater use, after all.
The Seiko comes with the 4R36 movement. This is the same as we’ve seen in the entry above, which means it has a 41-hour power reserve, the ability to self-wind and best of all, hacking.
It’s a pretty water resistant watch, like most watches on our list. You can take it deep underwater at around 200 meters (660 feet).
It is a big watch. Its case stretches 1.771 inches (45 mm) across so if you have smaller wrists, stay away.
Since it’s a watch from Seiko, you’ll see its Hardlex crystal display on the SRPA, and honestly, we have no complaints.
A day and date feature is always useful, which is why you’ll love the SRPA21. It’s at the 3 o’clock position, so it’s easy to read.
In terms of how easy the watch is to read, it uses large shapes instead of numerals. They’re coated in LumiBrite which makes the watch shine in the dimmest environments.
Magnets are the worst thing you could expose a mechanical watch to. That’s why the Seiko comes with magnetic resistance of 4800 A/m.
What makes it special: Magnetic resistance up to 4800 A/m
Now, let’s turn to some frequently asked questions users have about automatic watches.
As the name suggests, they’re automatic. They don’t need batteries powering them as kinetic energy from your wrists do all the work. When you move, you transfer energy to the gears of the device. This keeps them in rotation.
They may sound pretty sci-fi, but automatic watches have been around for a very long time. They’re one of the oldest watch types out there and were around even in the early 18th century.
Before you get too excited, they aren’t actual jewels. They’re synthetic pieces of glass that are shaped like precious gems.
Just to toy with us, manufacturers dye the pieces to make them look even more like jewels.
When the gears grind, friction works on them. The jewels work to limit the amount of force they experience and as a result, the more jewels present, the smoother the gears are.
This is why automatic watches with more jewels are favored.
That being said, you’ll find great watches that don’t have that many jewels, which is also acceptable.
You need a watch with a huge power reserve. We mentioned that automatic watches move with you. This is why you need to have the watch on at all times. If not, its gears act up.
This is where a power reserve comes in. If your watch has a 50-hour power reserve, you can have the watch off for 50 hours without its gears losing motion.
Unfortunately, watches with bigger power reserves are more expensive, but at the end of the day, they’re well worth the cash.
Let’s say your watch has a power reserve of 42 hours and you don’t wear it for 45. To get your watch up and running again, you’ll have to hand-wind it.
The majority of winders out there are in a watch’s crown.
At the end of the day, automatic watches are mechanical watches. Mechanical watches have to be routinely wound. When you do this, kinetic energy powers their gears.
This is true of automatic watches, except that automatic watches use you as their source of energy.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if your wrist doesn’t produce enough energy, well, your only choice would be to wind the watch every now and then.
You could overwind an automatic watch, but you’re advised not to.
Automatic watches can lose or gain a couple of seconds a day. This is the unfortunate truth, which is why they’re not as accurate as their Quartz counterparts.
If you decide to take the leap, you’ll experience a range of benefits with an automatic watch by your side.
First of all, your body is what powers your watch. No other watch can do this, so once on, they’re essentially a part of you.
Automatic watches don’t require batteries which means they’re easy to take care of. This is also useful as we all know how annoying battery spills are.
They’ve been around for a while. When you buy an automatic watch, you’re buying centuries of craftsmanship. This is a testament to how durable they are, so your watch would last you a long time.
And of course, automatic watches are known to appreciate over time so get a good pair. Make an investment.
It’s easy to see why the Bulova is our favorite automatic watch. It comes with great features, good looks amazing and most importantly, is at the lower end of our budget.
Although we discussed our top 10, there are plenty of other automatic watches out there. However, you’re better off choosing one from our guide as we’ve carefully tested the best of the lot.