Disclaimer: Some prices may have updated since publishing the post and maybe over the mentioned price limit.
You don’t need to be a watch enthusiast to know that Swiss watches are masterpieces. That’s why we ran through 6 of the best Swiss watches under $500 out there.
Before we get to the good stuff, the below table is a must-read. It runs through our favourite picks, helping you get familiar with the cream of the crop.
Not only is it a Swiss delight, the Victorinox 241782 is quite the dive watch. It can last up to 660 feet (200 m) underwater. So, get your scuba gear ready. You also know it’s a great dive watch as it’s ISO 6425 certified. This isn’t the only thing that makes it so great for diving. It was made to be worn over wet suits, so you can be more than ready to hit the water.
Swiss watches are known for their craftsmanship. The Victorinox is no exception. There’s high quality, hypoallergenic stainless steel on its case. This is great as certain watches have left us itchy, time and time again. Of course, it’s corrosion resistant too which is a nice touch you’d expect from a Swiss device.
Can we talk about how expensive the watch looks? It has a very sophisticated look, mainly because of its blue and silver colour way. The shape of its case also contributes to its appearance.
Speaking of its case, it’s huge. The watch is 1.77 inches (45 mm) across. If you have smaller hands, having it on may not be that comfy.
Being on the larger side, you’d expect the timepiece to be easy to read. Although we had no issues with it, it doesn’t have a 24-hour clock. Instead, you get rhomboid and circular markers, which aren’t as great.
The markers have quite a bit of luminous paints to them, so reading the Victorinox when it’s dark out will never be an issue.
You’ll see a calendar in the 4-o’clock position. It’s handy but having it at such an angle will leave your neck sore after a week.
Swiss watches are all about quality parts. That’s why you get a sapphire display on the Victorinox timepiece. If you didn’t know, sapphire windows are the strongest out there. Sapphire can stand its own but having a protective bumper on the Victorinox 241782 gives it an added layer of protection that you’ll appreciate.
Glare makes using a watch outside not that fun. That’s why the 241782 has your back. Its sapphire window comes with an anti-reflective coat. It’s a gift that keeps on giving as it doesn’t have a single coat but three.
If you ever wanted to feel like inspector gadget, Victorinox’s 241782 is the watch for you. It comes with a removable magnifying glass – how cool is that?
We have one last thing to say:
You get a Swiss quartz movement in your watch.
What makes it special:
It’s a superb dive watch
Our Premium Pick
The Victorinox 241697 will make you feel like a million bucks. Its watch face looks lavish, with a deep black dial and a grand looking case.
By all means, it’s large. However, it won’t swallow your wrists up as it’s 1.69 inches (43 mm) across.
You’ll see 2’clock faces on the timepiece. At first glance, this makes the dial look cluttered but once you take a closer look, you’ll see that there’s a 24-hour clock as well as one that reads military time. The 24-hour clock isn’t much of a clock though. Only 3 and 9 o’clock have Arabic numerals, the rest are batton markers, which can make it confusing to read.
Like its brother in the number 1 spot, you’ll appreciate the stainless steel body. Its case is hypo allogenic, so you’re saving yourself from some potential itching and scratching. Like its counterpart, you also get a sapphire display.
It wouldn’t be a Victorinox watch if it didn’t do the most. That’s why the 241697’s display has 3 coats of anti-reflective paint on.
Let’s talk about its strap:
Its bracelet is made from surgical grade stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about scratches.
Unfortunately, it’s not as water resistant. You won’t be able to dive with the timepiece on as it can only handle 330 feet (100 m) underwater. According to the brand, the watch can handle some light swimming and snorkeling, so keep this in mind.
Like any watch fit for the sea, the 241697 has a rotating bezel, so timing yourself underwater is not an issue.
There’s a calendar feature on the timepiece. If you look to the 3-o’clock position and don’t see it, don’t panic. It’s small and can be found at the bottom of the dial. Truth be told, we think this angle makes it easier to read.
The watch is also a Swiss quartz. We have nothing to complain about as quartz watches are known to have great time keeping. Of course, Japanese quartz have less margin of error as they’re made by robots but this is another story for another time.
What makes it special:
It looks very expensive
The Bauhaus aesthetic is quite popular Europe. That’s why many Swiss watches are influenced by it. The Mondaine A132 is no different.
It’s minimalistic and looks uber modern. This is due to the bold, solid shapes of its markers. Everything’s monotone, with the exception of the red, circular seconds’ hand that is a sharp contrast.
While on the topic of its dial, you’ll notice that it comes with a calendar feature. Although it’s nothing out of the ordinary, the configuration is. It reads the day as well as the date which is something you don’t see that often in Swiss watches. We have to say, its font is quite lovely as it makes the calendar feature very easy to read.
It isn’t the smallest watch out there but its case is 1.57 inches (40 mm) across. In a way, this isn’t too bad as the smaller size helps sell its minimalistic look.
We’re fans of its strap. You get genuine leather, which makes you feel like a million bucks. Of course, it isn’t embossed. If it were, Mondaine’s efforts of making the timepiece as Bauhaus as possible would be hindered.
No, it doesn’t come with a sapphire display. Instead, a regular mineral crystal is used. This isn’t the end of the world as mineral dials can handle a number of drops, just not as much as sapphire can.
You don’t get much of a dive watch with your purchase. The Mondaine is a good-looking dress watch so it not being the most water resistant shouldn’t shock you. It can still handle a splash or two, however. It’s resistant up to a 100 feet (30 m) underwater.
Swiss automatics are made with a lot of care and that’s exactly what you get. The watch comes with a SW220-1 mechanism. As a result, you get 26 jewels in its gear. The more jewels present, the smoother your watch will run. This is great considering that 17 jewels are the norm. You get a 38 hour power reserve which isn’t something worth writing home about as 40 hours is the new standard.
What makes it special:
Its Bauhaus inspired look
We’re met with another Swiss automatic. The Tissot timepiece comes with the ETA 2836-2 mechanism. So, you get 25 jewels in it gears. As discussed above, this is pretty good. Something we’re iffy about is its power reserve, however. Once again, you see a reserve of 38 hours.
If you were expecting us to review another watch on the larger side, get ready to be disappointed. The Tissot Heritage is petite, at 1.57 inches (40 mm) across. Obviously, this isn’t the smallest watch out there but it’s certainly not for larger wrists.
The 1.57 inch (40 mm) case is made from stainless steel. It’s surgical grade so scruffs are a thing of the past.
Your chances of denting its display are also less. Luckily, the Tissot timepiece comes with a sapphire window. For reasons already discussed, this is excellent. What makes it even better is the fact that it comes with an anti-reflective coat.
Are you a fan of leather? The watch comes a genuine, calfskin strap to snap on.
So far so good but we think that the watch is hard to read. Its case isn’t that big and its dial doesn’t come with a 24-hour clock. Instead, you get batton indices. They look cool but the final nail in the coffin is the watch not coming with much lume.
Other than that:
You get a very readable calendar. It’s quite large and is located on the 3-o’clock position.
You should know that the Tissot isn’t the most water resistant watch out there. It’s only resistant up to a 100 feet (30 m) underwater. Since it’s a good-looking dress watch, wanting to dive with it on may have not even crossed your mind, so you’re good.
Truth be told, we don’t find anything about its appearance special, except for its seconds hand. It’s long and spear-like which is a nice touch.
What makes it special:
Its spear like seconds hand
The Most Durable
We ran through a number of quartz and automatic timepieces so it’s only right that we review a mechanical one. We have to say, the Glycine KMU is one of our favourite mechanical watches, regardless of it being a Swiss watch.
For starters, it has the ETA 6498-1 mechanism. As a result, you get 17 jewels in its gears, which isn’t that bad but not great. However, what is very impressive is its 46 hour power reserve. This is useful for a mechanical watch as otherwise, you’ll be winding it up every 5 minutes.
As there are so many intricate gears inside it, it’s only natural that the watch come with a clear back case. It’s smoked out, giving you a bit of mystery when peeking into its rear.
Remember we said that the Victorinox 241782 was big? Well, the Glycine KMU is even bigger, with a 1.88 inch (48 mm) case. As you can imagine, it’ll seriously look out of place on smaller wrists. However, having a watch face its size makes reading the time a breeze.
It’s especially easy as there is a 24-hour clock on it. The cherry on top is the fact that its Arabic numerals are large and have a bold font, so you’ll never have to worry about squinting at your watch again.
It’s a luminous watch, thankfully. However, the lume isn’t lathered across generously. You only see it on the circular markers next to the Arabic numerals, and thinly on the watch’s hands.
You’ve probably wondered what the sub dial on the bottom of its display is for. The smaller sub dial marks the seconds passed. This is better than having a second hand as you can accurately track the time passed.
Its black and brown colour is easy on the eyes. But that isn’t very noteworthy, is it? What is, is the fact that its case was sand blasted. It was PVC coated as well, making it very resistant. The PVC was also added to the strap’s buckle.
Speaking of its strap, you get genuine, calf skin. This along with its colour way and sandblasted case make the Glycine ooze luxury.
How could we wrap our review up without touching on its water resistance? You don’t get another dive watch but the Glycine can last about 330 feet (100 m) underwater. You may be tempted to dive with it on but the brand strongly advises against this.
What makes it special:
Its big second sub dial
When you think of a Swiss watch, you won’t expect something made out of silicone. The material isn’t luxurious but is very easy to take care of and luckily for you, is in the Wenger’s strap. All it takes is quick wipe to get rid of any muck.
Although the Victorinox 241782 was quite the dive watch, the Wenger Sea Force gives it a run for its money. It’s also resistant up to 660 feet (200 m) underwater. Before you get too excited, you can’t dive with it on. Instead, snorkeling is as far as you can go.
It doesn’t come with a sapphire dial which is unfortunate. You can get one made from mineral crystal, which as discussed, isn’t too bad of a deal. What makes it better is the fact that it’s sapphire coated, which means it went the extra mile, as expected from a Swiss watch.
The timepiece is a Swiss quartz, so timekeeping will never be an issue. However, actually telling the time may be a problem as you don’t get a 24 hour clock. This means you get batton markers but they have quite a bit of luminous paint on them. The paint is also on the watch’s hands.
Although the watch looks chic with its all black appearance, the model comes in a number of design choices. To be exact, there are 9 of them so you’ll definitely find something that you’ll like.
Let’s talk about how big it is:
The watch is 1.69 inches (43 mm) across, so it’s not too big. We’re not complaining, are you?
Something we are iffy about is its small calendar though.
What makes it special:
It comes in many design variants
We’ve established what a great purchase a swiss watch can be. But before you pull your wallet out, give the below section a little read. It runs through a couple of hot questions you might have about the watch type.
Although we love swiss watches, have you ever asked yourself why?
Watches from Switzerland are made with a lot of care. Switzerland is very strict with their watch production which is why they have a number of regulations in place. They know how sought after their timepieces are, so these regulations keep quality in check.
Only the most experienced workers assemble and manufacturer swiss devices. This gives way to a painstaking, precise process that makes swiss watches so expensive. And as so much craftsmanship goes into them, they’re sought after as watch enthusiasts love heritage and horology.
As the best makers, procedures, and parts are used, you’ll never have to worry about your swiss watch breaking down. They can withstand quite a few things as the best parts keep them going, even in harsh situations. And as they’re so durable, they make for great investments.
Watch lovers far and wide respect swiss watches as they come with some serious horology. That’s why they’re the ultimate flex. They’re usually very expensive but as you saw in our list, there are some great ones for under $500.
If you’re a fan of Japanese watches, you might want to look away. Hands down, we think that Swiss watches are better. Although they should be functional, the appearance goes a long way too. They’re all about giving off prestige too which is why these watches are the ultimate flex, for reasons already discussed.
What’s more, Japanese watches have become pedestrian. Everyone has one. You might want to stand out and that’s okay. Also, Japanese watches aren’t handmade, they’re very automated.
That being said, Japanese watches are more reliable. Being automated has its advantges as there’ll be less errors in the product.
As they’re such pristine timepieces, you have to take extra great care of them:
You’ll have to get your swiss watch inspected every 3-4 years. You can’t take it anywhere but to an authorized retailer or watch maker.
Although swiss watches can handle a number of drops, this doesn’t mean that you should be testing this out. Its parts are high quality but remember they were hand placed, so they’re delicate. This is especially true if there are many gears inside of it.
A micro fiber cloth is your friend. Regularly wiping your watch down is a great move. It prevents any debris from settling on your hand crafted, exquisite device.
Check out our other top watches
Swiss watches are the epitome of craftsmanship. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see that the ones we ran through were extremely high quality. That’s why investing in them is a must if you want a watch that will last you a lifetime.
With 500 bucks to spare, the Victorinox 241782 is the best value Swiss watch for you. It comes with a sapphire dial that will withstand the clumsiest of watch users. What’s more, its stainless-steel body is surgical grade and hypoallergenic. It’s also anti-corrosion, so taking care of it is a breeze.
Not only does it look great, but it’s also a superb dive watch too. It’s ISO 6475 certified and was made to be worn over wet suits. Let’s not forget that it comes with all of these goodies, yet it isn’t the most expensive watch on our list.
The only watch that gave it a run for its money was another Victorinox watch. The brand knows what they’re doing.