Automatic for the People: 7 Mechanical Watches Under $2,000


At the Swiss watch fairs, the attention-grabbing releases are often the most astronomically priced timepieces with the most complex movements. But what about those who are seeking a more “entry-level” timepiece without compromising on the mechanical movement? We’ve compiled a list of affordable watches (all under $2,000) with automatic movements, released in the past few years, that might have flown under your radar.

The Ball Trainmaster Roman, which runs on the automatic ETA 2836-2 caliber, retails for $1,799. Encased in stainless steel, the watch is shock-resistant to 5,000 Gs. The Ball Trainmaster Roman also features 15 micro gas tubes on the hands and dial for night reading capability.

Ball Trainmaster Roman
Ball Trainmaster Roman; $1,799

The Fortis Spacematic White-Red, priced at $1,875 on a steel bracelet or silicone strap ($1,575 on leather or nylon), features a day and date indicator on two revolving disks at the center of the dial, and red hour and minute hands contrasting against the white dial. The Fortis Spacematic has an automatic Swiss movement, the ETA 2836-2.

Fortis Spacematic White-Red
Fortis Spacematic White-Red; $1,875

The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminum is inspired by the watches Hamilton made for the British Royal Air Force in the 1970s, updated with contemporary touches — chief among them its case made from aluminum, a material used in the aerospace industry for everything from airplanes to space shuttles to rocket fuel. The watch is available in four military-inspired color schemes and is priced at $1,145. Click here for more on the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminum.

Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum - pair
Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum ($1,145)

The Raymond Weil Maestro Trois Aiguilles Or Rose, encased in stainless steel with rose-gold (in French, “Or Rose”) PVD treatment, is powered by an automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve. The hands and indices are rose-gold-plated, while the silver dial features a “clou de Paris” design. The Raymond Weil Maestro Trois Aiguilles Or Rose has a price of $1,495.

Raymond Weil Maestro Trois Aiguilles Or Rose
Raymond Weil Maestro Trois Aiguilles Or Rose; $1,395

 

The Tissot Luxury Automatic COSC collection, which includes the first Swiss watches to contain the new caliber nicknamed Powermatic 80, an automatic movement with COSC chronometer certification and an 80-hour power reserve. The Powermatic 80 is the product of a collaboration between Tissot and the movement manufacturer ETA, Tissot’s sister company within the Swatch Group. The Gents models (pictured) range in price from $1,075 to $1,550. Click here for more on Tissot’s Luxury Automatic watches.

Tissot Luxury Automatic COSC Gent T086 - front-back
Tissot Luxury Automatic COSC Gent T086 ($1,075)

 

TW Steel‘s Canteen TWA200, priced at $559, is powered by a Japanese Miyota movement with a power reserve of 40 hours. The steel case measures 45 mm in diameter, and features TW Steel’s signature crown clasp. the rotor is engraved with the TW Steel logo.

TW Steel TWA200
TW Steel TWA200; $559

Launched at Baselworld 2013, the Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss Automatic Titanium Limited Edition carries a retail of $1,195. This timepieces from the purveyors of Swiss Army watches features a sandblasted matte titanium dial and a dark brown brushed leather strap inspired by pilot jacket from the 1930s. The watch also displays military time, printed on the inside of the crystal.

Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss Automatic Titanium Limited Edition
Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss Automatic Titanium Limited Edition; $1,195

 This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

Save

Save

34 Responses to “Automatic for the People: 7 Mechanical Watches Under $2,000”

Show all responses
  1. Hung Le

    How is Maurice Lacroix , if you did mention R Weil, you can not ignored F Constant and M Lacroix

    Reply
  2. Chris Twardy

    I really like the Bulova Sea King limeted edition automatic. Sure it doesn’t compare to my Rolex sub & Daytona but it sure is one great watch. It retails for just under 1600.00 & you can get it for a lot less. Only 500 made, keeps very good time. All in all well made. People seem to find reasons to hate it.

    Reply
  3. Terry lynam

    HI I’m no expert and I am new to watches,but all the above seem very worthy but (there is always a but) I have just purchased a Christopher Ward blue moonphase and if it is as good in the flesh as it looks in print then it will beat all of the above.

    Reply
  4. srhardy

    Certina DS range should have been on the list of affordable, sub U$2k watches. They have one of the few ISO rated dive watches too, all sub U$2K

    Reply
  5. I really like the Ball Trainmaster Roman.

    Does anyone agree that it would have been amazing if they could have shown the Day at the 9 o’clock position and the Date at 3 o’clock ??

    Reply
  6. How is Oris not on here?!? Entry-level mechanicals is what they’re all about. I believe the majority of their watches are under $2k.

    Reply
  7. Dennis Mincin

    Wish WatchTime would take a break from the monopoly of Swiss brands and showcase some worthy American brands. In this segment, the Potomac mechcanical from the Towson Watch Company is a gorgeous watch and an equal to the Ball Trainmaster.

    Reply
    • Americans can’t make watches…just as they suck at making cars. In these field they will always be tier 2 after precise and delicate europe’s manufacturers. Deal with it

      Reply
  8. precision swiss time

    All of the above $2000 watches ar fine but the majority of watch companies use eta movements same old story I think personally ih house movements the way to go George from Sydney Australia

    Reply
  9. I am not particularly impressed with this selection. I can think of much better designs and equal quality for even less. What about the beautiful Junghans Max Bill chronoscope and the superb Golana Avanced Pro 200 Chronograph – less than £700, the Limes Pharo moonphase chrono… All excellent value and excellent Swiss quality.

    Reply
  10. Ben Frank

    I agree with Bermuda T. and Jim I. Seiko has made a lot of quality clocks evolving with new technologies, such as GPS astron, I am proud of the Seiko Kinetic technology (direct drive, perpetual, GMT, etc.) and its spring drive.

    Reply
  11. I feel Oris really dominates this category, it’s a shame to not see them on here.

    Reply
  12. After 18 months (+/-) waiiting, I finally got a Swatch Sistem 51. It is great.

    At $150 retail, you cannot beat the watch on a value to price paid basis.

    IMHO, at this price point and the performance it delivers, which is really good, it truly is the automatic watch for the “people”.

    Reply
    • srhardy

      I dont want to RAIN on your swiss/swatch s51 day but a google of the watchguys teardown will make you glad you didnt pay too much for it (and im told the fit/finish has gotten a bit better) but its no where near what even a cheapo chinese automatic for $12 for quality (alas). Enjoy it while it works, may it be a long, long time!

      Reply
    • 18 months (+/-)? Did you expect it delivered before you placed the order?

      Reply
  13. Great watches at great prices. I like the Ball Trainmaster Roman and the Tissot Powermatic 80.

    Reply
    • srhardy

      +1 for the BALL, they all look good and the gas lighting is amazing, beats any LOOM ive seen, even on the best painted on swiss!

      Reply
  14. Dr McRoberts

    Orient seems to also have it’s heart at the right place. If I’m not mistaken, some of their models have In house movements at a reasonnable price. What did they have coming for us this year?

    Reply
  15. casio protrek titanium triple sensor

    Wow! what a fantastic mechanical watches and the best part is that it’s quiet affordable.. :)

    Reply
  16. Debora D

    I just purchased an Oris over a Longines on a trip to St Marteen. My first mechanical paid 1325. Its beautiful classic two tone, luminous hands, with date. I had the Ball as a choice. Did I make a wise choice. Just learning!

    Reply
    • Hi Debora,

      I think Oris is the best quality you can get at this price point. Good choice! I love mine.

      Reply
  17. Dennis Collins

    My favorite watch brand under $ 2k right now is Deep Blue. I am currently wearing a pro caldiver 500. It has a miyota movement,sapphire front and back , month dial,24hr dial, day dial, date window and a power reserve indicator. It has a milled case ,solid stainless links a hydrogen relief valve and is water resistant to 500 meters. $399.00. I have to set it every four or five days to keep it accurate but the I do the same for my Rolex sub @ $8k. My sub is in the safe. Oh yeah it is automatic and according to the power reserve it stays fully wound all the time that I wear it.

    Reply
    • srhardy

      deepB website have a cheap swiss movement on sale, awesome value but only the T100 have the gas lit LOOM alas ;-)|

      Reply
  18. Mark Benny

    I was surprised to see the Fortis Spacematic. I bought a Spacematic in the early 90’s
    for $1700. Maybe Fortis is holding the line on higher prices.

    I like these articles that showcase affordable watches. Thanks.

    Reply
  19. angelo

    All those watches are fantastic, but I would include the very best in this categorie with a remarkable relation price quality, the Tissot Le Locle COSC with the ETA 2824-02 movement. Jason I want to thanks you for sharing in this site this passion the “Horlogerie”

    Reply
    • srhardy

      Its a lower beat, tick rate to get 80hr’s but it runs sweet and you can take off friday, pickup monday and no need to set – nice

      Reply
  20. Good call on the Ball. Surprised you didn’t mention a Hamilton or Tissot. They both do a great job for the money.

    Reply
  21. BermudaTriangle

    Jason, thanks for a nice overview of the entry level brands. There seems to be a widening gulf between the brands identifying as ‘affordable’ and the ‘big name’ manufactures whose prices continue to ride the bubble of Swiss mechanical watch popularity up to stratospheric levels. High end manufactures say their pricing is driven by their R&D and 3M costs (materials, manufacture and marketing) for their limited production volume.

    But many of these high end makers (Rolex, TAG Heuer and Omega, for example) produce over 500,000 watches per year using sophisticated machine production rather than the made-by-hand process of the smaller producers. Yet they continue to price their products as though each unit was individually built by the hands of skilled watchmakers. So long as the public believes that Richemont, Swatch, and LVMH mass produced products are worth the premium their brands command this price spread will continue to widen. And demand for the high end products, which already outstrips the production ability of many of the smaller producers, will continue the upward price pressure as well.

    The entry level makers may not produce models with exceptional technical features or unusual complications. But they produce reliable and attractive products and provide value for cost. Brands like Longines and Hamilton benefit greatly from their parent and high end associated companies. Independents like Weil and Constant make great effort to produce reasonably priced and attractive watches that serve well in daily wear for many years. These may not be watches known for their value in auctions 40 years from now but they are watches that customers should be proud to own and wear.

    Let’s not forget that Seiko is a mass producer of very high quality watches, the great majority built by sophisticated machine assembly lines, that are in great demand and are proudly worn. Seiko has always marketed three features of their products – accuracy, reliability, and value. And they do very well by holding to those standards.

    Perhaps the question is whether there is a ‘bubble’ in high-end Swiss watch pricing, and if there is, when will it burst?

    Keep up the great work, your articles are very enjoyable.

    Reply
  22. Jim Imhof

    Why would you not include the Seiko Automatic collection of automatic watches
    I understand some individuals do not think Japanese automatics are worthy of Such – How many companies produce a 10 beat automatic Seiko does and has for 50 years

    I gusee Seiko does produce a quality automatic watch

    Reply
Leave a Reply