Every watch collection has to start somewhere, and often that initial watch purchase is on a somewhat restricted budget. Here’s an introduction to entry-level mechanical watches from 10 brands. To narrow the field down, we only considered men’s watches with a case diameter of 37 mm or greater.
ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL 39 ($5,700)
In 2015, the world’s best-known watch brand presented a new basic model, which remains its lowest-priced men’s watch. In return for $5,700, the buyer gets Rolex’s typical advantages: high-quality craftsmanship, a modern manufacture caliber, a case made of saltwater-resistant 904L stainless steel – and very little danger that this watch will depreciate in value. The 39-mm case contains self-winding chronometer-certified Caliber 3132. The Oyster Perpetual 39 is available with either a gray or a blue dial. For our test of the watch, click here.
BREITLING COLT AUTOMATIC ($3,025)
Breitling’s least costly mechanical watch has also earned a chronometer certificate. A buyer who parts with $3,025 not only gets certified precision but also enjoys numerous features that are helpful for divers – a unidirectionally rotating bezel with a luminous dot; a 44-mm stainless-steel case that remains water resistant to 200 meters and includes a screw-down crown; and a black, blue or silver-colored dial with bright, luminous displays. Read our review of the Colt Automatic here.
OMEGA DE VILLE PRESTIGE CO-AXIAL ($3,600)
The De Ville with a 39.5-mm stainless-steel case sells for $3,600 and is Omega’s most affordably priced watch for men. The brand’s own automatic Caliber 2500 offers extremely strong protection against magnetic fields and also includes a first-generation co-axial escapement which, like its current successor, guarantees uniform rate values. The accuracy is officially confirmed by the COSC, Switzerland’s independent chronometer-testing authority.
TISSOT GENTLEMAN SWISSMATIC ($365)
You may be surprised to see what you can get from Tissot for just $365: a sapphire crystal above the dial, a pane of mineral glass in the back, water resistance to 100 meters and an automatic movement with a three-day power reserve. One reason for the good price-performance ratio is the synergy of the Swatch Group: subsidiaries supply their sister company Tissot with movements and other components. This 44-mm watch is on a cowhide strap secured by a pin buckle.
TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 5 ($2,000)
Like Breitling, Tag Heuer offers its entry-level model in a divers’-watch style. With a rotating bezel, a rubber strap and water resistance to 200 meters, this 41-mm stainless-steel watch costs $2,000. What Tag Heuer designates as Caliber 5 is ETA’s self-winding Caliber 2824, which is frequently encased in entry-level mechanical watches.
JUNGHANS FORM A (840 euros)
Junghans has long offered affordable designer watches in its Max Bill and Meister lines. Now there’s an even less costly automatic watch: the Form A. This 39.1-mm stainless-steel model encases ETA Caliber 2824, costs 840 euros, and offers both a sapphire crystal above the dial and a pane of toned mineral glass in the back. An interesting detail: the quadratic minutes indices are stamped into the dial.
HUBLOT CLASSIC FUSION TITANIUM ($7,200)
Fans of mechanical timepieces can part with $7,200 to own Hublot’s most affordable men’s watch: the Classic Fusion with a 42-mm-diameter case, rather than the 45-mm version. (The smaller diameter is actually Hublot’s unisex size.) This watch is animated by Sellita’s Caliber SW300, which is produced in large series. The Classic Fusion is the more elegant alternative to the sporty chronographs in Hublot’s Big Bang line, whose prices for men’s models start at $12,500 for either an all-steel 44-mm version or a 41-mm steel and ceramic one.
SEIKO PRESAGE SRPB41 ($450)
This Japanese manufacturer’s portfolio starts at a low price: only $450 is needed to purchase an automatic watch with a manufacture movement, a stainless-steel case and bracelet, and a screw-down see-through caseback. Caliber 4R35 has a 41-hour power reserve and both hand and automatic winding capabilities. It shows hours, minutes, central seconds and date. This 40.5-mm Seiko Presage watch has a box-shaped crystal and is water resistant to 50 meters.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT ($18,939)
Like all Aquanaut models, Reference 5167A-001 unites a sporty design and a finely decorated manufacture movement. Automatic Caliber 324 S C with date display ticks inside a 40-mm stainless-steel case with a pane of sapphire crystal in the back. The wristband is made of abrasion-resistant and nonfading composite material that’s embossed with the same pattern as the dial. This Patek Philippe steel watch for men is priced at $18,939.
SINN 556 ($1,080)
The German watch brand Sinn will give you a steel watch that is water resistant to 200 meters at a price of $1,080. You also get two non-reflective sapphire crystals and a screw-down crown. All this comes in a 38.5-mm-diameter and 11-mm-slim timepiece that prioritizes utility. The functional features include ETA’s sleekly simple but robust self-winding Caliber 2824, brightly luminous indicators and a non-reflective, matte-finished case.
I don’t know what planet you’re on, but several thousand dollars for a watch isn’t even in the same state as “entry-level”.
The cheapest one being $365 is still fairly steep, but the fact that there’s one that’s nearly 20K on this “entry-level” list is literally absurd on every level. That’s more expensive than a new car. Anybody looking for entry-level mechanical watches isn’t going to have a cool 20 grand laying around.
The start of a watch collector journey.
I feel very special watch time set the Tissot Gentleman Swissmatic in the list.
It is my first ever automatic.
I bought it in mind to wear it on the job and put it off in the weekend that contain in my situation 2 days. The 76 hours of power reserve is perfect to survive weekend rest.
In practice this way of using the Tissot paid off.
Throughout the week there was place for another watch. Before my next watches, i had my Tissot as an one only watch. I wear my Tissot the whole week till i had my next watch.
The fact my next watch is a special watch to wear at weddings, at opera performances, anniversaries, i had still no weekend watch.
More ten two years my Tissot is working perfect. Strangely is fires not my watch addiction, but i like the Gentleman Swismatic a lot. The calf leather strap is still in good shape.
When i’ve got my Longines, this was the countdown of a serious watch addiction. I looked at the movement with a loupe and it was a miracle. The next was a beautiful Baume and Mercier with my first encounter of a selita engine. My first daily wearer.
The list. That a Patek Philippe Aquanaut starts at only 19000 is just great. I thought it cost a 7000 more.
The Rolex, lets say it is not my cup of tea. I want a Hulk.
The Omega, it is a good watch with George Daniels his invention of the frictionless escapement.
Such a good watch, it leads you to the Seamaster and Speedmaster.
What about those of us to whom $365 is above our “entry level”?
Get a Seiko 5… or a Casio (both are honestly great to start with). Timex and Orient are good brands at that price range too. Look to eBay for deals, their buyer protection policies are solid, as well, so less of a chance of you getting swindled.
Great article. I interpret entry level to also include nicer watches for those just getting into collecting for the first time. This list should satisfy them and keep them occupied with the hobby for at least a year.
The Omega Cal.2500 does not offer “considerable protection from magnetic fields”. It is not equipped with a silicon balance spring and is not an in-house Master Chronometer movement. In fact is offers practically no protection from magnetic fields. It appears the author is confusing the Cal.2500 with the Cal.8500 or the Master Co-axial Cal.8500M or the newer Master Chronometer movements. Said it in 2018 so I will say it again. This author is peddling nonsense and cannot be bothered to update the article to correct his error.
This list is absurd, how can any watch over $1,000 be considered entry level? This is what deters me from wanting to be a collector.
You’re not on a one year waiting list for an entry level watch
Frankly, I found this to be a very poor list of first time mechanicals for the newbie. What happened to Oris, Raymond Weil, Hamilton and Bulova swiss? I could cut the retail cost down substantially for the first timer…
You dont remember when you were an entry level of anything? You were born wealthy? what does an entry level watch blogger make???? likely no more than say $30K
I was entry level in 1988. I made 50K in 2020 money….how can you insult our intelligence with a Patek in this category….child please
entry level is $1000 and below and back then i would have to save 2-3 years for it given student loans, food, rent and car payments. cmon man be for real
my first luxury watch…Navitimer B01 was when i was in my 40s and i was shaking to pay the $6K at the AD….now i have many watches invluding one Patek
plus – where do you get that Patek for $19K…tell me so i can buy
i enjoy your reports but sometimes you are delusional
Interesting how an article published on May 5, 2020 had its first comment in April 2018.
Also, some watches listed here are as entry-level as a thing that is definitely not entry-level.
First off, how can anyone in their right mind put Rolex, Patek, Hublot on a list of entry-level watches? If you can afford to fork out several thousands of $$ on your first watch, calling it “entry-level” says more about you than the watch. Patek Philippe markets itself as exclusive, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t label themselves as entry-level either.
One more thing – this article was clearly published some time ago, from the dates on the comments, but you state the publication date as yesterday. Looks like my reaction mirrors those of most of your previous readers. If you’re going to resurrect old articles, you should make that clear.
I bought the Rolex 39 (Blue Dial) last August and love it. The dial was what attracted me to it – and I am very pleased with the purchase.
Also own an older Omega DeVille (bought a decade+ ago).
OK guys, when is a Patek an entry-level watch? The Aquanaut costs almost $20,000 retail, but if you cannot find the unicorn at a Patek boutique, the real cost is $30,000 or more at a second hand store.
I just wanted to give you kudos on such an awesome list you put together. Cheers!
I have the money for the Aquanaut.
I would buy one tomorrow if I could.
My Authorized Dealer tells me that there is a waiting list to get onto the waiting list.
The first waiting list is 10 years….
From Gerry Dimatos in Australia.
Some interesting responses here, debating on the meaning of ‘entry level’. Lets face it if you are new to mechanical watchers you are not going to spend over $1000 on a watch only to discover you prefer the convenience of a quartz or smart watch. Even the Seiko given here is an odd example, why not go full Grand Seiko to compare to the Rolex?
Why not start with a Seiko 5, Longines or Tissot and see if you can live with the ticking, sound of the automatic mechanism and resetting the watch if it stops over the weekend on the dresser?
Ah yes I remember fondly the days of my youth; saving my meager earnings from my newspaper route until I could afford that $18K entry level Patek
The author clearly states right under the headline that: “Here’s an introduction to entry-level mechanical watches FROM 10 BRANDS.” Yes, there are a hundred watch companies you could include but this isn’t a dictionary it’s a blog article and he had to pick and choose. I’m sure the choice had to do with some of the more generally recognized brands people have heard of before. The article isn’t “the cheapest mechanical watches you can buy”. And guess what? $18k for some people is no big deal and also guess what $1k is HUGE deal to some people too. You guys are being too harsh, in my opinion.
My Invicta 8926OB with its accurate Japanese NH35A movement looks great. At less than 100 bucks it is what entry level is. Patek, Rolex, Omega? Give me a break.
Entry level mechanical watches? There are plenty that I and most watch people would consider entry level that is under $500.00 Let’s start with something like that — we can always talk about watches higher up the grapevine, but I think this is where you plant the seed to sow a lifetime of watch enthusiasts!
Certainly a Tudor BB should be in the list before a PP when discussing entry level?
I have all ways been a person whom notice fine watches on people.When I see a nice watch on a person. I would ask if they know or had the time just to say that’s very nice watch .Then sit back and here the story about the watch . it made me one of there best company’s that I work with on many nice jobs of all kinds .I in plumbing but that’s just my day to day stuff . fine watches a very nice to see it dose make my life bit better with a fine watch on my arm.thank you Tim
Entry level? I wouldn’t consider anything over $1k to be entry level.
Perhaps, ‘entry-level’ by brand?
So I guess your definition of entry level is anything priced between $1000 and $19,000? If that’s the case, there are hundreds of other watches you should include on this list.
You guys must be pretty out of touch if an $18 Patek Philippe is considered entry level.
Y’all must be pretty out of touch for an $18k Patek Phillipe to be entry level.
Are German watches better than Swiss or Japenese?
Swiss watches are the best.
I own 4, and they are working fine, and build like tanks.
I love that blue dial Rolex.
$18939 is not a restricted budget. That kind of money will enable you to buy a significant number of high end Rolex and Omega watches for example. I’d rethink what you call entry level.
Entry-level? For who???
The Seiko and Tissot yes, but the others are hardly entry level unless you have a lot of disposable income
I would not call $18k for a patek philippe entry level for a mechanical watch. Please.
Is it available with a strap in place of the bracelet?
The Oyster Perpetual comes in THREE colors, not two. It’s available in blue, dark rhodium, and red grape. The latter was left out by Mr. Krupp and is in my opinion, the finest color of the trio.
Also available in classic black now
And white! :)
I would love to buy the Aquanaut 5167A-001.
I live in New York area. Where can I find for the price you have mentioned $18,939.
The Omega Cal.2500 does not offer “considerable protection from magnetic fields”. It is not equipped with a silicon balance spring and is not an in-house Master Chronometer movement. In fact is offers practically no protection from magnetic fields. It appears the author is confusing the Cal.2500 with the Cal.8500 or the Master Co-axial Cal.8500M or the newer Master Chronometer movements.