Best Dress Watch Under $500 (10 Classy Picks for Casual and Formal wear)

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Written by Ryan Miller

Don’t know how to complete your look to go along with formal evening wear?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Seiko, Orient, Timex, and even Junghans are some of the best dress watches under 500 we’ve carefully handpicked to match your style.

Best Overall

Orient Bambino (2nd Gen) Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Orient Bambino 2nd Gen

Best Value

Seiko Recraft SNKP27

Seiko Solar Recraft

Best Budget

Seiko 5 SNK793

Seiko SNK793

1. Orient Bambino (2nd Gen) Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Best Overall

Orient Bambino (2nd Gen) Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Well hello, beautiful.

Orient Bambino is our top dress watch under $500 of the year! It’s classy, affordable, durable, and completes any outfit you wear whether it be to an event, casual date, formal party, anything!

The vintage look takes inspiration from the original Bambino series. And boy do we love it!

Not only is it high-quality, but it also makes for a great option to give as a gift! Thinking of men’s watches for your husband or boyfriend? This dress watch is a timepiece he’ll SURELY LOVE.

What about the technical features?

The sunburst dial comes in a champagne color, which all the more gives it an antique feel, accentuated with its textured brown leather strap.

All of these components are enclosed with a mineral crystal dial window and a stainless steel case.

It uses a 22-jewel Japanese automatic movement, which is hand-winding. It also runs with a 40-hour power reserve.

Overall, this is one classic timepiece with an antique style that screams BEST all-around. Go for this dress watch if you’re looking for a timeless piece to wear for years to come or add to your collection.

Pros

  • Vintage design
  • Great appeal
  • Pairs with any outfit (casual, semi-formal, formal)
  • A great gift option for men
  • Durable
  • Good accuracy

Specifications

  • Movement: Japanese Automatic
  • Stainless steel case
  • 30m water resistance
  • Mineral dial window

2. Seiko Solar Recraft Stainless Steel and Leather Watch

Best Value

Seiko Recraft SNKP27

If our top pick wasn’t classy enough to convince you to buy a dress watch under $500, then the Seiko Solar Recraft shines with a Mad Men cool vibe.

Right off the bat, it’s clear how unique this watch carries itself. Personally, we find it absolutely stunning.

It’s definitely a men’s watch due to its size and design. The case is big so wearing it shouldn’t look like it’s hiding in shame under your cuffs.

One of the best design aspects we love? The retro green sunray dial.

Just watch and see how its sunray dial glistens under direct sunlight! Now’s the time to show off in broad daylight!

But we’re only getting started.

The dial window is made up of scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, typical of Seiko, with gold-tone details on the dial. The brown leather strap compliments the elegance of its square case.

It has a 21-jewel Japanese automatic movement and can store up to 41 HOURS of power reserve.

The watch mechanism is based on one of Seiko’s old-school automatic self-winding movements. This means there is no hacking or winding. Some prefer to manually wind their timepieces, but if you don’t, all the better!

The exhibition case back shows its intricate mechanics, which we stared at and appreciated for hours!

If you’re looking for a great all-around dress watch with the MAXIMUM value, wearing the Seiko Solar Recraft is meant to impress.

Pros

  • Beautiful, gorgeous vintage design
  • Reads well under direct sunlight
  • Great durability
  • Trusted brand quality
  • Fits well under your cuffs
  • Comfortable strap and wear
  • Above-average value
  • 3-year warranty

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic
  • Hardlex Crystal window
  • 50m water resistant
  • Case: Stainless steel
  • 41mm case diameter

3. Seiko 5 Men’s SNK793 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Dial

Best Budget Pick

Seiko 5 SNK793

Simple, minimalist, and downright HIGHLY AFFORDABLE.

Consider this one of the safer options if you’re looking for a watch that won’t make you feel you’re wasting money on and if it’s your first time investing in one.

For its price range, it’s definitely a steal!

This timepiece has Japanese automatic movement. It has a stylish day and date on it, which you can get in either English or Spanish, on the 3’oclock position.

The blue analog dial has two luminous hands, making it easier to read in the dark.

The Seiko 5 SNK703 SCREAMS elegance. Apart from the gorgeous dark royal blue dial color, its overall look would look oh-so-fine if you want a formal or sporty appeal to your attire.

You can even observe the intricate mechanism through the stainless steel exhibition case on the back.

Instead of a leather strap, this watch has a stainless steel link bracelet, which can be adjusted to fit your wrist. Even with a metal strap, Seiko did a fantastic job with its weight and build.

It doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy at all, and it’s comfortable to wear too!

Classic timepieces like the Seiko 5 never go out of style, and this is definitely a safe bet when choosing your dress watch.

Pros

  • Gorgeous appeal
  • VERY affordable
  • Excellent build
  • Great for casual, formal, and sporty occasions
  • Comfortable fit
  • 3-year warranty

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic
  • 30m water resistance
  • Hardlex crystal window
  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Case diameter: 37mm

4. Seiko SARB033 Men’s Wrist Watch

Seiko SARB033 Men's Wrist Watch

If royal blue doesn’t excite you, then perhaps, a black dial will change the way you define classic.

Its dial features silver-tone details and a stainless steel case and bracelet. It has a sapphire crystal dial window, giving your watch top-notch protection.

It also has a 50-hour power reserve and a 23-jewel Japanese automatic self-wind movement with hand winding and hacking capabilities.

You can also appreciate the mechanics of the watch thanks to its exhibition case back.

Among the men’s watches, this is your safest bet if you want a dress watch that also has similar traits to dive watches.

How so? Its 100m water resistance should be sufficient if you go for a light swim just before a grand party next door.

However, it is still important to note that while this can be used for swimming, it is not a dive watch.

Seiko doesn’t disappoint when it comes to their minimalist design of watches.

Who would love this piece?

If you’re looking for an affordable timepiece that doesn’t compromise on quality, this Seiko model is a reflection of quality from fit and design finishes to its functionality.

It’s a daily beater that won’t fail to impress.

Pros

  • Classic design
  • Perfect fit for smaller to medium-sized wrists
  • Affordable
  • Fantastic quality
  • Easy to read
  • 3-year warranty

Specifications

  • Movement: Japanese Automatic
  • 100-meter water-resistant
  • Sapphire crystal (synthetic)
  • Case diameter: 38.4mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel

5. Timex Marlin Hand-Wound Stainless Steel Watch

Timex Marlin Hand-Wound Stainless Steel Watch

This Timex Marlin is a gorgeous timepiece. It exudes a timeless, sleek style that the Marlin Series is known for.

For those of you men who love mechanical watches, you just found it.

Its minimalist style, black and silver tones, and stainless steel case all shine beautifully into a formal look. Even a t-shirt would look EXTRA CLASSY.

The texture of the black leather strap perfectly matches the black accents on the dial, giving it a balance of charm, comfort, and snug fit.

If you want a minimalist watch that’s sleek and formal, you can’t go wrong with the Timex Marlin series. This timepiece would certainly enhance any suit you wear thanks to its formal vintage appeal.

Pros

  • Gorgeous minimalist design
  • Old-fashioned mechanical winding
  • Great formal appeal
  • Snug fit

Specifications

  • Movement: Three-Hand
  • 30m water resistance
  • Case diameter: 32 mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel

6. Junghans Men’s Max Bill Stainless Steel Quartz Watch

Junghans Men's Max Bill Stainless Steel Quartz Watch

If you’re a fan of Max Bill and the Junghan series, welcome the Max Bill purist style with open arms.

It’s a basic piece, but that’s not to say it’s ordinary. Its clean design is timeless and will never go out of style.

The watch itself calls out to all that want a daily beater for casual wear.

The dial is silver plated, with hard-to-scratch plexiglass covering the dial. It uses a very accurate Swiss quartz movement and a date at the 3’oclock position.

This watch is elegant and simple. It is perfect for the minimalist, or for fans of Max Bill’s designs. However, it’s quite expensive so if you’re willing to spend roughly $500 and pay tribute to Max Bill, go for it.

Pros

  • Clean and classic design
  • Perfect for casual wear
  • Great accuracy

Specifications

  • Movement: Swiss Quartz
  • Dial window: Plastic
  • 30m water resistance
  • Case diameter: 38mm
  • Case: Stainless steel

7. Swatch Irony Body & Soul Automatic Skeleton Dial Watch

Swatch Irony Body & Soul Automatic Skeleton Dial Watch

Talk about intricate, right?

The Swatch Irony is a classic example of a mechanical watch that would make a great conversation starter.

Old fashioned users, we’re talking to you!

Swatch is known for its affordable swiss made watches. They have a wide array of designs, and this watch is definitely one for the books.

It’s a very fashion-forward timepiece, which has an air of sophistication to it. Its brand, “Swatch”, is tastefully engraved on the stainless steel case.

This really shows how proud someone should be to own a Swatch watch, not to mention it runs with a 48-hour power reserve and a 21-jewel Swiss automatic movement.

This dress watch is for someone who would want a conversational piece, as this can surely turn heads at any event.

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Swiss made
  • Conversation starter
  • Intricate design and appeal

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic
  • Mineral glass dial window
  • Case diameter: 38mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel

8. Women’s Timex Dress Watch (T2P298)

Women’s Timex Dress Watch (T2P298)

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget to include women’s watches under 500 on this list!

For starters, the Women’s Timex showcases silver and gold accents perfect for those who want to buy their first-ever dress watch.

Even with a small dial, it’s still easy to read thanks to its white dial and large numerals. To help its readability, it has Indiglo technology which lights up the display in the dark.

Did we also forget to mention how ridiculously affordable it is? Seriously, you could buy this watch and brand a new phone without breaking the bank!

This is definitely a simple and classic watch that you can’t go wrong with. In fact, it comes with a 12-month warranty from its manufacturer.

Pros

  • Light up display
  • Sleek design
  • Sophisticated, elegant appeal
  • Good weight and build
  • Perfect for semi-formal and formal events

Specifications

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Mineral glass dial window
  • Case diameter: 25mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Two-tone band

9. Fossil Women’s Hybrid Watch (FTW5047)

Fossil Women's Hybrid Watch (FTW5047)

We thought it was just another regular steel watch. But it’s quite the opposite!

Fossil did a great job building a dress watch with smartwatch capabilities.

So if you’ve been dying to grab a smartwatch, the Fossil Women’s Hybrid watch checks all those boxes plus the bonus of having dress watch appeal.

This watch comes with smartphone notifications, activity tracking, custom goal setting, sleep monitoring, customizable buttons, and automatic time zone updates.

Just download the Fossil Smartwatches App and this can all be yours to control and explore in less than a minute!

Now here comes the best part.

Unlike a regular smartwatch, you DO NOT need to charge it! It has an estimated battery life of 12 months depending on usage.

What about the movement? Well, safe to say, it uses a hybrid movement. When you look closely you can see the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into making the watch.

Everything about the design of the watch melds together seamlessly, making it look effortlessly elegant. Not to mention, the chain-link band perfectly complements the polished stainless steel case.

To tell you the truth, it’s the best women’s watch with the best value on this list. For women with slightly bigger wrists, you’ll love the fit!

Pros

  • Smartwatch functionalities with the appeal of a dress watch
  • Great quality
  • All the parts blend seamlessly together for an elegant appeal
  • 12-month battery life
  • Hybrid movement

Specifications

  • Movement: Hybrid
  • Mineral glass dial window
  • Case diameter: 36mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • 50m water-resistant

10. Women’s Seiko Essentials Watch (SUP176)

Women’s Seiko Essentials Watch (SUP176)

Finally, we’ve decided to end this list with a BANG of beauty, glimmer, style, and dainty class.

The Woman’s Seiko Essentials is definitely an eye-catching timepiece. Any luxurious woman would be drawn to its design.

The links on the front of the steel watch are embellished with Swarovski crystals.

Together with its gold uniquely-designed strap, the Woman’s Seiko Essentials could almost pass off as a gold bracelet to wear for both formal and semi-formal events.

Now you might be wondering, are these crystals cheap? Does the color fade easily?

Safe to say, it doesn’t. As long as you don’t wear it every day at least! However, some mentioned after wearing the watch for 3 1/2 years, the color started to fade and the crystals started falling out too.

For us, that’s not a bad deal considering the price you pay for it.

The battery life on this lasts an estimated 12 months. And with its solar power Japanese quartz movement, it’s a great option to wear in broad daylight.

Just like any Seiko watch, it has a Hardlex crystal covering the dial.

The Women’s Seiko Essentials is surely a head-turner piece when worn with an elegant evening dress. With this strapped on, perhaps you’ll even catch a cute gentleman staring at you!

Pros

  • Elegant, sophisticated, and luxurious appeal
  • Carries the same appeal as a gold bracelet
  • Great accuracy
  • Comfortable fit
  • Matches your jewelry well
  • 3-year warranty

Specifications

  • Movement: Solar-powered Japanese Quartz
  • Hardlex crystal dial window
  • Case diameter: 22mm
  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • 30m water-resistant

How to Choose Your Watch

If you’ve read about all these watches and still haven’t made a decision, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Here are some categories to help you when choosing the best dress watch (or watches) for you!

Looking for something cheaper? Check out the best dress watches under $200. Or perhaps something a bit wilder, like the best dress watches under $1000?

Case

The type of case on your watch would depend on these factors: Material, Diameter, and Thickness.

Material: Stainless Steel vs. Titanium

Dress watches usually have stainless steel or titanium cases. Typically, dress watches come in stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is a lot cheaper than titanium.

While stainless steel is very strong, titanium is 3 times stronger than stainless steel.

Of course, a stainless steel watch is definitely strong enough, as the casings of the G-Shock, a line of watches designed for durability, were made from stainless steel.

Surprisingly, titanium is considerably lighter than stainless steel, but also 2x more expensive.

Lastly, some people might actually have allergies to stainless steel, meaning that titanium would be the choice if you had that allergy.

Then again, stainless steel is an excellent option and looks good on any dress watch.

Diameter

Go with something that looks sleek and classy – a piece that slides nicely under your suit jacket.

It’s hard to give exact measurements since it hugely depends on your wrist and hand size. As a guide, don’t go past 44mm unless you have really big hands.

Thickness

Dress watches run on the thinner side for their case and sometimes, case back. This is so they can slide smoothly under your suit jacket. They usually run at about 10-11mm thin, and some may even be as thin as 7-9mm.

After all, what’s the point if you can’t show it off to the crowd!

Dial Window

The dial window protects the dial and the mechanics. It’s usually made of crystal in order to be scratch-resistant.

You can choose from many types of crystal, some being sapphire crystal, Hardlex crystal, and mineral crystal.

Sapphire

These are beautiful, scratch-proof, and extremely durable. You can tell its authenticity by its bluish hue brought by the sun. This is an effect of its anti-reflective coating.

Hardlex

This is actually characteristic of all Seiko watches. It’s mineral glass that has been tempered for durability.

The great thing about this is its durability and cost-effectiveness. The Seiko Hardlex is tough and classy, can last a long time, and is also easily replaceable.

Mineral

These are made of glass. They are usually found in midrange watches. These are not as scratch-resistant as the other two but still holds decent scratch resistance.

The downside to this is if it is scratched, it has to be replaced since it can’t be repaired.

Watch Band

The watchband is one thing that can set a dress watch apart from sports watches.

While sports watches usually have a rubber or silicone band, dress watches usually have leather bands.

This leather can be made of calfskin or alligator. If not made from leather, it is made out of stainless steel or titanium.

The band for you widely depends on preference, whether you prefer style over comfort or vice versa. This is usually a choice between a leather strap and stainless steel or titanium chains.

A leather strap is a go-to option if you prefer vintage styles.

Movement

There are 3 types of movement in a watch: quartz, mechanical, and automatic.

Quartz

Quartz movement causes the second hand to move in individual ticks. This make the typical clock ticking sound. This movement is battery-powered.

Mechanical

Mechanical watches, a.k.a. hand-wound, have a second hand that moves in a smooth sweeping motion. This watch will need to be hand-wound manually in order to operate.

Automatic

In this movement, the power for the watch comes from kinetic energy from the wearer’s wrist. This transfers automatically to drive the mechanism inside the watch.

  • Out of all movements, quartz is the most accurate. If easy maintenance is your priority, quartz also takes the crown.
  • Mechanical lasts for a very long time.
  • Automatic is also great and is a great balance between the two.
  • If you’re after craftsmanship in a watch, manual or automatic are your best choices.

What About Power Reserve?

Because automatic watches are powered by kinetic energy, it needs to have a power reserve so that it will still work even when not being worn.

This is important to take note of, because the higher the power reserve, the longer the watch can work without the wearer.

Recommendation:

Orient Bambino 2nd Gen

★★★★★

Orient Bambino (2nd Gen) Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Which Dress Watch Is for You?

Of all the best dress watches under 500, Orient Bambino is our favorite pick.

It’s not the features that caught our eye, it’s the classic, vintage appeal, top-grade build & quality, and finally, it’s exactly what a dress watch should be.

But if you’re into something with a more unique and interesting design, you can’t go wrong with the Seiko Solar Recraft. Functionality, design, comfort, build, appeal and value. The Solar Recraft model has it all.

And finally, don’t forget our best affordable option among all dress watches under 500! The Seiko SNK793! This watch doesn’t disappoint if affordability, quality, and minimalist style sit on the top of your list.