These are must-have watches if your budget is £1,000...
When it comes to the wonderful world of watches, price points can vary to almost unimaginable levels. You can get into the hobby for just £10 with a Casio F91W on your wrist while the person next to you walks around with a luxury watch that costs the same as a house. This amount of scale means that competition at different price points can be fiercely competitive.
A maximum budget of £1,000 is a brilliant figure to net yourself a watch that is quality and will result in nods of approval from fellow watch collectors. In fact, some of our suggestions here pack a much larger punch than their price points suggest.
Let’s take a look at our best watches under £1,000…
The Laco Cuxhaven Watch - £890First up we have a solid entry from the well-loved German brand Laco. Famed for their Flieger pilots watches, the brand has many more strings to their bow including taking inspiration from 1940s pocket watches and wristwatches from submarine crews. Yes, the Laco Cuxhaven is a watch that prefers to be underwater in a submarine rather than hurtling through the skies like other Laco creations.
Whatever the preference, this 42mm wide, ETA 6498.1 Elaboré movement-based watch sports an elegant yet remarkably purposeful aesthetic that really nails it on the versatility front.
Coming in at £890 you’ll still have some remaining coin left over for some top-notch straps as well - we think you should go for these!
The Yema Superman Worldtime GMT - £899From one stand out sub £1,000 watch brand to another, and the Yema Superman Worldtime GMT.
First introduced in early 2021, this GMT from Yema is a winner on many fronts. To start with the watch is available with a coke bezel as well as a version with an all-steel bezel. You also have a choice of size as both versions are available in 39mm or 41mm. You even get an in house movement from Yema offering 42 hours of power reserve and a +/-10 seconds a day accuracy reading.
As with most Yema watches though, their real strength is in the instantly recognisable design of the Superman which translates from the core divers range to GMTs with ease.
Each version seen above offers a slightly different visual with the coke bezel option being matched with faux vintage lume to lean into the history of the brand. If you prefer your watches to feel a little more modern, the steel bezel option is the tough-looking choice for you.
The Squale 1521 Swiss Made Divers Watch - £799The Squale 1521 has been on the scene for nearly 40 years now, quietly rivalling other iconic diving watches that helped define the landscape of the industry. But Squale are no longer in the background as their modern offerings maintain a level of high quality and finishing unparalleled at this price point. In fact, Squale is one of those brands that consistently punches above its weight.
With the 1521 you get yourself a Swiss-made diving watch from a brand with a clear, traceable and honest history powered by an adored movement (the ETA 2824-2) in a watch that is an unsung hero of the watch world. Put it this way, there is a reason why many of the top brands had Squale make their cases (Blancpain we’re looking at you).
There are many versions of the 1521 available including colourful dials, a mixture of case finishes as well as unique textures. The fact these are available for less than £800 is mindblowing - we’d recommend you jump on these fast!
The Geckota S-01 Phalanx - £699If a watch with a clear story and purpose really gets you going, the S-01 Phalanx from Geckota is the one for you. The principal objective with the S-01 Phalanx was to create a watch that is not just a gimmick but a platform with real operational viability that also appeals as a contemporary watch, representing the Geckota design ethos. To achieve the desired level of authenticity and accuracy, Geckota enlisted the help of an experienced special operations expert who was involved in the birth of this watch from day one.
The S-01 Phalanx uses the core S-01 design from Geckota and builds on it following its strict design language.
With the ETA 2824-2 beating inside the Phalanx, its strong and appealing design with commanding proportions, the S-01 Phalanx is a fantastic unique option that is limited to just 50 pieces…
The NTH Santa Cruz - £575Next, we have one of the best-proportioned watches on the list. At 40mm wide with a thickness of just 11.5mm the Santa Cruz from NTH. This watch ticks a huge amount of boxes including being 300m water-resistant, having a sapphire crystal, a healthy dosing of super luminova, a 120 click unidirectional bezel and it's powered by the 9015 (or 90S5 if you go for the no date version) high beat movement from Miyota. Fans of changing watch straps will be pleased also as we find a 20mm lug width meaning you have so much choice when it comes to quality watch straps.
The attention to detail on this watch is incredible. The white crosshatch dial texture demands attention with the soft blue steel bezel injects some calming, sporty aesthetics. There is so much to love here as the Santa Cruz from NTH is a shining example of what is great about microbrand watches.
The Laco Himalaya Dive Watch - £890The Laco Himalaya is a 300m water-resistant, 42mm wide, ETA 2824-2 Elaboré powered beast. With a tough as nails look (I mean, check out those bezel teeth and strong orange minute hand!) the Himalaya shows the depth in Laco’s watchmaking capability. The movement is a huge selling point for the Himalaya as the 2824-2 is starting to become a bit of a unicorn now.
In fact, legibility is extremely high on the Himalaya and although we see a date a 3, symmetry isn’t damaged at all.
Check out our Laco Himalaya review here.
If you’re after an under the radar dive watch, you’re looking at it! Check out the Himalaya from Laco here.
The NTH Azores Vintage Style Divers Watch - £599If dials are your thing, it’s hard to knock NTH and their Azores diver. The deeply-textured dial, applied indices, brushed details throughout the dial and classic styling, all amalgamate into one of the most coherent watches on this list.
With the Miyota 9015 powering this unique looking super compressor watch the technicality of this piece certainly matches its aesthetic. At 40mm wide with a thickness of 11.5mm you’re also getting an immensely comfortable and wearable piece that is bang on-trend.
For just £599, the Azores from NTH is a hit for the brand and would make for a brilliant addition to a collection - especially at the price tag!
The Yema Superman Heritage Automatic 41mm - £830Naturally, we can’t really talk about Yema and not cover its classic, traditional Superman diver. At 41mm in size, this is a brilliantly commanding watch on the wrist suited to slightly larger wrists.
Powered by the workhorse movement of the industry, the Sellita SW200-1 is a fantastically reliable automatic movement that is commonly found in watches with higher price tags than the Superman.
A lovely mixture of brushed and polished surfaces complement this timeless diver effortlessly.
Little more than 1k:
Sometimes rules are there to be broken and when it comes to watch budgets, it’s normally worth just having a quick look to see what else is out there for a few hundred pounds more.
After all, if you’re spending £1,000 on a watch, a few hundred pounds more isn’t a huge amount right?
The Squale Sub 39 GMT - £1,299Stretching that budget by £300 could net you this GMT gem from the well-loved Squale! With styling very much rooted in historical references, this 39mm GMT packs a huge punch for the money. Its size is comfortable and understated, its design both charming with tons of modern usability. The movement inside is potentially the star of the show: the ETA 2893-2 automatic movement.
Not only does this offer 50 hours of power reserve but it's also a true traveller's GMT watch with an hour hand that can be independently set by jumping. Take a look at it here!
The Squale Sub 39 Diver - £1,099Squale also offers a watch in their Sub39 case as a time and date only diving watch in both blue with a steel bezel and a more traditional black dial configuration. At only £99 more than our budget, it would be rude to not mention this brilliant choice. Under the hood, we have the Sellita SW200 as well...
The Straton Speciale Automatic Chronograph Watch - Blue £1,099Look up ‘1970s’ in the dictionary and you’ll see an image of the Straton Speciale. Okay, that’s not completely true but this automatic chronograph from Straton is extremely indicative of the quirky, unique style of the 1970s.
Powering this angled, rectangular case chronograph is the automatic ETA 7750 chronograph movement famed for its accuracy, reliability and reputation. Considering you can get this brilliant movement in a unique, distinctive watch for £1,099? That’s pretty impressive in our book...
What is the best watch under £1,000?
Deciding on just one watch as the best from our list is tricky, but if we had whittle it down to just one we believe the Squale 1521 is the best watch under £1,000.The watch comes in a couple of hundred pounds under budget and still is a full Swiss-made watch. It offers wth a desirable ETA 2824-2 movement from a brand with genuine history. The 1521 has had a positive impact on the watch world and its latest version comes in at a perfect size for a tool watch.
At WatchGecko we not only cover the watch industry, design and develop our own range of watch straps but we also stock a range of watches from curated watch brands. The selection is carefully handpicked by our specialist team to offer something truly different.