“As you can see, you don’t have to spend $22,500 for a Vacheron Constantin Overseas to have a real sport watch on your wrist. There are some pretty sweet alternatives in the $500-1000 price range.”
List Of The Best Sports Watches Under $1,000
- Timex M79 Automatic ($279)
- Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 ($775)
- Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 ($650)
- Autodromo Group B Series 2 ($975)
- Sinn 556 A ($990)
- Christopher Ward C63 Sealander ($815)
- Christopher Ward C65 Trident ($1,015)
- Lorier Falcon II ($499)
Unlike a chronograph or a dive watch, the parameters of what makes a good sports watch aren’t so easily defined. There isn’t a certain certification or a set of complications that makes a sport watch a sports watch. And usually, there is a certain level of confusion when it comes to differentiating between a sport and a dive watch since they share a lot of the same DNA chunks.
What To Look For In A Sports Watch
That being said, there are certain things to look out for when deciding on an analog sport watch. First, just think of how, when, and where you will be wearing this watch the most. Usually, the typical sports watch would be worn with a more casual outfit, like a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and makes for an excellent companion when you are out doing activities like hiking, running, or playing tennis. Unlike dress watches, sports watches are usually on the larger side of the spectrum when it comes to case sizes. And this is completely okay since there is no need for a sports watch to fit under your sleeve. So, what does that mean more specifically? When buying a sports watch, try to go for watches with case sizes ranging from around 38mm all the way up to 44mm. If your wrist and your taste allow it, you can even go larger than that. But please bear in mind that too chunky watches usually look rather pushy and not every wrist size can pull off a 44mm watch. So be mindful about that, but other than that, feel free to choose whatever you want. I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that you should do with your money whatever you want to do with it. I’m just here to give you some support in the decision process.
Now that we talked about the case size of a typical sports watch, let’s take a closer look at what you have to look out for regarding other specifications, like water resistance, durability, or strap choices. Let’s start with the water resistance part. Let me be clear, a sport watch doesn’t have to be a dive watch. In some cases, it can be, but unlike a dive watch, a sports watch doesn’t need 200-300 meters of water resistance. Usually, a water resistance rating of 50 to 100 meters is sufficient if you plan to wear this watch mainly on dry land or for a plunge in your pool. Besides having some sort of water protection, durability is also a key factor when deciding on a sports watch. Since you will be wearing this watch during your hiking trips or sports events, it’s important that the watch features a certain level of durability and protection against outside influences. What does that mean? Well, try to go for a watch that offers a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a durable stainless-steel case, and maybe, even a shock-resistant movement, that can take some hits. And last but not least, the strap/bracelet. This is a rather easy one, just go with a stainless-steel bracelet, a NATO strap, or a rubber strap. Maybe even synthetic leather, but trust me, you don’t want to get caught in a thunderstorm when you wear your finest leather strap.
There you have it. Water resistance, durability, and strap choice. These are the most important factors to consider when buying a sports watch. Now that you know what to look out for, why don’t I give you some premium examples of sports watches, just to make things easier for you. And in order to do that, I’ve rounded up eight of my favorite sports timepieces on this list of the best sport watches that can be bought for $1,000 or less. And as always, I’m trying to include some not-so-well-known brands as well, so that even the most knowledgeable enthusiast will still get to see something new. By the way, if you are interested in other parts of the series “Best Watches Under”, click here and you will get a whole overview of all the topics I’ve covered.
But enough with all the talking, let’s get started!
Timex M79 Automatic ($279)
Let’s start off with the first pick of the day. The Timex M79 Automatic. The M79 is inspired by the 1970’s Q Timex watches and was therefore designed to have a distinctive vintage look to it. And you can see that in almost every aspect of the watch. From the hour markers with faux patina all the way to the aluminum bezel which features printed-on markings.
The Timex M79 features a modified automatic Miyota movement which is housed in a 40mm stainless steel case that has an acrylic crystal on top and a see-through caseback, which also features a sapphire crystal. The whole package has a water resistance of up to 50 meters and a power reserve of around 40 hours. The dial and bezel of the watch are very clean and simple, which fits in perfectly with the overall sports narrative.
Combine those specs with a price tag of just $279, and you got yourself a great and affordable sports watch.
Specifications: Price: $279, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 14.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Modified automatic Miyota movement, Power Reserve: 40 Hours, Crystal: Acrylic
Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 ($775)
Next up is the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium. Founded back in 1853, in a small Swiss town named Le Locle, Tissot is known to deliver high-quality mechanical timepieces at very modest price points. This can be seen throughout their lineup, making it a very attractive choice when on a budget.
The Tissot Gentleman was designed to be used as a watch that can be worn every day and with any activity. And this design philosophy can be clearly seen in the case and the dial. The durable stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter and 11.5mm in thickness, making it suitable for virtually every occasion. Complementing the brushed case and the polished bezel is the beautiful blue dial, which features applied indexes, arrow-shaped hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a rather conservative branding. The stainless-steel bracelet, on which Tissot presents the watch, features a combination of brushed and polished links.
In the Tissot Gentleman 80 beats the Swiss-made, automatic Powermatic 80.811 movement, which provides a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. This impressive power reserve is achieved with a Silicium balance spring, which was built into the movement, and enables the watch to have increased magnetic resistance, increased accuracy, and the mentioned impressive power reserve.
Now that you know all the specs, there is only one question left. Where can I get one? You can order the watch online or visit your local Tissot AD. The $775 you will have to pay, is certainly worth it.
Specifications: Price: $775, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic, Swiss-made Powermatic 80.811 movement, Power Reserve: 80 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 ($650)
Some of you may know the Tissot PRX, a 1970’s inspired sports watch with an integrated bracelet. When Tissot first presented the watch at the beginning of 2021, everyone was hyped because of the iconic design that shares some similarities with the AP Royal Oak. And then, the bummer. The watch was only available in Quartz. I remember thinking to myself that if they only had produced one with a mechanical movement, I would be the first one to stand in front of a Tissot Boutique. Well, what do you know, a few months later, Tissot finally introduced the mechanical version of this watch. The Tissot PRX Powermatic 80.
The watch features a stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 10.9mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. The combination of the 40mm case size, the slim profile, and the short lug to lug distance, make this watch wear rather comfortably on a broad range of different wrist sizes. But what really made the design of this watch so intriguing to the watch community, is its resemblance with the legendary luxury sports watches from the 70s, like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the AP Royal Oak, or the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. This resemblance can be seen in two different aspects of the watch. First, the understated deep blue dial with steel hands and a date window, and second, the integrated bracelet, made from brushed stainless steel.
Adding to the positive resonance that this watch received, is the automatic Powermatic 80.111 movement, which beats inside of the PRX. Providing an astonishing 80 hours of power reserve, this watch blows its competition out of the water.
And there you have it, the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 is a great option when it comes to choosing a sports watch, especially when you are on a budget.
Specifications: Price: $650, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 10.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Tissot Powermatic 80.111 movement, Power Reserve: 80 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Autodromo Group B Series 2 ($975)
Autodromo first introduced the Group B series way back in 2015, and it quickly found a way into the hearts of countless watch enthusiasts around the world. The philosophy behind the unique design of the Autodromo Group B Series originates in the 1980’s– which is considered the romantic era of motorsport with unfettered technical ingenuity, space age exotic materials, and turbo-boosted horsepower. And the design of the Group B combines all those aspects in one handsome watch.
The Autodromo Group B Series 2 features a brushed titanium and stainless-steel case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 9mm in thickness, and 49.75mm from lug to lug. The case composition is rather unique since it features a combination of both ultra-light titanium and stainless steel, which makes it very durable and perfect for a sports watch. But you can’t talk about the case without mentioning the bracelet at the same time. See, one of the most significant features of this watch is its integrated bracelet, which flows effortlessly into the whole case and dial aesthetic. The bracelet by the way is made from stainless steel only, so you will still get to feel the weight of the steel on your wrist. Complementing the whole racing and motorsport design is the unique, black dial, which features tachometer-like indexes, hands, and lettering. They even got the crown to look like a screw that you would typically find in a motor block. Topping off the whole thing is a sapphire crystal, which will protect it from possible scratches and bumps.
Powered by the automatic Miyota 9015, the watch provides around 42 hours of power reserve.
And that’s it. For a price of just $975, you will get a sporty watch, that makes the heart of every motorsport enthusiast beat faster.
Specifications: Price: $975, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49.75mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9015 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Sinn 556 A ($990)
Moving on to a very special watch from German manufacturer Sinn. The Sinn 556 A, also known as the sibling of the famous Sinn 556 I, which unfortunately couldn’t make it into this list, since it has a retail price of $1,100. But luckily for us, the Sinn 556 A costs $110 less, making it perfectly suitable to be included in our list today.
Inspired by the navigation- and pilot watches from past eras, the Sinn 556 A features a very straightforward design. Starting with the stainless-steel case, which has a basic brush to it, but nothing more. The same goes for the bezel, which is just a piece of steel that was brushed on top and polished on the sides. But the most important part of the watch is the dial anyway, right? And when it comes to the dial, you can clearly see the aviator inspiration that went into designing it, ranging from the painted luminescent indexes to the aviator’s hands, and the small date window on the 4:30 position. But as with the case, the dial is also kept very simple, to ensure high legibility and to fit in with the overall aesthetic. And I have to say, that I love it. As the seasoned reader of this blog may know, I’m a big fan of understated design and simplicity. And the Sinn 556 A is a premium example of that.
If you are in the market for a German-built watch, which features a very simple design, is powered by the highly reliable automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, and costs you just shy of $1,000, this watch is made for you.
Specifications: Price: $990, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Christopher Ward C63 Sealander ($815)
Next up is the Christopher Ward C63 Sealander. Known for being the world’s first online-only watch brand, Christopher Ward was founded by the three friends, Mike France, Peter Ellis, and Chris Ward back in 2005. The idea of making their own watches, came to them, while they were enjoying a gentle boat trip down the river Thames. And as they all were fascinated by horology and everything that surrounds it, the decision was made that they want to start a watch business. And after more than a year, on June 2nd, 2005, they launched their brand out of a converted chicken shed on a farm in Berkshire, England.
The Christopher Ward C63 Sealander features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 11.25mm in thickness, and 45.8mm from lug to lug. Complementing the simple case is a crisp white dial, which features applied hour indexes, the CW-typical hands, and a date window on the 6 o’clock position. The splashes of color on the second’s marker and on the second hand, bring variety into the else, very plain dial.
Inside of the case beats the automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, which beats at 28,800 BPH and provides roughly 38 hours of power reserve.
For a price of just $815, you will get an immaculately made Swiss watch driven by a very reliable movement. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Specifications: Price: $815, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.25mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Christopher Ward C65 Trident ($1,015)
Continuing with another watch from Christopher Ward. The Christopher Ward C65 Trident. And while this watch is technically classified as a dive watch, the C65 Trident also makes for a great sports watch. And, as you can surely see in the price tag, I went slightly over budget with this one ($15 to be exact), but trust me, this watch is definitely worth an extra $15.
Inspired by dive watches from the 1960s, the vintage influences that went into designing this watch can be spotted quite easily. For example, the blue aluminum bezel, which features the iconic printed-on dive markings. Or the box sapphire crystal, which, with its domed bulge, reminds of the crystals that were used in the old days. Rounding off the vintage look and feel is the matte blue dial, which features faux-patina hour markers, faux-patina filled hands, as well as a small and well-fitted date window on the 3 o’clock position.
Inside the 41mm stainless steel case beats the Swiss-made, automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, which provides approximately 38 hours of power reserve.
And that’s it. If you are in the market for a vintage-inspired sport/dive watch and have around $1,000 to spend, then this Swiss-made watch from Christopher Ward would be an excellent choice.
Specifications: Price: $1,015, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11.55mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.1mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Lorier Falcon II ($499)
And the last contender of today is the Lorier Falcon II. A watch from the US-based brand Lorier, who with their famous watches like the Gemini, Hydra, or Hyperion, made a name for themselves and gained the valuable respect of the watch community. On Lorier’s website, the Falcon II is described as; “The ruggedly elegant, do-it-all sports watch”, which is quite accurate, considering the way the watch was designed.
Designed after the iconic watches worn by mid-century explorers, the Lorier Falcon II features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 36mm in diameter, 11mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. Now I know, the 36mm case size contradicts my previous size statement in the “What to look for in a sports watch” section. And while this statement (most sport watches measure between 38-44mm) is certainly true for most of the modern sport watches out there, there are a few examples, like the Lorier Falcon II, or the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36, which break out of the norm. And since I like smaller watches, I’m very fond of including them in my articles.
Anyway, besides its unusual case size, the Lorier Falcon II also offers an awesome, deep blue, textured dial, arrow-shaped hands, painted hour markers, an automatic Miyota 90S5 movement, a Hesalite crystal, and a screw-down crown, enabling the watch to be water-resistant up to 100 meters.
Priced at just $499, the Lorier Falcon II offers immense value for its money and will certainly prove itself worthy in your collection.
Specifications: Price: $499, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 90S5 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Hesalite
As you can see, you don’t have to spend $22,500 for a Vacheron Constantin Overseas to have a real sports watch on your wrist. There are some pretty sweet alternatives in the $500-1000 price range. Oh, and by the way, if you are interested in other watches under $1,000, I made a complete list of the best automatic watches under $1,000. Would appreciate it if you could check it out.