6 Affordable Automatic Watches That Feel Luxe

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max that You get what you pay for it’s a deceptive conceit. In a jiffy, it discredits cheap goods as inherently inferior, while praising the belief that expensive goods are inherently high quality.

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But we know that is not always the case. Sometimes there’s no real luxury contender (see smartphone). Sometimes a simpler, less overly engineered option may be better (Henry Hoover versus Dyson, or, for that matter, a human-powered vacuum on a robot). And the sometimes intimidating small brands compete by offering products with surprisingly high efficiencies while undercutting respected global players. Luckily, this has been happening in the watch world for some time now—yes, even with proper automatic movements.

Below is a selection of semi-affordable watches, all fully automatic, and all for under $1,000 (and one for under $100). All admirably punches above their own weight. And everyone should serve you well, from diving to fine dining, for decades to come.

What is a fully automatic, self-winding watch?

Proper automatic movements, you say? what is that? good question An automatic watch, also confusingly known as a “self-winding” watch, is a mechanical watch where the wearer’s natural motion—you move your arm around (picking up coffee, hello) waving, or simply rotating) provide all the energy needed to wind the mainspring (this is the source of the clock’s power, a spiral torsion spring, but think of it like your phone’s battery). This means that if you wear the watch regularly you will never have to wind up. It just keeps on going. How long it lasts after you stop wearing it is called power reserve (similar to when your phone is on standby). Hand-wound watches cannot do this, you have to remember to wind them at regular intervals. We explain more about the types of watches at the end of this article.

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