Top Fashion / Designer Watches of 2019 Under $500

If you are into watches — and if you read this most probably you are — you are aware of what is called “fashion watches”. Which, let’s be frank, do not enjoy a very good reputation among watch freaks — but this should really not be the case, and we will tell you why.

What are fashion watches?

The technological development that brought the Swiss industry almost to the collapse left in its trail the possibility of manufacturing watches at next-to-impossible prices before, something that the same industry profited for when launching the watch that became synonymous with its reprise, the Swatch.

Lovely, colorful, cheap and showy (but in a good way), the Swatch was the perfect timepiece to represent this time. And in fact, it started the wave of the fashion and designer watches.

The Swatch was sort of disposable. It had (and still has) a quartz mechanism, that is inherently better at timekeeping vs. the traditional mechanical ones, so it was always spot-on. Quite different from earlier affordable mechanical watches, it was designed to be loud and fun.

Most Swatches of the time were styled by famous contemporary designers, painters, artists and also musicians, which have rendered them unique. And as the timepieces themselves were so cheap, everyone could afford to buy a few to display publicly his or her mood at that moment.

They were created to be a fashion accessory, lightweight and affordable. And they launched a new trend in horology.

From then onwards, everyone could show his more playful side without burning a gaping hole in their bank accounts.

It was revolutionary, democratizing, and — let’s say it — fun enough. This fact opened a huge niche for everyone bold enough to step in and take it: which happened with the evolution of fashion brands.

The big groups saw the opportunity of making horology a part of their holistic “image overhaul”. Brands started to take a thorough, cross-category approach to their offerings, so people can get into brands without splurging out huge amounts of money for “core” products that might be out of their reach.

This trend seems well rooted in the branding work of several big fashion groups. For what you pay, which usually is a very reasonable amount of money, you get a watch which can represent your peculiar mood.

So much that some of the most well-known horology brands have started to do the same, introducing entry-level lines which give people the possibility of getting into horology, and by wearing a famous and respected “name” around their wrist.

Three good reasons to buy one of the best fashion watches

1 — Cheap and Chic

The eclectic trend that the brand well represents is what you get from the typical fashion watch.

So, affordable and refined, in a way (which sounds less catchy than the former, though).

With a fashion watch, you can afford to be a bit bolder, and get a timepiece which is perfect for one occasion — but which possibly be limited to that moment only.

Try to do that with a Cartier watch — as Cartier is one of the companies which instead have not followed the fast fashion trend in horology.

So, what do you usually get with the best fashion watches? You get a very precise quartz timepiece, more often than not manufactured by some very big and famous specialized groups, and which mounts an industry-grade Japanese movement — Miyota being one of the most common.

The other elements of the watch generally follow closely the overall style of the brand — like Armani being minimalistic, and Dolce & Gabbana being creative and dazzling in their expression.

The quality would be uniformly reasonable, and the price that you are going to pay will be more than adequate. Plus, you will enjoy the satisfaction of wearing an expression of your favorite brand and display it at will without too many remorses if you accidentally scratch it against something.

You might get a bit careless without you really caring — which is liberating if you are like me — like any serious horology freak, someone who gets worried every time he discovers a tiny little scratch on one of his favorite timepieces.

2 — Up for accuracy, anyone?

A typical quartz-based watch has an accuracy of around 5 seconds faster or slower per month; a typical Chronometer, officially certified by Swiss COSC, a certification organization which measures the performances of every single movement they receive, has an accuracy limit of about -4/+6 seconds per day.

As you can see, the quartz-based movements are around 30 times more precise than their mechanical counterparts. And they stay like this for three to five years: the average duration of the power cell powering them.

Once exhausted, you slide in a new one, and voilà — another three to five years of service. Enough to please even the laziest wearers.

3 — Help, I need a watch!

For example, your main watch has to be taken to the repair shop urgently, and you need another watch for an event (and no, constantly checking your phone is socially awkward, let us tell you).

Or you sort of forgot an anniversary which requires you to buy a gift.

A fashion watch might be one of the best choices around, especially if you do not know that intimately the person.

There could be tens of different situations characterized by urgency: you get the idea.

As you will see, some of the best fashion watches, despite their affordability, make a great show all around, with all bells and whistles — so they would represent a very fine way to patch up a pesky situation and come out well.

Getting a peek at our picks

So, here are some of our suggestions for your shopping needs — but remember that there are many others on our website.

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman

The style of the “King of Carnaby Street” defines this line of beautiful watches, which are designed to look sharp, for the style of the modern working gentleman who wants to be noticeable, but in a very understated way.

Ben Sherman Brighton WB063BBR — $34 (Retail: $55) — Also available on Amazon.com

The uncluttered, simple black dial covered by a mineral crystal glass displays simple silvery lines, and a perfectly-sized small seconds dial at six: something that seems to come from the pencil of a Bauhaus master.

Ben Sherman WB063BBR
Ben Sherman WB063BBR
Ben Sherman WB063BBR

The rigorous stainless steel case with matching back recalls the suggestions of the first wristwatches with their wire lugs.

Instead, you will find an industry-grade crocodile print purple leather strap, with a tang buckle closure.

The watch comes with an industry-grade quartz movement and is water resistant to 30 mt, so it allows for casual contact with water as well.

Ben Sherman Carnaby Driver WB052SM — $45 (Retail: $99) — Also available on Amazon.com

Its white dial, with Arabic numerals, silvery hour marks and a grayish small seconds sub-dial at six, capture the essential style of the watchmaker and give a very legible read.

Ben Sherman Carnaby Driver Watches WB052SM
Ben Sherman Carnaby Driver Watches WB052SM
Ben Sherman Carnaby Driver Watches WB052SM

The timepiece features a stainless steel bracelet with security closure, which complements well with its simple and elegant case and permits a more sport-centered use of the watch.

The Carnaby Driver offers a 50 meters water resistance, a feat that makes it very suitable for some serious water activity.

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss
Hugo Boss

No one can deny that the style of the German fashion house is among the most refined and elegant worldwide, with its typical Teutonic rigor and it’s somber, but aesthetically exquisite plays on hues.

Hugo Boss Dublin Orange 1550045 — $80 (Retail: $149) — Also available on Amazon.com

It features a noteworthy bronzed dial, which offers the perfect background for the black hour marks to be noticed.

Hugo Boss Dublin Men's Watch Orange 1550045
Hugo Boss Dublin Men's Watch Orange 1550045
Hugo Boss Dublin Men’s Watch Orange 1550045

The baton-like hands, with white lume, are very legible, and give to the timepiece a distinctive German vibe, with the only colored note being the brand’s logo in orange.

The watch mounts a quartz movement and features a stainless steel case with mineral crystal glass and a black silicon strap, secured by a tang buckle.

The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters, rendering it a great fit for sports-oriented people as well.

Hugo Boss Aviator Casual Sport Men’s Watch Blue 1513515 — $130 (Retail: $249) — Also available on Amazon.com

Hugo Boss Aviator Casual Sport Men's Watch Blue 1513515
Hugo Boss Aviator Casual Sport Men's Watch Blue 1513515
Hugo Boss Aviator Casual Sport Men’s Watch Blue 1513515

The blue dial with red accents and white hour marks is extremely legible, and its three-hands centrally mounted lineup is complemented by two subdials at six and twelve for displaying date and day.

The watch mounts an industry-grade quartz movement. The case of the Aviator Casual is made of stainless steel with a mineral crystal glass, and it is complemented by a black leather strap secured with a tang buckle.

Like other products of the watchmaker, this watch is water-resistant to 50 meters.

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari Watches
Scuderia Ferrari Watches

If you are alive, you know for sure the Italian brand with yellow shield and the horse.

The Scuderia Ferrari watches are designed to take the legacy out of the most famous sports cars of the world and transfer it to your wrist by creating watches that capture the sporty spirit of the brand.

Ferrari Scuderia Aerodinamico Watch 830149 — $103 (Retail: $205) — Also available on Amazon.com

It is very clear ana-digital display lets you quickly check the hours of the analogic display, and use a very precise chronometer for the digital part.

Ferrari Scuderia Aerodinamico Watch 830149
Ferrari Scuderia Aerodinamico Watch 830149
Ferrari Scuderia Aerodinamico Watch 830149

Powered by an industry grade quartz movement, the timepiece features also a handy alarm. Its case is in stainless steel with a mineral crystal glass and features a sporty black silicone strap fitted with a tang buckle.

The stainless steel back has a screw mount, so the watch is water-resistant to 50 meters.

Ferrari Scuderia FXX Watch 830223 — $138 (Retail: $275) — Also available on Amazon.com

Its black dial, complemented by red accents, brings out the sporty side of you.

This watch features a military disposition of the matt dial and its glossy sub-dials, with central hours, minutes and seconds, 24-hour indicator at the nine o’clock position, and a sub-dial for date indication positioned at six o’clock.

Ferrari FXX Watch 830223
Ferrari FXX Watch 830223
Ferrari FXX Watch 830223

The black composite material case, which is secured by a black and red silicon strap fitted with a tang buckle, and stainless steel back of the watch is engineered to make it water-resistant to 50 meters.

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld Watches
Karl Lagerfeld Watches

“Kaiser Karl” was one of the most influential modern designers — and the watches dedicated to him feature the same charm and androgynous elegance, which make most of them perfect unisex wear.

Karl Lagerfeld Pyramid Stud Watch KL2601 — $63 (Retail: $250) — Also available on Amazon.com

Black as the color of choice of the designer, it gives an allure of mystery and sophistication to the wearer and becomes understated but not unnoticed.

Karl Lagerfeld Pyramid Stud Watch KL2601
Karl Lagerfeld Pyramid Stud Watch KL2601
Karl Lagerfeld Pyramid Stud Watch KL2601

The watch mounts a three-hand quartz movement, protected by a stainless steel case and back, and the silicon bracelet is fitted with a folding clasp.

The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters. The Pyramid stud is also available in white.

Karl Lagerfeld Tokidoki Digital Dial Pendant Watch KL9002 — $49 (Retail: $195) — Also available on Amazon.com

Karl Lagerfeld Tokidoki Digital Dial Pendant Watch KL9002
Karl Lagerfeld Tokidoki Digital Dial Pendant Watch KL9002
Karl Lagerfeld Tokidoki Digital Dial Pendant Watch KL9002

The Tokidoki, with its Japanese-inspired shape, becomes a fusion of styles and suggestions, it’s red digital figures (hours and minutes) displayed on the tiny sunglasses of the figure.

An accessory which does not fail to attract attention. This delightfully unconventional pendant watch comes with a long gold-colored ion-plated chain necklace that measures 33" in length.

Montegrappa

Montegrappa
Montegrappa

One of the most famous manufacturers of luxury pens worldwide, Montegrappa, with its unconventional spirit and design, has conquered the heart of many watch lovers.

Apart from the perfect workmanship and technical contents, Montegrappa products are often bold — and so are perfect to put a touch of assertiveness into your daily life.

Montegrappa Cash Watches IDF$WALC — $137 (Retail: $685) — Also available on Amazon.com

Then, you discover the subtle play of the dial, which displays a rendition of the Dollar sign as a background, on different finishings of the black hue.

Montegrappa Cash Watches IDF$WALC
Montegrappa Cash Watches IDF$WALC
Montegrappa Cash Watches IDF$WALC

The dial displays an array of white hour marks which — together with the three white hands indicating hours, minutes and seconds, making it very legible.

This piece features a Swiss made quartz movement, tucked inside an ion-coated black case made of stainless steel, mounted onto a black leather crocodile-printed strap, secured on the wrist with a tang buckle.

The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters.

Montegrappa Fortuna Black Watch IDOMWARC — $178 (Retail: $890) — Also available on Amazon.com

Montegrappa Fortuna Black Watch IDOMWARC
Montegrappa Fortuna Black Watch IDOMWARC
Montegrappa Fortuna Black Watch IDOMWARC

The same gold accents and Arabic numerals, together with white, on black, make the hour marks very legible, and give to the watch a refined luxury look.

The watch houses a Swiss-made quartz movement inside a black ion-plated stainless steel case, covered by an ion-plated gold-colored stainless steel bezel, and is mounted on a crocodile-print black leather strap complete with a matching tang buckle.

The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters.

Citizen

Citizen Watches
Citizen Watches

One of the biggest horology companies of the world, Citizen hails from Japan and manufactures watches of excellent quality and innovative movements, such as the Eco-Drive, which offer an amazing price/quality ratio, becoming trusted companions to the most exigent watch-lovers worldwide.

Citizen Avion Eco-Drive CA4210–24 — $163 (Retail: $295) — Also available on Amazon.com

This quartz movement relies on light to power it: the hours charge under it make for a six-months charge.

Citizen Avion Eco-Drive CA4210-24E
Citizen Avion Eco-Drive CA4210-24E
Citizen Avion Eco-Drive CA4210–24E

And the watch is really handsome.

It offers a stainless steel case with a Hardlex mineral crystal and comes with a retro-inspired brown leather strap with white stitchings.

The black dial has a tricompax design, offering central hours, minutes, chronograph seconds, and a window for date indication, while the sub-dials feature small seconds, 60-minute chronograph counter and 24-hour indicator.

To boot, this watch is also water-resistant to 100 meters, making it suitable even for snorkeling.

Citizen World Chronograph A-T Eco-Drive AT8020–54l — $370 (Retail: $675) — Also available on Amazon.com
This gorgeous timepiece mounts an Eco-Drive movement, making it rely exclusively on light to power up its quartz mechanism, and also, a radio-controlled system to regulate it automatically by connecting with an atomic clock broadcast.

No more hassles, ever.

Citizen World Chronograph A-T Eco-Drive AT8020-54L
Citizen World Chronograph A-T Eco-Drive AT8020-54L
Citizen World Chronograph A-T Eco-Drive AT8020–54L

The timepiece comes with a stainless steel case with a matching bracelet with a fold-over clasp.

Its deep blue dial assures perfect legibility, and the watch is water-resistant to 100 meters.

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