What makes a “good value” watch at $1000, $5000 and $10,000? What makes a “good value” watch at $1000, $5000 and $10,000?

What makes a “good value” watch at $1000, $5000 and $10,000?

Andrew McUtchen

The question of what watches represent good value usually comes from younger people taking their first steps in the industry. They’ve heard somewhere that luxury watches are a good investment, and that storing your money on your wrist can be as lucrative as it is enjoyable in the meantime.  

Except, and we’re sorry to be killjoys, it’s not quite that easy. Very, very few watches appreciate in monetary value over time. The vast majority lose a huge portion of their ticket price the minute you step out of the store. By the time a ‘modern classic’ has been called, it’s too late. You’ve already missed the boat. And as for the surefire investment-grade pieces, unless you have a waiting-list-beating friendship with a dealer or brand, or an endless pipeline of cash, the obvious pieces that will appreciate over time remain, for the main, out of reach.  

But, in our view, research on this topic at any stage in your watch journey — and at every price point — is time well spent. Of course, we could give the emotionally led answer and say ‘as long as you like it that’s all that matters’, which although true, would be a bit of a cop out here. There are tangible things you can look out for, and expect at different price points in terms of quality, and complications. For example, can you find a fantastic perpetual calendar for less than $40,000? Yes, they do exist, but you need to dig.

What makes a watch under $1000 good value? 

At this price point what you’re looking for is pretty basic, but that’s not to say watches with a much higher price don’t still use the same things you should look to find in entry-level pieces. Under $1000 AUD doesn’t go too far, but you can certainly find plenty of watches powered by a Swiss-made automatic movement, which is good value at this level. While the Sellita 200 is very common these days, it’s possible to find an ETA 2824 driving your watch, so look out for that to begin with.

In this price bracket there are also plenty of very collectible brands, with Seiko divers and Casio G-Shocks popping into mind. Both are Japanese in origin, but the cost versus quality ratio is undeniable. The low-end Seiko movements aren’t the smoothest, nor are they the most accurate timekeepers, but when you consider that a Seiko Turtle (an absolute classic) costs about $900, with oodles of achingly cool after-market modifications available (just check out the neat bezel inserts you can pick up on eBay to give your little Turtle its own style), it starts to look like a bargain. These watches have an awesome following too, so if you factor community interaction and a sense of belonging into the value equation these pieces really do provide a lot of bang for your buck.

What makes a watch for around $5000 good value? 

At this point you are right on the border of whether or not you can expect (or rather hope) to find an in-house movement inside the watch. It’s pretty hard to find, but both Tudor and NOMOS Glashütte do offer real in-house movements at this price point. As two of the best value brands going, NOMOS takes full advantage of its vertical manufacturing to produce a totally original series of in-house calibres that they are able to sell at very competitive prices as a result.  

What makes a watch under $10,000 good value? 


At this level you have a few more in-house options with Omega’s new Seamaster 300m collection coming into play (starting at under $6000, it is a remarkable value proposition) among others, as well as the potential complexity of the watch increasing.


On this level I would look for complications, complications, complications. You can definitely expect to get a Swiss-made chronograph at this point, but it would be unlikely to find an in-house option (beyond something from the Swatch Group). It’s more likely at this point that you might find precious metals creeping in to the exterior of the watch also. This can add some inherent value, and a huge amount of luxury appeal to a watch.