For me, summer is about disconnecting and a taking more relaxed view of life, even if I seem to be working a lot. This also extends to wristwear, and as a collector at heart, nothing makes me happier than some new wrist fun for the sunny season. With that in mind, I’ve found several cool and fun summer watches for less than €500 each.

Why so cheap? I am a strong advocate for value, even if I have some expensive watches in my box. Why? Summer is about traveling with the family, all its associated bumps and scrapes, and fun days at the beach. It’s also about not having to care that much, right? But still, it’s worth having an accurate time-telling tool, which means your phone and all its notifications can stay hidden from view. Just disconnect, baby.

Five Cool Summer Watches For Less Than €500

Cool summer watches: G-Shock GX-56MF-1

With G-Shock, for me, it’s only a question of which one because any big G is a great summer watch. This time, I’m not holding back, and I would go for the one that doesn’t even fit into my watch cabinet; it’s that big. The GX-56 consists of the biggest monsters in the square G-catalog, and I’m a repentant sinner. I had one once and sold it because, well, it was overpowering. I am, however, well on the way to bigger forearms at the gym, and the big black monster has just received a sprinkling of color.

Five Cool Summer Watches For Less Than €500

The GX-56MF-1 might be a bold, even intimidating piece of wristwear, but it’s a no-brainer at only €149 with a solar-powered movement. The all-black version is a bit too severe, but with a cheeky mix of pink and turquoise accents in the display, it has acquired a new personality. It will not go under many sleeves as its insane 53.6mm width, 55.5mm length, and 17.5mm thickness are enormous. But, for less than €200, it will survive anything except maybe a nuclear blast. It’s a gigantic bargain, and as usual, it has way more functions than you will ever need.

Citizen NY0040-09W

I admit that this wasn’t originally on my list. I ripped off Nacho’s great new idea from his way-too-good Insta-snaps. Nacho already has it on his wrist most days, and I get it. It’s a friendly, familiar shape that many will recognize as their first mechanical sports watch. Sure, the case edges might not be razor sharp in their definition, but everything works with a 200m depth rating for less than €300. The Citizen NY0040-09W has a full-lume dial, an eminently grippy bezel with a rounded shape, and a leftie crown tucked in for comfort. Add a scratch or two, and its bulletproofness is pretty hard to argue with.

Five Cool Summer Watches For Less Than €500

The Citizen Aqualand series is just as evocative as the flashy yellow miniature oxygen tank this watch comes in. The 42mm × 45mm case is compact, and though it comes on the prerequisite accordion dive strap, it’ll look great on a NATO. The NY0040-09W is discontinued, but you can still find it online for around €250. It won’t have the world’s most accurate self-winding movement, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a flashlight-bright lume monster and a legend in its own right.

Seiko 5 Sports SSK025

Seiko watches have become much more expensive than only a few years ago, but to be fair, so have many, many other brands. And with inflation being a part of everyday life, €500 is far from what it used to be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some proper bargains, especially in the Seiko 5 Sports range. This is about fresh, fun summer watches, so why this stealthy black version? In the SSK025, I love the crisp definition of the big field-watch numerals and its crossover-tool-watch sense. Taking advantage of the value-packed 4R34 movement with its 24-hour GMT functionality, the clean black SSK case design also makes a decent pilot’s watch.

I know that the SSK025 is a field watch by definition and marketing. All the correct details are present too, from big Arabic numerals in a light green lume print to the small inner 13–24-hour markings. With a 39.4mm case and decent 13.4mm thickness, this blacked-out watch has a mission-ready flight vibe and a solid 100m depth rating. Fitted with an unusual black leather NATO strap, yes, it appears more serious than some watches in this story. But the fresh orange details make that dial pop with GMT functionality, and €430 seems like a pretty darn good value.

Autodromo Group C

If you enjoy the peace of mind of digital retro and are into ’80s boxy summer fits, there is an alternative to Casio Gs. As this is the last watch in this story (except for two wild cards), I should be forgiven for busting the budget. At €525, the Group C is Autodromo’s only digital watch, and I’ve been a big fan since its launch. It has a dainty 36mm width but a weighty feel thanks to its steel case, and toughness is ensured by a vivid turquoise Cerakote for added ceramic toughness.

It’s a dressy concept, though, with a meager 30m water resistance rating. Does it matter? If you’re a wannabe tough guy like me, you’ll take it off at the beach anyway (there, I admitted it). The Group C comes with a high-quality FKM rubber strap that is reversible. Unlike silicone rubber, it’s a material that laughs at the notion of dust attraction. With only a 10mm case thickness, the Miami Vice image is strong with this version of the Autodromo Group C, offering big summer fun.

Five Cool Summer Watches For Less Than €500

If you can’t decide on a summer watch, spend less than €50

With my indecisiveness, assembling this list of cool summer watches was difficult. And I might not buy any of these even if I love finding a new low-budget travel buddy for the family vacay. But Casio has recently dropped more versions of the edgy series of nostalgic ana-digi watches with super slim 8mm wearability. The beautifully named AQ-230A-2A2MQY is just under 30mm in width and has a 38.8mm lug-lug length. It’s also the best-priced Tiffany-like wrist pop you’ll find anywhere. At €49.90, you can only expect an accuracy of ±30 seconds a month, which sounds pitiful but is, in fact, quite good. This is a real bargain for the summer.

Five Cool Summer Watches For Less Than €500

The red G wild card

I understand that the brawny GX-56 G-Shock is way oversized for most people, so here’s an easy-fit alternative. For less than €100, the OG square 5000-series is available in a pure red version, the DW-5600EP-4. If you’re a purist for ’80s fashion, you’ll feel great with the bog-standard black version, but this offers way bigger bang for your buck. All functionality is like you’d expect from a 200m-depth-rated indestructible and wearable G. Unlike the gargantuan GX monster in this story, which I’m not dimensioned for, the DW-5600EP-4 wears light and sublime, with a generous helping of summer fresh at €99.90.

What about you, Fratelli? Does your vacation plan involve some new wristwear? In the comments below, let me know your thoughts on my suggestions above.