It may seem like an odd starting point, but with this €1,000 budget, I’m making a concerted effort to put myself in the shoes of a budding watch lover. And to be honest, I have a lot of baggage with my value-driven collecting focus. Seiko watches still represent great value, so one of those will surely sneak in.

On the other hand, my GADA watch is still a €600 steel G-Shock, so that brand still has what it takes. In addition to those two, the allure of microbrands is still tangible, so let’s see if I can step back from my watch-buying history and offer some sound advice on what I feel are the best watches under €1,000 in 2024.

Orient Bambino 38 dove gray and baby blue

The best watches under €1,000 — Pick #1: Orient Bambino 38

As a brand trying to shake off its “forum favorite” niche label, Orient deserves our attention. Together with its premium sibling Orient Star, it’s big in southern and eastern parts of the globe but smaller than it deserves in Europe. So what makes this Italian-named Japanese watch special? With an in-house movement and applied details, the regular 42mm Bambino has been the mechanical entry ticket for many, “out-Seikoing” the biggest Japanese brand.

best watches under €1,000 Orient Bambino 38mm

Orient has stayed true to its value-driven roots, and with our love of smaller diameters, the 38mm Bambino (38.4mm, really) with its limited pastel colors was a big win. The vibe is more subdued than the bandwagon-jumping Tiffany and Rolex OP colors, making them even more versatile. These have almost sold out, but search around, and you’ll find one online at a dealer. Or go for a standard black, white, or cream version with blued hands from Orient UK for £289 (around €338). The Bambino simply has great value and beats most microbrands, making it, in my eyes, one of the best watches under €1,000.

best watches under €1,000 Farer Durham Pullman

Pick #2: Farer Durham Pullman

So, where does this Farer slot in if the Orient Bambino inhabits a niche of everyday vintage cool? For me, that exact question is why I enjoy Farer’s watches. This, then, is my off-center dress choice. With a sweet 38.5mm case diameter and a deep emerald dial, the Durham Pullman from Farer is also smoothly comfortable with its 43.8mm lug-to-lug. The case is completely polished and has a distinctive slight air of the tiny Rolex Viceroy (at a stretch). As we’ve seen with many brands, prices have risen. The Farer Durham, however, remains a big value proposition. And to my delight, it is its own thing with a reliable hand-wound Elaboré Grade Sellita SW216-1 inside.

I have owned the white-dialed Stanhope II with the same case and miss it. It is pretty close to perfection for a 16–18cm wrist, leaning on the sportier side of dressy with the Farer’s typical thick leather strap. With the Durham Pullman’s stepped dial and two tones of deep green accented by silver, there is a lot to unpack, but it works. And my favorite detail? It’s simply that Farer follows its path without a single touch of recognizable homage. This well-balanced and rather special green wrist presence is available for a snip under budget at €995, directly from Farer.

best watches under €1,000 Seiko SSC817

The best watches under €1,000 — Pick #3: Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SSC817P1

As with some of these stories, tastes will invariably overlap, and Daan sniped my first choice. I was going to choose the Speedtimer with the light blue panda dial, but this was my split-first podium spot. And why not go for gold, eh? As you can see, I couldn’t avoid Seiko, but why should I? It is still the default choice of many budding watch lovers, and for good reason. The Speedtimer series has one of the most evocative names in the biz and is a superb way to get a vintage look with modern-day wearability.

The size is 39mm, the bracelet is a clean-cut three-row design, and the watch runs on a sustainable and forever-accurate solar movement. What’s not to love? The SSC817 dives deep into the ’60s with a rather gorgeous grainy gold-tone dial with beige lume and beige markers on the tachymeter bezel. For me, this is €680 of everyday value with pretty unbeatable dial details for the price. It is available from retailers and at Seiko’s European online boutique.

So, Fratelli, let’s do a shoot-out between Daan’s Speedtimer and mine. Vote now! I’m only joking; just let me know what you think of my hopefully well-considered choices for the best watches under €1,000 in the comments.