Picking the best watches under €2,500 is tough. There are so many different options. Next to the world of microbrands, the world of bigger brands also opens up nicely with €2,500 to spend. This made the search for possible options quite extensive. You could even call it a mission because the goal of this list was to pick a small number of watches that I would genuinely love to own. In the end, I found a selection of watches that I would love to spend or have spent my money on. Here are my favorites under €2,500.

Thomas stated in his article that a budget of “€2,500 should buy you a watch that doesn’t feel compromised.” I agree with his statement wholeheartedly. That money should get you a watch you love and want to wear for the rest of your life. But that’s also why the search gets difficult because many watches appeal to the brain but not necessarily the heart. This will cause me to easily discard that wish for no compromises, as you will see. Just as Thomas also stated, the simple fact is that if you love a watch visually, the practicality might take a backseat sometimes. That doesn’t equal a compromised choice in my book, though, because choosing watches is a matter of the heart rather than the spec sheet. My heart is fully into all of my picks. So, without further ado, let’s spend some virtual money.

best watches under €2,500 Christopher Ward C65 Dune GMT

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #1: Christopher Ward C65 Dune GMT

The first pick is easy, and it is a compromised choice. That’s because the Christopher Ward C65 Dune GMT is not a flyer GMT. Sure, that makes it a no-go for some, but it doesn’t for me. Would I have preferred it if it were a flyer GMT? Yes, but I have repeatedly said that it’s easy to let that wish go if you love a design the way I love the C65 Dune GMT. This watch simply ticks all the other boxes for me. I have written stories about the black-dial limited edition that came out last year and this year’s follow-up with an off-white dial and green accents.

While last year’s black-dial limited edition is my favorite, this year’s follow-up has a distinct charm. When I reviewed this sand-dial version, my initial mistake was that I wanted it to be the black-dial model. But I soon realized I was hoping the watch would be something it neither was nor should be. After that realization, the sand and green C65 Dune GMT grew on me tremendously.

The undisputed #1 pick

The watch has a 150m-water-resistant stainless steel case that is 38mm wide, 11.9mm thick, and 43.7mm from lug to lug. It is a true joy to wear when fitted with Christopher Ward’s Bader bracelet. The size and proportions make it the perfect watch for my 19cm wrist.

Inside the case is the Sellita SW330-2 with a 56-hour power reserve. With the incredible build quality and the classy presence, Christopher Ward has made the best GMT under €2,500 in my book. At €1,465 on the bracelet, the Christopher Ward C65 Dune GMT is my undisputed #1 pick for this list.

best watches under €2,500 Formex Reef 39.5

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #2: Formex Reef 39.5

My next pick is an absolute specs monster, and as such, it will satisfy the wishes of many spec-focused watch fans. But it’s about more than just the incredible specs list the Formex Reef 39.5 boasts. I fell in love with the looks of the limited-edition Formex Reef Radiant Bronze. There was one “issue,” though: at 42mm, it was slightly too big for my taste. But Formex answered the call for a smaller Reef last year, and Thomas reviewed the new 39.5mm model when it came out.

best watches under €2,500 Formex Reef 39.5

When that watch first arrived at the office, quite a few of us, including yours truly, couldn’t wait to find out if it was as good as we expected. Indeed, we found the smaller Reef to be a daily wearer that offers great style and incredible value for money. The watch has a 39.5mm stainless steel case measuring 11.8mm thick, 45.5mm long, and 22mm between the lugs. The watch is water resistant to 300 meters, and you can even easily change the bezel for a different look. Inside the case is a chronometer-certified version of the Sellita SW300-1 with 56 hours of power reserve.

The bracelet could benefit from a nice taper

The watch is finished nicely and comes on a super sturdy stainless steel bracelet with a quick-change system and a brilliant clasp with tool-free micro-adjustment. If there is one thing I would have loved to see differently, it is the bracelet’s width and lack of taper. The chunky bracelet could benefit from a nice taper to fit the smaller Reef’s more modest size.

best watches under €2,500 Formex Reef 39.5

Other than that, the watch is an absolute winner. The Formex Reef 39.5 made a lasting impression when we had it in the office, and it goes far beyond the impressive specs. I love the technical design of the Reef in the smaller size and could see myself easily getting one as a daily wearer. That’s why this watch deserves a place on my list. It is available from Formex for €1,960.

Raymond Weil Millésime Automatic Small Seconds best watches under €2,500

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #3: Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds

Though the brand flew under our radar for a long time, Raymond Weil has quickly found a place in the hearts of the Fratello team with its latest releases. When I saw the Raymond Weil Millesime Automatic Small Seconds that Lex reviewed late last year, I fell in love with the sector dial with the small seconds at 6 o’clock. Raymond Weil also offers a cleaner version with a central seconds hand, but it’s this Small Seconds version that wins it for me. It is the secret ingredient that makes this sector dial so special.

Raymond Weil Millésime Automatic Small Seconds best watches under €2,500

As Lex explained, the devil is in the details of a great sector dial. On this silver one, the hour track is smooth, the minute track is concentrically grained, and the central area of the dial shows a fine, vertically brushed finish. Additionally, the sub-seconds register at 6 o’clock has more of a dynamic impact. As a result, the dial takes center stage within a relatively simple round-shaped case with beautiful straight lugs and a curved profile. The stainless steel case measures 39.5mm in diameter, 46.3mm from lug to lug, and a slim 10.25mm thick. It features a nice box-type sapphire crystal to match the vintage-inspired style of the dial.

Raymond Weil Millésime Automatic Small Seconds best watches under €2,500

A great example of the brilliant sector dial

Turn the watch around, and you will see the self-winding RW4251 caliber. The movement is based on the Sellita SW261-1 and has a power reserve of 38 hours. Though the movement’s finishing is basic, the customized rotor brings visual joy. But that is not why you buy this Millesime Automatic Small Seconds. It’s all about the style that the watch offers from the front.

I am generally not big on dress watches, especially in more affordable segments. But this GPHG winner is a brilliant exception that I would gladly wear daily as a stylish statement reminiscent of what makes a sector dial so brilliant. Kudos to Raymond Weil for creating this wonderful Millesime Small Seconds and offering it for €1,950.

best watches under €2,500 Unimatic Modello Uno U1S-PD5 Pro Diver

The best watches under €2,500 — Pick #4: Unimatic Modello Uno U1S-PD5 Pro Diver

My last pick is very personal because I own this watch. I have worn it since it landed on my desk early this year. It has been my daily go-to, and I have loved every second. With the Modello Uno U1S-PD5 and its little brother, the U1S-PD3, Unimatic introduced two modern dive watches that take the next step in the brand’s evolution. These two models combine the characteristic Unimatic style with the functional requirements of a professional dive watch.

best watches under €2,500 Unimatic Modello Uno U1S-PD5 Pro Diver

This marks a sidestep from the Milan-based brand’s usual minimalist executions. But that’s exactly why I fell for the Modello Uno U1S-PD5. In my book, it is the perfect modern diver in both specs and style. The brand increased the water resistance from 300 to 500 meters to meet the professional specs. Additionally, the lume-infused ceramic bezel insert adds more practicality, and the new bracelet is comfortable and bulletproof.

The U1S-PD5 completely won me over

The watch has a 40mm stainless steel mid-case but measures 41.5mm across the bezel. It is 12mm thick (without the crystal), 49mm long, and 22mm between the lugs. Its 3mm-thick domed sapphire crystal increases the overall thickness but adds great visual drama. Also, the crystal and updated construction of the crown tube increase the water resistance to 500 meters. The watch is offered on a stainless steel bracelet, making it look modern and attractive. While the finish of the clasp and the standard wetsuit extension are basic, these components do their jobs without any trouble.

In my four months of wearing the watch, I have been impressed by how solid and serious this U1S-PD5 feels and wears. But most of all, I am impressed every day by the modern style and the incredible comfort of the U1S-PD5. It is the perfect daily wearer that I didn’t know I needed, and it completely won me over. Despite being a limited edition of 500 pieces, the U1S-PD5 is still available on the bracelet for €1,300 before taxes. To me, it is undoubtedly one of the best dive watches under €2,500.

A few quick honorable mentions

Those are the four watches I would spend my hard-earned cash on. I admit that three of the four watches have their flaws. The caller-style GMT movement of the Christopher Ward, the non-tapering bracelet of the Formex, and the clasp of the Unimatic are all details that could be improved. Honestly, though, none of these details bothered me when wearing the watches for days in a row, which confirms that objectively imperfect watches can still be perfect for the individual.

Before passing the baton to the next Fratello writer, I would love to add a few honorable mentions to my list. The first is the Aquastar Deepstar II. As most of you will know, we collaborated with Aquastar on two limited editions that still impress me every time I see them. While those are sold out, the regular-production Deepstar II has a ton of vintage-inspired character but stands out from the crowd with its signature Aquastar quirks. It is available with a black, gray, or blue dial and can be yours on a beads-of-rice bracelet for US$2,090.

The second honorable mention is the duo of recently introduced Zodiac Super Sea Wolf GMTs. These watches continue this brilliant Zodiac line with two different styles. I have always loved the Super Sea Wolf GMT’s colorful side, so the new black-dial version with a pink and white GMT bezel speaks to me. The second model is more traditional with a silver dial and black and gray GMT bezel. Whichever model you prefer, the Super Sea Wolf GMT offers great style, and at US$1,995, both models make for worthy honorable mentions.

There you go! Those are all my recommendations for the best watches under €2,500. What do you think of them? Do you have any other recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.