Although €2,500 is not nothing, it’s a very difficult budget to work with — or so I assumed. Initially, I thought I would always go vintage or pre-owned with this budget. For example, it can buy you a nice vintage Longines, Omega, IWC, Breitling, or Jaeger-LeCoultre. But I checked with our managing editor Nacho, and the assignment was to curate a selection of new watches. Diving into the watches available within this budget positively surprised me, though. I found several worthy timepieces from microbrands and bigger, well-known brands alike.

We’ve offered collaboration watches in this price range, such as the Aquastar Deepstar II, Nivada Grenchen Racing Chrono, Straum Jan Mayen, Oris Divers Sixty-Five, and RZE Resolute Pro. It’s a popular price segment where you can find a variety of styles and quality products with good movements, nice dials and hands, interesting case shapes, etc. The only thing is that bracelets are often still an afterthought, it seems. I considered this when picking the watches for this overview. After all, the bracelet is such a huge part of the watch, not only in terms of the material volume but also the comfort and wearing experience.

Fortis Flieger F-39 best watches under €2,500

Fortis Flieger F-39

The Fortis Flieger F-39 is an example where the bracelet was certainly not an afterthought. The brand’s Block bracelet is well built, properly finished, and very comfortable to wear. Yes, Fortis makes big, clunky, and rugged watches, but that’s simply the brand’s proposition, and the folks there are proud of it. The Flieger F-39 is a very functional watch with great legibility, a date, and a 12-hour bezel.

best watches under €2,500 Fortis Flieger F-39

With this Fortis, you will find yourself part of a crowd that loves — no, adores — the brand. The people at Fortis host cool parties and events and feel they are part of the watch community themselves. The fact that Fortis CEO Jupp Philipp was a watch collector and enthusiast before he acquired the brand in 2017 says it all.

These days, the Flieger is available in a variety of colors, but I prefer the original version with a black dial, green lume (Fortis’s Brixtrack), and orange accents. The brushed stainless steel bezel, case, and bracelet make it a non-blingy tool watch. Inside is a Sellita SW200-1-based movement offering a 38-hour power reserve. The Fortis Flieger F-39 is a no-nonsense timepiece with a 39mm diameter, 50mm lug-to-lug, and 12.5mm thickness. It is also water resistant to 200 meters and has a retail price of €2,400.

best watches under €2,500 Oris Aquis Date Upcycle

Oris Aquis Date Upcycle

In Hölstein, Switzerland, the people at Oris like to help make the world a better place. Their beach clean-ups are a great initiative (and fun to participate in), for example. However, buying an Oris Aquis with a dial made of recycled PET plastic requires less effort from you. Will this change the world for the better? Probably not drastically, but it is an excellent reminder of the changes we can make in our daily lives to contribute to a better world. Rest assured, most steel used in the industry is already recycled, and with a serviceable mechanical movement, you are already onto something sustainable and durable compared to (disposable) quartz watches.

best watches under €2,500 Oris Aquis Date Upcycle

Aside from that, the dial of the Upcycle looks cool, and every single one is unique. This new Aquis Date Upcycle is available in two versions. The one at €3,750 features the proprietary caliber 400 and a bracelet with a quick-release system and clever adjustable clasp. The one pictured here, at €2,450, is powered by Sellita-based caliber 733 and doesn’t have the fancy features on the bracelet. However, the case is the same newly upgraded version, and the dial features the new typography.

I tried the new Oris Aquis during Watches and Wonders, and the updates to the case (e.g., shorter lugs and redesigned crown guards) and bracelet greatly improved the design and comfort. The 43.5mm version wears perfectly on my 18cm wrist. This Upcycle version is only available in the 43.5mm size, but the regular Oris Aquis is available in smaller diameters (39.5mm and 41.5mm) too. The Oris Aquis Date also offers water resistance to 300 meters.

best watches under €2,500 Tissot PR516 Mechanical Chronograph

Tissot PR516 Mechanical Chronograph

Tissot has a lot to offer below €2,500. In fact, the watch I picked is the PR516 Mechanical Chronograph, which retails for just less than €2K. That is already at the higher end of Tissot’s market segment. I own a Tissot PRX Chronograph with a similar price tag, yet I chose something completely different for this overview. Would I make a different choice today when buying a Tissot for this price, then? No, it depends on the watches you already have in your collection. The PR516 has a more generic case shape, whereas the PRX is more outspoken. That said, what I do love about this PR516 are the dial colors and the black and white bezel.

best watches under €2,500 Tissot PR516 Mechanical Chronograph

My colleague Thomas van Straaten has already written about the PR516’s lineage here. In the history of the PR516, you can even find one on the wrist of James Bond (played by Roger Moore) in Live and Let Die. The colors on the new PR516 are a nod to the colors from the first chronograph in this line from 1968.

Although the new PR516 is a very modern watch, it’s nice that the collection has a significant history that goes back to 1965 (it started as a three-hander). Let’s have a closer look at today’s PR516, though. It’s a 41mm stainless steel watch with a 49mm lug-to-lug and 14mm thickness. It’s not a slim or small watch, but it wears pretty well regardless. It’s a sports watch at a very fair price, so a 14mm thickness is still acceptable. Inside is the Valjoux 7753-based ETA A05.291 hand-wound movement, offering 68 hours of power reserve. The retail price of the Tissot PR516 Mechanical Chronograph is €1,975. The quartz-powered PR516 models start at a very modest €545.

best watches under €2,500 Sinn 103 St

Sinn 103 St Pilot Chronograph

Admittedly, the 103 is not the most exciting model, but it’s a very classic Sinn watch that will never go out of style. It’s boring but good, as my colleague Gerard likes to preach.  You can style it with a nice leather strap, but the stainless steel bracelet is also a solid choice. This model has been in the Sinn catalog for decades, but what has changed is the movement inside. Instead of relying on the classic ETA/Valjoux 7750, Sinn now uses the Concepto C99001.

Sinn has offered the Flieger (Pilot) Chronograph 103 in many variations, but this 103 St is simply the most classic. Sinn also offers special versions or limited editions, such as the 103 St Diapal with the brand’s lubricant-free escapement, Ar-Dehumidifying technology, and an additional 12-hour hand. Unfortunately, that exceeds our budget this time, but the classic 103 St is still a great watch.

best watches under €2,500 Sinn 103 St

The Sinn 103 St measures 41mm in diameter, 15.9mm thick, and offers water resistance to 200 meters. The crystal is acrylic (Plexiglass), and the case back is solid stainless steel. Sapphire crystals on one or both sides are optional for €500 for the front and €100 for the case back. Sinn also lets you choose between a German and an English day wheel. Anyway, I’d go “classic” and opt for the acrylic crystal and an all-steel case back. With a stainless steel bracelet, this results in a €2,500 price. If you get it on a leather strap, it’s €2,150.

Raymond Weil Millesime salmon dial

It is difficult to find a nice dress watch on this budget unless you go pre-owned or vintage. Longines and Raymond Weil make very similar watches, but I decided to go with this Millesime instead of the sector-dial Longines Heritage Classic. The €700 price difference is certainly a factor in my choosing the €1,950 Raymond Weil Millesime. On top of that, its salmon dial makes it more interesting. This 39.5mm watch only measures 9.5mm thick (the Longines is 11mm thick) and has a water resistance rating of 50 meters.

Inside the Millesime, we find Raymond Weil’s caliber RW4200, a self-winding movement from Sellita (the SW200-1). The movement is visible through the display back, which is a nice feature for those fairly new to watches. More seasoned collectors or enthusiasts have probably seen their share of Sellita and ETA calibers. I prefer an all-metal case back with a nice engraving or medallion rather than a view of a nearly ubiquitous movement. That said, I understand that display backs appeal to many watch enthusiasts.

best watches under €2,500 Raymond Weil Millesime salmon dial

The Raymond Weil Millesime is an attractive watch available with various dial colors, but I prefer the salmon-pink one. This color works well with the gray calfskin strap with a pin buckle. As you can see, the dial has different types of finishing applied, creating depth. The black hands and hour markers provide a lot of contrast with the salmon dial for good legibility too. Finally, the box-shaped sapphire crystal has an antireflective coating on both sides.

What are your sub-€2,500 picks?

These are my five choices for new watches under €2,500. I would have a tough time picking just one of these five, and it depends if it would be my only watch or an addition to an existing collection. I’d probably go with the Oris or Fortis if it were going to be a daily watch.

What watches under €2,500 would you pick? Let me know in the comments section.