I guess it’s finally my turn to talk sub-€3,000 picks! Don’t get it twisted; I’m glad I didn’t have to go first. It’s never easy to narrow down these picks, so having time can only be an advantage. And this list took me way longer than I expected. The process involved a lot of disappointment. Many of the watches I thought sat comfortably below €3K actually turned out to be more expensive. That’s what happens with watches. You turn your back to them for a few months, and before you know it, the price has changed completely. However, I managed to narrow it down to just three under three. These are my picks for the best current watches under €3,000 plus one pre-owned pick at the same price point.

Before I share my list, just a small disclaimer: it’s currently mid-August, and the summer feeling hangs in the hot, muggy air of The Hague. Long, cuffed sleeves are a distant springtime memory. And in these warm, short-sleeved days, chunky tool watches reign supreme. They also happened to be top of mind when putting these picks together. So if you find the list slightly monotonous, know that I’ve made it so very much on purpose. I considered watches like the Longines Spirit Titanium or even the Montblanc Heritage GMT, but the dive watches got the better of me. However, if you want more sub-€3K picks, check out the lists by Lex, Daan, Thomas, RJ, and Gerard. And if you want to check out a handful of solid divers, read on!

Best Watches Under €3,000 Sinn U50

The best watches under €3,000 — Sinn U50 SDR Tegimented

Let’s start with a watch from Holland’s Teutonic neighbors to the east. The Sinn U50 is a blend of function-driven form and no-nonsense specs in a perfectly wearable package. I could stop right there, but then this would be a very short list. A spiritual successor to the U1, Sinn’s U50 diver shaves 3mm off the original’s case size. This leaves it at a sweet spot of 41mm × 11.2mm. In achieving this wearability, you might expect it to compromise in other metrics. And you’re right; the Sinn U50 doesn’t boast the 1,000m water resistance of the U1. But its 500m depth rating certainly feels far from pedestrian. For context, Omega’s “Professional” Seamaster divers are rated to 300m.

Unlike Omega’s flagship diver (which will set you back €6,300), the Sinn U50 SDR has a reasonable price tag of €2,930. This is for the black-bezel, Tegimented (specially hardened) version on a steel bracelet. For this, you get a dive watch certified to the highest standards. These include the EN 250/EN14143 certification for diving equipment and both water resistance standards DIN 8310 and DIN 8306/ISO 6425. It also features one of the most legible dials out there. Is it somewhat of an acquired taste? Sure. But if you dig it, you really can’t do much better than the U50 when it comes to watches under €3,000. If you put aside a little more money, then you can start thinking of its titanium brother, the T50. However, staying within the rules here, the Sinn U50 SDR is, without a doubt, my first pick. I’d even go so far as to say that the U50 is one of the best modern dive watches under €3,000, if not the best.

Best Watches Under €3,000 Zodiac Sea-Chron

Zodiac Sea-Chron

Talk about a happy coincidence. One of the watches I had shortlisted arrived at Fratello HQ the day after I put this list together. It’s the watch on my wrist as I write the article. And as the title of this sub-heading (and the image above it) already revealed, it’s the Zodiac Sea-Chron. Now, the fact it appeared at the office didn’t necessarily guarantee it a spot on the list. As I mentioned in my introductory article, I had doubts about its 16.4mm thickness. Seeing the watch in person didn’t make that number any smaller. But as all watch enthusiasts know, it’s not what the millimeters say; it’s how the watch wears them. I have yet to size the steel bracelet, but the watch itself wears incredibly well on a white Tropic-style strap from the Fratello Shop. The bulk of its thickness sits in the case back and bezel, with the case band remaining relatively slim. One key aspect is also that the watch is not overly top-heavy.

I won’t get into the watch too much as I’ll eventually release an in-depth, hands-on review on the Zodiac Sea-Chron. But for now, I couldn’t resist putting it on this list. Priced at US$2,495 (around €2,400) on a stainless steel bracelet, you get a well-made reissue of a classic dive chronograph. You could opt for the blue and black option, sure. For me, though, the panda reigns supreme as the ideal pick for summer and one of the best options out there for less than €3K.

Best Watches Under €3,000 Doxa Sub 300

Doxa Sub 300 Searambler (or Doxa Army)

We’ve arrived at the point in the article where I must ask for some flexibility. I know I want to include a watch from Doxa. I just don’t know which one. So if you’d be so kind as to allow an uncertain pick, I’ll add the Doxa Sub 300 and Doxa Army to my list as the third choice. These are both watches I’d seriously consider adding to my collection. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s almost certain that I’ll own one of these two someday. One thing I do hope is that the choice will become more clear-cut in my mind. As it stands today, it would have to be a coin toss. You can’t go wrong either way, but both sides have pros and cons. Do I opt for the classic Doxa Sub 300 (Searambler, of course)? Or do I go with the slightly more out-there Army? Do I prefer the decompression-scale steel bezel’s quirk? Or is the lumed ceramic countdown bezel the way to go?

Best Watches Under €3,000 Doxa Army

As I said, there’s no objective right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. There is also a small difference in price. The Doxa Sub 300 will set you back €2,690, whereas the Doxa Army is slightly more affordable at €2,250. Both use the same movement, feature 300m water resistance, and come on Doxa’s signature stainless steel beads-of-rice bracelet. The Doxa Army does come with a cool camo NATO strap, which is nice when considering the price difference. However, that alone wouldn’t be enough to make my decision easier. Someday, I may be faced with the choice. For now, though, the debate will remain a theoretical one. But I will include them both in this list, considering them equally great watches under €3,000.

Image: Zeitauktion

Pre-owned pick: Omega Seamaster 300M GMT “50th Anniversary” 2534.50.00

We have arrived at the pre-owned pick under €3k! As you all might know by now, I have a soft spot for neo-vintage watches. You’ve heard me ranting and raving about my Omega Seamaster 2254. It remains my GADA watch and gets worn most days of the week, even eight months after I bought it. Back in January, when I was considering the watch I’d buy for my 30th birthday, not only the 2254 made the shortlist. Another contender was the 50th-anniversary Seamaster 300M GMT (ref. 2538.20.00), also known as the “Great White.” However, that reference consistently fetches upwards of €3,000. And though my preference is still the white-dialed variant, the black-dialed Omega Seamaster 300M GMT “50th Anniversary” reference 2534.50.00 remains a great alternative.

Image: Zeitauktion

We recently had a look through Omega’s catalog online and realized that there was a distinct lack of GMT watches. Sure, you have several 43–45mm Planet Oceans and Aqua Terras that feature a GMT movement. But the Seamaster Diver 300M line currently doesn’t include a single model with the complication. But if you want an awesome neo-vintage Seamaster with a GMT function, the 50th-anniversary references are your best bet. One example is available on Chrono24 for an asking price of €2,520. That’s a lot of watch for the money. As long as you’re okay with sacrificing the box and papers for it, it’s a great deal waiting to be had. And if I had €3K to spend on a pre-owned pick, this would be it.

Final thoughts

Well, that’s it, folks — my picks for the best watches under €3,000 on the market today (or at least the ones I’d happily add to my collection). The choices at this price point are overwhelming. It includes pieces of all styles, shapes, and sizes. You even get into the territory where you can pick up a watch from some of the bigger-name Swiss brands without getting into Tudor and Omega. However, we’ll see those names take over once we step up into the sub-€5,000 range. For now, I’m happy with these three new watches and one neo-vintage pick.

What three watches would you go with at the sub-€3K price point? Let me know in the comments section below!