Remember the gool old days when watches were just about telling time? Well, those times are long gone.
Today, a watch on your wrist is more than just a timekeeper; it’s a fashion statement, a cherry on top of your outfit.
You might think that the world of trendy watches is reserved for the big spenders, but guess what?
I’ve scoured the watch world and found some amazing pieces that won’t break the bank.
I’m talking about watches that dare to be different, watches that push the boundaries of design. Some are so stylish, they almost make you forget their primary job is to tell time!
In this article, we’re diving into the world of the coolest watches out there that are also kind to your wallet. I’m talking about finds under $1,000, going for as low a price as possible – yes, you read that right.
These timepieces are all about high style without the high price tag.
So, if you’re ready to explore some watches that are off the beaten path but still within your budget, stick around. You’re in for a treat!
20. Hamilton Ventura – $845
One of the most important timepieces in watch history, and one of the weirdest looking at the same time, is the Hamilton Ventura.
This was the world’s first electric watch, ahead of its time in 1957 when it first came out, but not only from a technical point of view.
Its retro-futuristic angular case with Art-Deco traits made it so fundamentally different than any other watch of the time, that it became a unicorn.
Today an iconic piece, the Hamilton Ventura looks better than ever, and anyone who says this isn’t a cool watch to have is badly mistaken.
Sure, its $845 price tag may not be considered affordable by everyone, but it’s still under the $1,000 mark.
19. Movado Museum Classic – $695
With a brand name that says “always in motion” in Esperanto, Movado created a bizarre design that went largely unappreciated by collectors worldwide.
Despite not everyone appreciating it, you can’t deny it doesn’t have a beauty of its own. Inspired by the Bauhaus minimalism and ancient sundials, the design of the Movado Museum Classic first came out in 1947.
Today, this design can still be had in plenty of variants, but always with that singular dot at the 12 o’clock that mesmerizes some and scares away others.
The iconic design, with the dot resembling the sun, remains one of the coolest the watch world has seen, no matter who likes it or not. We do.
18. Xeric Regulator Automatic – $500
The Xeric Regulator Automatic is something so unique that makes you feel like you need to learn another language for reading time on it.
That doesn’t mean it’s hard to do it, it only seems very different than what you knew so far, maybe a little vague.
The dial is simply impressive, both through the high quality brushing and finishing but also from a design perspective, with its unusual sub-dials and hands coming out from different places.
This is a quirky timepiece, but it’s sleek and eye-catching enough to impress even those that judge watches by conventional measures.
17. Mr. Jones The Ascendent – $405
Mr. Jones The Ascendent is less of a quirky design and more of an artistic canvas on which gilding artist Marion Labbez could express his view of the challenges we all face in life through the symbols of a moon and stars and a moving mountain.
The view itself is impressive, but reading time on this watch isn’t as straightforward as you’re used to.
There’s a symbolism on this watch’s dial, and time is more of a general idea than something extremely precise.
16. Humism Kato – $360
The independent Singaporean design studio Humism has adopted time telling as an art as their core philosophy, and that’s easily seen through their watches.
Kato is one of these unconventional beauties.
Time telling goes beyond the everyday practicality of other watches and gets into a more hypnotizing experience, with moving and overlapping concentric circles that express a sort of harmonious breathing of petal shapes.
15. Electricianz Carbon Z – $360
The Electricianz Carbon Z is another stunning designer watch that brags with its creative way of achieving the objective of time telling.
The watch features an abrasion resistant case, and a skeleton dial that uses multiple layers to convey its iconic Swiss style.
14. Eone Bradley Element Black – $350
For a pure fashion-forward aesthetic, turn your attention towards the Eone Bradley Element Black, an accessory that’s more sculpture than watch.
The stark monochrome palette is a statement in itself, but what impresses the most is the watch’s so called dial.
Though it keeps time reading in its most basic form, the interesting thing about this is that it’s a tactile dial.
You can read time by only feeling the position of the silver balls on the inner and outer moats relative to the contoured hour markers.
13. Mr. Jones Last Laugh 31-M4 – $305
The Last Laugh 31-M4 is a unique design from Mr. Jones, one that uses the teeth of a skull to display the hours and minutes.
It’s an artistic expression, one probably seen as macabre by some, but maybe it’s also a subtle reminder of the memento mori idea.
And it can be especially powerful when tied to the notion of counting the passing of time, which is the main function of a watch.
12. Xeric Trappist-1 NASA Edition James Webb – $300
There’s a certain beauty in returning to the original method of counting time, which is to observe the movement of the stars, and the Xeric Trappist-1 NASA Edition James Webb does just that.
Its dial looks like the windows of a spacecraft of sorts, with both hours and minutes represented by moving celestial bodies.
Reading time on it may not be as easy and precise as with a traditional handset, but you wouldn’t buy this watch to be on time for an important business meeting, would you? Or maybe you would.
11. ZIIIRO Saturn – $245
ZIIIRO is a watch company that minimalists will surely love. Its designs are simple, yet very very interesting.
Monochrome or colorful, they’ve got it all. And their dials are simply eye catching.
One example is the ZIIIRO Saturn, a $245 watch in a silver body, with a dial that keeps track of time through green bars that fill the dial for both hours and minutes.
It’s a cool looking watch with a very unique way to tell time.
10. Mr. Jones A Perfectly Useless Afternoon – $243
A Perfectly Useless Afternoon is the name of one of Mr. Jones’ quirky creations, a watchmaker that has gone far away beyond the ordinary to remind us that life is better when we don’t take time seriously.
This watch has been designed by artist Kristof Devos and sends a subtle message: to take it easy, be present, and to enjoy life.
Though at first glance telling time on this watch seems like a complicated affair, after you get it, it’ll be a fun one.
Just take the stretched leg of the character lounging in the pool as the hours hand, and the duck as the minutes hand.
9. Diesel Mr. Daddy 2.0 – $236
On the opposite side of the enjoy life spectrum is the Diesel Mr. Daddy 2.0, a watch that can simultaneously show the time in 4 different time zones. How’s that for living in the moment?
Despite the watch’s aggressive message of maximum efficiency, we can’t not appreciate it for its creative design.
The dial of this watch is among the most impressive we’ve seen, with plenty of fine details lying there waiting to be noticed. And it’s not even that expensive, at only around $236.
8. Timex Marlin California Dial – $200
The Timex Marlin is already an icon among Timex fans, but the model with the California Dial goes even further with its interesting combination of both Roman and Arabic numerals, a pattern first used by Rolex.
The simplicity of the dial is sure to be appealing to minimalists, while the California Dial style manages to add a subtle touch of creativity without using up more space than necessary.
The Marlin California is a casual dress watch, one that can be a good fit no matter the occasion.
Just swap that joyful looking NATO strap in three colors with an elegant leather strap and your wrist is ready for a black tie event.
7. ZIIIRO Mercury – $213
The Mercury watch is another stunning creation from ZIIIRO, with two swirls of color moving around the center of the dial in tandem, the thicker one representing the hours, and the thinner one for tracking the minutes.
The center of the dial is black, and the swirls are a gradient starting from black and moving through various nuances of violet and then pink at the tips.
The watch is a feast of psychedelic color and movement.
6. Breda Pulse – $175
The Breda Pulse watch ditches the traditional dial, leaving instead an 18K gold-plated rectangular stainless steel case with a slim numerical display of the time and date horizontally centered and aligned to the right side, right next to the crown.
It’s a sleek looking and sophisticated watch that defines time more as a symbol of our constantly evolving lives rather than a measure in itself.
5. Projects Bauhaus Century Steel – $130
For a fun time, pun intended, we recommend the Bauhaus Century Steel from Projects. The watch is an obvious inspiration from the Bauhaus art movement, with a colorful depiction of time telling.
The traditional handset is replaced by three simple squares, differently sized and colored, each corresponding to a hand of a typical watch face.
The large square represents the hours, the intermediate the minutes, while the smaller square mimics the seconds hand.
The timepiece comes in a sleek looking 40mm stainless steel case and is paired with a brown leather strap that completes the simple and calm design of the dial.
4. Projects Xela Calderometer Steel – $50
Another watch from the same company Projects is the Xela Calderometer Steel, which was inspired by modern sculptor Alexander Calder.
The design uses Calder’s plate-like pieces and fits them inside the watch’s dial.
The pieces are of course mobile, rotating over and under each other, displaying the time in an interesting manner while also creating the sense of depth on the watch’s face, exactly like the artist’s real life sculptures.
3. BinBond-228 – $42
The BinBond-228 features a retro-futuristic design that reminds us of all those sci-fi spacecrafts we dreamed during our childhoods.
The watch has a toy-like appearance, which is probably why it won’t be on most people’s shopping lists, but it definitely lets the creative side of its makers shine.
It borrows design cues from the trend that started in the ’60s and the ’70s with brands like Hamilton, and creates an intriguing aesthetic.
The glass that protects the dial is crafted from several layers, each with a different shape, giving the watch depth and an interesting overall attitude.
2. Sinobi Business Original Masculino – $32
The Sinobi Business Original Masculino is almost an exact copy of the ZIIIRO Mercury above, with similar design elements, but in a complete black and white color palette.
It looks like the entire idea of the watch revolves around yin and yang, with the two sides chasing each other to infinity around the center of the dial.
Sinobi is a Chinese watchmaker, and for sure you may be thinking they’re copying other brands, and they actually might.
On the other hand though, judging from the price difference, you’ll probably opt for paying only $32 instead of $200 for an accessory you’ll get for fun.
1. Mjscphbjk Oulm Unique Analog – $32
The brand with a name with can’t pronounce, Mjscphbjk, has created an interesting and very affordable timepiece.
Their Oulm Unique Analog comes with a dual dial design, each displaying a different timezone.
The black face is stainless steel, and each of the dials comes with its own organic hardened glass, but of different shape.
The dials themselves display the time in an analog way, but in completely different manners, which makes the watch an interesting creation.
The wristwatch as we know it doesn’t always have to be a precise, practical tool.
Sometimes it can be a memory, other times a toy, and even a simple reminder to just enjoy life. A watch can be whatever you want it to be.
And most of the watches in the list above fall in the affordable and very affordable category, which allows you to pick one, or more, simply for the joy. Because why not?
The designs are crazy fun, like life is sometimes, more or less.
- 20. Hamilton Ventura – $845
- 19. Movado Museum Classic – $695
- 18. Xeric Regulator Automatic – $500
- 17. Mr. Jones The Ascendent – $405
- 16. Humism Kato – $360
- 15. Electricianz Carbon Z – $360
- 14. Eone Bradley Element Black – $350
- 13. Mr. Jones Last Laugh 31-M4 – $305
- 12. Xeric Trappist-1 NASA Edition James Webb – $300
- 11. ZIIIRO Saturn – $245
- 10. Mr. Jones A Perfectly Useless Afternoon – $243
- 9. Diesel Mr. Daddy 2.0 – $236
- 8. Timex Marlin California Dial – $200
- 7. ZIIIRO Mercury – $213
- 6. Breda Pulse – $175
- 5. Projects Bauhaus Century Steel – $130
- 4. Projects Xela Calderometer Steel – $50
- 3. BinBond-228 – $42
- 2. Sinobi Business Original Masculino – $32
- 1. Mjscphbjk Oulm Unique Analog – $32