Here we are with the list of the top 10 chronographs under five hundred dollars. One watch per brand.
Citizen BL5400-52A Eco-Drive Review
On number 10 is a watch from Citizen. It is a big watch, at 47 millimeters. The BL5400-52A has Citizen’s legendary Eco-Drive technology. Citizen is Japan’s second-largest watch manufacturer. They were founded 100 years ago in 1918. Despite this watch’s large size, it does wear a little bit smaller.
Perfect Look and Strictness
It offers a wonderful V-shaped layout to the subdials. It’s kind of hobnail raised fixed bezel, but inside we have an internal pilot’s rotating slide rule. Now you can get this in a choice of dark colors. This watch features a chronograph that matches up to 60 minutes, a perpetual calendar, time zone, a 12-hour and 24-hour time. So, water resistance’s a 100 meters, as well as a one 20th of a second accuracy on the chronograph. It’s a very sporty look, has that Breitling, Bentley aesthetic and accessing all that features is quite intuitive.
Affordable Price for Good Quality
The only downfall is that it has a mineral crystal. However, you also have a second crown at 8:00 to access that internal rotating bezel. It’s made of entirely stainless steel. Eco-Drive is the best solar-powered technology out there. It can go up to six months powering the watch. Your typical solar power is about 30 days. It’s a proprietary technology.
There are various levels of Eco-Drive, but this has the hibernation mode. It has a secondary internal quartz clock that makes sure that the accuracy is deadly even when you’ve had it in a drawer for several months. It’s the caliber E820.
- Available price
- Water resistance
- Different time zones
- Perfect design
- Impressive accuracy
- A secondary internal quartz clock
- Extremely large size
- Mineral crystal
Casio Men’s Edifice EQS500DB-1A1
Number 10 is the Casio Edifice EQS500DB-1A1. It is one of the most underrated when it comes to cutting edge quartz technology.
Complex and Resistant
This watch is insanely complex. First of all, it’s solar-powered, has 100-meters water resistance, world time, 29 time zones plus UTC, daylight saving, on and off beeper alarm, one 100th of a second chronograph, and the seconds spin around. There is also day-date display, full auto-calendar that’s pre-programmed until the year 2099, 12 and 24-hour formats, power-saving functions, so it will actually start to tick every two or three seconds. It includes a low battery warning. Module 5123 has got four pushers. It`s an angular style design and you really get a massive manual because it takes a while to get to know how it works.
The only downfall is it has mineral crystal, but the most awesome thing about this watch is that the accuracy is deadly. It will actually readjust itself so often because it has little mechanical components inside. It will detect when it’s not accurate and reset itself. The price is under two hundred.
Sporty Look and Simple Wearing
It’s got a very sporting racing chronograph look since Edifice used to sponsor Red Bull team. It is 42 millimeters, very thin. It is worn wonderfully well. You can get it on the bracelet. The bracelet is a bit ringing. So, the rubber would be a better choice.
- A low battery warning
- Deadly accuracy
- Water resistance
- Compact size
- Sporty look
- Worn well
- Mineral crystal
- Takes time to understand working principles
- Bracelet ringing
Junghans Max Bill Quartz
Number 8 is a watch from the Max Bill from Junghans, a Swiss Ronda 5030 . It’s got a nice clean aesthetic, 40-millimeter size, which is definite crowd-pleaser, only 10 millimeters tall, perfect dress watch chronograph, piston head pushers, cream, and black dial as well.
Comes on a leather strap, a light, which gives that wonderful vintage distortion. The best thing is it’s made in Germany of Swiss quartz. The rounders are high-quality. The other one is Graf Zeppelin. It has a 12-hour chronograph, very clean, very tastefully done, classic Bauhaus, quite useful 55-minute graduations, 12 hours towards the center with a date at the 4:00. The other alternative may be Daniel Wellington fashion watches.
- Perfect style
- Minimalistic size
- Made of a Swiss quartz
- High-quality rounders
Graf Zeppelin 8680-3
Number 7 is the sister brand, Graf Zeppelin 8680-3. It’s quite impressive when you see it. As the name suggests, it refers to those beautiful flying aircraft of the 1920s and ’30s. PointTEC, obviously, had bought the rights to the name. So it has that Deco period aesthetic, a telemeter and Takoma to the hardened mineral this time. 50 meters of water resistance, also get an alarm, very 1920s, 1930s style hands. So a little bit more formal to very stylish, beautiful V-shaped layout to the sub-dials.
Wonderful Look and Proven Quality
The Ronda 5130.D comes with the additional alarm. 11 millimeters thick, so great dressy chronograph. The only downfall is the 42-millimeter size. But it really gives that period look wonderfully, especially with an expensive crocodile’s strap. So you get that made in Germany quality, a great affordable price, a distinctive look, a name brand that references an incredible history of aviation heritage, and the functionality and reliability.
- Water resistance
- Brilliant aesthetics
- Additional alarm
- High quality
- Affordable price
- 42-millimeter size
Hemel HTF20 Chronograph Watch Review
At number 6, we have Hemel, and this is the HFT20, the VK64 configuration. There are two versions of this watch. Marvin is a micro-brand. There’s a more expensive version, which is around about 1K$, that has the column-wheel automatic chronograph. This is the quartz version with the VK64, which of course is a meca-quartz. They are larger at 42 millimeters, quite tall. They are 13 or 14 millimeters.
Rich Bezel and Material Choice
They have a Breggae type 20 look about them with a very classic, beautiful layout. You can get a choice of the GMT bezel or a 60-minute timing bezel. 120 click, with a choice of either ceramic or the brushed stainless steel. A lovely onion style crown referencing with, of course, classic aviation pieces. Super-luminova, flat sapphire glass with AR coating, a 100 meters water-resistant. Very solid feeling.
They come on a riveted strap as a kind of a little nod to the classic. It’s a beautiful design piece with little hints of orange in the second’s hand, the red triangle on the bezel. Orange, of course, is very important to the brand because Marvin is of Dutch heritage. It’s a clean and classic look. None of the numerals are cut off. It’s a wonderful sense of balance. It’s an outstanding watch and there’s even crosshatching on the pushers. That’s what you want from a good micro-brand.
Their only drawback is being too tall and big. You have to order directly from Hemel’s website. They’re about five hundred, which is great value for money.
- Made of quartz
- Choice of bezels
- Classic style
- Perfect Micro-Brand
- Too tall and massive
Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph
Number 5 is one of the most historically important watches the Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph. They’re from New York, founded all the way back in 1875. Now, part of Citizen actually, and their history with NASA and space flight goes all the way back to the very early days of space exploration.
Space History of Bulova
They were used by the astronauts in some of the fastest planes ever made. The release of that was even delayed because of the CIA didn’t want people getting that technology. But anyway, fast forward to the 70s, the original Lunar Pilot Chronograph was worn on the Apollo 15 mission by mission commander, David Scott. We all know about the Omega Speedmaster that used the Moonwatch. This is the only other watch that was actually worn on the moon as well. David Scott’s Speedmaster’s crystal actually popped off. So he had to use his backup watch, which was the Bulova, and it was actually sold at auction for about million dollars. So Bulova decided to rerelease the one, almost identical to the original.
It has a beautiful matte finish. Sapphire glass, 13.5 thick, water resistance is 50 meters. There is also a perfect raised section for the Takoma that is under the crystal, and extremely legible Super-luminova. Bulova has a quite astonishing history of the precursor to quartz, and they haven’t stopped doing that. They’re still innovating, making the masterpieces, close to the Precisionist movement.
The arrow of the second’s hand is very reminiscent to the Speedmaster. But this is no ordinary quartz movement at all. This is a high performance, high-frequency courts operating at 262 kilohertz, thus allowing it to have incredible accuracy coupled with that extremely legible monochromatic scheme, a fifth of second increments on the scales. It was a tool built for the ultimate task, unparalleled accuracy, and obviously insurance.
The only drawback is that it’s 45 millimeters wide, and it`s hard to pull it off. 13.5 thick for surprisingly only 20 millimeters lug width. It doesn’t wear that big. It wears a lot smaller, and it has this kind of retro science-fiction look. But it’s nice to have an option here that literally is of such historic importance.
- Historical importance
- Beautiful matte finish
- Water resistance
- Innovative design
- Incredible accuracy
- Too wide
Undone Tropical Patina Dial
Number 4 is the Tropical from Undone. It includes different dial types, so the whole concept was to have a full edged look. Tropical dials are so highly desired since with their offering you don’t have the risk or the high price tag or performance issues. These are among the latest watches fashion trends from celebrities like Kanye West etc.
Impressive In-House Production
They offer bespoke customization that nobody else can compete with. Coupled with the fact that with the exception of the movement, they’re entirely produced in-house, and the amount of investment needed in infrastructure to offer something like this is very admirable. They’re 41 millimeters in diameter, 13.5 thick, you get a hardened domed K1 crystal, a very classic Speedmaster-inspired look, lovely UFO shape to it, and you can specify to have your initials or something on the dial, custom printing on the case back. The black dial is matte, but the rest of them, especially that dazzling gray have this sunburst look, absolutely gorgeous.
Brilliant Romantic Gift
These are 30 meters water-resistant. They provide a great option for a gift, especially if you know other watch enthusiasts. Adding that personal touch to a watch is great because you can have something put on the back maybe to a loved one. Nobody else does that. And they’ve just released a Regatta chronograph. Be sure to check another great list of vintage driving watches if you’re looking smth similar.
- Different dial types
- Best bespoke customization
- In-House production
- Classic look
- Custom printing
- Water resistance
- You can have something put on the back maybe to a loved one
- Regatta chronograph
Urban Kili VK64
The Urban Kili is even more customizable. On their website we’ve got the VK64 and other meca courts, it’s a flyback, deadly accurate has a slightly mechanical sweet to it. They vary in price. Obviously the more customization, the more detailed. They’re an incredible value for money.
Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo
Number four is the Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo. It has a panda dial. You can get, no-date, date, or 38-millimeter sized. The scale and size of this are perfect. 12.9 millimeters thickness, sapphire coated, double domed mineral glass with anti-reflective coating. Wonderful blued hands on some of them, but they do the trick. Quality is very impressive. Under three hundred, which is an excellent value for money.
You’ve got that wonderful DB five engraving on the back, a little nod to the film that came out in 1964. Water-resistance is 50 meters. Design somehow reminds me and old Giorgetto Giugiaro clean style. We have the VK63 meca-quartz, made by Seiko, 24-hour indicators, 60-minute chronograph. The look is very kind of Breitling top times, slightly Omega Seamaster 321, chronograph looking as well. It also has a striking resemblance to some of the classic models and Zeniths of the ’60s. It’s an enticing, elegant look, that will always be desirable, and you don’t have the high price tag, or the risk of these extremely expensive desired vintage watches.
- Perfect size and scale
- Anti-reflective coating
- Affordable price
- DB five engraving on the back
- Water resistance
- Vintage look
Number two is the Seagull 1963. They are a Chinese manufacturer. In fact, they’re the largest manufacturer of mechanical movements in the world. They were started in 1955. They’ve exploded making watch movements for many big brands that we all know and love. Inside them is a mechanical manual wind column-wheel chronograph, which is the highly desired, and they based it on the 175 Venus, the Swiss movement.
Well, it is made in the ’60s. They actually bought the equipment from Switzerland, took it over to China, and started producing it themselves.
Magnificent column-wheel chronograph
There are both 42-millimeter and 38-millimeter versions. Renamed it ST19 movement as scratch resistance sapphire, which is just unbelievable at this price. Full blued hands, they have actually decorated the movement display back. It is also full blued screws in the movement. It`s in cream color, wonderfully done with a red Chinese star. Comes on an olive NATO strap. Now if you want to have a column-wheel chronograph, and you want to see that butter smooth operation when it engages the actuation with the pusher, you can actually turn it around and see it in action. It’s mesmerizing and incredible value for money.
The only criticism with Seagull is their quality control leaves a little bit to be desired. It also has quite elegant gold applied indices. Operates at 21,600 vibrations an hour. The power reserve is about 45 hours. The case is very minimal. It’s an endearing little watch, and the name ‘1963’ references the original that was made for the Chinese Air Force way back in 1963.
- Scratch resistance sapphire
- Mechanical manual wind column-wheel chronograph inside
- Wonderfully decorated
- Affordable price
- Compact size
- Poor quality control
Seiko Flightmaster 7T62
At number one is the Flightmaster, which is under five hundred. Prices are rising. It has the caliber 7T62. It’s kind of trying to be a meca-quartz, but it’s not. It has one-fifth of a second sweep to the split-second chronograph, domed mineral, which is Seiko’s own proprietary crystal.
200 meters water resistance, screwed down pushes and crown. You can even use that little sub-dial with the two hands at the 6:00 for a second-time zone, and an alarm. It has a wonderfully complex look and by-directional scales. You can do all kinds of calculations with it: ground speed, distance, fuel burn, wind set, basic division, multiplication, unit conversions, all kinds of stuff. About 13 millimeters thick, 41 millimeters in diameter. Great crowd pleaser. It isn’t without its limitations – that annoying 21-millimeter lug width, and the way they’ve put the spring bars.
Color Diversity and Bracelet`s Usability
The amount of complexity in detail in that dial from the applied logo to the very precise printing is just pure class, and it always has been. The second’s hand is in a playful yellow color. However, the white and blue version is extremely rare. Prices are enormous. There is the gold tone version, which is very kind of marmite in its effect. Its bracelet has quite a solid double push button deployment and the fold-over. Very dependable rugged makes a great travel watch because of the complications.
The alarm isn’t very loud, and works well as a reminder. 60-minute chronograph, date at the 3:00. Despite its large size, it is quite slender, about 12 millimeters.
- The by-directional scale of a sub-dial
- You can do all kinds of calculations
- Beautiful design
- Great for traveling
- A solid double push-button deployment and the fold-over of a bracelet
- Not a loud alarm
- High price
- 21-millimeter lug width
- Incorrectly put spring bars