15 Best Chronograph Watches Under $500

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Chronograph watches have tempted people with their flexibility and flamboyance for over a century after Breitling took them to the masses at the beginning of the 20th century. More and more famous manufacturers have followed ever since by producing some of the most iconic wristwear in watchmaking history.

The likes of Rolex Daytona, Omega Speedmaster, and Breitling Navitimer don’t require introduction to anyone into famous timepieces.

However, besides these illustrious and very pricey tickers exist tons of affordable chronograph watches that look as luxurious as the most expensive ones and offer equally functional features for a fraction of the price.

In order to take much of the hard work off your shoulders, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best chronograph watches under $500.
 

best chronograph watches under 500

These wristwatches are not only affordable and gorgeous but will offer plenty of reliability to stand the test of time as well.


Best Chronograph Watches Under $500

We decided to bring you a variegated selection of top chronograph pieces that represent various styles and come from numerous world-famous manufacturers.

The watches have also received high praise from thousands of owners, being a testimony of their sturdiness and sophistication.

Without further ado, here are the best chronograph-equipped watches under $500 in no particular order.


Bulova Precisionist Champlain 98B318

Case size: 46mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/1000sec to 12h
Water Resistance: 300m (1,000ft)

A complete chronograph watch with high-accuracy quartz

Our list starts with a marvel from the famous watchmaker of Bulova. The former American and present Japanese manufacturer has placed great emphasis on producing highly accurate and stunning chronographs filled to the brim with rare additions. The Bulova Precisionist Champlain 98B318 is a classic example of the line Bulova produces.

The primary feature of the watch is the astonishing 8-hand quartz chronograph movement, comprising of four subdials that measure in the range of 1/1000th of a second for up to 12 hours. Although the 1/1000th second precision is a bit of an overkill for everyday life, it shows the extent Bulova is willing to take its wristwear. 

When talking about the scope, we can’t look past the accuracy of the Precisionist line. Equipped with eight times higher quartz frequency (262kHz), the Bulova 98B318 can hold an accuracy of +/-10 seconds a year! Compare it to a standard quartz watch with the same result in a month, and you’ll realize how accurate this Precisionist watch actually is. 

Bulova has moved the boundaries even further by adding the sweeping motion of the second’s hand to most of the Precisionist timepieces, including this particular watch. The 16 steps that the hand takes in one second outclasses any mechanical watch out there, only to be surpassed by Seiko’s Spring Drive movement with a continuous glide. 

Therefore, if you wish to own a complete chronograph watch with amazing extras for less than $500 while not being afraid of its very bold aesthetics, the carbon fiber Bulova Precisionist should be your go-to watch.


Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium BL5551-06L

Case size: 43mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/20sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

affordable chronograph piece with titanium case

Another affordable chronograph watch that boasts high-class additions is the Citizen Eco-Drive BL5551-06L. However, these extras are very different from that of Bulova. 

Citizen is best known for its solar-powered quartz movements that don’t require cumbersome battery replacements. The Eco-Drive technology you’ll find from this Citizen watch holds a charge for up to six months and constantly recharges whenever in a bright environment. On top of that, the wristwatch is accurate, losing or gaining only about 15 seconds per month. 

Besides the convenience, the Citizen BL5551-06L also provides a sturdy construction when a proprietary Super Titanium, a surface-hardening technology, protects from scratches and is approximately 40% lighter than stainless steel.

The watch is also noteworthy for its precise 1/20-second chronograph function and a perpetual calendar. The latter, in particular, is a feature not very common in wristwatches below the $500 mark. Lastly, if there weren’t already enough functions, Citizen surprises with a voice alarm fitted into this everyday watch. 


Seiko Flight Chronograph Watch SNA411

Case size: 42mm
Crystal: Hardlex
Chronograph: 1 sec to 12h
Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)

Seiko timepiece with rich and black dial

The next timepiece among the best chronograph watches steers away from casual everyday wear, mainly because of its tool-like characteristics suitable for professional pilots.

The Seiko Flight Chronograph is a through-and-through professional timepiece with a very crowded dial (in a good sense, of course). Equipped with a complete gear-edge tachymeter bezel that includes all the necessary units for various calculations, the watch is a spot-on backup for pilots in an emergency. 

The Seiko chronograph watch has a convenient stopwatch function with the seconds counter on the primary dial and the minutes counter on the top window. The yellow color of the hand makes the reading easier to capture, as well as provides a clever visual addition to an overall black-and-silver appeal.

A value-adding extra with this ticker is its suitability for professional marine activities due to the 200m (660ft) water resistance it comes with, making it a wonderful wearable regardless of the conditions.

Feel free to check out our full review on the Seiko SNA411.  


Tissot PRS 516 Quartz Chronograph

Case size: 42mm
Crystal: sapphire
Chronograph: 1/50 sec to 30min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

Chronograph wristwatch from Tissot

Tissot is a genuine Swiss brand with a long and storied history full of remarkable landmarks that have shaped the industry. Considering the reputation Tissot holds, it is often surprising to find how affordable the watches are. The Tissot PRS 516 Chronograph is one of the timepieces that could easily cost 500+ dollars but instead is available for less than $300. 

The price-quality ratio is the very reason why we’ve included this Tissot among the best affordable chronographs. For the money, you’ll not find many other watches that offer so much in terms of quality.

First of all, the Tissot PRS 516 runs on a Swiss quartz chronograph movement. Secondly, the dial is protected with a premium-quality sapphire crystal that is way more resistant to scratches than widely used mineral glass. And lastly, the watch is water-resistant to 100m (330ft) and comes in a sturdy stainless steel case.

Appearance-wise, there’s no letdown either. Several owners are especially intrigued by the blue accents found on the watch hands and the stopwatch pushers. The dial is also noteworthy for a textured surface combining finely with an overall black appeal. 


Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance

Case size: 44mm
Crystal: AR sapphire
Chronograph: 1 sec to 12h
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

large case Victorinox watch with brown leather strap

The next watch is another representative from the famous Swiss watch industry. Formerly known for producing world-class Swiss Army knives, Victorinox is now an appreciated wristwear manufacturer with a plethora of super sturdy pieces in its line-up. The Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance is no exception.

For a couple of hundred bucks, you’ll get a timepiece with a scratch-resistant and triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, along with a water-resistant 42mm stainless steel case. And not only is the exterior durable, but also is the interior – the watch is equipped with an accurate and reliable Swiss quartz chronograph movement.

The stopwatch dials are conveniently placed at three, six, and nine o’clock positions, displaying seconds, minutes, and hours. The pushers for starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph are located at two and four o’clock and are noteworthy for their flat and easy-to-operate design. 

All in all, the supreme Swiss quality and design that has been put into this sturdy chronograph watch makes it a real bargain for the money. 


Casio Edifice Chronograph EF527D-1AV

Case size: 45.5mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/20sec to 12h
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

Racing-inspired chronograph watch under $500

While Casio’s most prominent lines include G-Shock and Pro Trek watches, there’s also a racing-inspired collection, namely Edifice, that hasn’t received as much attention as it should have. The watches can freely compete with other similarly styled and equipped chronograph pieces from more appreciated brands, such as the ones from Seiko.

The Casio Edifice Chronograph Watch, with its price tag just above the $100 line, is a great value-for-money proposition for anyone into reliable and precise chronograph timepieces. The watch is equipped with a 1/20-second stopwatch and a slide-rotating inner bezel, providing possibilities for numerous calculations.

However, for most of the wearers, it’s the appearance of the busy dial that lures them to choose this type of ticker. In this regard, the Casio Edifice doesn’t disappoint one bit. The well-placed subdials, lume-filled thick hands and hour markers, and a contrasting seconds hand harmonize perfectly with a dark dial and information-rich bezel. 

The 45.5mm stainless steel timepiece is also a suitable companion in water due to the 100m (330ft) water resistance it holds. But of course, the Edifice chronograph is more than suitable for several other occasions, too, because of its versatile appearance and feature-rich nature.


Citizen Brycen Chronograph CA0648-09L

Case size: 44mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/5sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

best Citizen watches from Brycen collection

The next timepiece among the best chronograph watches under $500, the Citizen Brycen CA0648-09L, is a casual everyday watch that goes with various attires and events. A classic blue face, brown leather band, and universal case size of 44mm are the factors that have made this Citizen piece so popular. 

The solar-powered ticker that also features on our list of the best Citizen watches is equipped with a 1/5-second chronograph function on two small windows at nine and twelve o’clock. The stopwatch’s seconds sweep on the primary dial, whereas the watch’s seconds tick on the bottom subdial.

The Citizen can be worn in the water as well because of the 100m (330ft) water resistance it comes with. However, make sure to replace the leather band to a more suitable one as the material is not the best for humid conditions. 

In case something happens to the watch, you’re guaranteed a 5-year limited international warranty, which is relatively rare for an affordable timepiece. Therefore, you can rest assured that the engineers of Citizen have made sure the watch will last you a long time.


Orient Chronograph Watch

Case size: 44mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1 sec to 30min
Water Resistance: 50m (165ft)

Quartz-driven Orient chronograph watch with red accents

When it comes to chronograph watches, not many associate Orient with this type of wristwear; quite frankly, it is understandable because, after all, the Japanese manufacturer is a prominent producer of automatic mechanical timepieces and calibers and not quartz-driven chronographs.

However, there are a couple of gems hidden beneath the heaps of automatic watches, with one of them being the Orient Chronograph FKV01001B0.

The watch has a simple yet fully functional stopwatch feature that measures in the range of one second to 30 minutes. The seconds’ window at the bottom has a miniature tachymeter ring as well. A nice addition to an overall straightforward chronograph is the contrasting red color of the hands, which helps to capture the time better. 

Quality-wise, the Orient watch is as sturdy as you would expect from this Japanese brand – the case is of durable stainless steel, the face is covered with widespread mineral crystal, and the construction is protected from humidity with a 50m (165ft) water resistance.


Bulova Lunar Pilot Moonwatch 96B251

Case size: 45mm
Crystal: sapphire
Chronograph: 1/20sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 50m (165ft)

Bulova Moon watch with tachymeter bezel and chronograph

The Bulova Lunar Pilot, also known as the Moonwatch, is one of the most iconic chronograph watches. The timepiece became famous after David Scott, an American astronaut, wore it during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, becoming the second wristwatch after the Omega Speedmaster to “set foot on the Moon.” The nowadays version is, of course, upgraded to modern standards, with some added features not to be found from other brands’ watches. 

The black Lunar Pilot watch runs on the same Ultra-High Frequency 262kHz quartz movement that the Precisionist line does. It means super-accurate timekeeping of about +/-10 seconds a year and a sweeping motion of the second hand. 

The chronograph feature is also of high class when it measures in 1/20-second intervals for up to 60 minutes. You’ll find the stopwatch subdials at three and nine o’clock and the sweeping chronograph’s hand on the main counter.

In terms of materials, the Lunar Pilot features a premium-level sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, which is a blessing on a sub-$500 timepiece. Bulova also provides two interchangeable straps with the purchase – textured black leather and black nylon with nubuck leather. 


Seiko Sports Chronograph Watch SSB347

Case size: 44mm
Crystal: Hardlex
Chronograph: 1/5sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

Seiko sports chrono with blue and red accents and rubber band

We have another Seiko chronograph watch featuring among the top stopwatch timepieces. This time it is a through-and-through sports piece both functionally and visually.

The quartz-driven Seiko Sports Chronograph SSB347 comes with special subdials, half the circle marked and the other empty. The counting of the chronograph minutes and 24-hour time happens through double hands. Like most of the tachymeter-included timepieces, the stopwatch’s seconds run on the primary dial, while the watch’s seconds are visible on one of the subdials. 

The watch has a very sporty appeal with a black ion-finished bezel and specially designed silicone strap. The color palette that includes red and blue on a dark background, combined with a silver-tone stainless steel case, is very masculine and best suited for outdoor activities rather than an office job. 

You can also be assured that this Seiko will let you down neither in the water nor in the dark due to a 10 ATM water-resistance and luminescent hands and hour markers it comes with. 


Timex Expedition Field Chronograph 

Case size: 43mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/20sec to 30min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

Timex leather watches with stopwatch dials

The Timex Expedition Field Chronograph is the cheapest on this list of the best chronographs, staying well below the $100 mark. However, the lower price tag doesn’t mean it lags in quality or appearance.

As such, you’ll find a very precise 1/20-second stopwatch feature, along with a tachymeter circle on the outer ring of the dial. The pushers are easy to operate when the upper starts and stops the stopwatch, and the lower splits and resets it. 

A very handy characteristic of a Timex watch is the Indiglo backlight with its famous greenish-blue glow. By simply pushing the crown, the whole dial lights up for a couple of seconds. Therefore, you can even use the chronograph in the dark, which, in most cases, is impossible with other timepieces. 

Timex is also known for its widespread employment of brass cases that add industrial appeal. This particular model is no exception in this regard when the metal has been coupled with a raw-finished brown leather band to provide a rustic appearance.


Citizen Corso Field Chronograph AT0200-05E

Case size: 39mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1 sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

Military-inspired Citizen watch with subdials

We continue with another outdoor chronograph watch, the Citizen Corso AT0200-05E. It’s a timepiece with militaristic aesthetics that sees an army green canvas strap combine with an easily readable dark face.

The stopwatch feature has also been made relatively effortless to read – you’ll not find fancy design elements or colorful subdials but a straightforward black-and-white layout with a 1-second chronograph. The function, as well as the whole watch, gets powered by solar energy. So there’s no need to worry about running out of the battery or replacing it every other year. 

Besides the convenient solar power and easy-to-read dial, the Citizen Corso is also equipped with luminous hands for enhanced time updates in the dark and a 100m (330ft) water resistance for various conditions outdoors. 

All in all, the Citizen Corso is more than just a chronograph watch – it has been constructed to withstand harsh conditions and last you for long years to come. What’s even better is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either.


Luminox Navy SEAL Black Watch 

Case size: 45mm
Crystal: hardened mineral
Chronograph: 1 sec to 12h
Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)

Luminox among the best chronograph watches under 500

The Luminox brand hasn’t been around as long as several other manufacturers but has already earned itself a stellar reputation for producing highly durable tactical watches. The timepieces have also been accepted by the US Navy, NYPD, and US Air Force. Therefore, it’s no wonder we’ve included one of Luminox’s pieces among the best chronograph watches for less than $500. 

The Swiss-made Luminox Navy SEAL Black Watch is made from an ultra-lightweight carbon compound resistant to thermal changes and various chemicals. The full-purpose tactical watch is also equipped with light technology that constantly glows for up to 25 years without the need for any light source. The glow is not as bright as in typical lume-filled timepieces, but the continuity and convenience of it outclass the majority of them. 

When it comes to the chronograph function, you’ll find two windows and the red second’s hand dedicated to this feature. The stopwatch measures in 1-second increments and is easy to operate through the pushers on the right side of the case.

The 45mm Luminox watch comes with a proper water-resistance level for professional marine activities, including swimming, snorkeling, and recreational diving. The strap that is of genuine rubber is also noteworthy for its durability and perfect grip around the wrist.


Fossil Grant Chronograph FS5237

Case size: 44mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1 sec to 30min
Water Resistance: 50m (165ft)

One of the top men's Fossil watches with Roman numerals

The Fossil Grant Chronograph is one of the best Fossil watches to date for its perfectly balanced line between a sporty and elegant style. When on one end, there are Roman numerals for a dressy appeal, then on the other, you’ll find a chronograph function for an active wearer. 

The overall aesthetics resemble a much pricer watch than the Grant piece really is. And what makes it even better is that it costs around a hundred bucks, making it one of the top affordable timepieces for the money.

The Fossil Grant is sized conveniently at 44mm in case diameter, thus goes with most wrist sizes and shapes. A great thing with almost every Fossil watch is the possibility to engrave it in one of the official stores. Besides that, you can also choose between a vast selection of bands, even more giving you opportunities to personalize the appearance. 


Diesel Mega Chief DZ4283

Case size: 54mm
Crystal: mineral
Chronograph: 1/10sec to 60min
Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)

A bold Diesel watch with huge case size

We finish our list of the best affordable chronograph pieces with a very bold ticker that won’t leave anybody cold. It’s the Diesel Mega Chief Chronograph

If you wondered where the Mega comes from, you shouldn’t look for an answer from Diesel’s homepage but straight from the watch itself – it stretches to 54mm in case diameter. In fact, Diesel has gone down in history with even larger wristwatches with nearly 60mm diameters.

In terms of functionality, this big face Diesel watch comes with a 1/10-second stopwatch on three subdials and a date window hidden between the metallic wings on the right side of the watch. A reliable Japanese quartz mechanism powers the complex timing mechanism.

Aesthetically, the Mega Chief is a very masculine timepiece. A black ion-plated stainless steel combined with a wide 26mm metal band makes it stand out from the crowd and catch attention. However, it is advisable first to check whether your wrist is suitable enough for this manly watch as it won’t look too good on slender wrists.



Useful Tips for Buying Affordable Chronograph Watches

Although for most of the wearers, a chronograph function in a watch is a visual feature rather than a practical one, there are still some aspects that everyone should take into account before going for an affordable chronograph watch. 


Automatic vs Quartz Chronograph

Our list is made up of quartz chronographs only. And that is for a good reason, too – they’re much cheaper than automatic counterparts with a plethora of options available for $500 and less. Automatic chronograph watches, on the other hand, have a starting price of around $1,000.

Since an automatic timepiece is already a complex mechanism consisting of more than a hundred miniature parts, it gets even more complicated and expensive if an extra timing mechanism is added. 

Therefore, if you’re after an affordable chronograph, there’s no alternative to a quartz-driven option.


Placement of the Seconds Hands    

Many people have bought a chronograph watch without knowing where the primary second’s hand is placed. Big is their surprise to find out that it lies on one of the subdials instead of sweeping on the main one.

Chronographs divide into two versions:

1) the main second hand is on the primary dial, while the stopwatch’s second hand is placed on a subdial

2) the main second hand lies on one of the subdials, while the chronograph’s second hand runs on the primary dial 

A simple way to visually tell the difference between the two is to check whether the chronograph comes with a functional tachymeter bezel. If it does, the stopwatch seconds typically run on the primary counter. If it doesn’t, you’ll have the chronograph sweeping entirely on the subdials.    

Therefore, make sure which version suits you the most. Otherwise, you may not be as satisfied as you thought you would.


Scope of Measurement

A simple chronograph watch measures in 1-second intervals up to 30 or 60 minutes. For most wearers, it is more than enough. However, some may require a preciser stopwatch or one that counts up to 12 hours.

Several manufacturers offer chronographs that measure in fraction seconds, typically in 1/5, 1/10, and 1/20- second increments. Such watches cost a bit more than the simpler ones but are nevertheless available for less than $500. The hour windows are also quite prevalent.  

Thus, consider the scope of the chronographs before making a purchase. 


Conclusion

A chronograph watch may not serve the purpose it used to several decades back, but it is still a functional and, most of all, a visual masterpiece to have.

We hope this list of the best chronograph watches under $500 has helped you closer to your next ticker with a stopwatch feature. Whether it be a highly accurate Bulova Precisionist, a sporty Casio Edifice, or a fashion-oriented Fossil Grant watch, you can be sure to receive decent quality and sophisticated looks likewise.

But make sure of the specifications of the function before purchasing since not all the chronograph watches are the same.


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