Not without a reason, Germany is a country often referred to as the Land of Ideas. And let’s be honest, during their rich history, they’ve had plenty of great ones. To this day, Germany is one of the leading forces in many industries that include automobiles, beverage and pharmaceuticals. Sharing the border with Switzerland, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the country also knows a lot about watchmaking.
Since the Swiss connection is pretty clear to see in the standard offered by many German watch brands, a common assumption is that the prices of most of these timepieces are well out of reach of the average wearer.
Although the quality of the watches is indeed comparable to Swiss counterparts, the expenditure is oftentimes a lot smaller. To prove that it’s possible to get a quality timepiece at a reasonable cost, I have prepared a list of 7 best German watches under 500 dollars.
The models waiting for you below come from 5 popular companies that cater to people with low-to-mid budgets. All the brands have a pretty wide range of timepieces fitting the “under 500” tag so choosing just a few was quite a challenge. Nevertheless, I hope at least one of these catches your eye. Let’s go!
Best German Watches Under 500 Bucks (Top 7 Reviewed)
Laco is one of the oldest hands in the German watchmaking industry. Having been founded in 1925 in the Black Forest town of Pforzheim (which by the way is the place that gave birth to German horology), the company has maintained a great standard over the years. To this day, it’s seen as one of the leading German watch brands and the model described here is one of its low-to-mid budget releases.
The brand mostly specializes in pilot and squad watches. The analog timepiece I picked here is a great example of the former. The watch uses Ronda 507 caliber, a popular Swiss quartz movement ensuring solid precision.
The watch comes with a 42mm matt finish stainless steel case. The size probably makes it a better fit for men. Laco 861806 presents a very elegant design, with a genuine leather strap and a black face that combines perfectly with the white hour markers and hands.
Both the markers and hands are filled with Superluminova C3 which is a non-radioactive and non-toxic formula that keeps the watch easy to read at night. In the middle of the face, there’s an additional sub-dial featuring a day-date calendar. The window is made from a mineral crystal glass which forcibly protects the face from any serious damage.
The water-resistance of this timepiece is rated at 5ATM (50m) which makes it a rather safe choice for short swimming sessions. At the same time, keep in mind that the watch comes with a leather strap. Although looking neat, leather bands tend to wear off quickly when in frequent contact with water.
What started in 1895 as a military and aviation business, to this day is seen as one of the most recognizable names in the German watchmaking industry. Specializing in Bauhaus-style pilot watches, Junkers is one of the go-to names for affordable German timepieces. And the model we have here is a prime example of that statement.
Junkers 6144-5 is an analog timepiece from the Cockpit JU52 collection, one of the brand’s most popular lines to this day. Similar to the Laco watch above, it uses a precise Swiss Quartz movement. This time the caliber is Ronda 515.
The watch comes with a slightly smaller stainless steel case (40mm). The creme-beige colored dial includes black hands and indices, both using the SuperLuminova luminescence technology. As an additional perk, there’s a date window at 3 o’clock. For protection against scratches and cracks, the dial window is made from mineral crystal.
This watch, too, comes with a leather strap. Hence, even with it being up to 50m water-resistant, I’d be cautious about exposing it to water too often for too long.
We can say that Graf Zeppelin and Junkers are sibling watch companies since they both belong to the PointTEC group. Hence, it’s not a surprise that the brands share similar values when it comes to style and high grade finish worthy of Swiss watches that usually cost x times more. Like most brands on this list, Zeppelin specializes in pilot timepieces, paying homage to the German aviation culture from the early 1900s.
The 76801 model we have here is the first of three exquisite Zeppelin chronographs on this list. The watch celebrates 100 years of the Zeppelin Air Ship, a dirigible patented at the end of the 19th century in Germany and the United States. The watch is powered by a Swiss-made Ronda 5130.D movement which isn’t any less precise than the previous two on the list.
This Zeppelin model comes with a hand-finished 42mm stainless steel case. The black & white-themed dial pays homage to the Bauhaus style and includes three chronograph sub-dials: a second and 30-minute timer, as well as an alarm. On top of that, it includes a tachymeter and a date window at 4 o’clock. Everything included on the watch face is protected by a hardened mineral crystal.
The watch comes with a dark brown genuine leather strap with the traditional tang buckle closure. The water-resistance of this timepiece is also rated at 50ATM.
Now that’s one company you wouldn’t necessarily associate with timepieces. Braun, mostly renowned for top quality home appliances and health care products, for the past few years has seen pretty good results with their watch and clock line, too. In contrast to other German watch brands on this list, Braun timepieces don’t resemble the traditional Bauhaus look and present and focus on a more modern look.
BN0032 is an analog timepiece. Unlike all previous picks in this article, it uses a Japanese quartz movement. Whereas the Swiss are known for best-in-the-industry automatic calibers, the debate about which country produces better quartz movements is still ongoing.
This classic Braun measures 40mm diameter stainless steel case and is available in two color variations – black and white. The dial matches the color of the case and the stainless steel bracelet, and the white hands and hour markers complete the aesthetic look. At 6 o’clock, there’s a date window. Similar to previous timepieces, the dial window of this one is made from mineral crystal.
The timepiece is water-resistant up to 50m and with the mesh stainless steel band, you can safely take the watch for a swim without the risk of damaging it.
Mil-Tec Luftwaffe ME109
Mil-Tec is another solid brand that’s not exclusively dedicated to the production of watches but once I stumbled across this iconic timepiece, I knew I had to include it on this list. The German company, set up in 1971 in Rottenburg, specializes in military tools and equipment but they also have a mini-line of watches that pay homage to aerial bravery during World War 2.
Luftwaffe ME109 is a collectible vintage watch, presenting the classic German Pilot style. Apart from looking great, it’s also the cheapest product on this list. Just like the Braun model above, this analog watch is powered by a highly accurate Japanese quartz movement.
The watch comes with a 42mm stainless steel case which has a fighter pilot oil-stained look. The look of the dial, color-aside, bears a clear resemblance to the previously-discussed Laco model. The hour and minute hands are luminous, allowing for a comfortable use after dusk. Unsurprisingly, the window is made from mineral crystal.
This model comes with a genuine calfskin leather strap with metallic buckle closure. On the waterproofing front, it can withstand a depth of up to 30m which is okay for occasional splashes of water but rules out swimming.
The time has come for the second Graf Zeppelin timepiece on our list of the best German watches under 500 dollars. And by no means is it any worse-looking than the 76801 model above, is it?
Whereas my previous Zeppelin pick was a chronograph, here we are dealing with an analog Moonphase watch. The solid precision of this model is ensured by a Swiss-made Ronda 706B quartz movement.
The watch we have here comes with a rose goldtone stainless steel case with a diameter of 40mm. The navy blue dial consists of white Arabic numerals and Breguet-styled hands. The face also includes three sub-dials: one for day and date, another for numbers of the week and finally, the moon phase sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Instead of a mineral crystal that’s used in all of my previous picks, this Zeppelin timepiece comes with arguably toughest to break Hesalite.
The 7038-3 model comes with a hand-made genuine leather strap additionally decorated with white stitching. The water resistance of this one is rated at 30m,
Finally, closing the list of the best German watches under $500 is the third Zeppelin timepiece.
Similar to the first one, it’s also a chronograph. What differentiates this model from the previous two on the list is the movement. Whereas the first two Zeppelin picks are powered by Swiss quartz, Zeppelin 8674-3 runs on CAL. 6S21. It’s a battery-powered Japanese caliber by Miyota – one of the industry’s most reliable quartz providers.
The watch comes with a 42mm stainless steel case. The dial boasts a classic black design and includes three hands, two of which are luminous. The watch includes two chronograph sub-dials, as well as a tachymeter scale. The dial window is made from durable mineral crystal.
This timepiece comes with a genuine leather strap with a tang buckle closure. When it comes to its water resistance, it’s up to 50m (5ATM).