5 Best Automatic Watches For Dad Under $500* (That Are Actually Available)

It can be hard to get something for Father’s Day but we’re here to take the guess work out of it. Here are the best automatic watches under $500 AUD you can buy for your dad right now. 

Citizen Promaster Fugu - $499

Citizen makes fantastic entry level automatic watches and being one of the true watch manufactures from Japan, you can’t go wrong with one of them. The Fugu is named after the famous blowfish, a delicacy in Japan and can be poisonous if not prepared properly, as Homer Simpson found out (Spoiler alert: he survived). I would get this just because of this connection, especially for dads who grew up on the Simpsons.

The watch is water resistant to 200m, comes with both day and date indication, sapphire crystal and a diving rubber strap. It’s a watch also for the active dad who doesn’t mind getting his toes wet in summer and tough enough for everyday use. With a case size of 44mm it probably won’t go with a suit (unless it’s a diving suit) but that didn’t stop James Bond pairing a suit with a diving watch. The watch comes with Citizen’s 5 year warranty and can be had now for $499.

Seiko Prospex Baby Tuna Diver - $479

Seiko is the other major Japanese watch manufacture that creates some classic models at very reasonable prices. One such watch is the Seiko Prospex “Tuna can” series. The one we have picked is the “street” version, in cool grey urban colours, perfect for the streets. It’s nicked name the “tuna” due to its case shape, with an additional protective shroud that makes it look a bit like a tuna can.

The watch is water resistant to 200m, comes with both day and date indication, hardy mineral crystal, and a colour matched grey rubber strap.

 Don’t let the 43mm case diameter fool you as the tuna case design has extremely short lugs so it won’t wear like a 43mm at all. The watch is perfect for the dad with street style and it’s a great fit with an oversized hoodie and trackie daks, paired with Nike Tuned Airs, whilst behind the wheel of a Commodore V8. Comes with Seiko’s 3 years warranty and can be had now for $479.

Swatch Irony Sistem51 Petite Second Black - $335

For the sophisticated dad who doesn’t want to break the bank, we present to you the Swatch Sistem 51 Petite Second Black, featuring clean lines and an elegant black dial, reminiscent of a vinyl record and with a very classic small seconds at 6:00 layout. It’s the perfect everyday watch without making it look like you’re trying too hard. It’s also a very cost effective way to get into a Swiss automatic with a steel case, and the Sistem51 movement is revolutionary in that it is completely assembled by machines and the accuracy is laser adjusted. 

You can also see the movement with a funky geometric pattern through the exhibition case back.

The watch is water resistant to 30m only but Swatch says their version of 30m is fine for when you accidentally get pushed into the pool. Case size of 42mm and lug to lug of approx. 50mm is wearable for most. You do get a 90 hour power reserve which is more than plenty, and more than a lot of automatic watches at much higher price points. Fitted with a smooth calf strap you could almost get away with wearing this watch for black tie events. The watch can be had now for $335.

Bausele RAAF Centenary - Airfield Hercules Blue - $499

If dad is a bit of a patriotic military/aviation buff this is the perfect watch for him. A celebration watch for the RAAF that comes with a limited edition key ring made from the Hercules C-130H. The watch was designed in collaboration with the Air Force to revive the look and feel of the officially issued watches from the 40s and 50s. The case back has a detailed embossing of the Hercules C-130H. Proceeds of the watch also goes to supporting the restoration and preservation of historical RAAF aircraft.

The watch features the centenary logo on the dial and the counter weight of the seconds hand is in the shape of the Hercules aircraft. the almost-hidden crown at 4:00 features the Australian Air Force roundel, and out of the way for a comfortable fit. Fitted to a recycled PET strap, the 40mm case size is pretty much perfect for most wrists, and protected with a sapphire crystal. Powered by a Japanese automatic movement, it’s good for around 40 hours of power reserve and water resistant to 100m. The watch can be had direct from Bausele for $499. 

Tissot Classic Dream Swissmatic - $675

I’m going to cheat a little bit here. There was a time when you can easily get into a Tissot automatic for under $500. Those days are long gone, but the good thing is even though this piece is priced at $675 recommended retail, using a few of your haggling skills should bring it down close to $500. Just drink one less coffee a day for a week or so and you can pretty much cover the difference. 

Yes there were other automatic watches available right now for less than $500 but I need to draw the line somewhere. There are some watches I cannot in good conscious actually recommend.

The Tissot Swissmatic is essentially the Tissot version of the Swatch Sistem51. You get a very clean, classic design with a sun burst silver or black dial and date function. The case back can be opened (unlike Swatch), however in terms of servicing it is pretty much a movement-replacement affair given the movement isn’t really all that particularly serviceable. You do get the Swiss Made label on the dial, (and prestige if that’s your thing) water resistant to 50m and covered by a 2-year warranty. Case size is 42mm and a reasonable thickness of 11.5mm. Comes with a 72-hour power reserve, and you’ll need to work on your negotiation skills to bring it down from the recommended retail price of $675.

For more watches, check out the Code 41 Mecascape Sublimation 1 – a pocket watch for the smartphone generation.

VIDEO: Is the Hublot Hate Justified?

Is the hate for Hublot justified? There are complaints of poor build quality, gimmicky designs, and the use of generic parts. All fair points, but is there anything to like about Hublot? What do they do well? Experimentation, for one. But is that enough? Let’s find out.

Read More »

Read more