Best Skeleton Watch Under $500: The Sweet Budget Spot!

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A skeleton watch perhaps is one of the most popular categories in the watch lovers’ community. While we love and adore the design philosophy, we often steer clear of these timepieces!

Why?

Because a proper skeleton watch is often expensive (in most cases!). But the budget brands have designed wonders in recent years. They work relentlessly to offer affordable skeleton watches to the mass.

I’ve already discussed the best skeleton watches under the 200 and 300 dollar price point. And, a good portion of my beloved readers have asked me to do the same for $500. So here I am, with the review on the best skeleton watch under 500!

If you are looking for a “good” skeleton watch in the budget, I think $500-watch-market is the best place to be. In this budget, you’ll not have to make too many sacrifices. Plus, you’d get better value for your money.

So, let’s get started with the best skeleton watch under 500!

Skeleton Watches
IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS  rating price
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179
  • Movement/Calibe: Japanese Automatic (Miyota)
  • Size (Case diameter): 46mm
10
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1
  • Movement/Calibe: Automatic (Seiko 4R39)
  • Size (Case diameter): 41.8mm
10
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  ROBERTO CAVALLI Men’s RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026
  • Movement/Calibe: Swiss Automatic (Sellita SW210-1)
  • Size (Case diameter): 42mm
10
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224 Bulova Automatic – 96A187 
  • Movement/Calibe: Automatic (Miyota 8N24)
  • Size (Case diameter): 43mm
10
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Harley-Davidson Men’s – Black 78A128
  • Movement/Calibe: Automatic (Miyota)
  • Size (Case diameter): 43mm
9.5
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Agelocer Men’s Big Explosion Punk AGL5801A1
  • Movement/Calibe: Swiss Automatic, Caliber A5500 (In-House)
  • Size (Case diameter): 44 x 44 mm
9.5
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Bulova Men’s Modern – 96A204
  • Movement/Calibe: Automatic (Miyota)
  • Size (Case diameter): 42mm
9.5
Sekonda Men's Watch 1224  Stührling Original Men’s 371
  • Movement/Calibe: Automatic (In-house ST-91011)
  • Size (Case diameter): 46mm
9.5

Top 8 Best Skeleton Watch Under 500 Review

Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179

Bulova Men's Automatic - 98A179

I would start the list with a modest option – Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179. Bulova’s marvelous watch ticks all the boxes to be a good skeleton watch with a very affordable price tag.

The first thing that you’d notice is the complete metal finish in the watch. The gunmetal IP finish has elevated the looks of the watch a lot. Plus, the build has a solid feel to it unlike the cheaper options.

To power the watch, Bulova has added the Miyota automatic movement from their parent company. The 21-jewel caliber is nothing special but gets the job done quite well.

I’d love call Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179 a jack of all trades. You can wear it on formal occasions as well as wear it in your office every day. This is why I loved the watch so much.

But if you prefer your watches on the lighter side, you should avoid it. Boy, this watch is heavy!

Product Specification – Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179

  • Movement: Automatic (Miyota)
  • Case Diameter: 46mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.2mm
  • Band Width: 27mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Gunmetal Plating)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel (Gunmetal Plating)
  • Weight: 317.8 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 10 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Butterfly (Deployant)
  • Crystal: Synthetic Sapphire

Pros

  • Complete gunmetal finish with the impressive build quality
  • Above-average caliber quality coming from the parent company, Citizen (Miyota)
  • Great water resistance performance
  • Budget-friendly
  • Fashionable

Cons

  • Very heavy, the weight might bother you in regular usage

Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1

Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1

Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1 is more of a grand option compared to the Bulova that I mentioned earlier. This watch is elegant and pristine. In fact, I think this one of the best watches under 500 irrespective of the category.

Seiko has used the Seiko 4R39 – a fine quality caliber with great accuracy. A far better option than their typical 7SXX calibers.

The Presage collection is well-known for its design choices. You can see a combination of guilloche and skeleton dial together in this watch. The fact that Seiko has added brushed 316L SS and calfskin leather shows us that Seiko has upped the game!

The only reason I’m putting it in the second position because it’s not a true skeleton watch by definition.

Product Specification – Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1

  • Movement: Automatic (Seiko 4R39)
  • Case Diameter: 41.8mm
  • Case Thickness: 12.5mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Calfskin Leather
  • Weight: 82 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Three-fold Deployant with Push Button
  • Crystal: Dual Curved Sapphire

Pros

  • Elegant design, smooth eggshell dial color
  • The caliber is well-known for the accuracy
  • Guilloche design on the dial
  • 24-hour display with a separate dial
  • Superior material choice and better finishing quality
  • Comfortable form factor
  • Classic choice

Cons

  • Poor water resistance, only splash resistant
  • Not a true skeleton watch, only a tiny portion of the display lets you peek through the jewels inside

ROBERTO CAVALLI Men’s RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026

ROBERTO CAVALLI Men's RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026

ROBERTO CAVALLI Men’s RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026 is a great looking watch with an impressive specs list. Many top-tier watch manufacturers don’t offer Swiss automatic movement and calfskin leather in their watches.

But ROBERTO CAVALLI did!

So, why didn’t you hear this brand’s name before?

Because ROBERTO CAVALLI is a fashion brand mainly known for clothing and other fashion accessories. They mainly outsourced all the parts and combined together to offer something fashionable and reliable.

Product Specification – ROBERTO CAVALLI Men’s RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026

  • Movement: Swiss Automatic (Sellita SW210-1)
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 10.7mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Calfskin Leather
  • Water-Resistance: 10 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Deployant
  • Crystal: Anti-Reflective Sapphire

Pros

  • Designed by Franck Muller
  • Fashionable contemporary design with a rugged sporty look
  • Offers higher accuracy of Swiss automatic movement
  • Luminous hour markers and second hand
  • Comfortable form factor
  • Great water resistance

Cons

  • Poor brand value, ROBERTO CAVALLI is mainly a clothing brand

Bulova Automatic – 96A187

Bulova Automatic - 96A187

The skeleton watches from Bulova are pure gems in this price range. They come with above-average Miyota movements from Citizen and impressive design and material choices.

For example, Bulova Automatic – 96A187 is a complete metal watch with a combination of brushed and polished finish and a butterfly clasp. To complement the rich silver-tone, Bulova has used yale blue Roman markers and hands.

Sadly, the quality of the crystal couldn’t impress me!

Product Specification – Bulova Automatic – 96A187

  • Movement: Automatic (Miyota 8N24)
  • Case Diameter: 43mm
  • Case Thickness: 12mm
  • Band Width: 21.6mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 175 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 10 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Butterfly (Deployant)
  • Crystal: Mineral

Pros

  • Tough and durable looks
  • Proper dress watch
  • Superior build quality
  • Top-notch water resistance
  • Comes with butterfly/deployant clasp

Cons

  • Crystal is not durable enough

Harley-Davidson Men’s – Black 78A128

Harley-Davidson Men's - Black 78A128

Haven’t we all heard the name of Harley Davidson? It’s the unprecedented champion of two-wheelers on the road, all over the world.

Bulova, the American watch brand decided to launch a product line-up in the recent years paying tribute to the king of two-wheelers.

While almost every other model in the Harley Davidson collection comes with a quartz movement, this masterpiece comes with an automatic movement. Sadly, Bulova doesn’t mention the caliber name anywhere!

We can assume that it’s another Miyota movement as Citizen now owns Bulova. So, you’ll get better accuracy compared to the unbranded Chinese movements. But don’t expect something out of the world from Harley-Davidson Men’s – Black 78A128.

Also, the build quality doesn’t live up to the legendary name of Harley Davidson. I was quite disappointed with it.

However, Bulova did a fantastic job in the design department. The gold and black combination looks fabulous with the skeleton style design. On top of that, you’re getting gold-toned luminous hands that uplifts the design aesthetics even more!

Product Specification – Harley-Davidson Men’s – Black 78A128

  • Movement: Automatic (Miyota)
  • Case Diameter: 43mm
  • Case Thickness: 11mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Black Ion-Plating)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel (Black Ion-Plating)
  • Weight: 187 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 5 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Deployant Clasp with Safety
  • Crystal: Mineral

Pros

  • A tribute to Harley Davidson bikes
  • Rugged sporty looks
  • Comfortable form factor
  • Above-average water resistance
  • Luminous markers (gold-toned)

Cons

  • Crystal is not durable enough
  • Build quality is not up to the mark

Agelocer Men’s Big Explosion Punk AGL5801A1

Agelocer Men's Big Explosion Punk AGL5801A1

Most of the watches in the market are cursed with the following typical design philosophy. We get around or square case with three hands showing us the time.

If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, Agelocer Men’s Big Explosion Punk AGL5801A1 might have good news for you! This punk-themed watch breaks the design norms in the industry in many ways.

In fact, you’d have a hard time telling the time at first glance. The fusion of layered and skeleton design gives the watch a unique look that you’ll hardly find in other watches.

Also, Agelocer used their in-house caliber A5500 as no other brand follows such design principles.    

However, Agelocer is an unknown and a new name in the industry. They’ll need years to create a brand value. Also, some might argue that the watch face is unnecessarily complicated even for a punk-themed watch.

More: Check our guide to Glycine Combat Sub Review Here

Product Specification – Agelocer Men’s Big Explosion Punk AGL5801A1

  • Movement: Swiss Automatic, Caliber A5500 (In-House)
  • Case Dimension: 44 x 44 mm
  • Case Thickness: 12mm
  • Band Width: 24mm
  • Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Leather
  • Weight: 123 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 5 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Tang & Buckle
  • Crystal: Synthetic Sapphire

Pros

  • A completely newer design concept
  • Funky punk looks
  • Swiss movement
  • Above-average water resistance
  • Super-LumiNova lume used

Cons

  • The layered style display might seem unnecessarily complicated

Bulova Men’s Modern – 96A204

Bulova Men's Modern - 96A204

Sorry to include another Bulova on the list! But, trust me, Bulova is a great option in this price segment.

The main selling point of the Bulova Men’s Modern – 96A204 is the design choice. To complement the silver jewels in the caliber, Bulova has included midnight blue sunray dial.

As a result, you get two things – a striking combination of sunray and skeleton dial, and soothing color contrast.

Bulova also showed some creativity in choosing the crystal. The slightly domed metalized mineral crystal elevates the design even higher.

Everything else remains the same, just like any other automatic Bulova watch.

Product Specification – Bulova Men’s Modern – 96A204

  • Movement: Automatic (Miyota)
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 12.7mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Blue Ion Plating)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 175 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Butterfly (Deployant)
  • Crystal: Metalized Domed Mineral

Pros

  • Innovative design
  • Midnight blue sunray dial
  • A proper mix of formal and sporty looks
  • Comes with butterfly/deployant clasp
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Poor water resistance

Stührling Original Men’s 371

Stührling Original Men’s 371

Well, I’ve talked about the Stührling Original Men’s 371 in many other blogs so far.

Yet again, I NEED to mention its name on today’s list!

With the $250-ish price tag, this watch is nothing short of a gem! You’re getting above average movement, top-shelf materials, and eccentric design in this skeleton watch.

You’ll see many design elements in it that only high-end Swiss skeleton watches use.

Other than the issue of having an odd form-factor, there’s nothing to complain about the watch.

More: Best Skeleton Watch Under 200: Now You Can Afford One Too!

Product Specification – Stührling Original Men’s Watch, Model: 371

  • Movement: Automatic (In-house ST-91011)
  • Case Diameter: 46mm
  • Case Thickness: 15mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Crocodile Embossed Leather
  • Weight: 250 grams
  • Water-Resistance: 5 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Tang Buckle
  • Crystal: Krysterna

Pros

  • Impressive looks with top-notch craftsmanship
  • Great material choice
  • Superior build quality
  • Above-average water resistance

Cons

  • Comparatively heavy and bulky in size

Buying Guide: Things to Consider for The Best Skeleton Watch Under 500

Certain factors make a skeleton watch different than the others. Having a transparent see-through dial is the obvious one!

But you should give importance to these factors too!

Automatic vs Mechanical

I’d suggest you go for an automatic movement as it saves you from the hassle of winding the watch every now and then. Also, you should know that an automatic movement is basically a mechanical movement with a rotor.

However, many top-tier brands still use mechanical movement to showcase aristocracy. But those watches cost a lot.

So, getting a watch with accurate automatic movement should be your priority.

More: Best Frederique Constant Watch Review: A True Swiss Heritage

Watch Material

After spending around $500, you certainly wouldn’t expect you have a plastic build, would you?

A manufacturer often uses poor materials to cut the prices to $200 or $300. But the $500 price point gives them a breathing space and they can use better materials.

For example, your $500 skeleton watch should come with a case made of stainless steel or something better (titanium or ceramic). Similarly, the strap should be made of genuine leather not a faux leather material.

Always make sure to check the materials of the external elements of the watch.

Also, there’re a number of brands that don’t mention the materials used in the watch. Chances are that these watches have poor build quality.

Avoid them!

Finally, don’t fall for the looks of the watch you see online. Manufacturers often heavily edit the images to make the watches look more striking!

If possible, check out the forums and YouTube videos to check out the watches’ actual looks from independent reviewers and users.

More: Best Skeleton Watches Under 300: Should You Get a Budget Skeleton Watch?

Watch Movement

I personally think, a skeleton watch should come with a mechanical or automatic movement. The whole purpose of having a transparent case to show-off the intricacies of the inner components.

A typical quartz movement fails to deliver that superior visual appeals. There are indeed a plethora of skeleton watches with quartz movement.

You can easily afford a high-quality automatic or mechanical movement in the $500 price point. 

So, don’t go for the inferior quartz movement!

Water-Resistant Feature

Water-resistance is a crucial buying consideration. Sadly, most skeleton watches don’t have good enough water resistance performance, even the pricier ones!

The sweet spot for water resistance rating is 5 ATM. These watches are safe against occasional swims in the pool and water splashes.

Your skeleton watch shouldn’t have a water resistance rating lower than 3 ATM. These watches can only sustain occasional water splashes. Also, you should not wear them while swimming as the 30 meters (99 feet) rating is only theoretical.  

More: Best Couple Watches: Your Kind of Couple Goals!

Conclusion

So, considering all the facts, what is the Best skeleton watch under 500 in 2020?

Frankly, you can choose any of the eight watches that I mentioned. These all are top-notch watches considering the price tag.

However, if I had to rank, I would put Bulova Men’s Automatic – 98A179 in the top spot. It’s a well-built classic watch that will never go out of style.

Then, Seiko Presage Men’s SSA379J1. It’s tough a strong watch coming the Japanese giant Seiko. In the budget segment, there’re only a handful of brands that can outperform a Seiko watch.

Finally, ROBERTO CAVALLI Men’s RC-65 Model: RV1G060L0026 would grab the third spot. After all, it’s a budget watch coming with Swiss caliber.

What do you think? Which watch gets the title of best skeleton watch under 500?

Let me know in the comments.

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