10 Great Watches for Mom Under $1,500

Mother’s Day is nearly upon us, and regular readers of this site certainly don’t need me to tell them that watches make great gifts. We decided to put together a list of watches that make great gifts for all kinds of moms at price points that run the gamut, but don’t exceed $1,500. We have gifts here for all levels of horological enthusiasm, from right here in the USA to the Land of the Rising Sun. These watches will do everything from track mom’s workouts on a daily basis, to sit patiently in a jewelry box until just the right event, when it will be ready to serve. Enjoy the gift guide, and let us know in the comments if you’ve ever gifted your mom a watch.

(Editor’s note: some of the brands and models featured in this guide are sold through the Windup Watch Shop.)

Nomos Tangente Duo

We’ll start off with a modern icon of watch design that was just released in a smaller size with a minimal and elegant dial configuration in a new colorway. The Nomos Tangente is, in many ways, the flagship Nomos watch. It’s the most pure evocation of the brand’s design ethos, and has stood the test of time, being a force in their lineup since the inception of the company. The Tangente Duo, which made its debut at Baselworld earlier this year, is the smallest Tangente available at just 33mm, a great traditional size for a ladies’ watch. The Duo lacks the small-seconds register you would normally find on a Tangente, which dramatically changes the whole vibe of the watch. It instantly becomes dressier and more refined without the visible moving piece ever present on the dial, and warm tones of brown and gold further calm down the whole affair. 

The Tangente Duo is not only a classy gift, but if your mom happens to appreciate the art of real watchmaking, the Duo has that in spades with its in-house, hand wound movement. The Duo retails for $1,440, putting it at the top of our self-imposed price limit, but that includes custom engraving on the caseback by Nomos, adding to the heirloom quality of the piece.

More information on the entire Duo lineup can be found here.


Mido Baroncelli Heritage

The Mido Baroncelli Heritage is a simple two-tone time and date watch with an automatic Swiss movement that has a classic look that has stood the test of time (check out our review here). At 33mm it’s a versatile women’s size, and the whole package offers a lot of value at $1,180. Mido is one of an unfortunately small handful of brands that puts just as much effort into their ladies’ lines as their mens and unisex watches, which comes through in the quality of design in this (and other) Mido pieces.

We like the Baroncelli Heritage in particular for the dial finishing, which has a soft grain texture (just like the larger gents’ piece). The rose gold accents on the bezel, crown, and bracelet are also well executed, and Mido is known to use a high quality PVD finishing (for the gold-tone and two-tone models) that will ensure your Mother’s Day gift won’t degrade over time.

You can find more information about the Baroncelli, and place an order, right here.

Junghans Max Bill

The Max Bill line by Junghans is a Worn & Wound favorite for its versatility, strength, and commitment to a design aesthetic, and for the interesting history of Max Bill himself and the Bauhuas school. A watch from the Max Bill collection is a natural choice for this gift guide, since most of these watches could easily be considered unisex anyway. With that said, I’m going 2-for-1 with Junghans here, and will recommend both the traditional, basic, old school Max Bill hand wound, time-only piece on a mesh bracelet (Ref. 027/3004.44) for $795 and a colorful quartz piece (like the above Ref. 047/4541.00) for $495 from the women’s collection.

Notice here that the piece from the women’s collection is only about one millimeter smaller than the mechanical version from the main line. That speaks to the versatility of the minimalist design, and also that a “men’s” watch just doesn’t have to be worn by a man. It’s all about style and comfort. Regardless of the collection you pull from within the Max Bill series, you’re going to end up with a watch that has been designed to incredibly high standards that is sure to impress.

Auteur Moonlight

If you think your mom would go for the minimalist look but somehow even the Max Bill is just too busy for her, perhaps the Auteur Moonlight will be more her speed? The Moonlight is available in the Windup Watch Shop here at only $199. From a distance, you can’t really see the Arabic numerals that indicate the hours or the engraved indices that take on a white on white appearance, but up close you can see a variety of finishing techniques on the dial that reward a thorough inspection. This is a lot of design for not a lot of money, and I think it make a thoughtful gift idea. At 39mm it’s on the larger side for what we normally think of as a ladies’ watch, but with the mesh bracelet, lug-free design, and the uniformity in color through the whole piece, I think lots of moms will enjoy simply wearing this as an attractive piece of functional jewelry.

Seiko Solar “Tank” Ref. SUP250

The Cartier Tank is one of the most enduring watch designs ever created, and many brands have created their own versions that are either interesting twists on the classic, or just straight up copies. If money were no object, I think this guide could very well be a list of one, and I’d happily advise you to head to your nearest Cartier dealer and pick out a simple, classic, Tank in yellow gold.

But money, of course, is an object. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get a little taste of the Cartier aesthetic in a much less expensive package. With that in mind, here’s a Seiko, currently available on Amazon for well under its retail price of $195 that holds on to many of the design features of the Tank, and adds a few that are unique to Seiko.

Beyond the Tank-like presentation of this watch, what stands out to me is the solar powered movement. Because the watch is charged by light, this would be a great choice for someone who doesn’t wear a watch everyday, or only pulls one out for special occasions. Yes, readers, some of our loved ones are actually never going to be daily watch wearers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy a quality timepiece from time to time. A watch with a solar movement is a great grab and go option for folks who fall into that camp.

Seiko Presage Ref. SRP853

Seiko is a brand with a huge portfolio of designs and watchmaking technology, so you’ll excuse the fact that we couldn’t resist including a second watch from the brand in this guide. The SRP853 is part of Seiko’s Presage line, which over the last few years has produced some of the best bang for buck dress watches we’ve seen. With a rich red dial and glossed finish, this piece is on the opulent side and is sure to be noticed. I’ve always felt that Seiko’s “Cocktail Time” series of watches could be worn easily by women, and here we have a watch with the same general aesthetic in a smaller size. Just shy of 34mm in size, the SRP853 also includes a tried and true Seiko automatic movement with 41 hours of power reserve.

This Presage is a Seiko USA exclusive and can be ordered for $450 here.

Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto

The Hamilton Intra-matic Auto at 38mm is, here on Hamilton’s website, marketed toward men, but is it really an obvious men’s watch? Couldn’t the smokey dial and the gold hues of the case just as easily be described as feminine? The 38mm size is certainly not out of the question for a woman who wants to make a statement with her watch. I’m calling this completely, 100% unisex. If this were a wedding anniversary gift guide, I’d choose it as a watch that can be shared between a couple. As a Mother’s Day gift, it’s just a solid mechanical watch with a great vintage feel for a stylish mom, and it comes in at under $1,000.

Longines HydroConquest

What if your mom is a diver, but doesn’t want to wear an enormous 42mm or larger dive watch that many men would find uncomfortable or unwieldy? Finding a true purpose-built sports watch in a traditional ladies’ size at the sub $1,500 price point is a major challenge, but Longines has us covered.

What’s impressive to me about this shrunk down Hydroconquest is the respect Longines has for their female customers. Lesser brands might try to add some sort of style flourish to this tool watch to make it more appealing to women, but the HydroConquest wouldn’t work with diamonds, or a pink dial. This is, to put it simply, a smaller version of a proven and totally capable dive watch. Aside from the 29mm case, there’s literally nothing about it that screams “ladies’ watch,” and it’s orders of magnitude more authentic and just plain better for that reason. At $1,275 it’s certainly on the higher end of our budget, but this watch has the durability to take whatever mom throws at it, so you can expect this gift to have staying power.

Garmin fenix 5S Plus

There’s no getting around it: smart watches are here to stay. Every year more and more come to market and they seem to gain impressive features with each new software update. Garmin has been particularly aggressive in this segment, with dozens of new products introduced in the last few years for all sorts of dedicated tasks, from diving, to biking, to golf. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of SKUs on a manufacturer’s website, which is why we’re here to help you find something that can work for any mom.

The fenix 5S Plus is a full featured, multisport GPS smartwatch that will fully integrate with a smartphone to notify the user of incoming calls, text messages, and other notifications. Garmin made its name in GPS mapping, and this watch has full capabilities in that area, so if your mother is, for example, a seasoned long distance hiker, this watch will keep her heading in the right direction. It’s also perfect for more traditional workouts in the gym, tracking performance in a dizzying array of metrics. It’s not enormous, (42mm is a totally reasonable size for a watch this feature packed) and can be had in a PVD treated rose gold finish with a stylish white rubber strap. The price of the fenix 5S is somewhat dependent on the options selected at purchase (the device pictured here is on sale for $649.99) but they all easily come in under our $1,500 limit.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.