Our picks for the best affordable watches
In today’s world, the fervor around record-breaking, high-priced watches might make you feel like affordable watches just aren’t cool. Or maybe that if you can’t afford an expensive luxury watch that you can’t be in “the club”.
We’re here to tell you that is definitely not the case. There are a variety of inexpensive watches that offer incredible quality, value, and style. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best affordable watches for men out there.
But first, here’s a quick snapshot of our top overall, budget, and upgrade picks.
Benefits of Affordable Watches
The watch industry is fascinating because it’s one of the few places where cost is not a barrier to entry. True watch enthusiasts (and even double-stamped certified watch snobs) agree that for every Rolex or Patek, there are certain affordable watches like a Seiko or a G-Shock that truly complete collections.
Many affordable watches, as you’ll soon read, have achieved icon status themselves. They also provide tremendous value, can take a beating, and can even look way more expensive than their price tag. These qualities make them essential for anyone looking for a great timepiece.
Now let’s jump into our Top 10 picks for the best affordable watches.
10 Best Affordable Watches
Having previously reviewed the Casio A158WA, we can say without hesitation it represents some of the best value in watches today. It’s got a great retro-cool nostalgia element. But the more time you spend with this watch, the more you begin to really appreciate it.
The Casio A158WA is a 38mm watch with a clean dial and many useful complications. It’s also water-resistant with an alarm and backlight. Don’t let its small case size fool you. The fact is small watches are in style.
Stylistically, the Casio A158WA is a perfect everyday casual watch.
Ask any watch collector and chances are they’ll have a Seiko 5 story. It is usually everyone’s first automatic watch and extremely common even in well-curated collections.
While there are many Seiko 5 iterations, we’re focusing on the SNK809, known on some forums as “the military”. The SNK809 is a 37mm watch with a simple black dial, day, and date functionality. But any conversation about the Seiko 5 can’t start without talking about what the 5 stands for.
While there are numerous interpretations, Seiko insists that the 5 is for automatic winding, day/date, water resistance, recessed crown and durable case/bracelet. That alone makes it a wonderful take-everywhere-for-everything watch.
The SNK809’s small case and functional black dial makes it look great on the wrist. It can be paired with leather bands for a dressed-up look or a canvas strap for something more casual. It’s ideal for someone looking for a watch that hides in plain sight. If you know, you know.
Orient Bambino Version 5
Orient has positioned themselves as the go-to watch for those in search of rich features and watch community respect. In terms of value for money, it is nearly impossible to outperform an Orient and their Bambino line represent some of the best of what the dress watch category has to offer.
The Orient Bambino features their F6724 Automatic movement with a gorgeous sweeping second hand. It also has a date complication and a domed crystal case. The entire package is luxurious and Orient really overdelivers with the Bambino.
While the Bambino comes in a variety of colors, the rose gold/white dial combination is impossible to resist. The color combination of a nice leather watch strap makes it look like a four figure watch, not a sub-$200 offering.
Timex’s resurgence can be attributed almost entirely to their Weekender line. Many watch enthusiasts and snobs alike have called the Weekender the perfect combination of function and style.
At $39, the Weekender is truly one of the best values out there. With its 38mm case, it hits the size sweet spot many are looking for and also features an easy-to-read dial, water resistance, and their popular Indiglo technology.
While there are many color options for the Weekender, the Olive Green nylon strap gives it a military vibe that works with a variety of different outfits and looks good on every wrist. The Timex brand is also a well-respected watch company giving the watch extra credibility in nearly every watch circle.
Stührling Pro Diver
Dive watches are sought after for great reason. They look great with nearly every outfit, are highly functional with water resistance and durability, and represent adventure more than most other watches. Luckily, more than other watch categories, there are numerous examples of well-respected quality pieces at affordable price points.
Stührling is a relative newcomer to the watch scene. As a result, the brand has garnered recognition from nearly every media outlet for its affordable, yet quality watches. The Stührling Pro Diver represents some of the best the brand has to offer which is quality and great looks. It features water resistance and date complication housed in a stylish 42mm steel case.
The Stührling Pro Diver is a stylish, classic dive watch that takes strong (and obvious) design cues from the Rolex Submariner. As a result, it pairs well with nearly every outfit from weekend, casual wear to even more formal environments. It’s also the perfect, summer beater watch for days at the lake or relaxing by the pool. It’s iconic look will ensure it never goes out of style.
It’s rare to find a watch that hits the trifecta–iconic, great looking, can take a beating. Enter the G-Shock. The iconic G-Shock GW5610 was made to be worn and only gets better with age.
The GW5610 take its design notes like the 43mm square casing from G-Shock’s original DW-5000 model. It also features 200m water resistance, can handle shock and temperature extremes, and has a durable resin case. But it improves upon the original with atomic timekeeping, solar power charging, and super illumination.
Some may be curious to know if these extras are worth the cost. Well, having worn this watch extensively during the past two years, we can say, “Absolutely!”
G-Shocks are always fashion statements and, for some reason, always seem to be trending hard. They look great on the wrists of police officers and emergency personnel as well as rock stars and tech geniuses.
Timex Q Reissue
Timex has had an impressive resurgence as of late with great offerings such as the Weekender and collaborations with Todd Snyder. The Timex Q Reissue represents another home run from the company.
The Timex Q Reissue is a retro-inspired watch with easy to read indices, day-date on a gorgeous blue dial in a 38mm case. It also features a nice blue and red bezel, comfortable bracelet, and bright lume indices. Everything on the watch is well proportioned which gives it a clean look in addition to its functionality.
The Q Reissue oozes retro cool and looks stylish on every wrist. The small size also makes it immensely wearable in a variety of situations. On the wrist, it sit comfortably and is completely unassuming. Timex also garners tons of respect from the watch community with its storied history which elevates the cool factor of the Q Reissue even more.
While Swatch has long been the uniform for teenage rebellion cool, it has recently reimagined itself as serious watch at the nexus of art and great branding. This has led to serious buzz from the watch industry, including partnerships with sites like Hodinkee. Perhaps no watch represents what Swatch is offerings as they Sistem51.
When the Sistem51 debuted in 2018, it was the only thing watch blogs could focus on. The 42mm plastic automatic watch looked different from everything else that was on the market at the time. The dial is simple with indices, date, and minimal branding which makes it look more like modern art and less like a timepiece.
The Sistem51 is attractive for how rare and interesting it is. Every wrist has a dive or dress watch with similar design language. The Sistem51 takes a different approach and offers a rare combination of funkiness, great style, and functionality.
Russian watchmaker Vostok made watches for a while before hitting “cult-status” gold with the Amphibia. With the Amphibia, Vostok created an affordable classic that’s made fans of nearly every watch enthusiast.
The Vostok Amphibia is the true definition of a tool watch. Housed in a 41mm steel case, it offers 200m of water resistance, automatic movement, and anti-shock balance. Pairing it with a 22mm nato strap was a brilliant design decision as it offers a lot of options in terms of looks.
Most importantly, all of these features can be had for less than $100 making it one of the best values out there. The Vostok Amphibia looks exactly like what a diver would wear over a wetsuit. It screams adventure and has a rugged appearance.
The Timex Marlin has been a surprise for the company so well rooted in quartz offerings. But the Marlin has a rich wartime history making it a classic for both watch snobs and casual enthusiasts.
The Marlin is a rare dress offering from the company that has honestly become a collector’s item. When Timex recognized this demand from watch collectors and history buffs, they reissued the Marlin in 2017. The reception was overwhelming and the watch is often sold out.
The Marlin is an exercise in simplicity and class. At 34MM with a black dial and semi-numeric indices, it over delivers on being simple and understated. It also features Timex’s well-received mechanical movement. It was a classic and it will remain a classic.
Watches do not have to be expensive to be exceptional. In fact, there are some watches like the Seiko 5 or the GW5610 that actually get more respect and attention than more expensive offerings from other brands. With any of the 10 affordable watches we took a look at, you’re getting tons of style, history, and street cred–all for a great price.
Chime in: What are your picks for the best affordable watches?
Thanks for reading.