When it came to affordable watches brands, quality and value was a matter of “you get what your pay for.” You’d not only get a good mechanic, but you would also earn brownie points in the boardroom for wearing a well-respected brand on your wrist.
Blame the Japanese for flooding markets with timepieces that were inexpensive and battery-powered during The Quartz Crisis of 1970s and 1980s. But anything below $1000 was once treated with contempt or derision. This is no longer true, at least for your bank account.
It doesn’t matter if quartz became trendy or watch brands for men realized not everyone who was interested in horology had enough money to finance their obsessions, interesting things are happening in the lower price ranges.
You need to be able to find affordable watches brands and know where to look. But if you do, you might have the chance to get your entire watch collection for half of the price of an Omega Speedmaster.
We’re not talking about quartz watches made by fashion houses, although there are some really cool ones. Timepieces made from genuine Swiss automatics and timepieces with real design cachet are what we’re referring to.
These hidden gems won’t be found by you scouring the internet for bargain basement prices. You can find our guide to the top watch brands for men in the affordable market.
BEST WATCH BRANDS AT A LOW PRICE
This Swatch Group alumnus has a reputation for being the best when it comes both to choice and value. This affordable watch brand, which has been innovating since 1853 means you can assemble your entire watch collection from its sub-PS300 collections.
Do you want a dress watch? Check out its Tradition range. Are you looking for an oversized chronograph model? The ChronoXL line is the best choice. An automatic powered by the Swissmatic, an entirely machine-made movement from Swatch Group, is also available. You don’t have to compromise on quality.
This Japanese watch brand prides itself in making all its watches in-house. This price point is where Seiko excels.
Japanese movements are more affordable than Swiss ones, so you can get stylish automatics in steel for less than PS200. The kinetic technology also means that your quartz watch will never need a new battery. It is one of the most affordable brands in watchmaking, and each watch is robustly built with an aesthetic sense that goes beyond its price.
AVI-8 is an affordable watch brand that offers aviation inspiration without the high price tag.
Five collections are available, all named after aircrafts. They have everything you need from this type of timepiece. The Hawker Hurricane has sub dials and tachymeter scales. The superior construction is rugged and durable. All ranges feature vintage-looking straps.
Stylistically, AVI-8 is a great pilot and receives a British salute.
Casio is perhaps best known for its digital bracelet watch in gold plating. This was for a time the wrist ornament of every Hackney fixie-bike-riding, flat-white-drinking Hackney resident worth their E9 credentials. It is easy to underestimate the value of this affordable watch brand if you limit it to one signature.
Retro nostalgia is still available in the Retro collection. But you can also find world timers, Bluetooth hybrids, and styles that are suitable for scuba diving. The brand is a one-stop shop for all your watch needs, digital or otherwise.
Although Casio’s muscular cousin has been around for over 30 years, its charm has not diminished. It was originally created by Casio engineer Kikuo Ibe. It had a 10-year battery, water resistance to 10 bar (100m), and could withstand a 10m drop onto a hard surface. (Ibe tested this by dropping 200 prototypes off third-story windows or rooftops).
This design is still durable, three decades later. It now comes with a variety of additional features, including world time, alarms and automatic calendars. But it also has more specific options such as moon data displays or yacht timers.
Timex is known as the Allman of watches. It is known for its all-American dependability. George Bush Jr. wore one to distract from his upper-class background. However, it has recently gained a retro-cool look.
It collaborated with Mr Porter to produce a limited edition of three special editions in 2017. Models such as the Weekender and Easy Reader were worn by interestingly dressed men from London to Tokyo.
Timex’s elegant Milanese bracelet Fairfield is a classic example of Timex’s nostalgic design language.
It was designed to be the most affordable watch brand on the market. The name is a combination of ‘Swiss and ‘watch’, not the best for long-term success. It’s incredible how far Swatch has managed to get from some injection-molded plastic.
Swatch’s motto seems to be “if you can think it, we can make it”. Swatch has worked with fashion designers and artists, and it is a leader in youth culture – sponsoring the first Breakdance World Championships – and even managed to automate a movement made by robots into a watch that can be used as a change for the PS110 and SISTEM51.
Triwa was founded in 2007 by four friends, who were tired of the respect accorded to tradition and status in the watch industry. The unusual name stands out for “transforming the industry” and is on a mission.
Each watch is made in Sweden. The clever mix of traditional elements and fashion colors is evident in every watch. The leather straps can be purchased separately and are organically tanned from the country of origin.
Triwa’s style is a great choice if you like the look. You can also add a pair of sunglasses from a branded brand to complete your look.
Skagen, an underground watch brand that shamelessly milks the Scandinavian thing, could be dismissed as easy. It is made in America, and now under Fossil. A deeper look at the collections shows some fascinating models. They show a flair for watch design and a sense of humor about how it’s supposed to be done. The regulator-style Signatur is another option. The Holst with its striking sub-dial configuration. Hagen hybrid watch, which is very stylish and acting.
The entire range is made with minimal design and it feels amazing.
Jake Kassan, Kramer LaPlante and Kramer LaPlante created this US fashion watch brand. They dropped out of college to show that big mark-ups in high-end retail locations weren’t necessary in order to succeed.
They were funded through crowdfunding and have been delighting their fans ever since. Their timepieces are crisply designed and cover every style of man. The Rogue is a flashy timepiece that can be worn with a little bit of sparkle if you feel like it.
11. TOMMY HILFIGER
Tommy Hilfiger watches are, as you would expect, a horological distillation from the East-Coast American style which made him famous. This is the kind of elegance that Kennedys embody, and it looks great with crisp chinos and a sweater elegantly draped around the shoulders.
The Windsurf is a great option for a day on the beach. The Emerson is for those who like to nip about in their sporty little clothes. The Oliver is for sunset cocktails on the deck.
This brand isn’t about reinvention or mechanics. It’s about creating timeless pieces that you will always love to wear. This is especially true if you are on holiday in Westchester.
It wasn’t always about Switzerland. Britain, and London in particular, was a major horological center before WW2. Hitler took over the industry and sent thousands of watchmakers (and other artisans), to fight in the war effort.
However, it didn’t die completely. Although it was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds Rotary is still based in the UK. This country also serves as its largest market. Expect a variety of lines named after landmarks, and a long history of serving families on our shores.
Although Rotary watches are no longer made in the romantic, rustic Clerkenwell workshops, they are far more proud of British watchmaking heritage that their Swiss cousins.
Mondaine watches are more Swiss than Roger Federer hand-delivering Toblerone bars. You don’t have to be a Swiss banker to buy one.
Mondaine is often regarded as the more youthful and affordable partner to the great horological experts. They pride themselves on offering traditional craftsmanship at a fraction of the regular price. This means that quartz tickers are hand-assembled in Switzerland and all carry the same logo as the country’s national railway service.
Citizen is known for being an affordable brand of watches. The Japanese brand Quartz Crisis was the only manufacturer to produce the above-mentioned watch, selling the most precise watches at a fraction the traditional price.
Good news for Switzerland but not so good for your wallet and wrist. Citizen continues to be budget-friendly and offers a wide selection of iconic pieces like the Eco-Drive, which uses natural or artificial lighting to charge the battery. This means that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a new one.