In the past, you used to get exactly the level of quality you paid for, but now there are affordable watch brands that bring a lot of value. So you don’t necessarily need to spend over $500 to get to the luxury watch level. Instead, we’re going to recommend X affordable watch brands that are both budget-friendly and good value.
Budget watches go back to around 1970 when there was a Quartz crisis, which saw the market flooded with cheap Japanese watches powered by a battery. Anything that cost less than a thousand dollars was shunned as inferior. Luckily, this isn’t the case today.
We don’t know if Quartz watches simply became popular or something else happened, but cheaper watches started to transform. A lot of the time, things that are too good to be true – are. If you’re looking for affordable watch brands, you need to know what you’re looking for and which brands you can trust.
This isn’t merely a list of watches from fashion brands. We’ve looked for brands that are well-known and trusted in the watch industry. Some offer automatics, some chronographs too, and there are even some appearances of Swiss watches here.
- Read more about the best fashion brands here.
So there’s no need to arrange items in price ascending order, and you don’t have to rummage around the sale section of a brand’s website. We’re going to run through 13 affordable watch brands with you right now.
Seiko is a Japanese brand, so, naturally, inside, you’ll find Japanese movements. These are more cost-effective than Swiss alternatives. What’s cool about Seiko is that they grow their own quartz for their battery-powered watches. Plus, everything else is made in-house. Seiko also includes its trademark kinetic technology, which means your watch will never need a new battery. All in all, they don’t just function well, but they look good, too.
You can get a very high-quality Seiko for under $300. This includes stainless steel automatics, which come in even cheaper at sub-$200.
Citizen has always had the mission of making price-accessible watches. It’s another Japanese brand that produces some of the most accurate watches globally that cost a fraction of their competitors’ price at this level of quality.
Citizen is famous for its Eco-Drive range, which can use either natural or artificial light to power the battery, meaning you hardly ever need to find a charge, unlike most solar options. Also, it means you won’t need a replacement for many, many years.
- Read more about the Eco-Drive range here.
This has put pressure on traditional Swiss brands, but taken the strain off your budget.
Citizen has a host of options, from minimalist dress watches to some more complicated dive watches. Prices vary a lot, but they’re on the list of affordable watch brands today because although some of their timepieces can cost thousands, you can get a high-quality watch for under $150 at the same time.
Tissot is part of the Swatch Group and is a name you should know. Renowned for offering true value and quality for money. And you’d be right to expect that, seeing as the brand was founded in 1853 and has been innovating ever since.
- Read more about Tissot watches here.
Many Tissot watches are under $300, but you never feel like you’re compromising. For example, you could get hold of their automatic Swissmatic for under $250. This is astonishing, considering it has a sapphire crystal dial and 30m water-resistance.
If you’re looking for a dress watch, Tissot offers a timeless and sophisticated range called Tradition. Or, if you’re after an over-sized chronograph, you could look up the Chrono XL collection.
Speaking of Swatch, did you know the brand was created to offer the cheapest watches on the market? Did you also know that the name is literally the words “Swiss” and “watch” squished together? We feel a little let down on the creativity, but not by the timepieces themselves.
Swatch has a great imagination. Over the years, this brand has collaborated with many celebrated artists and fashion designers to stay at the height of pop culture.
As such, if you’re into colour and quirk, you can get a (granted, plastic) timepiece from Swatch for around $50 – $120, though very rarely at the higher end.
From quirky fun to minimalist beauty. Skagen is a highly under-rated Scandinavian brand under the Fossil Group (so, now everything is made in America, but the style remains).
- Read about our three top Skagen watches here.
You should look into their collections because there’s so much on offer, and nothing will cost you more than $300, not even their smartwatch, the Skagen Falster 2 (stainless steel).
No matter which one you go for, the style is prevalent. However, you have a vast range on your hands, from a simple face with no complications to chronographs with subdials, date windows and Roman numerals.
Triwa was set up to disrupt the traditional watch industry. The brand, set up by four friends in 2007, aimed to pave the way for the Scandinavian style alongside its comrades, Skagen (in fact, we’ve written an article on
- Read more about Scandinavian brands here.
Each watch in the collection has been designed in Sweden and encompasses classic watch elements with a bold and fashionable style.
Being a younger company, they’ve got sustainability in mind, too. Their leather straps are organically tanned, for example. The bands are interchangeable, so you don’t have to keep buying a new watch to refresh your look.
You can get a cool Triwa watch for around $100 – $300
When you hear Casio’s name, we bet you think about those retro silver and gold digital watches from the early 2000s. Granted, this is an iconic range from Casio, but they offer so much, and you should keep an open mind.
True, they do dine out on that one, and you can see that in their Retro collection (around $40). But you could also by more sophisticated offerings like analogue-digital hybrids, Bluetooth connected or even watches suitable for diving. Casio has something for everyone, be it a dress watch to a sports watch.
Typically, a Casio goes for around $100, which is a great price considering the durability and reliability you get for that.
Casio has a big brother, and we mean big. G-Shock watches are famous for their bulky cases, akin to some Garmin watches.
On its conception 30 years ago, the G-Shock range was sold with the promise of ten-year battery life, 100m water-resistance, and the ability to withstand a 10m fall unscathed.
Today, it’s still tough to find a more rugged brand. Nowadays, you get handy extras like timezones, multiple alarms and automatic calendars. Niche complications include yacht timers and moon phases.
- Read more about the G-Shock range here.
Prices vary from under $100 to around $300.
Timex is both a sports-specific brand and well known for offering a decent everyday watch with a retro vibe.
Known best for making sophisticated chronographs with busy faces, Timex’s nostalgic design preferences always shine through.
Take the Weekender and Easy Reader, and you’ll notice them on the wrists of business people all over the world. However, for a budget-friendly brand, they’ve also created some limited editions over the years too. They even had a go at a smartwatch in the form of the Timex Metropolitan S.
Timex offers all kinds of materials, from stainless steel to plastic, including a host of band options from leather to NATO. There’ll certainly be something that appeals to your style. But, for a price range that floats around $50 per watch, you could easily get a collection that reflects who you are in all sorts of situations.
- Read about the Timex Indiglo collection range here.
Similarly-fashioned to Timex is MVMT, an American brand that was born from a crowdfunding campaign in 2013.
Wearers love the crisp and clean look of MVMT watches, which lean close to dress watches with classic faces. If you need a touch of elegance for less, take the Minimalist Vintage range under $100.
- Read more about MVMT watches here.
If you like the look of the MVMT, we think you’ll also love Daniel Wellington.
Instantly recognisable for the very basic face, a DW watch carries the subtle logo, no numbers, no second hand and no date window or sub-dials. But, somehow still manages to offer an almost unlimited range of options.
Colours, materials and different bands (including Italian leather) can all be found with what was intended to be a classic vintage style.
You can find Daniel Wellington watches floating around the $200 price bracket.
- Read more about Daniel Wellington here.
Another Swiss option that you don’t need a Swiss bank account to afford is Mondaine.
Mondaine offers traditional Swiss craftsmanship for an affordable price. All the quartz movements are made in Switzerland and bear the same logo.
You’ll instantly recognise a Mondaine from its connection to the country’s rail service. Each face is like a miniature version with old contrast and a red hand.
Expect to pay around $200.
- Read more about Mondaine watches here.
Hopefully, we’ve proven that it isn’t all about Swiss watches. In fact, the UK has a fantastic track record when it comes to horology. Rotary is based in the UK and has a French family tree. They like to name their collections after famous landmarks and other historical references, such as the Cambridge.
If you like busy faces with lots of complications and features, but you don’t want to shell out more than $250 – 300, check out Rotary.
So there you have it, 12 surprisingly affordable watch brands you probably didn’t realise you could afford! It doesn’t have to be cheap plastic from China. You can get your hands on a reputable brand and even build a collection of high-quality, accurate, reliable and even rugged watches for less than it would cost for one luxury watch. All you need to know is where to look!
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Last Updated on April 22, 2021