In the watch world, it’s easy to dismiss anything affordable as sub-par. If there’s no automatic movement, diamonds or big brand name – and with those things, a sizeable price tag – then it’s apparently not worth your time. Well, we can confirm that thinking as a load of tosh.
“A good watch needn’t cost the Earth, nor should it have esteemed credentials,” says Erica Redgrave, a buyer at retailer The Watch Gallery. “If you’re unaffected by brand prestige and elite craftsmanship, there are many accessible labels that focus upon aesthetics rather than mechanics – the part of the process that adds the largest cost.”
Which means you can clinch a great ticker for a lot less, providing you leave your horological hang-ups at the door. Still, keep your eye on a number of things says Gus Webbe, new product development manager at Sekonda. “A two-year guarantee and a Japanese movement are key indicators of a well-made watch at this price point, as they’re usually better produced than Chinese counterparts.”
Expect quartz movements at this budget. Yes, they’re mass produced but they’re also more accurate than many five-figure automatic watches – something to remind any horological snobs you bump wrists with.
Plus, certain styles are destined for longevity whatever the cost. “The most classic styles feature clean designs, neutral colours and clear numbers or batons to the dial,” says Webbe. “Three things that will last and get more bang for your buck.”
So, taking that information onboard, wrist up with one of these watches for under £100.
Sekonda Men’s Chronograph
Chronograph functions are, thanks to heightened craftsmanship, generally more expensive. So too are square dials – a signature move from big name brands like TAG Heuer and Jaeger-LeCoultre. So, save cash on both fronts with Sekonda’s chronograph; a classic timepiece that marries the two without the usual wedding bill.
Available at WatchShop, priced £72.
In the grand tradition of Scandi minimalism, not-a-lot can cost lots and lots. Skagen is the exception to the rule. Every piece from the Danish label – including the slate grey Holst model seen here – goes Finn Juhl on design and Ikea on price, making Nordic style affordable for every man.
Available at Skagen, priced £100.
Tommy Hilfiger George
Not content with bossing 90s sweaters and Ivy League threads, Tommy Hilfiger is a dab hand at watches too. And instead of Ali G-worthy trims, we’re treated to a classic, monochrome piece that’s more at home in the Hamptons than the hood. In Tommy we trust.
Available at The Watch Superstore, priced £82.
Rotary White Multi Dial
Rotary may not have the brand punch of Cartier, but it produces a reliable stream handsome classical watches that also keep up with horological trends. Take the White Multi Dial. With all the added functions of your typical heirloom, a rose gold case and brown leather strap will age just as well as any five-figure trophy.
Available at H. Samuel, priced £99.99.
Casio Digital Bracelet Watch
If Casio’s good enough for Alien‘s Ellen Ripley, it’s good enough for us. Though these days, the godfather of digital watches is decidedly more classic, with this gold iteration packing retro function on a first class bracelet.
Available at ASOS, priced £38.
Fossil The Minimalist
Fossil hasn’t always been the trendiest of brands, but it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to a classic, all-American aesthetic, pieces like the Minimalist will outlive fleeting trends for a watch truly worth the price tag. Buy this year, and you could wear it for thirty.
Available at Zalando, priced £79.99.
Silver on silver makes for a sleek car, and the same rule applies to wristwear. Accurist’s London watch adds some steel resolve to outfit versatility, resulting in a watch that will sit just as well with a suit as it will your civvies.
Available at House Of Watches, priced £79.99.
Lacoste Green Dial Watch
Ignore the snobs: these days, fashion brands can do watches just as well as Switzerland. And though Lacoste may not be Paris Fashion Week material, this leather-strapped piece clocks design points with a deep green dial – a sideline trend in the watch world, but an enduring one. And definitely one that will mark you out from the crowd.
Available at Debenhams, priced £100.
Komono Winston Mirror
Watch brands are rarely cool in the modern sense of the word. The traditional world of watches can be an awkward fit with white-hot streetwear trends. Which is why Komono, with pieces like the mirrored-dial Winston model, is a rare breath of fresh air – because it is actually, undeniably cool. Minimalist design lifted with a space-age finish. Who wouldn’t wear it?
Available at Komono, priced £89.95.
Timex Fairfield Chronograph
Like clothes, all-black watches are a failsafe move. This murdered-out chronograph from Timex works with any number of dress codes, and because the brand is known for its well-built pieces, consider the cost-per-wear ratio well and truly nailed.
Available at Timex, priced £94.99.