There’s a longstanding belief that watches under £200 are sub-par. It’s simply not true. While Swiss timepieces boast painstaking craftsmanship – and with it, painful price tags – affordable tickers shouldn’t be discounted, especially when it comes to function.
“Many watches under £200 may not boast the Swiss made stamp, but they’re by no means a lesser choice,” says Erica Redgrave, a buyer at The Watch Gallery. “Many watches at this price bracket are powered by a quartz movement – one that uses an electronic oscillator to give a very precise reading that’s usually more accurate than an automatic or self-winding.”
It isn’t just the inner workings to consider, either. “Regardless of price, a good watch should clinch the cost-per-wear ratio. That means the ability to match with as many different outfits or occasions as possible.”
Which, unsurprisingly, means a minimalist focus. “Opt for uncluttered dials and simple straps, be it leather or a relatively classic bracelet in one of two tones – gold or silver. Unless you’ve got cash to burn, avoid bright colours and statement touches that won’t match as much in your wardrobe.”
Redgrave says that the best way to find a perfect watch for under £200 is to highlight the instances in which you’ll need it. “If you find yourself in daily meetings and enjoy a relatively polished personal style, stick to a classic black leather and white dial combination. However, those working in smart-casual or creative offices have more room to experiment.”
With that knowledge on the wrist, clock our favourite watches under £200 below.
MVMT White Caramel Watch
College dropouts turned watchmaking dons, MVMT is an LA-based brand that sticks two fingers up to tradition. Classic watches are given a modernist makeover, with well-made chronographs sitting beneath dials worthy of the Geffen Contemporary itself.
Available at MVMT, priced £100.
Triwa Falken Walter Black Classic Watch
Watches, though admirable for the complexity, are rarely cool in the modern sense. Which is why Triwa – short for ‘transforming the industry of watches’ – has embedded a contemporary sense of style within a classic design, resulting in a piece that’s at home at Milan Fashion Week as it is Monday morning’s trade meeting.
Available at Trouva, priced £119.20.
Seiko Solar Men’s Watch
If Japan was responsible for the Quartz Crisis, consider Seiko patient zero. The Tokyo-based label created the Astron – the very first quartz watch – back in 1969, an achievement that bodes well for the brand’s output today.
Available at Goldsmiths, priced £189.
Greyhours Gold Watch
China gets a bad rep in the manufacturing stakes. Greyhours, however, is a brand changing that perception. By exporting Swiss sentiments to mainland China, the relatively young label boasts a line far superior to any mass-produced plastic fantastic.
Available at Greyhours, priced £180.
Timex Fairfield Silver Watch
The Land of the Free is also a nation of the functional, with Connecticut-based Timex peddling all-American fare since 1854. Even though the label has long halted production on its own shores, the current lineup still melds East Coast sensibilities with robust American design.
Available at ASOS, priced £75.
Casio Classic Vintage Style Watch
You’d be forgiven for thinking Casio is all digital dials and eighties design. It still kind of is. But the OG of retro watches offers a range that’s as classic as it is affordable, and there’s not a calculator function in sight.
Available at WatchShop, priced £56.
Rotary White Dial Analogue Watch
Looks can be deceiving. While British outfit Rotary offers all the signature moves of Piaget and Cartier, its watches come in at a lot less. So while the elitists shop solely for brand name (and marketing campaign), feel safe in the knowledge that Rotary has reduced costs without compromising quality.
Available at Amazon, priced £79.95.
Tissot Classic Dream
Affordability isn’t a concept totally alien to Switzerland. Tissot – a label more Swiss than a block of Toblerone – can proudly tout the ‘made in’ label without charging over the odds. Better yet, a multitude of functions give the greats a run for their money (but not yours).
Available at Tissot, priced £160.
Paul Smith MA Men’s Watch
Until recently, Swiss brands were dials ahead of fashion label alternatives. Paul Smith, however, is one brand to close the gap, with watches just as iconic as the British designer’s ready-to-wear line.
Available at Beaverbrooks, priced £199.
Mondaine Evo Day Date
If Mondaine looks familiar, that’s because the iconic dial can be found on every Swiss railway clock up and down the country, with the nation’s three railway logos further emblazoned upon the dial. A stamp of approval if ever we saw one.
Available at Browns Family Jewellers, priced £146.25.