10 Affordable Watch Brands – A Deeper Insight

Published on 26th August 2021

Once upon a time, the art of horology was something only a few could enjoy. It was a labour, time and skill intensive process to develop and handcraft a watch or a clock. But with the passage of time, industrial methods were developed and new horological innovations were discovered. This largely scaled down the costs associated with making watches.

That’s when the “affordable” watch for the everyday person was born. Affordable watches have existed for nearly two centuries to the present day. An affordable watch allows anyone the ability to know the time to schedule their lives. Funnily, the Swiss were at the forefront of affordable watch production once. Then, the Americans took over and it all finally ended up in the hands of the Japanese and the Chinese where it continues to be to this very day.

 

Why are some watch brands affordable and some aren’t?

The main difference between “affordable” and “luxury” watches is the method of producing them. Affordable watches are often mass produced using industrial methods and machines in large quantities.

Luxury timepieces have much more of the human touch. There is a lot of artistry and handcrafting going on. Combined with a much lower volume of production, luxury watches become quite expensive.

Does affordability equals lack of quality?

Absolutely not. Modern industrial methods of production have grown and developed technologically to the point where it’s possible to create near perfection for a low price.

The only thing lacking here is the artistic touch. And that makes all the difference in terms of price and demand.

Reasons to go for affordable watches

Affordable watches are utilitarian. They are highly functional and efficient without being heavy on the wallet. After all, life’s not all about being dreamy and impractical.

Most of the time, we require practical solutions to everyday situations. Time and punctuality is an important aspect of our lives. Thus, affordable watches are great for this very purpose .

List of 10 Best Affordable Watch Brands

1. Seiko

Founded in 1881 by Kintarō Hattori in Tokyo, Seiko is the shining star of Japanese watchmaking. Initially Hattori started off by importing Swiss movements, but settled into innovating in-house.

Now Seiko is a force to be reckoned with. A massive conglomerate that produces timepieces for all budgets. Their affordable pieces are of high quality and excellent value for money.

Seiko Men’s SNK355K Seiko 5 Automatic Silver Dial Stainless Steel Watch

Seiko Men's Affordable Automatic Watch
Seiko Men’s SNK355K Seiko 5 Automatic Silver Dial Stainless Steel Watch (Image: Amazon)

The Seiko 5 was a line of timepieces launched with 5 principles.

  1. Affordable
  1. Day-Date complication
  2. 30m water resistant
  3. Recessed crown at 4 o’Clock (Not true in some cases) 
  4. Durable.
  5. Affordable

What better example is there to start off this list with?

Specifications:

Dimensions 37mm diameter, 11mm thickness, 18mm lug width.
Movement Seiko Caliber 7S26, Automatic.
Water-Resistance 30m.
Crystal Hardlex.
Materials Stainless steel case and bracelet.

Key Features:

  • Lesser seen silver-colored dial
  • Day-Date complication
  • Day function in both English and Spanish
  • Reliable workhorse in-house Seiko automatic movement
  • Attractive stainless steel bracelet that can be replaced with straps too

Pros
  • Affordable, budget-friendly.

  • The Seiko 5 series is historically significant.

  • High-quality construction.

  • Easy and cheap to service and find parts.

  • Rare silver dial.

Cons
  • No hand-winding, purely automatic.

Rating: 4.3/5

 

2. Citizen

Founded in 1930 jointly by Swiss and Japanese investors, Citizen has grown to become a large part of the Japanese watchmaking industry.

They have proven their prominence in innovations like their highly popular and successful solar-powered Eco-Drive technology for example.

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Quartz Men’s Watch, Stainless Steel

Citizen Affordable Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Quartz Men's Watch
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Quartz Men’s Watch, Stainless Steel (Image: Amazon)

This watch is an Eco-Drive version of another famous watch, the NY0040, which was issued to the Italian Marina Militare. It’s also larger, but the design remains the same.

Specifications:

Dimensions 44mm diameter, 12mm thickness, 20mm lug width.
Movement Eco-Drive Caliber E168, Quartz movement.
Water-Resistance 200m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case and rubber strap.

Key Features:

  • Professional dive watch
  • 200m of water resistance
  • Stainless steel case with 120 click timing bezel
  • Black rubber strap
  • Choice of black, blue, and green dials

Pros
  • Attractive design.

  • Robust build quality of the watch itself.

  • 200m water resistance makes it suitable for swimming and diving.

  • Solar-powered Eco-Drive movement.

  • Easy to maintain.

Cons
  • Comparatively expensive.

  • The rubber strap isn’t of the best quality.

Rating: 4.5/5

3. Casio

Founded in 1946, Casio is primarily an electronics company. That’s reflected in the type of timepieces they make. They are in a way, the king of digital watches.

Again, a big part of Japanese watchmaking. But that digital technology doesn’t just end in boring cheap watches. The G-Shock, for example, is a fantastic piece of durable technology with a wide area of applications.

Casio Men’s Silver Tone 25 Memory Calculator Databank Watch

Casio Men's Affordable Calculator Databank Watch
Casio Men’s Silver Tone 25 Memory Calculator Databank Watch (Image: Amazon)

The Databank, also known as the calculator watch is a real icon. This specific version is one of the most attractive ones in the range. It’s retro futurism at the best.

Specifications:

Dimensions 46.5mm length, 33.1mm breadth, 8.7mm thickness.
Movement Casio Module 3228, Digital Quartz, Databank + Calculator.
Water-Resistance 50m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Resin case, Stainless Steel bracelet.

Key Features:

  • 25 pages of Telememo
  • 1/100th of a second stopwatch
  • Dual time
  • 5 alarms
  • Auto LED light

Pros
  • Variety of features.

  • Extremely affordable.

  • Great value for money.

  • Water-resistant to 50m.

  • Calculator and Telememo storage function.

Cons
  • Not the most versatile in terms of style.

Rating: 4.3/5

 

4. Timex

Founded as the Waterbury Clock Company in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1854, Timex has since grown to be a world leader in watch production. They were pioneers in industrial watchmaking.

While most Timexes are made in China in present times, the brand still hasn’t compromised on its quality or let go of its rich history. Timex is a great choice for affordable watches.

Timex Unisex Weekender 38mm Watch

Timex Affordable Watch
Timex Unisex Weekender 38mm Watch (Image: Amazon)

The Weekender has become iconic due to being this small and lovable little timepiece that’s also extremely affordable and widely available. It’s the quintessential good quality, yet cheap to purchase watch. That legacy goes on to this very day.

Specifications:

Dimensions 38mm diameter, 9mm thickness, 20mm lug width.
Movement Timex quartz movement.
Water-Resistance 30m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Plated brass case, nylon or leather strap.

Key Features;

  • Choice of white, cream, blue, grey, and khaki dial colors
  • Choice of plated brass or PVD brass cases
  • Choice of standard leather straps or slip-through Nylon and leather straps
  • Indiglo backlighting

Pros
  • Versatile design.

  • Looks great on a wide range of straps and bracelets.

  • Very cheap to buy and maintain.

  • Indiglo backlighting makes viewing of time in the dark possible.

  • Iconic history.

Cons
  • The brass case won’t be as durable as stainless steel.

  • Loud movement.

Rating: 4.5/

5. Caravelle

Caravelle was introduced in 1962 as an affordable line of timepieces by Bulova. To this day, they produce truly affordable timepieces with a lovely range of designs.

Caravelle Retro Quartz Mens Watch, Stainless Steel with Blue Nylon Strap, Silver-Tone (Model: 43B167)

Caravelle Affordable Watch under $200
Caravelle Retro Quartz Mens Watch, Stainless Steel with Blue Nylon Strap, Silver-Tone (Model: 43B167) (Image: Amazon)

This specific watch is truly lovely. Inspired by dive watches and racing watches from the 1970s, it’s a fresh breath of nostalgia in the modern times.

Specifications:

Dimensions 40mm diameter, 11mm thickness, 20mm lug width.
Movement Caravelle quartz movement.
Water-Resistance 50m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case, nylon strap.

Key Features;

  • Retro 1970s style
  • Stainless steel tonneau case
  • Fixed blue and red bezel with markings
  • Date complication
  • Black dial with white chapter rings and blue nylon strap

Pros
  • Classic and timeless design.

  • Affordable.

  • Heritage brand.

  • 3-year manufacturer warranty.

  • 50m water resistance ; suitable for light swimming.

Cons
  • The bezel doesn’t rotate.

  • The design is not versatile enough for many situations.

Rating: 4.6/5

 

6. Swatch

Founded in 1983 as a response to the quartz crisis, ‘Swatch’ was an amalgamation of “Second watch”. It was meant to be a line of entirely machine made and affordable pieces that are a fun second watch to be used in a relaxed setting.

To this day, they remain intensely popular worldwide and are an important player in the affordable watch industry.

Swatch YVS433G Men’s Archi-Mix Destination Zurich Silver Dial Steel Bracelet Chrono Watch

Affordable Watch under $200
Swatch YVS433G Men’s Archi-Mix Destination Zurich Silver Dial Steel Bracelet Chrono Watch (Image: Amazon)

This is a chronograph that’s very unique. As Swatch is all about informality and fun, let’s talk colours. The silver colours of the dial blend with the stainless steel case beautifully, making for a visual treat!

Specifications:

Dimensions 43mm diameter, 13mm thickness, 21mm lug width.
Movement Swatch quartz chronograph.
Water-Resistance 30m.
Crystal Plexiglass.
Materials Stainless steel case and bracelet.

Key Features:

  • Swiss made
  • Chronograph stopwatch function
  • Date complication
  • Tachymetric bezel
  • High-quality stainless steel case and bracelet

Pros
  • High-quality Swiss-made timepiece.

  • Beautiful design.

  • Rare silver dial with white sub-dials.

  • Great value for money.

  • Rich brand heritage.

Cons
  • Plexiglass/Acrylic crystal is prone to easy scratching.

  • Bracelet cannot be replaced with straps.

Rating: 4.7/5

7. Orient

Founded in 1950, Orient was a small Japanese watchmaking house that was absorbed by Seiko, which continues to own it as a full subsidiary to this very day.

Orient produces a small range of affordable timepieces. They’re special in that way. Their movements are also in-house, being funded by Seiko.

Orient ‘2nd Gen Bambino Version I’ Japanese Automatic Stainless Steel and Leather Dress Watch

Orient Affordable Watch
Orient ‘2nd Gen Bambino Version I’ Japanese Automatic Stainless Steel and Leather Dress Watch (Image: Amazon)

The Bambino is an enthusiast’s favourite. While initially it was a basic piece that had no hacking and hand-winding, Orient offers those two features in their newer versions.

Cool, classy, traditional. Those are three best words to describe the Bambino.

Specifications:

Dimensions 40mm diameter, 12mm thickness, 21mm lug width.
Movement Orient Caliber F6724, automatic, hand-winding, hacking.
Water-Resistance 30m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case and leather strap.

Key Features:

  • Date complication
  • Beautiful domed mineral crystal
  • Domed metallic sunburst dial
  • Hand-winding and hacking
  • Lots of choices of dial and strap combinations

Pros
  • Affordable.

  • Classical designs.

  • High-quality Japanese construction.

  • 50m water resistance makes it suitable for light swimming and water activities.

  • Hand-winding and hacking features.

Cons
  • 21mm lug width makes it impractical to find the right size of straps.

Rating: 4.6/5

 

8. Bulova

Bulova was founded in 1875 in Queens, New York. In 2009, they were bought out by Citizen. Bulova was highly innovative. Even before the quartz watch was invented, Bulova had patented their tuning fork technology to create the Accutron.

Now even though Bulova is a heritage brand, they are excellent in their niche of building affordable watches. It’s a perfect balance they have struck.

Bulova Classic Quartz Calendar Mens Watch, Stainless Steel , Silver-Tone (Model: 96B220)

Bulova Affordable Watch
Bulova Classic Quartz Calendar Mens Watch, Stainless Steel , Silver-Tone (Model: 96B220) (Image: Amazon)

This specific watch is very unique in the sense that it takes inspiration from the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. But still, it’s a beautiful piece with a character of it’s own. A great proposition.

Specifications:

Dimensions 43mm diameter, 10.9mm thickness, 27mm bracelet width.
Movement Japanese quartz movement.
Water-Resistance 50m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case and bracelet.

Key Features:

  • Sporty casual design
  • Date complication
  • Blue dial
  • Styling inspired from the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
  • Integrated stainless steel bracelet

Pros
  • High-quality stainless steel construction.

  • Beautiful design.

  • Affordable to buy and maintain.

  • 50m water resistance. Suitable for light water activities.

  • Great value for money.

Cons
  • Bracelet cannot be replaced for standard straps.

Rating: 4.6/5

9. Titan

Founded in 1984 in Hosur, India, Titan broke into the market with their affordable quartz pieces with unique and different styling.

Often times, they never held onto a specific style, being a constant changer. Today, the company is worth billions.

Titan Men’s On Trend Chronograph Watch – Quartz, Water Resistant

Affordable Chronograph Watch under $200
Titan Men’s On Trend Chronograph Watch – Quartz, Water Resistant (Image: Amazon)

This chronograph is a very dressy piece. It’s full of class with its delicate air and minimalistic design, inspired from the Junghans Max Bill. And it’s a proper bargain for the price it retails.

Specifications:

Dimensions 42mm diameter, 12.2mm thickness, 20mm lug width.
Movement Titan quartz chronograph.
Water-Resistance 50m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case and leather strap.

Key Features:

  • Traditional and classic design
  • Chronograph/Stopwatch function
  • Day-Date complication
  • Choice of standard stainless steel or PVD case
  • White curved dial and brown leather strap

Pros
  • Beautiful and classy design.

  • Chronograph function makes it highly useful.

  • 50m water resistance; suitable for light swimming and water activities.

  • Excellent value for money.

  • Bauhaus style display.

Cons
  • Domed crustal has to be protected with care to prevent shattering or scratching.

  • Suitable mostly for formal situations.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

10. Tissot

Founded in 1853 in Le Locle, Switzerland, Tissot was an early pioneer of Swiss mass production, inspired from their American counterparts.

Like Seiko, Tissot has a wide range of products for different price ranges. Owned by the Swatch Group, Tissot uses robust and reliable ETA movements, sometimes modified on their own. Tissot is iconic and a force to be reckoned with in the world of Swiss watchmaking

Tissot Men’s Stainless Steel Quartz Watch with Stainless-Steel Strap, Two Tone, 18 (Model: T1094101803200)

Best Affordable Watch under $200
Tissot Men’s Stainless Steel Quartz Watch with Stainless-Steel Strap, Two Tone, 18 (Model: T1094101803200) (Image: Amazon)

This specific Tissot is eye catching. It’s subtle, but those beautiful Breguet numerals make it a treat to behold. Being Swiss-made, it may be slightly more expensive, but it’s worth it when it comes to quality, craftsmanship and the history behind it.

Specifications:

Dimensions 38mm diameter, 10mm thickness, 18mm lug width.
Movement ETA 902.101 Quartz movement.
Water-Resistance 30m.
Crystal Mineral.
Materials Stainless steel case and nylon strap.

Key Features:

  • Breguet style numerals
  • High-quality stainless steel construction
  • High-quality nylon slip-through strap
  • Lots of dial and strap choices

Pros
  • High-quality Swiss-Made watch.

  • Beautiful traditional design.

  • Excellent ETA Swiss quartz movement.

  • Great for both formal and casual settings.

Cons
  • Comparatively expensive.

Rating: 4.7/5

Conclusion

Our watches can always be enjoyed regardless of whether they are classified as affordable or luxury. The best word of advice is to buy the watch you truly want and enjoy it thoroughly rather than get caught up on snobbish ideals regarding prices. There’s a watch for everyone at every price range. It’s all about individual tastes. After all, we’re the ones who will wear our watches at the end of the day!

 

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