12 Best Affordable Watch Brands for First Time Buyers
Much like his choice of beer or car, a man tends to be loyal not just to his trusty wristwatch, but also to the brand that’s on the dial. For first-time buyers, choosing one or more watch brands to start your love affair with can be a daunting decision, especially if you’re looking for a timepiece that packs some punch, a timepiece that has a certain reputation based on the pedigree, perceived value, build quality or simply because it’s underrated.
The affordable watch brands below will not only give you a sense of accomplishment upon acquisition, but also a sign of respect from a seasoned watch enthusiast.
Obviously, we couldn’t post a piece of affordable watch brands without mentioning Seiko. Seiko is a formidable challenger to the Swiss-dominated watch industry, from its core pieces to its Grand Seiko brand. Their strong point, between design, function and price, are their rugged dive watches, adored by watch nerds around the world. Check out their Save The Ocean Editions starting at RRP AU$725 but are much more affordable at StarBuy.
Shop now at starbuy.com.au
RELATED: The Seiko 5 will make your wrist look like a million dollars for $200
Timex has returned to the forefront since the launch of its 1979 Timex Q reissue, which offers Rolex GMT fanatics the chance to get something similar, for a fraction of the time – US$179 to be exact. Adding fuel to the fire, their contemporary collaboration Giorgio Gallo (pictured) is a striking yet understated dress watch, showcasing the brand’s ability to execute across categories effortlessly. This is my pick at $450 RRP US.
Shop now at timex.com
Tissot has remained relevant and excelled in the mid-range market for decades, building quality, aesthetically pleasing and value-driven products. The brand has sported the title of official timekeeper for sports such as the NBA, cycling, fencing and even NASCAR. Named after the town in which the brand was founded in 1853, the Le Locle Powermatic 80 RRP AU$800, boasts an 80-hour power reserve and represents an admirable start to your watch collecting days. Visit their Sydney store to view the range.
Shop now at tissotwatches.com/en
In just 15 years, British watchmaker Christopher Ward has earned a reputation for creating some of the most economical mechanical watches in the world. As sales have increased, so has R&D, as the brand continues to innovate year after year. Their latest dive release, the C60 Elite 1000 arrives in a titanium case and matching strap, weighing just 77g with 1000m water resistance. It is also a spectator in blue and orange. From AU$1,865.
Shop now at au.christopherward.com
Bradley Price, the founder and creative mind of Autodromo, draws inspiration from the golden age of motor racing. His designs are rare because his products are on the wrists and therein lies the appeal. A niche product from a truly boutique brand. We love the Group B Series 2 and the Intereuropa, which comes in 3 colors and costs US$1,250.
Shop now at autodromo.com
Long before Daniel Wellington and the minimal watch trend, over 150 years ago, in fact, Junghans began its journey in Schramberg, Germany. According to the company: “Our watches are consciously understated, preferring to emphasize the attitude and personality of the wearer. And so the strength of Junghans lies in its simplicity. The brands icon is their max bill collection and the max bill Chronoscope is an example of simplicity. Prices start from US$1,782 online.
Shop now at amazon.com
Another Swiss veteran of the 19th century, Alpina is considered one of the most underrated brands on the market. Their reputation for building precise, beautiful and reliable sports watches has won the brand a lot of fans. Neither the highest altitudes nor the deepest depths have little influence on Alpina’s performance, and the Automatic Startimer Pilot is a welcome entry into this prestigious brand at US$1,550.
Shop now at alpinawatches.com
Farer combines British design with traditional Swiss mechanics. Farer watches are usually named after famous explorers and therefore make excellent active watches complementing traditional engineering with modern and colorful accents. We’re fans of the Hopewell II which makes a bright statement and is available for US$1,075.
Buy it now at Farer.com
MeisterSinger is perhaps the world’s best-known one-hand watchmaker – an approach they consider “a relaxed perception of time”. The Meistersinger No 01 represents simplicity personified (no unnecessary hands included) and acts as the perfect first dress watch and an interesting conversation starter. Copy it for $1,900 AUD.
Shop now at definewatches.com.au
Founded in 1961 by the late Helmut Sinn, Sinn is one of the most respected tool watch manufacturers on the market today. Known for their tough tegimented steel cases and contemporary designs, Sinn watches are honestly priced and built to last, making them the perfect choice for your first everyday watch. Check out the AU$1,795 Sinn 556 IB, a contemporary sports watch ready for any outfit or occasion.
Shop now at definewatches.com.au
Whether you’re just starting to collect or looking for a watch for the rest of your life, the value propositions don’t come any better than Oris. Combining historic and contemporary designs with excellent build quality and everyday portability, Oris is worth your dollar. Check out our review of the Oris Clean Ocean diver priced at AU$3,200.
See the collection on oris.ch
At the very top of the line, trusted for 185 years and one of the most recognized names in watchmaking, Longines is dedicated to tradition and excellence. The company offers a wide variety of watches starting around $1,000 and has made waves in recent years with Hydroconquest (above) and Heritage models like the Legend Diver and Avigation Big Eye. Their latest offering, the Heritage Classic, is a considered buy at AU$2,900 RRP, but comes with plenty of pedigree.
Shop now at longines.com.au.
Venturing into the world of watches can be a daunting journey. But a consistent investment in any of the watch brands above will spawn a lifetime of positive watch experiences.