15 Best Affordable Watch Brands [Under $500]
It’s no secret that men covet a luxury watch. Rolex, Omega, IWC, you name it, the modern man is going to want it. But when finances are tight, a more affordable brand should suffice. For me, affordable is, unfortunately, all I can aspire to, but luckily there are plenty of brands to choose from that don’t skimp on style or quality.
Traditionally, more “affordable” watches weren’t so fantastic as their exotic Swiss cousins, but today that’s far from the case. There are a myriad of brands that offer high quality, beautifully crafted watches for lesser fraction of the price of their luxury counterparts. At their core, they still perform the same function and do it almost as well as their expensive counterparts, but they do it without a ridiculous markup that a brand with the cache of Rolex can.
For a time, those who could afford to delve into the world of fine Swiss watchmaking turned up their noses at the thought or sight of a Seiko or a Citizen. Again, those times have changed and so has the watch community. Ultimately, what binds the watch world together is the love for a small mechanical device that sits on the wrist and tells the time. Whether you wear a $500,000 Richard Mille or a $50 Swatch, you ultimately share a passion for the same thing, watches. Today, the global watch community appreciates this passion more than ever.
Sure, an affordable watch won’t have the most precise Swiss movements or be made from an exotic mix of carbon fiber and white gold, but as a daily timekeeper it still serves its purpose. main and you don’t have to worry so much. if they succumb to the strange blow or scratch.
Seiko – the Japanese word meaning exquisite or successful – has become one of the most recognizable names in watchmaking since its inception in 1881, and is credited with being the first to produce a watch that combines automatic movement with precision quartz. The company’s best-known series is the 5, which represents five criteria that a Seiko watch must meet in order to use the moniker.
Founded in 1918, Citizen is another internationally renowned Japanese watchmaker. The company holds a few “world’s first” titles, such as the world’s first multi-band atomic timekeeping watch, which is accurate to within one second in a hundred thousand years. It’s perhaps the company’s best-known Eco-Drive technology, which relies on a solar panel to keep the internal battery charged. This internal battery can last up to 40 years before needing to be changed.
Casio is another Japanese watch maker, with its fingers in several other consumer electronics pies. Many of us no doubt had the company’s classic staple digital watch on our wrists growing up, before moving on to the iconic G-Shock line. Designed to withstand mechanical shock and vibration first and be a fashion accessory second, the G-Shock can be unequivocally considered a success, with over 100 million sold worldwide.
Beginning life as the Waterbury Clock Company in 1854 before reforming as the Timex Corporation in 1944, this Connecticut-based company is often credited as the inventor of the wristwatch. Today, the watchmaker produces models for all occasions: sports; dress; automatic and solar to name a few. One of its most iconic models is the Q Timex, first launched in 1979 but recently reissued, the Q Timex is as retro as it gets. Good luck finding one to buy, though.
Founded in 1875, Bulova was one of the first to introduce mass production of watches in 1919. The company is responsible for developing the Accutron method of timekeeping, which used a 360 Hz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel and promised to be accurate for one minute per month. The company was acquired by Citizen in 2007 and sales of Accutron watches ceased in 2014.
Although found in Switzerland in 1895, Rotary watches are most commonly associated with the UK, largely thanks to the company being the official watch supplier to the British Army in the 1940s. Today, the watchmaker produces a wide range of models, encompassing both quartz and automatic movements and even offers a series of reversible Revelation watches that allow the wearer to change dial styles and time zones.
Swatch watches are synonymous with fun, practical and affordable designs – the name itself comes from “second watch”, as they are designed to be casual and disposable. Swatch watches have gained international acclaim because they allow consumers to own a Swiss-made watch without the usual Swiss-made price tag. With a range of styles available – automatic movements have recently been added – the young company has something for everyone.
Daniel Wellington watches are about as minimalistic as it gets. It will come as no surprise to learn that the company is based in Sweden. Leaning heavily on Instafluencer culture, DW watches are more likely to be found on the wrists of the younger generation. However, with a range of basic but perfectly passable dress watches that can also be worn casually, Daniel Wellington is a brand you should follow.
Named after the northernmost town in Denmark, Skagen is another champion of quintessentially minimal Scandinavian design. Founded in the United States in 1986 by a Danish couple, the company emphasizes sophisticated design at a low price.
Another watchmaker from Japan, Orient is best known for its automatic and manual winding models. Some of the most iconic models include the Star which, first released in the 60s, was an inexpensive automatic timepiece, while the Fineness, released in 1967, was the thinnest automatic watch of its time. .
Invicta was founded in the 1800s in Switzerland – the official year is up for debate – but has since moved its headquarters to Hollywood, Florida. The company produces watches in a range of styles from classic sports watches to a little more garish. They also own other affordable watch brands such as Glycine. If you’re a fan of the brand but are looking for something a little more exotic, they have a Swiss Made collection and
collaborations with various well-known brands.
Vincero is a company still in its infancy. Founded in 2014, the watchmaker produces very affordable watches – the most expensive model we could find is US$299 for a dress watch with an automatic movement – with a simple mission to bridge the “golden mean” between high-end luxury timepieces and inexpensive models that skimp on quality.
Since its debut in 1997, Nixon has established itself as one of the go-to watch brands for the younger generation, especially those with an interest in extreme sports – it’s no wonder the company has three flagship stores nothing only in Australia, with others in France and California. Choosing a standout model from the huge range is tricky, but with the ability to look in both the boardroom and the nightclub, the Sentry SS is one of our favourites.
Your opinion of whether you find the Apple Watch affordable depends on a variety of factors. If you just want a watch to tell the time, then steer clear. If however, you want a watch that can also track your daily activity, stream music to Bluetooth headphones, monitor your heart rate, let you make and receive phone calls without a phone, and pay for things in stores, and more importantly to do all of it right, so we’d say it’s very good value for money.
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