Regardless of whether you’re a minimal style lover or the flashy kind of dresser, there are lots of brands to fill your desired niche; Seiko, Movado, Fossil and Timex to name a few. This list has been specially compiled for people with both taste for luxury but without the means to buy it, or otherwise on a budget and those who prefer a complete look.Here are some of the most affordable near-luxury watches easily available on the market today.
Six Best Watches for Less Than 250 Dollars
Price: $80 – $90
For years on end, there have been various predictions of the death of the diving watch, but as the years go on, there seems to be real substance to these claims. Whether or not you have a personal preference for the watch style, the diving watch is growing a lot more common in the mainstream scenes. Perhaps this fact could be attributed to the growing proliferation of water-resistant phones (or it could be global warming at work). Regardless, the perfect example of the preponderance of aquatic watches is the Amphibia.
Perhaps not the best-looking watch you could get out there, and admittedly still niche despite growing popularity, but it one of the most solid dive watches we can recommend. The watch’s movement, like many watches out there, is automatic, but still retains the traditional hand wound movement. At the same time, it brings along with a ‘rapid advance calendar’ feature that makes changing the time and date all the more easier. Rather than having the normal ‘wind to eternity’ way, you can advance the hands over intervals: 8->12 -> 8 -> 12… etc. Being a watch that’s primarily aimed for people who like to go for a swim once in a while, it’s (as you’d expect) stainless and water-resistant to a few hundred meters.
The Vostok Amphibian watch is also shock resistant to a few hundred pounds, but of course, that’s something you’d rather not have to test. And, aside from the extra features, it brings to the table, it does a great job at doing what it was designed to do, to begin with – its movement keeps time more accurately than a Seiko Caliber 7S26 without regulation!
One major downside of this watch is that the lume is pretty weak, sub-par even when compared to other dive watches. Depending on the age of the watch and the dealer, you may need to get it regulated. However, for the number of features and convenience it comes with, the Amphibia is a definite steal.
Quick trivia: If you loved Bill Murray in Wes Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,’ you’d be delighted to know you can get a replica of the watch the war in the film for as little as $70.
2. Orient Bambino, v1-v3 (gen2), and v4
Price: $100 – $150, $300-$325 MSRP
The Orient Bambino is one of the best watches you can get in this price range, especially if you’re one for dressy occasions. At the same time, it’s still good looking enough to keep you company even on date night. What’s more, it comes in different generations, each with their own unique style to cater for the few of us with some pretty obscure tastes.
Just to get this out of the way, there are only two generations (versions) in the Orient timeline. It’s kind of confusing, but the gist of it is that the new v4 version is not being listed as ‘gen2’, but uses the same movement as the latter. The older ‘gen1’ series uses the Orient 48743 movement that was, at its time, pretty respectable but has a few flaws that needed to be dealt with. The newer generation accounted for both hacking an manual winding, both of which were lacking before.
gen2 v1 (40.5mm)
This generation was inspired by its predecessor, with the classic Orient style, dauphine hands and triangular indices rather than numerals.
gen2 v2 (40.5mm)
For the most part, the v1 and v2 are the similar, the main difference being this one comes with Roman numerals rather than indices. The cream dial model is the most popular variant because of its antique feel.
gen2 v3 (40.5mm)
Once again, the only difference between this variant and the other two is the stick hand and numerals.
The v4, considered a different generation than the rest, comes with thin dauphine hands with and similar-styled indices instead of numerals. It’s also a bit larger than its distant cousin with different color dials, excluding the famed white and cream versions.
Price: $27 – $50
Timex is one of the best value brands on the market, somewhere alongside Orient’s more affordable watches. The first impression this watch makes is that for its pricing point, it’s quite attractive and affordable. The Timex Unisex Weekender is also a great choice for swimmers (not divers) being water resistant to up to 30 feet. It also doubles up as a great watch for everyday activities – it’s a solid choice for everyday casual wear.
If you’re just commencing your journey as a watch connoisseur or would like to reminisce your early days of watch appreciation, this is a great starting point. It’s pretty small and lightweight, the band is secure around your hand and has a very comfortable feel while on. With time, it feels more like a part of your hand rather than an accessory. Unlike the more bulky watch varieties, this one doesn’t get in the way of any day-to-day activities.
The lume is surprisingly more powerful than in the more pricey Amphibia, making it a pretty easy read. Comparatively, it takes about five seconds to spot the watch hands and tell the time. It’s simple yet functional.
Being as low in pricing as it is, you’d expect there to be a few catches (and there are). The first bit that does this watch a bit of injustice is the tick. It’s obnoxiously loud for a watch, so it’s not something you want on your bedside stand. If this bothers you more than anything, the chrono version of the same is just as cheap and costs only a few dollars more.
Additionally, the water-resistant qualities are something of a big miss. A few seconds upstream could be all it takes to ruin the watch altogether. Even a few minutes of submersion could be a great risk. Even it doesn’t short circuit, fog still forms under the crystal either way. This is a major inconvenience for when you aren’t in a position to de-fog it.
All that said, this watch is the perfect choice for those who need a new watch but is on a very tight budget.
Price: $40 – $70
Seiko is one of the most diverse companies when it comes to watches, right up from the two thousand dollars Seiko Marinemaster SBBN027 to the $50 SNK809. The great thing about this company is that regardless of what you decide to go for, you’ll be sure to get a perfect deal from your purchase.
Simply, this model is the perfect illustration that price isn’t always relative to quality. It’s one of the smaller watches on the market. This watch has a dimension of 37mm in diameter and 11mm in thickness. Together with an 18mm strap that is the same color as the dial color. For plenty of people, this is on the smaller side, so you will likely want to get rid of the original strap in favor of a nato/zulu strap. On the other hand, if you have a smaller hand than the average person, this is a great deal to take advantage of.
The case is made of stainless steel and a great-feeling black canvas bracelet, which gives it a nice unique look. It also comes with a matching black dial by default and Arabic numeral hour and minute markers. The white Arabic numbers marking hours are located in an inner circle and the minutes on an outer circle. Small bar indices also encircle the dial on the outer minute track. The luminescent hands are also quite decent and easy to read, thanks to both placement and the famed 7S26 automatic movement.
The hands are silver-tone and luminous, which both make it easy to tell the time both during the day and night. The second hand comes with a nice touch of red to make it even more convenient to read. It’s water resistant qualities are also something to marvel at. It can keep water and moisture out for up to 100 meters but is more recommended for casual swimmers rather than divers.
Like the name suggests, the Nighthawk is a great watch, but in a geeky way. The design definitely won’t appeal to everyone. It’s a blend of military-style together with the kind of flair we’ve come to expect from anything out of Citizen’s labs.
The watch’s face is very large and by extension very easy to read. However, due to the particular design style is chosen, it feels pretty cluttered with markings all over it. To some, this is annoying, but it’s more unique and flashy than anything. The face, being as large as it is (43 mm in diameter) makes it a big gain for people who love to feel the watch weight on their hands. It’s also quite a catch for guys with large hands.
When it comes down to it, perhaps the design tells a bigger tale than anyone possibly can in words. The timepiece is one that seems to appeal to collectors more than the average watch user. For which reason, this is definitely not a watch a newbie would want to pick up as their first or even second. This stainless steel masterpiece comes with a sleek, thin bezel that houses a black dial with an inner rotating slide rule bezel that’s operated by the secondary crown at the 8 o’clock mark.
As with everything else on this watch, the hands are also large and luminous for readability even in low-light. Also it comes with dual-time capability. The last notable features are the 660-foot water resistance and a power-saver function, both of which are incredibly useful for the great outdoors. The Eco-Drive is a pretty nifty feature to have. So you likely won’t have to worry about replacing the battery for about ten or more years. That is, of course, as long as you take good care of it.
Price: $207 – $220
To get this out of the way, there is no way of escaping the fact that this model is a copy of the Nomos Tangente and Stowa Antea. In its defense, Seiko doesn’t deny that it pays homage to the pair. If you don’t mind this, then you shouldn’t mind the fact that its design follows them to near perfection. As such, this is by far the best copy of those two watches you will ever find at any point in your watch hunting ventures.
The dial on Seiko SKX009K2 is perhaps the most stunning feature it has. Depending on the amount of light hitting the watch face, it can change color to one of a large array. These include white, silver or champagne. Considering how much of the design element was borrowed from bauhaus, we were surprised by how versatile it is. All you need is a Milanese strap and this watch can go with shorts and a t-shirt to a three piece suit.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of diver watches, this installment combines the perfect amount of technology to change almost anyone’s mind. The design is stylish yet rugged and flexible in a way few watches can afford to be, especially at its price. The bracelet is pretty wide and the face is 45mm in diameter, both of which are constructed from polished stainless steel. These give it a glaringly beautiful profile. The scratch-resistant Hardlex gives this model a great deal of durability. While the deep blue dial adds to the watch’s overall beauty. The latter feature accentuates the light-catching hands and hour markers that really make this watch a great masterpiece.
Finally, this timepiece also comes with a window at the 3 o’clock. Even so, it can be used to display both the time and date. Additionally, it’s resistant to 660 feet, but is once again better suited for swimmers rather than divers (despite the name).
The gist of it is that this watch looks and feels like a million bucks. The combination of features it brings to the table is something you normally don’t find on any ordinary and affordable watch. This watch will forever live as a timeless masterpiece.