In any kind of watch purchase, bang for buck is something you should be looking for. However, in tough economic times it can be all the more critical — young graduates entering the workforce, for example, might particularly need to look smart without over-spending. This doesn’t necessarily mean a formal dress watch is the right choice, but you don’t want to come off as a schlub — and we’re here to help you stretch that watch budget and make the right impression. The five watches below are a perfect starting place in your hunt for something classy yet affordable, and run the gamut with respect to style and looks.
At this price, you’re not going to find much competition among mechanical watches — especially automatic dress watches that’ll look this good around the office. It shouldn’t be a surprise that such value is coming from a Japanese brand, nor that Orient is a subsidiary of Seiko Holdings. When you have a tasteful watch that represents money well spent, like the many options in the Bambino collection, you look not only smart, but also sensible.
Movement: Orient F6722 Automatic
Seiko 5 Sports
Just about any of Seiko’s collections, from its Prospex or Presage lines all the way up to Grand Seiko, will have offerings that punch way above their price. Even at the very bottom of the brand’s range, however, you’ll find the build and refinement of watches that are significantly more expensive. The Seiko 5 Sports collection has details and quality that are unbeatable at this price, and evident to both the onlooker as well as the wearer.
Movement: Seiko 4R36 Automatic
Hamilton Khaki Field Auto
The famous but basic Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical with its hand-wound movement is an almost obligatory entry on any roundup of affordable watches, but the Auto version represents a step up. The Khaki Field Auto not only has the convenience of an automatic movement (with 80 hours of power reserve), but refined details that make it a versatile option. With a more involved dial and finer finishing to its 38mm case, the Khaki Field Auto is still a classic and and solid Swiss automatic watch.
Movement: ETA C07.111 Automatic
We’re not quite sure how this little indie brand is offering all these features for well under $1,000. A Swiss automatic chronograph movement alone usually means around double this price or more, but Maen has also managed to stuff it into a 38mm case that’s not too thick, and to keep it water-resistant to 50m. Applied indices, killer Heuer Autavia style with a range of nice options…it’s all there. Sapphire crystal or steel bracelet options add a little more to the price, but you really can’t complain.
Movement: ETA 2894-2 Automatic
Straying from three-figure territory, American indy brand Monta‘s luxury watches probably aren’t considered “budget” priced for most people, but they do offer a way of getting a higher-end feel for a fraction of the price. Monta’s signature is in its details, and you can sense in its products the respect and admiration the brand has for Rolex. That’s true of any Monta watch, but none feels like a knockoff or homage. With a Swiss automatic movement, the Triumph is the brand’s most affordable watch, but it’s got the design and refinement to make the impression of taste and sophistication.
Movement: Sellita SW300 Automatic