The deep dark secret of the watch world is that there are more bad watch brands out there than good ones. By “bad” I’m referring to the quality of the timepiece and the actual value you get for the price you pay. This is a list of brands that don’t fall into that category. This is a list of the good guys out there in the watch world – the true best affordable watch brands.

The other secret of the watch world is that most of the watch collectors you’re going to meet are just crazy people. There are collectors out there who think $10,000 is affordable. In short, these collectors are insane and are not worth listening to. Sure, $10,000 may be a drop in the bucket to some, but for the rest of us that live on this planet called Earth, that’s not a reasonable amount of money to wear on your wrist.

So let’s get into it. Want to learn which affordable watch brands out there are the ones worth your time? Check out the list below.

Affordable Watch Brands Under $100

Casio Digital Watches

Few brands bring up the nostalgia and wonder of childhood like Casio. The iconic quartz watch brand is the key pioneer in digital watches and was instrumental in making that classic, retro watch vibe a fashion statement.

While Casio has its roots in the Post WW2 reconstruction of Japan in 1946, the brand took centerstage in the world of consumer goods in the 1970s by providing a whole roster of electronics like calculators, music instruments, and watches.

Casio digital watches are characterized by offering off-the-shelf user friendly functionalities powered by a digital quartz movement. While the brand does offer traditional analog watches, I’d recommend serious focusing on their digital offerings if you’re looking for something retro-cool.

Flagship Models: WV-59DJ-1AJF, A168WA, F91W-1, CA53W-1 (Calculator Watch)

Strong horological history at an affordable priceThe designs aren’t for everyone
A timeless retro designSome of the functions can feel obsolete since our phones do everything now
Numerous integrated functions and toolsModels with metal bracelets look cool, but are pretty bad
Easily accessibleAfter market straps aren’t really an option without lug adaptors
A huge variety of model options and variations


Never count out Timex. Few watch brands have as much claim to American horological fame as Timex. Established in 1845 as the “Waterbury Clock Company” in Connecticut, USA, Timex has always had a focus on high design and mass affordability. Timex has been a part of America’s story for the turn of two centuries, two World Wars, a dizzying amount of technological advancements, changes in style, and so much more.

With an eye towards both classic designs as well as forward thinking functionality, I often tell people you could only be a Timex collector for the rest of your life and you’d live out the rest of your days without a complaint.

Flagship Models: Weekender, Expedition, Easy Reader, MK1, Marlin, Iron Man

Strong horological history at an affordable priceMost options are Quartz (could be a con if you’re only interested in Mechanical)
Designs and styles that span all style spectrumsSome Quartz Analog watches may have second hand alignment issues
Easily accessibleDesigns tend to be “safer”
Timex Indiglo

Swatch Watches

In the 1980s, traditional Swiss watchmakers were feeling the full force of the “Quartz Crisis,” a period of time in recent horological history characterized by the rise of digital watches and the decline of traditional mechanical watches.

Swatch was developed as a direct result of the Quartz Crisis to compete with new digital watch brands that were scooping up entry level watch consumers. While Swatch couldn’t compete with the new watch of quartz watch brands, they leveraged strong marketing tactics along with high concept designs to make their watches more “fun” or stylistically driven. That still very much informs their design ethos today through their innovative and fun designs and aesthetics.

The brand doesn’t take itself too seriously and embodies the epitome of affordable quirky European design. If you think a Swatch Watch would be a fun addition to your look, totally go for it.

Flagship Models: Sistem51, Bioceramic, BIG BOLD

Affordable Swiss BrandSistem51 watches cannot be serviced
Unique DesignsSome may see the designs as too “kitschy”
Perfect way to add a pop of colorSome models feature integrated straps (no options to swap straps out)

G- Shock

There is no other watch brand on earth that offers more unique functionalities for such an affordable price as G-Shock. Developed by Casio in the 1980s, G-Shocks are synonymous with tough reliability. In fact, that’s where the name comes from – the watch was conceived of to withstand any fall that a human would survive. Hence the name G-Shock – “gravitational shock.”

With robust reliability at the core of the G-Shock’s origin story, buying a G-Shock will mean that you’ll have something on your wrist you won’t have to baby or worry about. Plus, they include a dizzying array of functionalities and features in G-Shocks. Certain models will have other features over others so certain do your research and see what you gravitate towards.

Flagship Models: DW9052-1V, Casioak, DW5600, GWM5610-1, DW6900

Iconic designMay not be comfortable on smaller wrist
Built to lastStrap changing can be difficult (usually impossible)
The most functions per dollar offered anywhereSometimes button layouts can be confusing (read the manual)
A wide variety of styles and colors availableMost will not fit under a shirt cuff


A controversial brand in most watch circles, Invicta has a slightly complicated and little understood history. The history of this particular affordable watch brand go back to the 1830s in Switzerland. From that time period until the Quartz Crisis, Invicta operated as any other traditional Swiss watch brand. But market fallout from the advent of digital watches caused the brand to go bankrupt in the 1980s. Then it was purchased in 1983 only to go under shortly after again. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the Invicta was reborn into what it more closely resembles today.

While many of their more outlandish designs are the butt of many horological jokes, their Pro Diver line represents in my opinion of the best Rolex Submariner homage style watches out there, which is why they’re being included in this list.

Great price for automatic movements (NH35)Bracelet clasp isn’t the best
Great execution of the 40mm Submariner Style CaseCan be some bezel play
Will look excellent on a NATO strapLume is quite bad
Can be dressed up or dressed down

Affordable Watch Brands Over $100

Vostok Watches

The quintessential former Soviet brand generally doesn’t make many lists about best affordable brands – but it really should. With its roots going back to WW2, Vostok’s fascinating history will satiate any history buff and let them know that the watch of their wrist is more than just a timepiece.

After WW2 the brand quickly earned a reputation for creating reliable, shock-, and dust-resistant timepieces (eventually becoming the preferred watch provider for the USSR Ministry of Defense. Vostok most memorable contribution to Soviet horology was the Vostok Amphibia, the first soviet made 200m dive watch. Vostok still makes the Amphibia today and in a variety of case styles and dial configurations.

Flagship Models: Vostok Amphibia, Vostok Komandirskie

Rich horological history at an affordable priceShipping times can be long
In-house automatic movementServicing can be difficult since its an in-house movement
Lots of case and dial optionsNot totally suited for actual diving
Wild-card factor (this is not a common watch)bi-directional, non-click bezel
Bad Lume


Founded in 1853, Tissot is just one of many foundation Swiss brands that were acquired by Nicolas Hayek as a result of the fallout from the Quartz Crisis. But today the brand has very much been transformed into the foremost combination of traditional Swiss horological practices and affordability.

Tissot tends to have strong ties to sports like Basketball, racing, and more. This tends to inform some of their designs as being aesthetically flexible enough to be considered dress watches or more sport watches. However their inclusion here on this list of the best affordable watch brands is a result of the Swissmatic line – a product line that offers relatively affordable swiss made automatic watches. So if you’re more inclined for something on the Swiss mechanical spectrum, I’d recommend Tissot.

What’s especially noteworthy for Tissot is that they offer one of the most affordable mechanical chronographs today in their Swissmatic line.

Flagship Models: PRX, Swissmatic, Visodate, PRC

Steeped in Swiss horological traditionSometimes the designs can be a bit under the radar
Very affordable mechanical movement modelsSome of their chronograph models can be quite large on wrist
Classic stylings and designs


This iconic Japanese brand is responsible for one of the largest innovations to quartz watch technology ever – solar powered movements. The Eco-Drive movement was developed by Citizen in the mid 1990s with the lofty goal to reduce the need for quartz watch battery replacement. The technology works on the basis of nearly invisible solar cells on the dial of the watch. These cells harness solar energy and store it to power the watch.

Even though the innovative Japanese watch brand earned its fame from cutting edge quartz movement innovations, its roots go back all the way to the early 1900s. As such, it’s an affordable watch brand that’s technology driven but still with a deeply rich and varied horological past to draw upon. There are very few ways one can go wrong with a Citizen timepiece.

Flagship Models: Promaster Diver, Avion, Ana-Digi Temp, Garrison, Ecozilla

Eco-Drive solar powered watchesBeing solar powered, you can’t leave it in a drawer for months on end
Fantastic attention to quality and detail for fit and finishMore Eco-Drive options than mechanical options (for those who don’t want solar or quartz)
Variety of dress and sport style watches


Seiko was originally founded in 1881 in a small watch and jewelry shop. These humble beginnings would eventually lead to Seiko becoming the premier and most revered Japanese watch maker ever. Very similar to Timex for the US, Seiko has been involved in Japan’s history spanning the turn of two centuries and nearly every historical event of note that the country has experienced. As such, there is no real one way to nail down their design ethos. Seiko produces watches across all design and budget spectrums.

But of particular note for our discussion here on affordable watch brands are the Seiko 5 and Seiko Prospex product lines.

Flagship Models: SNK793, 5KX, Prospex Series, Coutura

Affordable mechanical movement optionsSome fit and finish issues have been reported
Easy to find a sporty and dress watch to suit your styleAccuracy rating on movements can vary and be inconsistent
Excellent lume

Orient Watches

Orient Watch can trace its horological lineage back to the early 1900s as a wholesaler for imported pocket watches. Slowly over the course of the early 1900s the brand started to produce its own timepieces. However during and after WW2, manufacturing slowed down and the factory eventually closed. The brand remained dormant until about 1950 until it was reimagined into a closer version of what we see Orient Watches as today.

The product lines within Orient are often conflated with those of Seiko, but the two brands have their own design languages. While Seiko for the most part tends to operate on traditional balance in some (certainly not all) of their designs, you’ll find Orient taking more unique risks with certain design choices.

Flagship Models: Mako, Bambino, Ray, Kamasu

Affordable mechanical movement optionsSome reports have shared that accuracy can be inconsistent
Sapphire crystals on most modelsNon-standard lug widths (19mm, 21mm) can make strap options difficult
Probably the best affordable diver (Mako) and best affordable dress watch (Bambino)

Hamilton Watches

There has generally been some confusion here with the history of Hamilton watches. The brand started as an American watch maker in in the 1890s; however after a series of partnerships and strategic acquisitions the brand ceased being an American company and moved its entire watch making operation to Switzerland in 1969. So while the brand started here in the US, it’s not appropriate to classify it as an American brand.

That’s not to say they don’t offer high quality watches – of particular note here for our purposes is the Hamilton Khaki models (like the Khaki Field Mechanical). They’re designed with a strong ethos towards “old world design” with a nod towards vintage military design. Very few brands have nailed the vintage field watch look as well as Hamilton.

Flagship Models: Khaki Field Mechanical, Khaki Field Automatic, Khaki Navy

Best option for affordable vintage military style timepiecesPrices can get pretty steep for some models
Most models use Swiss ETA based movementsStrap and bracelet quality issued have been reported
Despite some marketing, the brand no longer has any ties to American horology

Think there’s a brand missing from the list? Let us know in the comments down below!

24 thoughts on “2024’s Best Affordable Watch Brands | Don’t Overspend For Quality”

  1. Worth checking out Independent, a sub-brand of Citizen. Quality of models may vary, but I have a dive watch clone (looks like an Invicta ProDiver or Orient Mako II).

    Pros: – price equivalent of USD 100 from my go-to Singapore online watch seller.
    – sapphire crystal glass, unscratchable (unlike my Mako II’s mineral crystal).
    – unbranded but high quality Japan automatic movement. Keeps pace with electronic timekeepers, gains about 25-30 sec per week if uncorrected.
    – not advertised as such, but the watch is capable of hand-winding.
    – very readable black dial, good lume.
    – 100 mtr water resistance, so it’s good for swimming and shallow diving.
    – screw case back.
    – strong, well-made stainless-steel peripherals.

    Cons: – solid-cast bezel, looks as though it would rotate, but doesn’t (no biggie, in my view).
    – no screw-down crown, but the crown is protected by lateral lugs ( when swimming, I’ve never missed having a screw-down crown on a watch and have yet to encounter a problem, so long as the watch has a screw case back and the WR rating is at least 50 mtr).
    – only three settings for bracelet adjustment, so can be tight, depending on one’s wrist size.

    Overall, I’m very happy with this particular model.

  2. Really should have included Fossil watches.

    I have approximately 30 watches. Most in the $20-$45 range. 3 heirloom watches that should honestly be $1,000+ just for the history alone. But obtained for an average of $150.

    Four watches that retail for $200-$350 new. (Two purchased used for a $200 discount over new.)

    Anyway I have enough watches to wear a different watch every day of the month at work. So much fun to mix things up.

    Now to the funny part…a co-worker who wears a smart watch and also owns a Fossil Watch ($120) commented one day that he would never wear his Fossil to work. (Warehouse) But doesn’t realize the $200-$350 watches I wear once a month.

  3. Timex and Stührling should be up there. Timex should be your first getting into watches. I personally have a 40mm easy-reader with a black leather strap and Arabic numerals. So simplistic and elegant and you won’t leave the house without it. Only runs for about $65.00. From Stührling, they’re mesh steel watches are fantastic build quality and runs for only about $75.00.

  4. I’m late to the party but I’d suggest Certina definitely belong here. They have a long history and heritage with some classic mid 20th century models. They are every bit as good as Hamilton or Tissot but often overlooked.

  5. I like reading the other brand recommendations here so I can research and learn about them. Quality being affordable is important. I prefer mechanical to quartz every time and I have both. I prefer vintage to new but have both. What I find odd is the popularity of “diver” watches when 1 out of hundred using them have never dived. Perhaps it helps with their fear of going across bridges, lol.

    • “What I find odd is the popularity of “diver” watches”

      I’m with you. A great many people prefer divers and so many look nearly the same from two feet away. They have become so common and cliché. Oh well, we are in the minority; divers are like SUVs; some people like the appearance of adventure, even if their intended capability is never used.

      • Agreed. Though my 5-watch collection includes a Mühle-Glashütte SAR Rescue Timer (rated to 1000 meters), it looks nothing like the stereotypical dude-with-no-imagination Rolex Submariner clones that every man in the world seems to own. Their ubiquity alone makes them less attractive to me (as well as being ugly). Now, if you needed a proper diver, I get it. Still, utility got me into watch enthusiasm when I needed to quickly track a second timezone while working on another continent. So while I have a purely decorative Cartier as my grail (challenge achieved!), each watch fills a useful niche. Also, I always prefer something a little different: instead of a diver, I have the M/G mentioned above, I’ve got a 24-hour Glycine Airman (the timezone watch), and a Mido GMT for a 12-hour multi-timezone dress watch.

  6. On the budget end, Seiko has some sub brands, namely Pulsar and Lorus. For the UK watch enthusiast, a large brick and mortar retailer who specialises in holding massive stock accessible at any time, Argos (popularised before the invention of internet shopping), stocks Lorus routinely and often gives generous discounts on already inexpensive watches. I have recently picked up a “dive style” model, 43mm, drilled lugs, 100m WR, Seiko SOLAR calibre (V182 I think) for $60. Get this, the bezel is ceramic! But it’s also fixed 😱
    If you want cheaper, you can get regular quartz for $30.

  7. Another solid affordable swiss brand to check out would be Glycine. I just ordered their Combat Chronograph in a Reverse Panda Blue and it really punches above its sticker price. Feels very solid and premium, and price-wise offers more VFM than many other brands. Definitely on the level or even better than the entry level Tissot quartz or Hamilton.

  8. Two watch makers that deserve a mention are Aquatico, from Hong Kong, ( great line on their watches) and Spinnaker.
    Regarding the comment about dive watches, not necessarily for diving but nice knowing that you don’t have to worry about water problems.

  9. Aragon watches are affordable and their build quality typically belies the price. Sapphire crystal, ceramic, and tungsten are used often for the bezel and Seiko and Ronda are automatic movements frequently used.

  10. Another brand that started life as a homage watch maker and now also makes their own designs is San Martin out of China. They range from $200-$450 and quality is equivalent to watches in the $500-$2500 range. Build, specs, and movements are all high quality. Their $300 watches surpass $1000 Seikos by far and their bracelets are as good as Glycine’s. I have Seiko’s, Tudors, Hamilton’s and Glycine’s and they hold their place in the top of the pile. Worth a look and a try

  11. Bulova. They pioneered many things in watchmaking, marketing, design, etc. In a rare class for historical American companies in general, not even limited to watch companies. They i, made the most accurate watch on Earth (Accutron), made tons of watches for the US Military, and had a watch go on a Moon missing in 1971. I could go on and on with their innovations and historical significance. Yes they are now owned by the Citizen Watch Group but they still have strong ties to their lineage as an independent American brand and they reissue many classic designs.

    • Hi, John:

      Oh wow – yes! Bulova absolutely will be included on this list when we revisit it soon. I think Bulova is an easy one for watch folks to forget about because they tend to be readily available and they make so many models that it’s hard for people to pin down the overall vibe of the brand. But as long as Bulova keep leaning into their history then I think that’ll be the right direction for them. I’m not really too swayed by their modern day collabs or anything lol.


  12. I would also include Glycine. For all appearances, Invicta has left them alone (although some descriptions say “finished” or “all finishing done” in Switzerland). But good luck finding a very thin automatic Swiss dive watch good to 660 ft with a Sellita movement for under $300 on a regular basis from authorized retailers. See the review of the combat sub here on this site.
    P.S. I dive my dive watches. Even my Omega. I don’t fully trust computers (or even quartz divers), as electrical systems + h2o don’t mix well. I’ve had mechanical watches get wet inside but they always got me to the surface safely.
    Sorry for the long-winded go on my first submission!

    • Hi, Crunchmeister:

      Absolutely agree! Glycine will be included in our soon to be published update on this piece here. It is a bit of a shame how the brand doesn’t get enough attention or hasn’t really be leveraged properly post-Invicta acquisition…but knowing Invicta… maybe that’s not a bad thing..?

      Totally not long-winded at all. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts!



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