Once upon a time, a man’s watch was a cornerstone of his outfit. From the artisan pocket watches of the distant past, to the Rolexes of the near, a watch was more than a functional accessory. It was a status symbol.
Whether you wanted to convey a busy importance, or simply show off your disposable income, that was the way to go.
It today’s world, watches have taken a back seat. Everyone has a phone in their pocket, so who needs a watch? Apple has used technology to mildly bring the style back, but a smart watch doesn’t make the same statement. The upside to that is now any watch can be a statement.
Here’s our list of best watches for under $300, so you can make that statement without a second mortgage.
When it comes to budget watches, no name comes to mind faster than Timex. You’ve probably owned a couple of $15 sports watches from them. They aren’t glamorous, but they serve a purpose. The Weekender, however, is becoming a fashion staple. Far the rubber molds of your youth, this watch sports a nylon straps. As if the effortless vibe of a fabric wasn’t enough, the fact that they are interchangeable makes this watch a powerhouse. Endless customization, one face and a couple of $10 straps gives you a versatile collection for well under $100. You can even pick up a leather to take the watch from bar to boardroom.
If a total budget move isn’t up your alley, check out the Danish-American brand Skagen. Focusing on minimalist designs, you’ll get quality craftsmanship at a relatively fair price. The thin steel-mesh strap gives you the appeal of a traditional metal watch without the chunkiness. A black, numberless face completes the slick look of the Jorn. Just like the Weekender, the strap is interchangeable. Unfortunately, the options are limited, and they are not as affordable as a Timex strap. Slim down your watch collection with something off the beaten path.
If you need something classic for work, gold is a sure fire way to make an impression. Now, most of us wouldn’t be eating for a few weeks if we bought the real stuff, so there’s no shame in faking it. The Time Teller in Gold-Tone from Nixon is a safe bet. At $74.50, it’s right in everyone’s price range.
As we said, smart watches are taking over. Whether Apple or Fitbit, the man issue is that these don’t quite replicate the classic accessory. The statement of a smart watch is “cutting-edge” over “refined.” It’s clear why people keep buying them. Technology is amazing. But if you need the best of both worlds, take a look at the Smartwatch Men’s Crewmaster from Fossil. While you can’t get all of the functionality of an Apple, the Crewmaster packs basic smart capabilities into a handsome, leather strapped, analog watch. With features like a fitness tracker and a plethora of alerts, this is the classic solution for the modern man. And at just over $115, it’s a steal.
For a high-end fabric option, look no farther than this watch by Citizen. The selection for strap design is limited, but the watch makes a gorgeous play on the budget staple. A black and white face with bold numbers draw the eyes to what should be the centerpiece. The strap, of course, makes it light weight and low profile. Your basic 100m water resistance means that this more expensive piece can become your everyday watch.
I know. I’m just as surprised as you are. A sports brand’s watch on a fashion watch list? While Adidas have always been fashionable, they aren’t known for their watches. But it’s 2017. Athletic wear is high fashion. With that in mind, you have to pick the appropriate watch. Digital sport watches are never ok outside of the gym, but a nice analog would look out of place. The solution? A silicone analog. This watch has a look that screams “casual,” without screaming “wind sprints.” You have to be careful deciding when to wear watches like this, but for under 40 bucks, it’s a look worth picking up.
To put it bluntly, a lot of Diesel’s watches look like they were designed by a Fast and Furious superfan. They cram too many features into a mammoth sized watch in an effort to make it look intense or tactical or whatever. What you’re left with is a heavy mess wrapped around your wrist. There is, however, a time and place for oversized watches, and with this gold-tone Mega Chief, they avoid the business of their other faces. If you need a very visible accessory, pick this one up for $139.99
If visible is not your aim, head to the other end of the spectrum for this monotone beauty from Emporio Armani. Sleek. Subtle. Understated. Luxurious. If you want something that says whispers “elegance” instead of screaming it, this is the watch for you. A black face with dark gray accents means your time keeper will barely stand out from your black suit. Sometimes, saying nothing with your accessories says so much more.
We’ve said it before, and We’ll say it again, everything looks better when it’s made out of wood. If you make even the most mundane thing out of a nice walnut, we’ll throw an obscene amount of money at it. Luckily, Jord’s wooden watches are surprisingly affordable. At $189, the Frankie Series won’t set you back much more than any other well-crafted piece. They offer every series in several different wood and color options, but our personal favorite is the Dark Sandalwood with either the Smoke or Emerald, the latter offering a very unique accent.
For the sporty, always ready for a game types, nothing on this list but the Adidas watch is going to cut it. And to be honest, that is with good reason. Sports watches are generally aesthetic taboos. But this watch from Standard Issue Instruments is different. Featuring a countdown bezel, this could be the perfect option for the gym AND the office. Oh, What’s that? You don’t like sweating in a fabric strap? Order this from Huckberry for $267 and get an addition silicone strap.