The Best Affordable Watches For Men That Will Last For Life

Last updated: February 13, 2022

If you’re looking for a watch that won’t dry out your wallet but are overwhelmed by all the options, here are a few that are worthy of starting your collection. Let’s first consider watch price. Some of the sexiest watches out there are actually super cheap. But by cheap I’m not talking about quality. Watches were invented in the 1400s, so if you think watchmakers have had some time to perfect their craft, you’re right.

Brands like Casio have mass production down to a science. Chances are a vintage Casio is in great operating condition; in fact there’s a good number of cheap watches for men that can get the job done.

Pros & Cons of Buying a Cheap Watch For Men vs. Regular Watches

There are three main aspects to consider when comparing inexpensive watches to their higher-end counterparts: movement, details, and overall quality.

Movement:

On the inside, there are only two kinds of watches: quartz and mechanical. Mechanical is the traditional watch structure with gears and springs. These can either be wound daily or you can wear one that is self-winding (every time you move your wrist the watch winds). Quartz, on the other hand, are propelled by electricity, aka battery-operated, and weren’t invented until the 1960s.

They tend to be less expensive, but even high-end watch brands have their own version of quartz watches so the price varies depending on the watch. A quality quartz watch can be even more accurate than a mechanical watch as it doesn’t depend on the functions of the springs and gears.

One main benefit of buying a quartz watch is that they cost less to make so most cheap watch brands offer quartz watches. You will need to replace the battery occasionally, but you don’t have to keep track of winding them – who doesn’t want one less thing to worry about.

Details:

Cheaper watch brands tend to offer watches with fewer features. The more expensive the watch price the more bells and whistles it will have. The benefits of buying a 1,000-meter water-resistant diving watch when you’re a professional diver are obvious. If you’re seeking simpler features, many inexpensive watches still include options such as a stopwatch, the date, and water resistance.

Another detail to consider is the movement of the seconds hand. On quartz watches the seconds hand ticks as the battery causes the crystal inside to pulse. The seconds hand on a mechanical watch moves slowly and steadily as the gears turn. If you prefer to groove to the smooth there are still many cheaper brand name watches that are a fair price for a mechanical watch.

Overall Quality:

The final aspect to consider is the overall quality. With more expensive brands, the band, casings, and inside components are made with higher quality materials. The face itself can vary from crystal or sapphire to crystalline glass.

A watch on the more expensive end might be nice if you’re planning your heirlooms, but many people won’t be able to recognize the difference between this kind and a more affordable equivalent. If that’s not in your current budget, why not wait until it comfortably fits your lifestyle. Inexpensive watches also tend to be lightweight and more comfortable – for those days you don’t need a wrist workout.

Affordable / Cheap Watches
Pros (Advantages)Cons (Disadvantages)
Battery operated means very accurateNeed to occasionally replace the battery
Lightweight and not cumbersomeSeconds hand ticks
More affordable
Can look & function just like higher-end counterpartsMay not last decades like a luxury watch
Expensive / Regular Watches
Pros (Advantages)Cons (Disadvantages)
Smooth seconds hand (with mechanical type)Need to wind (with mechanical type)
Can also function with a jewelry aestheticTypically heavier
More functions (higher water-resistance, etc.)More expensive
Can potentially last for decadesNot as accurate as battery operated

Best Cheap Watches Brands

Bulova Men's Precisionist

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Analog
  • Size: 42mm

Founded in New York in 1875 by Bohemian immigrant, Joseph Bulova, the Bulova brand has become a household name due to its style, precision, and innovation. After collaborations with NASA on 46 space missions, to say Bulova has proven itself would be an understatement. The Precisionist is not your ordinary quartz watch. Bulova’s exclusive, three-prong quartz crystal movement has a 262kHz vibrational frequency which translates into exceptional accuracy.

The BMW of watches, its stainless-steel case is tough and sleek and the charcoal-gray face is a multi-layer swirl pattern that begs a second glance. You don’t have to give up the smooth hand with this quartz watch; it’s one of the few that have a sweeping seconds hand. With faceted hour markers and a black leather strap, it is a dress watch worthy of your chicest ensemble. The calendar and luminous hands and squares add the finishing touches to this timeless timekeeper. What’s the tuning fork on the buckle? Just a reminder that, like Bulova, you are a pioneer – to infinity and beyond!

Orient Symphony III

  • Movement: Mechanical
  • Style: Analog
  • Size: 41.6mm

If you’ve never needed a nice dress watch before, the time may come sooner than you’d expect. You can be ready for it with the beautiful Orient Symphony III. The Japanese-based Orient has devoted itself to creating mechanical watches for decades, even when all the other brands went cuckoo over quartz. Like many in their collection, the Symphony III is one of the cheapest brand name watches you can find. They have upped the ante with recent editions and the face is now a synthetic sapphire. The stainless steel case and band are sleek and durable as always.

Unlike some other hodgepodge watches, all of the mechanical movements of Orient watches are made in-house. The seconds hand glides smoothly round and round the black analog face. Manly and modern this is clearly not your ragamuffin watch. The date is smartly displayed on the right and with a 41.6 mm case size, the Symphony III brings a substantial but polished flair to any outfit. Just make sure you’re ready after you put it on because your crush will be asking you for the time.

Timex Weekender Chrono

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Chronograph / Analog
  • Size: 40mm

Timex is another well-known cheap watch brand that packs a good punch for the price. The fact that you can get a well-crafted chronograph for under $100 is reason enough to wear a Timex. Chronograph watches are a two-for-one package – a watch and a multi-function stopwatch. Chronographs were invented in the 1800s for tracking astronomical objects and later became used for artillery fire, aircraft & submarine piloting, car racing, diving, and more.

Whether you fully utilize its functions or not, wearing the Timex Weekender Chrono is a fun way to sport an iconic piece. The blue dial and mineral glass-crystal face are wrapped in a silver-tone brass case allowing it to function as a dress watch, while the earth tone leather band allows it to also flow with your more casual gear. Water-resistant with luminous hands and an Indiglo light that would make Bond jealous, this watch is seriously (and literally) lit.

Casio F91W-1

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Digital
  • Size: 33mm

The hail mary of inexpensive watches, you won’t find a better digital at this price. A global best-seller since its inception in 1989, the iconic Casio F91W-1 sports an alarm, chronograph abilities, and LED light for your evening runs. Casio is one of the best, if not the best, cheap watch brands and this watch lives up to its legacy with its durability and long life.

It’s also easy to wear with a comfortable, ribbed resin band and lightweight, medium size – large enough to see the time and small enough to not catch on your sleeve. No stranger to the elements, it is water-resistant and shockproof.

If you’re impressed by how solid this watch is for such a low price, you’re not alone. Casio has reported that they sell three million of them every year! If you’re looking for a watch to fit your active lifestyle, or simply enjoy its vibe, you can trust it will do the job.

Casio MDV106-1A

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Diver’s / Analog
  • Size: 44mm (48mm including lugs)

Reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner ($15K), you get way more than you pay for with this 3-hand analog diver’s watch. Take this 200m water-resistant Casio out for a swim and enjoy its top-notch quality. With a substantial 44mm width (not including the crown) this head-turner is durable without being super bulky. The resin band fits comfortably, and the luminous hands and markers do their job.

Getting the job done is in fact the appeal of this watch – put it on and all of a sudden impossible becomes possible. The anti-reverse bezel feels so good to turn you’ll find yourself looking for things to time. It’s no surprise the Casio MDV106-1A has near five stars with 13,544 ratings on Amazon. There’s not a cheaper dive watch out there that you can depend on like this one. Simultaneously trendy and classic pair it with jeans or your best chinos for work or play!