Top 10 Affordable Watch Brands for Beginners

Advancements in watchmaking technology and the emergence of new brands have made it possible to find watches that marry quality and affordability. 

These brands cater to a wide audience, from those just beginning their watch collection to seasoned enthusiasts looking for value. They provide various options, from minimalist designs to more feature-rich models. 

In this article, we cover some of the best affordable watch brands, empowering you to make informed decisions.

1. Tissot

Tissot Watch Brand

Tissot is a mid-range Swiss watch brand renowned for its rich history and innovation in watchmaking. Established in 1853 in Le Locle, Switzerland, by Charles-Félicien Tissot and his son Charles-Émile Tissot, the company has grown to become a key player in the global watch industry.

It’s respected for innovations such as the T-Touch technology that allows users to access functions like thermometer and altimeter by touching the watch crystal and the Tissot Antimagnetique, one of the first anti-magnetic watches. One of its top models is:

Tissot Everytime Swissmatic – Stainless Steel, Silver Dial ref. T109.407.11.031.00

Tissot Everytime Swissmatic T1094071103100
  • Retail Price: S$660
  • Private Market Price: S$370
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$458

About

The Everytime Swissmatic is a men’s dress watch with features such as a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal over the dial, a date display at 3 o’clock, a well-designed bracelet, a see-through caseback, and an automatic movement. It’s a wonderful choice for its durability, classy design, and potential to increase in value.

According to WatchCharts, its average market price increased from S$360 on May 21, 2023, to S$370 on May 19, 2024.

2. Mondaine

Mondaine Watch Brand

Founded in 1951 by Erwin Bernheim, Mondaine is a Swiss watch brand that holds a special place in the world of watches with its Swiss Railway Clock design. It provides a minimalist style at a reasonable price point, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate clean and functional design. 

It has been a pioneer in ecological sustainability in watchmaking. Its Essence collection is a testament to this, focusing on using renewable resources and recyclable materials. The company also emphasizes energy efficiency in its production processes. One of its top picks is:

Mondaine Stop2Go – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. MST.41020.LBV.2SE

Mondaine Stop2Go MST.41020.LBV.2SE
  • Retail Price: S$1,017
  • Private Market Price: S$985
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$1,000

About

This Stop2Go model is a men’s watch with a 41mm stainless steel case, black dial, and special leather strap. It boasts features like a crownless case, a black vegan grape leather strap, SuperLumiNova-filled hands, a red seconds hand, and a sapphire crystal above the dial.

3. Hamilton

Hamilton Watch Brand

Established in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Hamilton is an American brand that has been Swiss-owned under the Swatch Group since 1974. Originally, it produced pocket watches for railroad workers, aiming to reduce accidents by ensuring precise timekeeping.

During both World Wars, it shifted its focus to crafting military watches, marine chronometers, and aviation watches. This earned it a strong reputation for reliability under demanding conditions. One of its models worth buying is:

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. H69439931

Khaki Field Mechanical h69439931
  • Retail Price: S$650
  • Private Market Price: S$549
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$616

About

The Khaki Field Mechanical is a unisex everyday watch that stays true to the brand’s military roots. It sports a 38mm stainless steel case and features luminescent Arabic numeral hour markers, a smaller Arabic numeral 24-hour track, a slightly-domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal over the dial, a Khaki Green NATO strap, and a mechanical movement with an 80-hour power reserve.

It’s also a good investment since WatchBase reveals its price increased from S$651 on July 24, 2020, to S$915 on November 28, 2023.

4. Citizen

Citizen Watch Brand

Citizen Watch Co., Ltd., commonly known as Citizen, is a renowned Japanese company that specializes in watches and watch technology. It was founded in 1918 as Shokosha Watch Research Institute and took on the Citizen name in 1930.

It’s celebrated for its innovative technology. One of its most significant innovations is the Eco-Drive technology, introduced in 1995, which allows watches to be powered by light rather than batteries. This technology can harness light from any natural or artificial source and convert it into energy, which is stored in a permanently rechargeable lithium-ion cell. One of its notable models is:

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver – Stainless Steel, Dark Blue Dial ref. BN0151-09L

Promaster Diver-Men Eco-Drive BN0151-09L
  • Retail Price: S$404
  • Private Market Price: S$194
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$225

About

The Eco-Drive Promaster Diver is a men’s dive watch with a 44mm stainless steel case. It features an anti-reflective mineral crystal over the dial, a 60-click unidirectional rotatable bezel with a blue aluminum insert, a date window at 4 o’clock, a movement with Eco-Drive technology, and a dark blue polyurethane strap.

5. Invicta

Invicta Watch Brand

Invicta was founded in 1837 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, by Raphael Picard. It began with the goal of creating Swiss mechanical timepieces at affordable prices. Its name is Latin for “invincible,” reflecting its mission to offer watches that are robust and durable.

It’s best known for its bold, sometimes oversized designs and the use of vibrant colors. While it receives mixed reviews in terms of quality relative to other Swiss brands, it’s praised for its value and variety. A notable model from its catalog is:

Invicta Pro Diver – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 89260B

Invicta Pro Diver ref. 89260B
  • Retail Price: S$802
  • Private Market Price: S$746
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$760

About

The Pro Diver is a men’s dive watch that resembles a cheaper and more restrained Rolex Submariner. It has a 40mm stainless steel case and shares the Sub’s Mercedes-style handset, trademark hour marker design code, and lens over the date window. It also has a date display at 3 o’clock, a mineral crystal over the dial, and a unidirectional rotatable coin-edge bezel with a black aluminum insert.

6. Orient

Orient Watch Brand

Orient Watch is a prominent Japanese watch brand known for its quality automatic watches. It was established in Tokyo in July 1950, but its roots can be traced back to 1901 when Shogoro Yoshida opened a wholesale watch shop in Ueno, Tokyo. 

It produces a wide range of timepieces, including mechanical, quartz, and radio-controlled models. It’s especially well-known for its mechanical models and has developed in-house movements. It’s praised for its watches’ durability, reliability, and accuracy. One notable piece from its collection is:

Orient Bambino – Stainless Steel, White Dial ref. RA-AC0M03S

ORIENT Mechanical Classic RA-AC0M03S
  • Retail Price: S$497
  • Private Market Price: S$280
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$315

About

This Bambino model is a men’s dress watch with an elegant design. It emphasizes affordable luxury with its well-brushed 38.4mm stainless steel case, white convex dial with silver accents, domed mineral crystal over the dial, well-polished bezel, and comfortable leather strap. Its date function adds an appreciated balance to the mix.

7. Mido

Mido Watch Brand

Mido is a Swiss watch brand founded in 1918 by Georges Schaeren. It’s known for its innovation in watchmaking, particularly its use of high-quality materials and advanced technology. It’s part of the Swatch Group, one of the largest watchmaking groups in the world.

One of the hallmark features of its watches is their architectural inspiration. Many of its watch collections are inspired by iconic structures around the world. For example, the Mido Ocean Star is inspired by Europe’s lighthouses, and the Mido Baroncelli has design cues taken from classical Italian architecture. One of its top watches is:

Mido Multifort Patrimony – Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. M040.407.16.040.00

Mido Multifort Patrimon ref. M040.407.16.040.00
  • Retail Price: S$1,300
  • Market Average: S$735
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$803

About

The Multifort Patrimony is a stylish men’s watch that delicately balances form and function. It gives the best of both with its curvy 40mm stainless steel case and box-style sapphire crystal over the blue dial, contrasted by a dial with a pulsometer scale around its edge, date window at 6 o’clock, and durable beige cow leather strap.

8. Timex

Timex Watch Brand

Timex is a well-known American watch brand with a rich history dating back to its founding in 1854. Originally known as the Waterbury Clock Company, it was established in Waterbury, Connecticut, which was often referred to as “The Switzerland of America” due to its prominence in the clock-making industry.

It’s been recognized for making timekeeping more accessible to a broad audience. One of its significant contributions was the development of affordable pocket watches in the 19th century. By the 20th century, it had gained fame for its durable and reliable wristwatches that were marketed with the slogan, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” underscoring their durability. One of its watches worth buying is:

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic- Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. TW2V70300

Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic TW2V70300
  • Retail Price: S$640
  • Private Market Price: S$550
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$587

About

Named after its designer, the Giorgio Galli S1 is ‘the most Timex Timex’ for its sexy, masculine all-black design. This casual unisex watch features a black 38mm stainless steel case, a red sapphire stone on its black dial, a double-domed sapphire crystal over its dial, a see-through caseback, and a soft black synthetic rubber strap.

9. Steinhart

Steinhart Watch Brand

Steinhart is a German watch company that has gained a reputation for producing high-quality timepieces with a strong emphasis on value. Founded by Günter Steinhart in 2001, the brand operates out of Augsburg, Germany.

Its watches are particularly noted for their classic design, solid craftsmanship, and affordability. They often use Swiss movements, which are highly respected in the watchmaking industry. One of its best watches is:

Steinhart Architect – Stainless Steel, Green Dial ref. 106-1388

Steinhart Architect ref. 106-1388
  • Retail Price: S$1,229
  • Private Market Price: S$1,015
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$1,190

About

Resembling Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus hybrid, the Steinhart Architect is a sturdy men’s watch with a monochromatic design, well contrasted by a green dial. It features a 39mm stainless steel case, an octagonal bezel, an integrated bracelet, a round date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, and a minute track around its dial’s rim.

10. Bulova

Bulova Watch Brand

Bulova is a renowned American watch brand known for its innovation in watchmaking and its significant contributions to the history of timekeeping. Founded in 1875 by Joseph Bulova, it established its operations in New York City. It quickly became notable for its commitment to precision and innovation in design.

Its watches are known for offering luxury quality with a more accessible price point compared to some other luxury watch brands. This has allowed it to maintain a broad customer base. One of the quality watches from its lineup is:

Bulova Marine Star Series A Chronograph – Stainless Steel, Gray Dial ref. 98B277

Bulova Marine Star 98B277
  • Retail Price: S$641
  • Private Market Price: S$282
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$450

About

The Marine Star Series A Chronograph is an elegant men’s sports watch. It flaunts a rugged 44m two-tone octagonal case and features a steel bezel with six golden screws, chronograph subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock, a quartz movement, a shatter-resistant mineral crystal over its dial, and gold-tone Roman numeral hour markers.

Price Range Considered Affordable for Watches

Affordable watch price ranges are classified into three groups:

  • Entry-level: Watches that can be found under S$135.
  • Mid-range: Timepieces priced between S$135 and S$674.
  • Upper-affordable: Those that approach but do not exceed S$1,347.

Several factors influence a watch’s cost in the watch world:

1. Materials Used

The choice of materials significantly affects the price of a watch. Basic materials like plastic and simple metals are cheaper, making the watch more affordable. Stainless steel is a common choice for mid-range watches, offering a good balance between cost and durability. 

Luxury watches often use precious metals like gold or platinum and advanced composites or ceramics, which substantially increase the price. The type of crystal (acrylic, mineral, or sapphire) also impacts cost, with sapphire being the most expensive due to its scratch resistance.

2. Brand Name

The branding of a watch can immensely affect its price. Luxury brands like Rolex or Omega charge a premium due to their established reputation, history of craftsmanship, and the status associated with their products. 

Lesser-known or new brands might offer similar quality at a lower price because they are trying to enter the market or don’t carry the same brand value.

3. Manufacturing Processes

The way a watch is made plays a crucial role in its cost. Hand-assembled or watches requiring intricate manual labor (often the case with Swiss watches) are more expensive. Mass-produced watches made with automated processes tend to be more affordable. The level of detail in finishing, like hand-polished components and custom engravings, also adds to the cost.

4. Design Complexity

The complexity of a watch’s design can drive up prices. Simple designs with fewer complications (features like chronographs, moon phases, and perpetual calendars) are cheaper to produce. 

Watches with multiple complications require more parts and labor, increasing the price. The aesthetic elements, like unique dials or unusual case shapes, also contribute to higher production costs.

5. Type of Movement 

The movement of a watch—whether quartz or mechanical—significantly affects its price. Quartz watches are generally cheaper because they are easier to manufacture and maintain. 

They use a battery and a few moving parts. Mechanical watches, which may be either manual or automatic, involve intricate systems of gears and springs and require more expertise and time to assemble, thereby increasing their cost.

Final Word

Affordable watch brands offer more for less. They provide high quality watches that are durable, stylish, and align with cutting-edge technology, all within a reasonable budget.

Key Takeaways

  • Affordable watch brands are known for their quality craftsmanship and timeless designs. They offer durability and style without breaking the bank.
  • Timepieces from affordable watch brands range from entry-level to upper affordable, with prices from between S$135 and S$1,347.
  • Affordable watches’ movements, whether quartz or mechanical, influence the precision and maintenance required. Quartz movements are typically cheaper and lower maintenance. However, mechanical movements are preferred for their intricacy and sophistication.

Looking to buy or sell your luxury watches? WatchBook is your one-stop destination for trading Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tissot, Sinn, Zenith, and other luxury timepieces. Find your next watch today or list your item for free!

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