But first, the (way too philosophical) case for wearing a wristwatch…
Q: Why wear a watch when I’ve always got my phone on me?
A: If we start dying the day we are born, then would it not behoove us to appreciate our fleeting existence instead of passing from one distraction to the next? A mobile phone is a stunning achievement in technology, but it does little to further the human experience. They are effective devices for communicating, but they’re also a gateway to addicting, wasteful distractions. But wearing a wristwatch is a constant, visible reminder that your life is not unlimited. Each flick of the second hand is a tangible signal of your eventual demise. We are all dying men, and our perishing only accelerates when we fall oblivious to the inexorable period at the end of our sentence. A wristwatch is a stylish reminder that we are always running out of paper and ink.
So, dead man, here’s 20 watches under $200 that might catch your eyes… before they close forever.
Well that’s an extremely nice price for this slim, Danish designed piece of wrist candy. Japanese quartz. Subdials give you the day and date. Layered dial helps add some nice depth to its looks. Full review here. UPDATE: Price went up on these overnight. Might be a good idea to sit tight for awhile. They should drop, if not at Amazon, at Nordstrom or somewhere else.
Better looking in person than it looks on Amazon. This one does have the loud “tick” that some Timex’s suffer from. So, if you’re susceptible to going mad over the “tick…Tick…TICK” some Timex weekenders can make, then best to skip this one. Nice chevron pattern on the inner dial. 40mm Brass case. Indigo back-light.
Orient Bambino Original or Vintage Look – $182 w/ Dappered30 ($260)
Obligatory mention of these two. You can often find the original model on Amazon for the low to mid $100s. The vintage look models are a bit tougher to come by, and often sell out on the Orient USA website. Domed crystal on both. In-house automatic movement. 40.5mm case diameter which looks good on most wrists. A new classic. In person review with the vintage look can be found here, while the review of the original design can be found here.
Beastly at 43mm. Good feel to it, but since it’s a quartz, not weighty. Unidirectional bezel. The texture on the dial is tough to see online, but it adds quite a bit in person. A complicated looking casual watch. Citizen’s new designs have gotten a little… sideways in the last few years. Wish they’d get back to designing stuff more straight forward like this. Above image credit: Isabel
Utter simplicity. One of those watches that absolutely has a dressed up dial and case, but would look terrific on a striped NATO band. They did away with their iconic tuning fork logo at 12 o’clock a few years back. It’s missed.
A lot of watch for $155. Solar powered, hardlex crystal, 41mm case that wears larger. There’s (obviously) a lot going on with the dial, so actually telling the damn time at a glance takes a bit of getting used to, but a great buy for those who spend their time more dressed down than most, and like the functionality of a solar powered quartz.
Over $200? Not really. Jack Spade runs extra 25% off sale items codes quite often. Or, sign up for their email list and you’ll get a 15% off code. Swiss quartz chronograph movement. Sapphire crystal. Just 38mm in diameter. Final sale.
One of Seiko’s much beloved divers. 40mm case diameter that wears a bit larger. Nice weight to the watch, wears nice and comfortable on the wrist, and at its heart is a dependable Seiko 5 automatic. 100m meter water resistance instead of the usual 200m most divers come with. No screw down crown here. Doesn’t hack or hand wind either. But for those who dream of one day owning a Submariner or another high end dive watch? This is a great way to get some of that style satisfaction without taking out a 2nd mortgage. Many thanks to reader Eric H. for singing the praises of the Urchin. UPDATE: Annnnnnd these are now sold out at the $133.99 price point that was being fulfilled by Amazon. Keep an eye out, these come and go in the low $100s – high $100s range (now at $169).
Oh you could do worse for $34. A lot worse. Stair-step case, while a little thick for the diameter of the dial, puts off a slight art-deco look. Roman numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9. Indiglo. Date window that blends in nicely with the rest of the dial. 40mm case that wears maybe a touch smaller.
One of Fossil’s better looking models. Sporty as hell. Perforated leather band, chronograph movement, orange accents, and a carbon-fibery/thatch dial. 45mm, so it’s no small thing. Some can’t get past the “Fossil” branding (it leans a little young for some tastes). But for those that can and are in the market for a fast looking watch, the Wakefield is pretty slick.
Very much like the Bulova 96B104… only without a date window. Extra clean looking thanks to forgoing the date window. DW watches can come with any number of bands, but the blue & white “Glasgow” option (imagine that) is awfully versatile. Who says you can’t wear a dress watch with a t-shirt and jeans?
Take a dirt cheap (but still good looking) watch, sling a high quality leather band between its lugs, and secure it with something other than a standard buckle or clasp. This is what you get. Straps are made in the USA. Tons of different watch & band combinations to pick from.
Whoever designed this thing at Kenneth Cole must’ve quit the day after it went to production. Not a lot of their other watches, or shoes, or, much else, look this classic and well proportioned. Great pushers on the thing too. The font, seconds hand, and pushers all project a vintage feel. The band isn’t the best, but for the price, it’ll do. Japanese quartz, mineral crystal.
Lumping these together due to their visual similarities. Odd how the Mako XL looks less like the Mako, and more like an inflated version of the Ray. No Arabic numerals on the dial (like the reg. Mako), just beefy stick indices on the XL and a combo of sticks and circles on the Ray. 200m water resistance. Great looking (read: not too shined up) links. Rotating bezels. The XL has a 44.5mm diameter that wears every bit of that size, while the Ray is a less enormous 41mm. Both of these models usually go for much, MUCH less on Amazon.
Really outperforms the price tags. Black on black is sharp and absolutely suit worthy. The cream/beige dial sets off that retro-inspired font. Feels solid and well made. Chronograph function. 100m water resistance. Easy to wear 40mm case diameter.
A unique appearance, with a second time zone function sub dial at 9, while the seconds tick away on the sub dial at 3. Date window(s) at six o’clock are unique as well. Swiss made.
Orient Producer Automatic – $162.50 w/ VDAY15 ($250)
Yes, the new rectangular “Producer” models have been getting plenty of run on this website… but it’s well deserved. Available in either a white dial & brown band, or an extremely smooth black on black. Full review here.
May your mechanicals always be wound, your quartz always have a full battery, and may any watch snobs you encounter keep their festering pie holes shut when they see your affordable time piece.