My title of cheap men’s watches that look expensive may be a little harsh because alternatives to expensive luxury don’t necessarily mean compromise on quality, and nor does it mean nickel and dime. For the sake of this piece, (cheap) is a relative term used to describe an inexpensive, affordable quality watch, that doesn’t cost you thousands of dollars.
I was going to give you a short listing of some really nice examples but I realized you wouldn’t get much more out of it if I compared a similar or equivalent watch to really illustrate my point.
As you know discount watch stores is all about affordability regardless of whether there is a discount involved. Yes, it’s absolutely true that affordable Swiss watches can be found with impressive discounts from many online stores, so affordable swiss watches do exist. It’s here at discount watch stores always attempts to steer you to the best places to buy watches online.
However, today, we are just comparing similar timepieces with disproportionate price points to get your imagination racing. Hopefully, after this, as serious watch buyers, you will have a clearer understanding of how to get hold of cheap good looking watches, for a fraction of the price of their Swiss counterparts. Better still, you’ll look the business and know you’re wearing a quality timepiece with the reliability and accuracy you demand.
The Correct Time Twice A Day
After all, if the watch doesn’t work correctly it doesn’t matter how good it looks, it’s just a pile of garbage. It puts me in mind of a colleague who wore a Rolex to work day in, day out. After some time it was noticed by those around him that it was broken, never moving from the same position. Well, it’s very nice that he had a Rolex, and it’s also nice that it told the correct time twice a day. But it painted an unflattering picture of the individual that he could have avoided if he wasn’t so desperate to show off.
My point is, it does matter what the brand is. The important thing is the quality of the product and how it makes your feel without trying to fool those around you. I promise you, it never works.
Cheap Good Looking Watches
And so to my first choice but first a confession. All the timepieces I choice to compare are in some way my personal favorites and it’s not necessarily the more expensive Swiss brand that I prefer, so let’s take a look.
Omega vs Alpha
Getting the ball rolling is the delightful Omega Seamaster 300 made famous by Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craigs’ super gentleman spy James Bond. The full collection of 17 models in total offers different case materials, straps and colors meaning there’s a Seamaster for everyone who has between €5,500 and €55,500 in spare change. The Steel on Steel being the cheapest at €5,500 and the Platinum on Platinum setting you back a cool €55,500. The model pictured here is the Titanium on Titanium that’s gonna set you back €7,600. The best price I have found is $5,295.00 or €4925.56 for the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial Blue Dial Titanium Men’s Watch.
What you get for your money is the heritage of a professional diver watch introduced 1957 and has been held in high esteem from day one. The case diameter of 41 mm is a standard size for the Seamaster as is the dial with the Omega logo at 12 o’clock, number markers at 3, 6, and 9 and triangle luminous on every hour, and the three arrowhead hands have enough lume to make visibility good in low light. Surrounding the case is the liquid metal Bi-directional rotating bezel and screw down crown, topped with a domed, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment inside. Water resistance is just as its name suggests at 300 meters or 1000 feet.
So what’s the competition, if you can call it competition? The best way to describe the Alpha Seamaster is an Omega homage rather than a copy. When you look at the piece you can see certain design cues but it’s far from a straight copy, So what does it have in common? The thing that immediately strikes the eye is the color design with steel and blue, with a nice visible rotating bezel. It’s quite reminiscent of the Omega when you look at the stainless steel strap, case, and blue ceramic dial, with a screw down crown at 3 o’clock. It also has an automatic movement, but one that’s most assuredly not on a par with the Omega.
The markers and hands differ but make up for it by having a striking visual presence in this 46 mm oversized homage to the Omega. The water resistance for the Alpha Seamaster is a modest 50 meters or 150 feet so it’s okay for recreational diving and in addition, the Alpha Seamaster boasts a date window that the Omega does not.
Not much of a competitor I hear you scream, and you would be right. There is no real comparison between these two pieces in terms of build quality or capability. What it does have is a pleasant character with a totally average build quality and performance and for the price of €95, there’s not much room for complaints. If you want a watch that works and resembles the Omega, the Alpha Seamaster is a perfectly good option. As you have already guessed, I adore the Omega, its one of my top 5 favorites, but I would absolutely entertain the idea of buying an Alpha as a nice, cheap watch that I don’t have to worry about damaging.
Seiko vs Orient
The Seiko Blumo is another one of my favorite brands because it’s one of those brands that perfectly illustrates what Discount Watch Stores is all about, and that is affordable quality. The Seiko Sumo SBDC033 is the updated version to its super popular SBDC003, the difference being a slight change to the dial design, better lume.
Classic good looks in a 45 mm case and at only 14mm high it conceals itself under a cuff with ease. The dial and bezel in blue with the raised indices offering a light show with its powerful lume, and the fat hour and minute hands making the overall visibility a real treat. The crown is a screw down design, helping to offer a 200m rating protecting the 3 jewel 6R15 automatic movement, with 50-hour power reserve, and topped with Hardlex crystal. Three strap options await you, NATO, leather, or the 20mm solid stainless steel bracelet. The best price I found on the Seiko Blumo was $411.00 which is a steal considering the build quality.
The Orient Mako comes in a 41mm brushed stainless steel case and in this case a blue dial with Nemoto LumiNova on the markers, fat sword style hour and minute hands, as well as the additional red tipped second hand. Unlike the Seiko that only has a date window, the Orient has both the Day and Date complication at 3 o’clock.
Surrounding the dial is the 120-click unidirectional bezel and a new insert with screw down crown with protective crown lugs. Sapphire crystal tops the Mako protecting its own Orient Cal. 46943 21 jewel movement with 40-hour power reserve, offering a 200m rating.
And just like the Seiko, it has a low profile of 13mm so subtlety is the order of the day. As far as affordable entry-level watches go, this is certainly a higher-end addition to this end of the market. With the Orient Mako coming in at €232.35 from a well-known discount watch store, it’s roughly half the price of the Seiko
If you had asked me last week which one of these I would choose it would have been a resounding Yes to the Seiko, but now I think the decision may be different. At this price point, I think I would have to go for the Orient with its classic good looks and build quality, there is really no other choice to make. Perhaps you agree?
Breitling vs Citizen
Where to begin with the Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante? I could write reams about this piece, about its history and the technological breakthroughs. I could tell you how much I love the Breitling brand, about how this piece features Breitling’s first in-house-made split-seconds chronograph movement.
I could wax lyrical about the Breitling Caliber B03 making its debut inside the case of the Navitimer, one of Breitling’s most iconic models.
What if I told you the split-seconds or “rattrapante” chronograph movement is considered one of the most difficult complications to build? What if I told you it’s equipped with automatic winding, date indication, an integrated 1/4-second chronograph function, and a 70-hour power reserve?
Look at the complicated dial you can see three silver-toned subdials. A 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour chronograph counter at 6 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock) and the silver-toned inner rotating bezel with circular slide rule.
All this takes up room and the 45-mm case of the Navitimer Rattrapante gives it that room in stainless steel or 18k rose gold. but of course, it doesn’t come cheap, and like all high-end items you are going to need very deep pockets to shell out $11,090 for a steel case, or $32,895 if you have a hankering for gold.
The Citizen Eco-Drive is right up there with the Casio solar drive and sits up there with the very best in my top 10 list. As much as I love Breitling, I can’t take my eyes off the Citizen Perpetual Chrono.What brands like Citizen, Seiko, and Casio have that the Luxury mechanical market doesn’t have, is the ability to create gadget stuffed watches with multiple functions at a low price.
This Citizen Perpetual Chrono watch, for example, is light powered using Citizen’s famous Eco-Drive movement. Its atomic clock controlled with a perpetual calendar, chronograph, and second time zone indicator… amongst other functions.
Functions like time, date, synchronized 24-hour hand (for AM/PM), date, day of the week, and US time zone indicator…
You can’t even see all the complications or functions in the standard view. You will need to pull out the crown and turn it to access features such as the chronograph and alarm. Pressing the pushers with the crown in other settings you’ll get more information and you’ll probably need the instruction manual to understand.
The Citizen Perpetual Chrono comes in a number of flavors, this one above was obviously chosen because of its resemblance to the Breitling. For this post, there is no room to talk about all the functions but that’s not the point is it?
The point is, the Breitling is amazing but so is the cost. The Citizen is amazing and so is the cost but for a very different reason. Rather than spend $11,000 or more, you can have this mind blowing Citizen Perpetual Calendar Chrono for as little as $450. I know which one I would go for!!!
Rolex vs Invicta
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is probably one of the most recognizable and the most iconic watches on the planet, but maybe it’s for this reason I shy away from it. Yes, it’s a sort after piece loved by millions and lusted over by many more millions, but it’s not for me. No, perhaps I am an inverted snob but the Rolex is just a bit too bling for me and I would be nature, go the opposite way. No doubt, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is a good looking watch with a classic design that many copy or try to emulate. It also has a loyal following and I have never heard anything negative about this, but at $7,975 I can think of something else to buy.
Let me introduce you to the Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver Automatic. A 40mm Stainless Steel case topped with mineral glass surrounded by a unidirectional coin edged rotating bezel with silver-tone chapter markers. The black dial displays luminous Tritnite hour markers trimmed in silver-tone on all hour positions except 3:00 where the magnified date window lives.
The silver tone hour and minute hands are Tritnite filled and the seconds hand sports a Tritnite tip. Just as any serious dive watch this has a screw down crown to help prevent water ingress up to 600ft or 200m.
Its black dial is well designed for quick and easy read-off in low light conditions. The automatic movement is visible through the see through case back meaning the classic styling is matched by its impressive performance, making it a perfect choice for land or sea adventures. With the good looks and enviable performance, how much would you expect to pay? Amazingly, this watch is one of the cheapest I have ever referenced at discount watch stores, at the shockingly low price of $85! That’s right, I’m not joking, the Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver Automatic can be yours for under $100. For me, this is a no-brainer, my mind is made up. Given the choice of the Rolex and the Invicta, I will take the Invicta…Word!
Tag Heuer Carrera vs Casio Edifice
TAG is another of my favorites and has been worn on the wrists of many famous faces in the motor racing field since its release in 1963. With a long and rich history, it’s a brand that can be trusted to offer style, elegance, and quality of build.
This particular example is a 41 mm stainless steel case, black dial, automatic Cal. 1887 movement, with scratch resistant sapphire glass, and water resistant up to 200 Meters or 600 Feet. The case and all the silver markers on the dial are highly polished accentuating the extremely handsome black dial combining a flat finish with circular graining in the subdials, that are further accented by a polished silver flange.
Hour markers are large applied metal with readable seconds, the tachymeter scales the main dial flange which is matte black, to match the rest of the dial. As for the subdial layout, the chronograph 30-minutes at 12 o’clock, chronograph 12-hours at 6 o’clock, and a running seconds at 9 o’clock.
There are a number of flavors available for the 41mm Carrera, including a white dial, a solid 18k rose gold case, plus a few bracelet and strap to choose from, but the entry price for the TAG Heuer Carrera is sitting around $3,500 depending on where you shop.
With over 200 models in their Edifice collection, Casio is offering almost too much choice. My personal favorite is the 500 series, and in particular the Edifice EQB-500D-1A Bluetooth, but for this direct comparison I am choosing the Casio Edifice EF-547D-1AV because looking at alongside the TAG Heuer Carrera it`s difficult to tell them apart unless you study them close up.
Let’s look and see what you get with this package. The case is 45mm stainless steel partial ion plated, with stainless bezel and Double lock, 1 press, 3 fold clasp bracelet. Beneath the mineral glass, the somewhat busy, yet handsome dial includes all the gadgets you could wish for.
So, what did you get with this sub €100 timepiece? Well, you will get the Chronograph, Tachymeter, 1 second stopwatch, measuring capacity: 11:59’59, measure mode: elapsed time, Date display at 3 o’clock, 100-meter water resistance, regular timekeeping with analog 3 hands(hours mins seconds)3 dial(timekeeping second, stopwatch hours, stopwatch mins)
Its beating heart is a Japanese quartz battery powered movement with a 2-year lifespan, and an accuracy of between – and + 20 seconds per month. That’s not too shabby for a watch that you can pick up at a discounted site for as little as €95, reduced from €240, but be warned, these are becoming difficult to find as all the popular Edifice models fly off the shelves very quickly. At the time of writing, I found the Edifice EF-547D-1AV available for under €100 at the watch shop.
As much as I love the TAG, I would be super happy with the Edifice, it`s a great piece of kit at an unbeatable price point although as I said earlier, I would definitely opt for the 500D Bluetooth edition but that’s just a personal thing.
If you have read all the way to the end then thanks for sticking with me, I know this was quite a long post, but hopefully, you got something out of it? The main idea I would like you to take away from this is you don’t need a million dollars in the bank to enjoy beautiful watches, the options I’ve looked at at all perfectly good watches available at a fraction of the price of the high-end brands. So, basically, you don’t need lots of money, just an imagination and the time to source something you really like.
I’d also like to reach out and thank Jeremiah at graciouswatch.com who really inspired me to write this article. His piece on affordable watches that look expensive for under $100 was a great influence on my choice of material.
For more information about where to look for your favorite watch brand why not read my watch store reviews to get a better idea where to look?
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