Buying a luxury and/or unique watch today is no longer reserved for the rich and famous! Today with prices dropping every month and so many new brands coming online, you can be a beautiful or cool timepiece for a fraction of the cost. Snagging a good deal on a watch that won't look cheap up close or break in a month is the difficult part, so we at the UnboxingArmy did what we had to, we looked for the most unique watches you can buy today at a few different price points.
There’s just something to be said about a cheap watch with a solid build and some character. Admittedly, purchasing a timepiece in this price range can be tricky — it’s littered with junk. On the flip side, plenty of examples out there have garnered cult followings, made up of everymen and horology nerds alike. Some are from respected Japanese brands — Citizen, Seiko — others young innovators. But they all go to show that the affordable watch need not be marked by a shoddy materials or hands that fall off after a month’s use.
Casio World Time
While the circa $10 Casio F91W-1 probably also deserves a place on a list like this, we’ll begin with the awesome World Time just to avoid Casio-overload. But the Japanese brand is undeniably strong in this price point with tough, reliable, dirt-cheap watches. Oh, and some people find them to be quite stylish as well. This Casio World Time offers all these attributes and more (including world time, calendar, and alarms) with a dash of retro-futuristic nostalgia, and it’s surprisingly robust for such a great price.
Using an automatic movement based on an old caliber originally from Seiko, the Orient 3 Star is a simple, utilitarian automatic akin to the Seiko 5. While there’s not much in the way of fit and finish, it does have a well-proportioned 37.5mm case, a stainless steel bracelet and a colorful dial. Its as simple of an automatic watch that you can get, but therein lies its charm.
If you just wanted to spend $70 or so on a good-looking quartz watch, you could do a lot worse than the Nokia Steel (formerly the Withings Activité). But this being a “hybrid” smartwatch, you get more than just the time of day. The watch connects to your phone via Bluetooth to give you simple sleep and fitness tracking info that, while not super-comprehensive, is helpful in tracking and motivating healthy behavior.
Braun’s minimalist aesthetic is perfect for someone looking for a wardrobe accoutrement rather than a showpiece. What’s more, graphic elements like the yellow seconds hand and austere font are sure to call to mind the brand’s legacy of Bauhaus-inspired product design.
Timex MK1 Aluminum
Though any number of great Timexes could’ve made this list, we’re particualrly enamored with the newly reissued MK1 — a recreation (of sorts) of a short-lived 1980s military-issue watch. While the original was meant to be disposable and had a mechanical movement inside and a plastic case protecting it, this version swaps both with a more reliable quartz engine and a higher-quality case made from anodized aluminum.
Casio G-Shock GWM5610
A direct descendant of the original G-Shock from 1983, the modern G5600 version and similar watches are as tough as ever. For under $100 you get some nearly indestructible wrist gear that is more accurate than any luxury mechanical watch, and no need for battery changes with solar power. Just make sure you get one that says “Tough Solar” on it, and has a positive display for the best legibility. Further, G-Shocks are just fun, unpretentious, hassle-free, and extremely comfortable to wear.
Bertucci A-2T Titanium
Cases made from solid titanium — loved for its lightweight, durable and hypoallergenic properties — are not such a common site on sub-$150 watches, which is what makes the young U.S. watch brand Bertucci an enticing option. Similarly enticing is the classic field watch dial design, the Japanese quartz movement inside, and a 100-meter depth rating.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Citizen’s entire lineup is made up of its quartz Eco-Drive watches, but the brand does, in fact, make some mechanicals. The NH8350, for instance, packs a Miyota 8200 automatic movement into a clean-cut stainless steel case and comes adorned with a shimmering, sunray blue dial. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better mechanical dress watch for less.
Swatch Sistem51 Irony
When Swatch launched the Sistem51 — an autonomously assembled automatic movement boasting a 90-hour power reserve — it was a revelation, but its plastic case limited its appeal. Now you can get the same movement cased up in stainless steel, making it a more versatile option for everyday wear.
Seiko 5 Sports SNZF17
No list of dirt-cheap watches is complete without the Seiko 5. Originally launched in 1963, the 5 has cultivated a feverish following amongst watch fans for its utilitarian mechanical movement and the value it provides. The Seiko 5 comes in many iterations, and the “Sea Urchin” dive watch is one of our favorites. In addition to using Seiko’s workhorse 7S36 automatic movement, it comes adorned with a unidirectional countdown bezel and steel bracelet.
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