Who says elegant men’s dress watches and affordable watches can’t be the same? There are a lot of low-cost dress watches that perform and present well beyond their price tags. Let’s take a look at some of the best options when searching for an affordable dress watch.
Affordable Watches Under $300 Club
Orient Bambino Generation 2
Orient goes the minimalist route with wonderful results in the Bambino Generation 2. Arguably the cleanest and most elegant style is found in the Version 1 model. It has a larger presentation than other offerings in the line. While a 40.5mm case size does make it wear a bit heftier than some dress watches, the 11.5mm height gives it a nice slender vibe. The Orient Bambino dress watch positively drips vintage style with pitched and polished triangular hour markers. While the domed crystal is mineral, the automatic in-house movement is impressive given the low cost. Now for the sticker shock — you can pick up a new Version 1 model for $120!
Los Angeles is famously known as a city that dresses “cool,” the LA-based MVMT supports that notion. Their styles have sleek aesthetics and a minimalist bend that’s quite fashion-forward. This leading-edge style is one of the big reasons they have such a heavy social media presence. For a dressy look that doesn’t strain itself getting noticed, an MVMT Atlas is a great choice. It’s elegant with an ultra-thin bezel and sophisticated with a Bauhaus-inspired dial. Great for a dressed-up night or that first job that requires a good suit, you can buy one for about $175.
Larsson & Jennings LJXII Norse
With roots in both London and Stockholm, Larsson & Jennings aim to honor their Anglo-Swedish heritage with watches that embody both suave British flair and more minimalistic Nordic style. The result is some elegant (and quite affordable) dress watches that wear almost in contrast to their dollar value. The LJXII Norse Collection presents particularly well with contemporary rectangular cases. Featuring sophisticated Roman numerals on the face and a sandblasted black or satin-white dial, a LJXII Norse on a black leather strap gets you ready for a night at the opera. Best of all, it’s priced at around $150! Talk about affordable watches.
Affordable Watches Less Than $500
Hamilton Jazzmaster Thinline
Coming in at just over the $300 line, the Thinline watch from the Hamilton Jazzmaster line is a simple and elegant choice that doesn’t dip too far into minimalism. This gives it great versatility, as easily wearable on a laid-back weekend as with a suit around the office. As its name suggests, it’s a slim watch with a 7mm profile and 42mm case. The dial keeps things quite simple with Arabic numerals but still calls some attention to itself with a reflective surface and silver or gold-hued markers. Wear this Hamilton watch on a tan or olive green strap to keep things casual or swap in a black alligator choice for a dressier mode.
Seiko Presage Cocktail Time
The Seiko Cocktail Time is a thing of legend. Inspired by the Tokyo nightlife scene with guidance from famed Japanese mixologist Shinobu Ishigaki, this watch was made for a dressed-up night on the town. While a few of the models in the Seiko Presage collection lean more to late-night partying than board-room presentations, nearly all go into perfect dress-watch mode on leather straps. For a warm look, select a SSA346J1 with a grey dial that was influenced by the classic Side Car cocktail, or a Margarita-inspired SRPB44J1 model in champagne-gold. A dark suit impeccably pairs with the ice-blue SSA343J1. Expect to pay around $400 for the pleasure of wearing a Presage.
Tissot Heritage Visodate
There’s more than a century and a half of Swiss watchmaking expertise in a Tissot, founded in Locle, Switzerland in 1853. With that kind of tradition, it’s not surprising they are quite skilled at producing classic watches with timeless style. The original Tissot Visodate was released to celebrate their centennial and today the Heritage Visodate stands as an homage to its forbearer from the 1950s. With the option of either a silver or black dial, the Heritage Visodate nonetheless feels contemporary with a domed sapphire glass that follows the contours of a slightly curved dial. Lending itself to a classic-cut suit, the dial has a back-to-basics date window and the word “Tissot” in throwback handwritten script. You can find one online for about $400.
Less Than $1,000
Defakto Vektor Standard
The German watchmaker Defakto takes Bauhaus design to an almost exaggerated level. But just almost. This strict adherence to minimalism makes their watches perfect complements to a variety of wardrobes. Contours that serve as a nod to classic 1950s style make them great dress watches. You can find one online in the $750 range.
Movado Ultra Slim
With a list price of just under $700, the Movado Ultra Slim offers a dress watch for the anti-dress-watch lover. The rest of the pack tries to fit in with black-heavy designs. But the Ultra Slim wearer can stand out with a 40mm yellow gold case and beige dial. Fit this watch with a taupe leather strap and you have a timepiece that casts off the rigors of formal wear. But yet, it can still stay dressy. Yes, you can still stay within conservative lines by going with a more traditional Ultra Slim in black, white and gold motifs.
Whether you’re looking to impress at your first big job or just want to fill out your collection, this list can get you started.