Seeking out the best watches under $200 is not, it’s fair to say, a pastime for many serious, seasoned watch collectors, most of whom have access to a fairly large checkbook and are armed with a wealth of knowledge about all the most coveted brands and models out there. But every watch collection starts somewhere and every watch collector starts out as someone who’s new to the timepiece game, often also young and yet to embark on the accumulation of resources that would enable them to play at the higher echelons of timepiece collecting. With that in mind, we gave ourselves a challenging price limit of $200 and sought out 15 watches worth a look — whether you’re a newbie or one of those deep-pocketed watch veterans who can’t resist a bargain.
Orient Bambino V4 Blue Dial
Price: $200, Reference: FAC08004D0, Case Size: 42 mm, Case Height: 11.8 mm, Lug To Lug: 48.2 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Crystal: Domed Mineral, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic
Often under the radar of American watch consumers and overshadowed by its much larger Japanese brethren, Citizen and Seiko (which with it shares a corporate connection through Epson), Orient has been making value-oriented watches in Japan since 1950. The Bambino is Orient’s dressy gents’ model, fairly large in diameter at 42 mm with a domed crystal. The dial’s gradation sweeps from a bright blue center to black at the edges. Inside is an in-house movement, the automatic Orient F6724, with a hacking seconds function and a 40-hour power reserve. All together, it spells quite a bargain for the $200 sticker price. Shop here.
Citizen Garrison Green Dial
Price: $180, Reference: BM6838-09X, Case Size: 42 mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Eco-Drive
Citizen’s Garrison watch lives up to its military-inspired name with its adoption of classical field watch and pilot’s watch elements, including the inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, the large, legible Arabic hour numerals, and the small inner 24-hour scale to track military time. The big case adds to the mission-ready look with a brushed finish and fastens to the wrist with a brown calfskin leather strap with contrast stitching, a la early aviation watches and their modern descendants. The Garrison is also one of the very few Citizen watches that offer the proprietary light-powered Eco-Drive movement for under $200. Shop here.
Timex Q Diver Inspired SST
Price: $179, Reference: TW2U61000, Case Size: 38 mm, Case Height: 11.5 mm, Lug Width: 18 mm, Crystal: Acrylic, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Quartz Analog
Timex, of course, makes a slew of attractive watches that hit that under-$200 sweet spot, and one could probably compile a list like this occupied solely by Timex products. But in the interest of diversity in brands and styles, we’ll narrow our favorites down to two. One is the very colorful and sporty Q Diver, which faithfully reproduces one of the American watchmaker’s popular models from the 1970s, which also happens to be one of its first models with a quartz caliber.
Among the elements that echo the original ‘70s models are the bicolor GMT bezel, diver-style geometrical indexes on the dial, the integrated SST bracelet and even the battery case cover in the back, which enables the wearer to change his own battery with the simple turn of a coin edge. Shop here.
Timex Marlin Hand Wound 34mm
Price: $139, Case Size: 34 mm, Case Height: 10 mm, Lug To Lug: 41 mm, Strap Width: 18 mm, Crystal: Acrylic, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Mechanical Hand-wind
The other Timex on the list is the Marlin, which was the first mechanical watch the company had made in over 30 years when it was rolled out in 2017. It’s based on a 1960s model and Timex’s designers were obviously not shy about sticking to the original model’s modest dimensions, just 34 mm in diameter. Under a domed acrylic crystal, the hour numerals on the glossy silver dial are charmingly retro in their curvilenar font. With its thin bezel, hand-wound movement (you can get the automatic version for slightly over the $200 threshold specified here), and retro size, the Marlin could easily pass for one of those actual mid-century vintage models that are all the rage these days. Shop here.
Bulova Classic Gold Tone Case/Silver Dial
Price: $192.50, Reference: 97B162, Case Size: 31 mm, Case Height: 8.7 mm, Lug To Lug: 47 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Quartz
For a little Art Deco on the wrist, you probably won’t find a more affordable option than this quartz-powered model that draws clear inspiration from early 20th-century vintage watches from brands like Cartier and Vacheron Constantin. Measuring 47 mm from top lugs to bottom lugs, the watch strikes a glamorous pose with its gold-plated curves and tells the time plainly on gold-colored markers, which include Roman numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. At less than 9 mm thick, its profile is appropriately understated and slips easily under a cuff. Shop here.
Orient Symphony III Rose Gold Tone
Price: $195, Case Size: 41.6 mm, Case Height: 12.1mm, Lug To Lug: 48.1mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Crystal: Mineral, Movement: Automatic Orient Caliber F6722
Rose gold and black is nearly always a winner in the dress watch arena, and Orient’s second entry in this list is this luxurious-looking Symphony III model with a rose-gold finish on its 41.6-mm round case and a black dial with simple bar indexes, thin sword hands, and a rounded-frame date window at 3 o’clock. Outfitted, like all Orient watches, with an in-house movement, the automatic Caliber F6722, the Symphony III plays in the same dressy space as its sister model, the Bambino (which is priced only $5 higher), though its golden finish elevates it a tad on the faux-luxury scale. Shop here.
Swatch Sistem Noite
Price: $155, Reference: SUTN405, Case Size: 42 mm, Case Height: 13.9 mm, Lug To Lug: 50.6 mm, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Crystal: Mineral, Movement: Automatic
Swatch, often dismissed as the maker of plastic-cased, quartz-driven, mass-marketed timepieces for limited budgets and trend-driven youth, made the watch world sit up and take notice when it unveiled the Sistem51 in 2013. Priced at an astounding $150, the watch contained an innovatively designed 51-part mechanical movement with five assembly-line produced modules held together by a single central screw. Swatch has since expanded the collection from its original handful of models, including this one with a bold blue 3D-textured dial and a matching blue silicone strap. Flip the watch over to get a glimpse of the groundbreaking self-winding caliber through a caseback window.
Casio Edifice EQS900
Price: $170, Reference: EQS900, Case Size: 51.5 mm x 47.6 mm, Case Height: 12 mm, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Crystal: Mineral, Movement: Quartz, solar-powered
While not nearly as well known as the ubiquitous G-Shock, Casio’s Edifice collection features complex analog timepieces with a high-tech, motorsport-inspired design aesthetic at eminently reasonable prices. The quartz movements are solar-powered and drive the Edifice’s multitude of functions, including a 1/10-second chronograph, a 24-hour indication, a date display, and a battery life indicator that lets the wearer know it’s time to recharge the watch through its three inset dials; a full charge of light will power the watch for five months.
G-Shock GBA900 and GBD200 "Burning Red"
Price: $130, Reference: GBA900RD-4A, Case Size: 51.3 mm ×48.9 mm, Case Height: 16.6 mm, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Crystal: Mineral, Movement: Quartz, solar-powered
The once-humble G-Shock is the latest cult-favorite watch to expand into more upmarket territory with its G-Steel, Full Metal, and MR-G variants. Core to the collection, however, are still the analog-digital models in the classical resin-and-urethane executions that one can snap up for a few hundred bucks. The new “Burning Red” editions of the GBA900 and GBD200 references are particularly head-turning, not just for their crimson colorway but for the high-tech goodies packed inside, like Bluetooth functionality, dual and world time, full calendar, and built-in trackers for speed, pace, mileage, and calories burned, making it not just a timekeeper but a compact, digital personal trainer at a fraction of the cost of a human one.
Seiko Essentials SWR049
Price: $195, Reference: SWR049, Case Size: 51.3 mm × 48.9 mm, Case Height: 16.6 mm, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Crystal: Mineral, Movement: Quartz, solar-powered
Japan’s Seiko has brought much of its extensive line upmarket over the past few years (albeit not to the level of its high-horology sibling, Grand Seiko) but some excellent values can still be found among its collections, like this elegantly simple dress watch that offers a stylish and affordable alternative to the Cartier Tank, from which it draws obvious influence. The vintage-style hands, rectangular minute track, and thin, extended Roman numerals are among the elements that pay homage to the classic Swiss timepiece, right down to the cabochon-style crown. Seiko, of course, excels at making quartz movements, and one of those beats inside this slim, 6-mm case.
Bulova AeroJet Silver Dial
Price: $175, Reference: 96B314, Case Size: 39 mm, Case Height: 8.35 mm, Lug To Lug: 45 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Quartz
The Aerojet is an old-school Bulova watch in several respects, including in the fact that its dial still uses the tuning fork logo that Bulova has since delegated to its spinoff brand, Accutron. The watch’s overall look is inspired by some of the American brand’s vintage models, incorporating a simple dial with slim hour indexes, a box-type mineral crystal, and on the model featured here a colorful NATO strap. The movement inside is quartz, made by Miyota, a division of the Japanese Citizen Group that owns Bulova, and boasting a battery life of four years. Shop here.
Skagen Ancher Chronograph Medium Brown Eco Leather
Price: $155, Reference: SKW6767, Case Size: 40 mm, Lug width: 20 mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Quartz Chronograph
Sometimes a sleek-looking chronograph is the perfect watch for the occasion, and finding one at this price range is far from easy. Fortunately the Danish brand Skagen — sort of the Ikea of watchmakers — has your back (well, your wrist, actually) with this very attractive piece, sized at a masculine 40 mm and housing a quartz chronograph caliber inside its “midnight” case, which the environmentally conscious watchmaker touts as being made from 50 percent recycled steel. The matching “midnight” dial has a clean tricompax layout and the watch fastens to the wrist with a soft eco-leather strap.
Obaku Rolig Titanium
Price: $185, Reference: 4894041009032, Case Size: 40 mm, Crystal: Extra Hardened Mineral, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Quartz
Also headquartered, like Skagen, in Denmark, Obaku follows a similarly minimalist design ethos that combines Nordic and Asian traditions; its decidedly un-Scandinavian name is derived from a term in Zen philosophy and this spirit is evident in its timepieces. A standout from the brand is this rare example of a titanium dress watch under $200. The Rolig’s case and mesh bracelet are both made in titanium-coated steel, and its simple two-hand dial is in a shiny gunmetal gray that adds to the overall metallic monochrome look. The mineral crystal over the dial is extra hardened.
Armitron Skeleton 42
Price: $175, Case Size: 42 mm, Case Height: 12 mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic
Founded by Romanian Jewish immigrant Eugen Gluck in 1975, New York-based Armitron was among the first wave of so-called fashion watch brands in the ‘70s and ‘80s and remains the Official Timekeeper of the Yankees. While much of its lineup is quartz-powered, Armitron also makes a very accessible timepiece with a skeletonized automatic caliber that comes in well under the $200 mark. The substantially sized steel case has a dark IP coating, offers water resistance to 100 meters and connects to a steel link bracelet. The openworked movement is visible through a crystal in the back as well as the front. You’d be hard-pressed to find a classic skeleton watch at this price point anywhere else.