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A Guy’s Guide to Copping an Affordable Watch Collection

If you’re ready to take your style game to the next level—we mean really the next level—this how-to is for you. Because let’s face it—men don’t have all that many options when it comes to expressing personal style in the professional or casual-professional environment. Yes, there are neckties, but frankly, those are for your dad. In tech, and so many other industries these days, even the major players wear jeans, hoodies, and sneakers. So it’s not custom tailored suits that are going to help you stand out. What you need are the right jeans and hoodies plus a spot-on selection of carefully curated accessories.

That’s why we’ve rounded up the ten most convincing watch brands to help you fake a six-figure salary. We’ve also highlighted our favorite affordable timepiece from each brand, so you’ll have all the tools you need to build a beginner’s chronograph collection by the end of this article. Our best advice? Treat yourself to three or four of these fresh picks (you will not even come close to blowing your 401(k), we promise) and then start upping your sneaker game. Because your accessories speak volumes.

1. Seiko

Founded in 1881, Seiko has a long and prestigious history, making their watches sound investments. In 1969, they revolutionized the industry by introducing the world’s first quartz watch. Moreover, in 2012, they launched the world’s first GPS solar watch, again establishing a new global standard.

seiko SNK805

Our favorite affordable Seiko is SNK805. A sporty green canvas strap gives it a casual vibe, but a beautiful green dial with luminous hands makes it decidedly stylish. With a stainless steel case (that’s the setting around the watch face), this timepiece tracks the date, day of the week, hour, minute, and second. It’s also water resistant—designed for swimming and snorkeling but not diving.

2. Stuhrling

The Stuhrling brand dates back to the 1800s but relaunched in 1999. It specializes in watches that combine “old world” design details with modern machinery. Many of their timepieces feature triple-step bezels that recall Art Deco watches from the ’30s and ’40s.

stuhrling aviator 699

Our Stuhrling pick is model 699.02 Aviator Quartz, which features a brown leather strap, stainless steel case-back, and a black dial with luminous accents. We love the fresh, versatile color scheme. Like the Seiko SNK805, it’s an analog timepiece that tracks the date, day of the week, hour, minute, and second. It is also waterproof, down to 330 feet.

3. Nautica

Since Nautica has a rich brand heritage inspired by the sea, their watches tend to be sporty styles with plenty of performance features. However, the watches are finished with a dose of city sophistication that makes them work for everyday wear—including office wear.

nautica N14555G NST

Our top timepiece from Nautica is N14555G NST, with a stainless steel case, resin strap, and three sub-dials on the face. There are plenty of occasions for a boldly colored watched, which makes this a must-have for your burgeoning collection. We can totally see this blue-on-blue style with a lavender windowpane button-up tucked into raw indigo jeans. It could work just as easily with a camo hoodie, khaki joggers, and some cool adidas Ultra Boosts. Bottom line: it’s a stylish and versatile pick.

4. Citizen

The Citizen brand was founded in 1930, but their most significant innovation came in 1995 when they introduced Eco-Drive, a technology that converts virtually any source of light into electrical power, eliminating the need for batteries in many Citizen watches.

citizen BF0580-06E

We recommend Citizen model BF0580-06E, for its classic lines. The leather band is alligator embossed for an expensive, old-school vibe—but the black dial adds a decidedly modern touch. With a stainless steel case, this watch tracks the date, hour, minute, and second, plus it’s waterproof to 100 feet. Also, worth noting: this is not one of the Citizen’s Eco-Drive styles. This watch runs on a Japanese Quartz Battery.

5. Bulova

Bulova watches have been around since 1875, and the company prides itself on using highest-quality materials, from top quality leather to hypoallergenic solid stainless steel to mother-of-pearl, diamonds, and more.

bulova 96B104

Somewhat similar to Citizen’s BF0580-06E, Bulova’s 96B104 has a handsome black leather alligator-embossed band and a classic look and feel. However, the Bulova style has a slightly larger and slimmer watch face, giving it a more youthful character. The fact that the face is white and sparsely designed with only the hours demarcated (no minutes or seconds here), makes this an extremely sophisticated-looking pick for the price. With a stainless steel case, it tracks the date, hour, minute, and second, and it’s water resistant to 100 feet.

6. MVMT

In 2013, MVMT founders Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante dropped out of college to launch a crowd-funded watch brand that challenged the traditional business model by selling directly to consumers and cutting out the retail markup. So far, many of their watch designs resemble one another except in color. However, what they lack in range, they make up for in elegance.

mvmt white / steel 45mm watch

From MVMT, we favor the white / steel 45mm option shown here in brushed stainless steel with a white dial, silver hands and markers, and a black second hand. The metal bracelet gives it a streamlined look that works well at the office. And, it can be swapped out for a leather or canvas strap for more dressed-down occasions. This watch tracks the date, hour, minute, and second, and it is water resistant to 100 feet.

7. Akribos

Founded a decade ago, Akribos is a brand that offers quality in any shape you like. They make it a priority to produce a variety of styles, from classic and sleek to colorful and sporty.

akribos AK715SSB

Our top pick from Akribos is AK715SSB. This watch again combines a classic leather strap (this one is weathered and brown) with a more modern dial (slim, round, and slightly oversized). Because the dial is black, the watch has a subdued look and feel, making it a little more conservative than the rest of our recommended styles. With a stainless steel case, it tracks the date, hour, minute, and second while being water resistant to 100 feet.

8. Komono

Founded in Belgium in 2009, Komono focuses on distilling quality, craft, and “the best of culture” into their timepieces down to the tiniest details. Fittingly, Komono means “small things.” The only other accessory that they design is sunglasses.

komono winston chambray

Komono’s Winston model is arguably their most stylish, with a silver-toned dial and a chambray canvas strap. We love the cool simplicity of the metallic dial, punctuated by the bright red second hand. There’s no date on this one, though, just hours, minutes, and seconds. Moreover, the case is metal, not stainless steel. Even though it’s water resistant to 100 feet, we’d say this watch should be second or third in your collection. We love it! But choose a sturdier option for everyday wear.

9. Invicta

Latin for “invincible,” Invicta was founded in Switzerland in 1837 with the goal of offering superior timepieces at modest prices. Invicta says that over half of their customer base owns ten or more Invicta watches—a remarkable testament to their customer satisfaction.

invicta pro diver 80064

Our pick from Invicta is their Pro Diver model 80064. Because it’s gold toned, with a black bezel, and three sub-dials displaying 60 second, 30 minute, and 12-hour timelines, it has the look of an expensive dress watch. It is also a very sturdy style: water resistant to 660 feet, with a scratch-resistant crystal face, and a stainless steel case. With this style, you’re getting a ton of bang for your buck—quality, craftsmanship, and the look of luxury at a great price.

10. Daniel Wellington

The youngest of all the watch brands on our list may also be the most stylish. Built around the concept of “a watch for every occasion,” the idea is to buy one classic, minimalist Daniel Wellington watch and switch out the strap depending on the day. Every DW watch face is clean and elegant, thin and round, with an uncluttered dial. The straps range from sporty striped canvas “NATO” styles (a look pioneered by the British Navy in the 1970s) to more traditional soft leather options.

daniel wellington 1103DW

From Daniel Wellington, we recommend model 1103DW for its rose gold-tone stainless steel case, punctuated by a bright blue second hand. With a soft brown leather (interchangeable) strap, the watch tracks the date, hour, minute, and second, and it’s water resistant to 100 feet. If you value elegance, simplicity, and versatility over a ton of bells and whistles, this one is for you.

For more men’s style articles, click here.

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