As our calendars fill with more in-person commitments, from work meetings to dinners with friends, watches are making a comeback.
Choosing a watch depends on personal style and where you plan to wear them. Perhaps ironically, watches that stand the test of time also tend to be timeless. “I don’t lean into watch trends,” says Matt Hranek, author of “A Man and His Watch” and founder of WM Brown Magazine. “I like watches that look like they could have been made today, yesterday or 20 years ago.”
Finding the perfect timepiece for any occasion doesn’t have to mean shelling out your life savings. “I have plenty of watches under $150 that I feel look like a million bucks without breaking the bank,” says Preston Konrad, lifestyle expert and founder of Preston Konrad Home. We consulted men’s style experts for their top picks of affordable watches to make sure you’re looking sharp when you arrive at your next destination — on time, of course.
Timex x Todd Snyder The Mod NATO Strap Watch ($138; nordstrom.com)
Todd Snyder topped our experts’ lists for the brand’s collaboration with Timex. “Lauded men’s designer Todd Snyder has been a longtime collector of Timex and not only knows what makes them tick — but what makes menswear enthusiasts tick too,” says Jian DeLeon, Nordstrom men’s fashion and editorial director.
DeLeon’s pick is The Mod. “The eye-catching face is inspired by an archival design that shows off standard and military time simultaneously, and the interchangeable NATO strap allows for a degree of customization,” he says.
Timex Fairfield Mesh Strap Watch ($99; nordstrom.com)
“Timex has dug into the archive and reproduced a lot of its older, retro designs, and they’re just great,” says Hranek. “They’re watches designed with purpose and function in mind.”
Timex 41-Millimeter Standard Chronograph Leather Strap ($109; amazon.com)
This Timex throwback, for example, looks fit for Indiana Jones, with three subdials and a date display — not to mention it’s even splash-resistant.
MVMT Voyager Mesh Strap Watch ($150; nordstrom.com)
A newer entry into the timepiece space, Los Angeles-based MVMT is another favorite among style experts. “MVMT is a watch brand for men who prefer to pave their own path rather than well-trodden roads,” DeLeon says. “The Voyager’s mesh strap infuses a welcome dose of understated elegance to the minimal timepiece.”
MVMT Minimalist Vintage Watch ($110; amazon.com)
“MVMT is probably one of those brands that you couldn’t avoid seeing in sponsored ads on Instagram,” Konrad says. “If you’re going for an all-black, New York sleek look.” Konrad suggests a design with a black face, bezel and leather strap.
Braun 3-Hand Analog Quartz Watch ($55; amazon.com)
For watches that feel like art pieces, Hranek looks to Braun. “It always feels like a European architect would be wearing a Braun watch, with red-framed glasses and a black crewneck sweater,” he says. “Enough thought goes into the simplicity of the design that makes them look modern.”
Braun Black Dial Analog Quartz Watch With Silver Mesh Bracelet ($131.25; amazon.com)
With a silver mesh chain, this watch is surprisingly durable for people who love the outdoors. The glass face is scratch-resistant, and the watch itself is water-resistant. Plus, we love the yellow detailing and date display.
Swatch Classic Quartz Silicone Strap ($48.55; amazon.com)
Swatch is another go-to for Hranek, who points to the brand’s design versatility and mechanical reliability. “I have the first Swatch I ever bought; you put a battery in and it just keeps on going,” he says. “They can be as simple as you want, or as decorative and complex in terms of their outward-facing design.”
Swatch Transformation Quartz Silicone Strap ($80; amazon.com)
Speaking of decorative and complex, this Swatch watch is as eye-catching as it gets, with an iridescent display and white band.
Fossil Minimalist Stainless Steel Slim Casual Quartz Watch (starting at $63.98, originally starting at $119; amazon.com)
For Konrad, Fossil is likewise a nostalgic legacy brand that definitely holds up. “Fossil has had a full evolution and really stepped up its game,” he says. “They have a really handsome, everyday watch with a brown leather strap and a beautiful silver bezel. You could wear it with a button-down shirt, or a pair of shorts and sandals.”
Nixon Time Teller (starting at $100; amazon.com)
Nixon is another brand that Konrad notes he used to associate with a more laid-back aesthetic, but has lately refined its offerings. “The Time Teller feels like that cool, ’70s watch. It’s not gaudy or oversized, just adds an extra pop,” he says.
Invicta Pro Diver 40-Millimeter Stainless Steel Automatic Watch ($78.82; amazon.com)
For a Rolex Submariner-style look at a fraction of the cost, Preston recommends Invicta’s Pro Diver. “I probably wouldn’t go deep-sea diving in it, but with a few links taken out it looks like a $5,000 watch — definitely in an Instagram picture or at an in-person meeting,” he says.
Casio G-Shock Quartz DW-5600 ($42.65, originally $69.95; amazon.com)
For LED display and digital watches meant for navigating outdoor adventures, Casio’s G-Shock remains the standard bearer. “G-Shock is trusted by everyone from professional snowboarders to the military,” Hranek says. “They’re rugged and kind of unstoppable,” he says, with more functions than many typical users may ever need (or figure out how to use).
Casio G-Shock GA100MB ($99, originally $100; amazon.com)
For a watch that really looks like it can handle just about anything you throw at it, this one is all about durability, being able to withstand high impact, water pressure and more. As one reviewer writes, “I knew the G-Shock was durable, but I honestly believe that you CANNOT break this thing. I’ve put it through the ringer and it has come out unscathed. The bonus is that it looks pretty cool too.”
G-Shock Baby-G Ana-Digi Watch ($120; nordstrom.com)
“G-Shock is one of the brands I grew up with,” DeLeon says. “During the pastel-colored sneakers and streetwear trend of the mid-2000s, these industrial timepieces were the perfect stark contrast.” For a slightly elevated option, DeLeon likes the GA-110. “The large face contributes to its rugged appeal, and the fact you can actually dive in it is a welcome touch.”
Casio F91W-1 Classic Resin Strap Digital Sport Watch ($12, originally $12.99; amazon.com)
From a pure function standpoint, Hranek likes Casio’s Alarm Chronograph series and says he always keeps one in his Dopp kit. “They could have easily been on my engineer uncle’s wrist from IBM in the 1970s,” he says. “They’re so good-looking and classic.”
Casio Vintage A168WA-1 Electro Luminescence Watch ($18.95, originally $24.95; walmart.com)
Looking straight out of Bill Gates’ closet, this is the kind of watch that is now retro-cool with a silver link band and digital face.