My Favorite Reliable, Handsome and Affordable Watches

In addition to the choice and condition of a man’s shoes, a man’s choice in watch offers particular clues about his character. When a man is looking for a new watch from somewhere like WatchShopping, he’s usually looking for something sharp and classy. But, like with shoes, watches can creep into snob territory, where bigger, gaudier and more expensive is supposed to be better or more impressive. That old chestnut of how the flex of spending muscle trumps taste. With this being said, women love a good watch as much as men. Don’t worry ladies, with a a link to the Jacobs The Jeweller website, we’ve got you covered. In all honesty, a watch should be an essential for everyone. Just like a necklace or the addition of rings, having a watch, no matter how affordable or pricey it is, can make all the difference to any look you are aiming to pull off. If you want to make a statement, you could browse Breguet watches online to complete your outfit with a splash of luxury.

A watch has one function: to tell time reliably. That’s it. And let’s be real: Do we really need to know the time in Hong Kong, London and Moscow when we’re under 300 feet of water? No. The oversized, overblown, over-featured timepieces with busy faces with little mini-dials that no one reads look like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Overproduced and overpriced.

All I need is a well-made watch to tell time accurately, handsomely and affordably. As for the aesthetics, I’m a silver-tone man. Maybe it’s the connotation of strength inherent in the color of steel – a real working man’s metal – that appeals to me, but I’ve always preferred simple watches in utilitarian steel or titanium.

For about fifteen years, I had a beautiful Rolex Oyster in monochrome with a steel case, a silver face a brushed steel bracelet. It was the perfect marriage of masculine elegance, exquisite craftsmanship and understated simplicity. Unfortunately, I sold it years ago when I needed money to pay my rent and feed my dog. As much as I loved it, I’m really fine without it.

Better times now, but I have no desire to dive back into the luxury watch market for the sake of impressing anyone. As Auntie Mame said to Ito when she presented him with an inexpensive wristwatch for Christmas, “It isn’t seventeen jewels, Ito, but I’m not sure time is worth all that decoration these days.”

In the interest of serving the other 98% with taste, I’ve come across some terrific options that tell time reliably, handsomely and affordably. Here are a few of my favorites…

From left to right: Mougin-Piquard™ “Oceanique” for J.Crew, Skagen Men’s Klassik, Timex® for J.Crew Military Watch, Timex® for J.Crew Vintage Field Army Watch.

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Pronounced “Mooj-awe Peekarr,” this defunct watchmaker was resuscitated by J.Crew with the help of Tourneau®. This handsome Swiss-made watch features a stainless steel watch case and bracelet, glow-in-the-dark rhodium hands, water resistance to 100 meters and, of course, Swiss quartz movement. $625.

Skagen Klassik Men’s 3-Hand Date Stainless Steel
This beauty from Skagen in Denmark is the quintessence of clean, elegant and baffling simplicity. Water resistant with a stainless steel case and bracelet, this Klassik model has a white face, handsome black numeric typography, black hour and minute hands and a touch of color with an orange second hand. $145.

Timex® for J.Crew Military Watches
As another part of J.Crew’s “In Good Company” brand partnerships, Timex created these handsome, rugged and reliable military pieces exclusively for J.Crew. Though they come in two varieties, they are essentially the same watch with different faces and slightly different hands. The Vintage Field Army watch has a white face, and the Military Watch has a black one. Both have a stainless steel case, quartz analog movement, 24-hour markings and water resistance to 50 meters. Each also has a nylon strap that can be interchanged with any other nylon or thin leather strap you can find. $98.

And an honorable mention…

Vintage Timex® Marlin
I’ve been a fan of Timex since I was a kid. When my dad was an ad man, he worked on some of the old Timex ad campaigns that featured anchorman and TV personality John Cameron Swayze, who made famous the Timex tagline: “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

The Marlin is perhaps one of the most sought-after vintage models of Timex. It had some design changes over the years of its production, but remained a classic in virtually all its guises. I found a 1971 Timex Marlin in mint condition on eBay last year for $65, and I love it. It has, indeed, taken a licking and kept on ticking with perfect time.


  1. Derrik Ollar Reply

    I like your options, and my sons love the military Timex watches. I’ve got a personal problem with watch batteries though, in that if one goes dead on me, I may put that watch aside for 3, 4 or even 5 years before I get that battery replaced (usually, it’s replaced when I’m giving the watch away to one of my sons). About 7 years ago, I purchased a simple Citizen’s Eco-Drive watch, and what a pleasure to always have the perfect time and never needing to replace a silly little battery!

  2. Great options, George. I’d only add Hamilton Khaki Field (w/ silver dial) to the list. I’ve had mine for three years and it’s one of the best investments I have ever made.

  3. After reading this blog, I did a little hunting last week on EBay and found a NIB 1978 Timex self-winding, stainless steel watch with date. Picked it up for $61+shipping and I love it. Its simple, elegant and a nice change from my more bulky everyday Seiko Ecodrive I’ve had for more than a decade. Thank you for all the advice and insight you offer on this blog.


    • George Reply

      Thanks for the great feedback. And congrats on your vintage Timex!

  4. Watches used to be my thing, I bought several in the sub $100 category including 2 or 3 Skagens. Nothing kept me interested for too long and I tended to wear them out. I’m not graceful and would typically bang them into tables or whatever. I really wanted something cool. Multiple dials and something that implied expensive, at least in my price range. Over three years ago I bought a Citizen CB0020-50E A-T Watch for $300 and it looks nearly as good today as it did new. I didn’t get more graceful, this thing just puts up with the beating. Even the external painted surface look new. I got while on a cruise and the salesman talked me out of the multi-dial ones I was considering. The atomic feature means it picks up a radio signal and sets itself. I never have to adjust anything. The classic look is just sporty enough to go anywhere I need to go. One of the best purchases I ever made. I don’t have any desire for another watch. It started me on the path of buying simple quality instead of multiple cheap items. Great lesson for me. By the way, Costco has a version of this watch all in black for a bit less. A little more sport than dress but a great value.

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