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7 Best Affordable Watch Brands in 2020: Timepieces Easy on the Wallet

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Nordgreen and contains affiliate links. What's this?

Come with me on a quick adventure back in time.

It was senior year of highschool, and my friend Nathan came to school wearing a Fossil chronograph.

It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. I also thought spending $120 on a watch was a wild idea.

But you know what I did?

I picked up a few extra shifts working in the dish-pit at that one restaurant famous for its annoying song about baby-back ribs. And I bought myself my first watch that was a step in quality above something you’d find in a gumball machine.

I’ve never looked back.

In honor of Nathan, I set up a list of our favorite affordable watch brands that are as stylish as they are attainable.

Whether you’re looking to snag a wardrobe upgrade on the cheap, or you’re hunting for a deal to build your watch collection, we’ve got you covered.

Quick Summary

  • nordgreen pioneer white background


    • Simple, sleek Scandinavian minimalist designs
    • High-quality materials like domed sapphire crystals
    • Our favorite model is the Pioneer
  • orient diver ray dive watch product shot


    • Affordable mechanical watches for the horological purist
    • Robust selection of tool watches
    • Our favorite model is the Diver Ray II
  • Vincero The Vessel Bronze Product Shot 1


    • Stylized tool watches and masculine minimalist designs
    • Solid quartz movements
    • Our favorite model is the Vessel
  • seiko fifty five fathoms dive watch product shot


    • One of the few fully integrated watch manufacturers in the world
    • Enormous variety of watches in every price point
    • Our favorite model is the Fifty-Five Fathoms Automatic Diver
  • Undone basecamp cali product shot


    • Founded by one of the most well-known Rolex repairmen
    • Several Rolex-inspired designs, with dramatically less cost
    • Our favorite model is the Basecamp Cali
  • citizen promaster nighthawk product shot


    • An affordable staple that consistently pushes the boundaries of watch-making
    • Complex and unique tool watch designs
    • Our favorite model is the Promaster Nighthawk
  • vaer c5 field heritage black dial product shot


    • A relatively new brand that specializes in field watches
    • Top-of-class quality materials like domed sapphire crystal, Swiss movement, and Horween leather strap
    • Our favorite model is the C5 field watch
  • jack mason watch gang watch product shot

    Bonus: Watch Gang

    • Not a watch brand, but a watch subscription
    • Three tiers available: under $50, $100, and $300
    • A fantastic way to build a unique watch collection

What Counts as Affordable?

For this article, we’ll say anything under $400 is “affordable.”

It may take some saving and scrimping, but we believe it’s better to spend double the price for quadruple the quality. If it doesn’t make you feel good, you shouldn’t wear it.

We chose the brands on this list because of the quality they offer relative to their price. For instance, our top pick, Nordgreen, features four unique models all crafted by the legendary Danish designer, Jakob Wagner.

The Nordgreen Pioneer and the VAER C5 have materials you’d normally only find in luxury watches, like domed sapphire crystals.

We’d rather spend extra for an excellent $200 watch than save a few bucks on a cheap $75 watch, and this list reflects that. That said, we’re not going crazy and suggesting a $1,000 watch is affordable either.

The 7 Best Affordable Watch Brands in 2020

1. Nordgreen

Nordgreen Native Nordgreen Pioneer lined up

Based in Copenhagen, Nordgreen makes beautiful minimalist watches. They’re a carbon-neutral company and have an extensive outreach and giving-back program that makes a donation with every purchase.

We’ve reviewed their three most popular watches: the Pioneer, the Native, and the Philosopher.

Recommended reading:
Nordgreen Watches Review: Up Close with the Pioneer and Native
Nordgreen Philosopher Review

It was a tough choice between the Native and the Pioneer, but if we had to pick, we’d go with the Pioneer.

At the time of this writing, the Pioneer with a leather strap goes for $279. But if you’re looking to snag a dose of minimalist wrist candy for under $200, the Native is only $189. Of course, we’ve set you up with a 20% discount when you use the code TAM at checkout.

nordgreen pioneer black dial stacked under white dial

At the time of this writing, the Pioneer with a leather strap goes for $279. But if you’re looking to snag a dose of minimalist wrist candy for under $200, the Native is only $189. Of course, we’ve set you up with a 20% discount when you use the code TAM at checkout.

What We Like

  • The designs are beautiful. They’re far more precise and detailed than other minimalist watch brands in a similar price range.
  • There are multiple size options for their Native and Philosopher models. Guys with slender wrists can choose a 36mm diameter rather than the standard 40mm.
  • Domed sapphire crystals make a difference in the overall look and feel of the watch.

What We Don't Like

  • There isn’t much we don’t like. We’ve had minor gripes with specific models, but as a brand overall, Nordgreen does excellent work.

What Other Reviewers Say

Nordgreen has a ton of love online for their watches. They’ve racked up over 500 US reviews on Feefo that average out to an impressive 4.8 stars. And if that’s not enough for you, check out the 375+ Trustpilot reviewers that rate the brand a perfect five out of five.

A few things that seemed to pop up repeatedly was their fast shipping and excellent customer service. While many praised their designs, that detail is a bit more subjective. But one thing is for sure: if you enjoy Nordgreen’s minimalist aesthetics, you won’t be disappointed with their follow-through.

The Verdict

Nordgreen don’t sell dozens of watch models—they specialize in one thing: minimalist design.

If you can get behind the aesthetic, you’ll be pleased with the quality.

As far as eco-friendly company policies, it’s hard to beat Nordgreen—that’s a big plus in our book.

Their simple watches are a fantastic way to elevate your casual wardrobe, and designs like the Native can even fly as a dress-watch. Yep, these minimalist beauties are versatile and made with excellent materials. For that reason, they’ve earned big points in the value department.

Get the Nordgreen Pioneer

(Use code THEADULTMAN for 20% off)

20% OFF
Nordgreen Discount Code

Nordgreen Watches Discount Code

Get 20% off your order from exquisitely minimalist Danish watchmaker, Nordgreen.

2. Orient

This Japanese brand got their start just after WWII and quickly became known for their affordable mechanical watches. If you’re after an automatic without breaking the bank, Orient is the way to go.

Our favorite model is the Diver Ray II. The aesthetic isn’t what we’d consider “one-of-a-kind,” but its a value-packed automatic diver watch that will fit easily into your wardrobe.

We recommend checking out Jomashop for the latest deal because they can offer some fantastic discounts. For example, the Diver Ray II is on sale for $139 as of this writing.

What We Like

  • It’s hard to find automatic watches at Orient’s price-point. If you’re looking for an inexpensive introduction to the technical beauty of mechanical movements, it’s hard to beat this brand.
  • The Diver Ray II is an excellent diving companion, with 200m of water resistance.
  • Orient has a wide variety of other classic tool watches, like pilot watches, field watches, etc.

What We Don't Like

  • Orient doesn’t make the most unique dials or designs. While the watches are high-quality and an excellent value, their looks don’t stand out.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviews on Jomashop for the Diver Ray II average out to 4.7 stars. A few reviewers mentioned that the bracelet wasn’t the most durable.

If you spend a lot of time researching watches (like we do), you’ll find that Orient is almost given a unanimous thumbs-up from professional reviewers and enthusiasts because of their affordability and relative quality.

The Verdict

If you want an automatic watch, but you’re on a tight budget, Orient is the best choice.

While other brands like UNDONE make excellent mechanical watches with unique dials and interesting case-designs, there’s no other brand that offers automatics as affordable as Orient.

Yes, they’re not distinctive, but they’re reliable and—considering the caliber—value-packed.

Get the Orient Diver Ray

orient diver ray dive watch product shot

3. Vincero

vincero vessel product shot against white background

Inscribed on the back of every Vincero watch is the phrase: “Live your legacy.”

We’ve had a lot of experience with these timepieces, and we’re big fans of what they’ve been doing with their new tool watches—especially with the Altitude and Vessel.

Of all their models, the Vessel stands out at the top. Rated at 200m water resistance and outfitted with a sapphire crystal, the Vessel marks a big leap in Vincero’s overall build quality.

The Vessel is $215, but we’re hooking you up with a 15% discount, applied automatically when you use our links.

What We Like

  • Vincero has a unique style. Their designs are masculine and edgy.
  • The brand is consistently improving their quality—the best (in our opinion) being the Vessel, with 200m water resistance and a sapphire crystal.
  • They have a fairly regular release schedule, with a new model coming out every four-to-six months.

What We Don't Like

  • Vincero’s leather bands are pretty stiff. We prefer their silicone, metal-link, and mesh bands over their leather.

What Other Reviewers Say

21,000 reviewers have rated Vincero 5-stars, so it’s safe to say they’ve got a fan-base.

But that’s just on their site.

A quick glimpse at Trustpilot shows that most folks are happy with their customer service, free shipping, and the ease of getting these for non-US fans.

If you’d like more details on the brand, look through our lineup of in-depth Vincero reviews.

The Verdict

Vincero isn’t for everyone. Either you like the look or you don’t.

As far as quality goes, they deliver solid Japanese quartz movements, sturdy cases and crowns, and, in some models, scratch-resistant sapphire crystals.

Their customer support is on-point and you can score some good deals (you never have to wait for a seasonal sale if you use our discount code below).

So, what do you think of the Vincero vibe?

Get the Vincero Vessel

(Use code TAM15 for 15% off)

15% Off
Vincero Watches Discount Code

Vincero Watches Discount Code

Get 15% off your order from luxury watchmaker, Vincero Collective.

4. Seiko

Seiko checks a lot of the same boxes as Orient. They make affordable Japanese movements (automatic and quartz) with classic aesthetics.

Their designs won’t melt any faces, but you’ll be hard pressed to find this level of quality at their prices.

Our favorite style is the Seiko Fifty Five Fathoms dive watch. It’s a sturdy automatic under $200 and looks good on the wrist.

Again, Jomashop is offering an excellent sale, and at the time of writing, this Seiko diver was a cool $175.

What We Like

  • Seiko has a massive variety of watches in just about every price point.
  • They feature in-house movements and durable bracelets.
  • Plenty of affordable automatic watches available.

What We Don't Like

  • Seiko’s lineup is massive and confusing. They don’t even list all of their watches on their website.

What Other Reviewers Say

Whether you look at reviews on a model-by-model basis or scope out professional reviews on the brand, you’ll find lots of positive comments.

Our favorite model, the Fifty-Five Fathoms diver, earned a perfect five-star average on Jomashop.

The Verdict

Seiko is likely to pop up on many “best of” list (heck, they made it on our list of best field watches). And there’s a simple reason behind that.

They make good quality watches for reasonable prices. And they have tons of models at every price point.

If you’re looking for something under $100, there’s a Seiko for that. If you’re looking for a boutique $10,000 watch, there’s a Seiko for that.

Get the Seiko Fifty-Five Fathoms Diver

seiko fifty five fathoms dive watch product shot


elongated look at undone cali

What happens when one of the world’s most renown Rolex repairmen starts a watch brand?

UNDONE, that’s what.

While the brand has a small range of models to choose from, you can customize your watch to suit your style. They also regularly create collectible designs that are completely unlike anything other watch brands are making.

The brand’s Basecamp is going for $315. Not too shabby for an automatic.

What We Like

  • All UNDONE watches feature automatic movements.
  • The designs are quirky but meticulous.
  • Hundreds of thousands of customization options for each model.

What We Don't Like

  • The brand only produces a few case-styles at the moment.

What Other Reviewers Say

There aren’t too many crowdsourced reviews for UNDONE, but from scouring the web, we gathered two things: one, because the watches are customizable, they can take a few weeks to arrive. And second, if you have a problem with your timepiece, they’ll take care of it right away.

We’ve had the same experience with the brand, too.

The Verdict

Watch enthusiasts can be a hard bunch to please. New brands have to prove their worth quickly if they want to be taken seriously.

UNDONE nailed it.

Their original style is as fun as it’s functional. Hard core horology lovers and limited edition fanatics can both get behind UNDONE’s mission.

Get the UNDONE Basecamp Cali

Undone basecamp cali product shot

(Use code TAM for 10% off)

10% OFF
UNDONE Watches Discount Code

UNDONE Watches Discount Code

Get 10% off your order from high-quality customizable mechanical watch experts, UNDONE.

6. Citizen

Another Japanese brand with an outrageously large catalogue, Citizen separates itself with its boundary-pushing movements.

They created the first atomic timekeeping watch that’s accurate to one second every 100,000 years, and it connects to atomic clocks via radio signals and automatically adjusts to your current timezone. That’s the coolest thing we’ve ever heard of. Oh, and it runs on their proprietary solar-powered eco-drive movement, which was also the first of its kind.

Our favorite affordable model is the Promaster Nighthawk. Right now you can get it for $180 on Jomashop.

What We Like

  • Citizen pushes the limits of watch-technology and still stays value-driven.
  • The Promaster Nighthawk is a solid tool watch built for durability and function.
  • Citizen has a wide variety of styles, and most are very affordable.

What We Don't Like

  • Like with Seiko and Orient, Citizen’s catalogue is a bit overwhelming.

What Other Reviewers Say

On Amazon, the Promaster Nighthawk has racked up nearly 750 reviews with a 4.7-star average.

Retired aviators seem to love the technical aspects, like a rotating slide-rule, and watch-enthusiasts rave about the quality and value.

The Verdict

Citizen is your go-to brand if you love complicated dials and technical marvels. Most of their models are well within range, and you can even find a few steals for under $100.

This brand has similar vibes to Seiko and Orient—massive catalogues filled with no-nonsense, value-driven timepieces: Japanese watchmaking in a nutshell.

If you want a rugged and supremely functional token of horological history, check out the Promaster Nighthawk. You won’t be disappointed.

Get the Citizen Promaster Nighthawk

citizen promaster nighthawk product shot


vaer c5 field watch underwater in river

VAER is a relatively new brand out of Venice Beach, California. It’s a two-man show, and they’ve put their heart and soul into making a series of affordable field watches.

The VAER C5 has a domed sapphire crystal, Swiss quartz movement, Horween leather strap, all assembled in the USA. And it’s just under $200.

If you like the look of the C5, but want to save a few extra bucks, the S5 cuts costs with a flat sapphire crystal and a Japanese quartz movement. Both models are very fairly priced, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the price jumped.

What We Like

  • The C5 has strong value, and the look is excellent.
  • 100% USA assembled, and the Horween straps are handmade in Arizona.
  • 100m water resistance and sturdy build

What We Don't Like

  • As a new brand, they have a limited selection.

What Other Reviewers Say

After scrolling through their Kickstarter page, fans were grateful for their customer service. There weren’t a lot of crowdsourced reviews on the web, but professional watch reviewers had high-praises.

If you’d like to learn more about VAER, you can read our in-depth review of their C5 and S5 field watches.

The Verdict

We love seeing new brands pop up that are driven to make excellent watches at an affordable price. VAER hits that target.

If you like tool watches but want a cleaner look than many field watches offered by the Japanese legacy brands (Seiko, Orient, Citizen), VAER is our top pick for you.

Get the VAER C5

vaer c5 field heritage black dial product shot

Bonus: Watch Gang

Watch Gang Earnshaw 2

Watch Gang is a subscription service, not a watch brand. We’ve included it here as a bonus because they offer an excellent way to build up your watch collection on a budget.

Watch Gang has three tiers of service: Original ($29), Black ($99), and Platinum ($299). Each month you get a new timepiece in the mail.

What We Like

  • All watches have excellent resale value, so if you don’t like what you get, you can often turn a profit.
  • An affordable way to build a collection.
  • Members have a chance at winning a grail every week.

What We Don't Like

  • You can’t choose your watch, so you may not like what you get.

What Other Reviewers Say

Watch Gang has an excellent rating on Trustpilot. Reviewers are mostly pleased with the brand’s quick shipping, great customer service, and easily managed subscription.

The biggest issues come from the inability to choose your watch. Getting a mystery timepiece can be fun, but not if you get two duds in a row.

The Verdict

Watch Gang always packs watches that retail much higher than what you’ll pay, but everyone has a different sense of style.

We’ve checked out their Platinum and Black tier subscriptions and found it an excellent way to build up a watch-collection on the cheap.

But if you don’t handle uncertainty well, or you’re picky in the style department, you may want to pass.

Get Watch Gang

jack mason watch gang watch product shot

(Use code BIGFIVE for 50% off your first month of Black Tier

Or use code ADL10 to get 10% off your first month of Platinum or Original Tier)

10% Off
Watch Gang Discount Code

Watch Gang Discount Code

Get 10% off your first month with the world's largest watch club, Watch Gang.

Savings in Style

There’s no need to drop a whole paycheck on a stellar timepiece. Just a quick look at the brands on our list above, and you’ll see that quality and good looks don’t always come with a hefty price tag.

If you’re looking for one watch that will work in most style-scenarios, we recommend checking out Nordgreen. Their minimalist aesthetic works equally well in casual and office attire.

Maybe you’re on the lookout for something a little more utilitarian. If that’s the case, delve into the extensive catalogues offered by Citizen, Seiko, and Orient.

Want a little more attitude? Vincero’s bold look isn’t for everyone, but the quality is there, so if it speaks to you: listen up.

UNDONE and VAER both serve up exceptional quality timepieces, though they both only have a limited amount of models—we hope you find one you like.

And if you don’t like decisions and prefer a little mystery in your life, give Watch Gang a shot. After one year, you’ll build an entire collection of timepieces on autopilot.

So go ahead and explore these watch brands—they’ll all deliver top-quality wrist candy and leave some cash leftover for your savings account.

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