2021’s Top 11 Affordable Watches that You Don’t Want To Miss Out !

It is no surprise that every season, new timepieces hit the shelves. Brands launch their eye-catching annual magnum opus which makes headlines and seemingly pushes the envelope for watch technology and style. However, most timepieces, especially those launched by large labels, often burn a big hole in our wallets. Furthermore, the rapid pace at which new pieces are pushed out often makes us wonder if there is truly an innovative improvement in the durability and design of the watches themselves. It then begs the question - can consumers ever find timepieces that fulfil the holy trinity of design, quality and price? 

Finding pieces that are affordable, durable and stylish may be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. However, you’d be pleased to find out that there are brands that strive to provide nothing but the best - and that includes having affordable watches that do not fall short of honing fine craftsmanship and superior technology. In this list, we bring to you a curated selection of 2021’s Top 11 most affordable watches that meet our yardsticks of a fine timepiece. 

Before we delve into the list, here is a brief overview of the yardsticks that define a well-rounded, everlasting timepiece. 

  1. Affordability - Luxury timepieces are often notorious for their exorbitant prices. While prices at times can be a true reflection of the calibre of the watch, oftentimes, steep prices are a result of excessive middlemen and publicity costs. Hence, affordability in this article would refer to pieces that do not compromise on quality while still being sold at reasonable prices. 
  2. Quality - ‘Good Quality’ is promised by many brands but delivered only by a few. What does it actually mean to boast good quality? Well, for timepieces, quality can often be judged by the material of the watch, the type of watch glass used, movement, water-resistance and finish of the watch. For example, the material of the watch should at least be of (316L) stainless steel (titanium or ceramic) with PVD coating and of minimum 5-10 ATM water resistance. For each watch on the list, we will delve into how the specifications of the watch make it of high quality.
  3. Design and Style - In the era of fast fashion, watches with a design that is versatile and stands the test of time are a must-have. Brands that prioritise fine craftsmanship over fitting into fleeting trends are the ones that ultimately are deemed as classics. Furthermore, a watch with style is a watch that allows consumers to express their individuality. The watches on this list have designs that balance the act of being unique and everlasting. 

With that, let’s take a deep dive into the pieces that tick these 3 boxes and make their mark as this year’s most affordable watches.

  1. The Sekoni Original Tidal Moonphase Collection

First, we have Sekoni Orignal’s very own Tidal Moonphase Collection. The brand was found on the ideal of ensuring watches met the sweet spot between quality, price and design. Like the other watches featured on the list, Sekoni Original proves that luxury need not always equate to steep prices or flamboyant designs. This is especially seen through the brand’s Tidal Moonphase Collection - a romantic yet classy take on modern dress watches for men and women. 

Silver Tidal Moonphase     Gold Tidal Moonphase

In terms of quality, the watches definitely do not compromise. The dial glass of the timepiece is crafted from sapphire crystal, which is highly scratch resistant and features AR coating. The watch is also water resistant to 50 meters. Each timepiece is fitted with a beautiful Italian full grain leather strap secured with buckle clasp. Speaking of the design of the watch, one certainly cannot miss the eye-catching moonphase design on the dial which indicates which phase of it’s cycle the moon is in - a stylistic and romantic depiction of the passage of time. The collection is also as versatile as it gets with more than 10 straps to choose from including smooth leather, crocodile leather or metal mesh. While the moonphase detail enables the collection to have a voice of it’s own, the classy look of the watch makes it suitable to be paired with any outfit. Keeping to its promise, the moonphase watches are also affordable as watches in the collection retail at only USD $299. To learn more about the conception of the timepiece and the story of the Moonphase Collection, you could check out the video below. 

  1. The Tissot Flamingo

Tissot is a Swiss luxury watch brand touted for having world-class designs which are easy on the wallet. Tissot’s Flamingo collection for ladies is a classic example of what the brand promises - being inexpensive yet formidable.
Tissot Flamingo
Tissot Flamingo Image Credit: The Watch Pages
The Flamingo collection boasts impressive quality. The watch has a 316L stainless steel case and is water-resistant up to a pressure of 5 bar (50 m/165 ft). Furthermore, the case of the watch is made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. This makes for a timepiece that is sure to last in the long run. In terms of design, the streamlined silhouette of the watch makes it look simple yet sophisticated and versatile enough to be paired with any look as seen in the images below. 
Tissot Flamingo Model Photos
Tissot Flamingo Modelled Image Credit: Tissot
Tissot Flamingo Modelled Photo
Tissot Flamingo Modelled Image Credit: Namshi
However, what makes the collection unique and have a voice of its own is the mother of pearl design on the dial. The mother of pearl is formed in the depths of the sea and harbours unique features such as iridescence and opalescence. No two specimens are alike, giving the watch a unique character. The collection has over 10 colours and strap choices to choose from, leaving consumers spoilt for choice. For a watch of this calibre and style, you’d be surprised to find out that the pieces only range from USD $325-450 (SGD $437-$605) Compared to other luxury brands where prices start at the thousands, Tissot’s collection feels like a steal. Yet, rest assured, the collection is true of superior quality and craftsmanship comparable to other big brands. The Flamingo collection is certainly one you cannot miss.
  1. The Timex Easy Reader

Timex is a luxury watch brand based in Switzerland and the Timex Easy Reader is one of the brand’s most enduring collections. The original collection was released in 1977 and the brand has been upgrading and revamping the pieces ever since. Their latest collection boasts impressive designs for men and women. 

Timex Easy Reader Collection (Men)
TimeX Easy Reader Watch Collection (Men) Modelled Image Credit: TimeX
TimeX Easy Reader Watch Collection
TimeX Easy Reader Watch Collection (Ladies) Modelled Image Credit: TimeX
The watch itself is made for durability. It is Water Resistant to 30 Meters and the case is made of mineral glass which is significantly more scratch-resistant than plastic or acrylic crystals. The watch also employs Quartz Movement which is very accurate and requires minimal maintenance aside from battery replacements. In terms of design, the Timex Easy Reader is well-known for being the classic nondescript dress watch. With its simplistic style, pairing the Timex is a piece of cake as it fits any style or season. Consumers can choose from an array of colours and either velcro, leather or stainless steel straps. An interesting feature about the Easy Reader is that it has an electroluminescent Indiglo dial which glows in the dark! So even if you’re an adventurous night owl, the Easy Reader has got your back. 
TimeX Easy Reader Luminous Review Image Credit: The Truth About Watches
The fact that the collection still endures up till today is a testament to its longevity in terms of technicality and style. The simplicity of the watches is also reflected in their prices as most pieces in the collection range from USD$ 65-120 (SGD$85-$161) The Timex is truly an understated quality timepiece.
  1. The Seiko Presage Style 60s

Looking for a piece that has the best of modernity and heritage? Then perhaps the Seiko Presage Style 60’s the perfect fit for you! The new series design takes inspiration from the Crown Chronograph introduced in 1964 and is a homage to the Seiko heritage.

Seiko Watches - Presage 60s Style     Seiko Watches - Presage 60s Style
Seiko's Presage 60s Style Image Credit: Seiko Watches

In an era of fast fashion, models like the Style ‘60s stand out for it’s unique attention to retro details such as the steel straps and box-shaped glass faceted indexes. The finish of the watches is also incredibly neat - the gently rounded case is slightly slanted inward to ensure comfort on the wrist and the lugs are carefully polished to a mirror finish giving the watches a sharpness to their overall gentle appearance. The watches also have  a cut-out on the dial – a so-called “open-heart” dial – partially revealing the regulating organs. According to an article by Time transformed, the open heart dial is symbolic of “comparing the balance with the heart of a human body, constantly spinning back and forth from two and a half to five times per second, bringing the watch to life.” 

Special to this collection, Seiko also has Nylon straps to complement the watch and capture the vintage feel. The technical decisions made in the composition and design of the watch accentuate its identity as a piece born from another era which still seamlessly fits in an urban setting.

Seiko Watches - Presage 60s Style Promotion Video

In the promotion video for the Presage Style 60s, great emphasis is placed on the versatility of the timepiece - despite having a retro touch, it can easily be styled with modern outfits - casual or formal. The blast from the past is also reasonably priced at around $642 USD (4864 SGD). The style 60s is certainly a sophisticated piece alluring us in with the nostalgia of the past. If you find yourself thinking you’re born in the wrong generation, then the Presage Style 60s would certainly be a timepiece that reflects your love for all things vintage and warm. 

  1. Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph

This timepiece is sure to make your jaw drop, especially if you’re one for watches with a unique history behind them. The Bulova Lunar Chronograph is a remake of the historic 1970s Bulova time-tracker which was one of the two watches to make its way to the moon.

It was in 1971 when an American astronaut David Scott had his personal Bulova Chronograph on his wrist during one of the excursions of Apollo 15. After 45 years, the brand has launched a remake of the timepiece in a limited edition collection. 

Bulova Moon Watch Video

Looking beyond the magnificent story behind the watch, the timepiece itself boasts impressive specs. The dial is made of Sapphire Glass With AR Coating which protects against scratches and reflections better than any other crystal. The watch also features a UHF quartz with unparalleled precision and has a 50M water resistance. For the watch strap, one can choose between a black polyester NATO strap with three-piece buckle closure, a black leather strap or a stainless steel strap.

Bulova Moon Watch
Bulova Moon Watch Image Credit: Bulova
Bulova Moon Watch
Bulova Moon Watch Image Credit: WatchItAllAbout

Like the Seiko Style 60s, the Lunar Pilot also has a vintage feel to it especially since the original was launched in the ‘70s. The design of the timepiece is certainly bold just like the story it symbolises - with the prominent black tones and silver contrasts, it’s sure to make an impression. Yet, the classic choice of black tones and leather or steel straps still make for an elegant dress watch that can be styled with any outfit. The cost of having this snippet of history is a mere USD $371-$446 (SGD$500-$600), depending on the retailer you purchase the piece from. If you’re looking to turn heads without having to burn a hole in your wallet, the Lunar Pilot is your go-to this year. 

  1. The Nordgreen Pioneer Chronograph

The Nordgreen Pioneer is an award-winning watch designed by Jakob Wagner. The design was made to be one that was timeless and minimalistic, characteristic of the quintessential dress watch. What makes this collection stand out is the attention given to sustainability. The leather strap is vegan and the packaging used is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, making it ethical.

Pioneer - White Dial/ Brown Leather
Pioneer - White Dial, Brown Leather Image Credit: Nordgreen

Delving into the specs of this piece, it has a reasonable 5ATM water resistance rating and uses a Japanese quartz movement. The dial is made of Sapphire crystal and is fully brushed instead of polished, making it hold up to scratches better. In terms of versatility, the Nordgreen Pioneer collection is as versatile as it gets. The case is available in rose gold, steel or gunmetal with over 15 strap choices to choose from. Each set also comes with an interchangeable strap. 

At first glance itself, one can tell that the watches have a sleek, modern feel to it. From the use of Earth tones to the design of the dial which is minimalist, the overall piece exudes sophistication. For those who want an understated piece which can be versatile and stylish, the Nordgreen Pioneer is a great option. Furthermore, the price is very affordable at USD $319-$446 (SGD $430-600), especially taking into account the extra costs of sourcing sustainable materials and the fact that the set comes with an extra strap. This collection is indeed a great option for those who’d like to shop sustainably without compromising on quality, price and style.

  1. The Citizen Eco-Drive

Speaking about watches that are eco-friendly, one cannot miss out on the Citizen Eco-Drive Collection. You’d be surprised to find out that instead of batteries, the Eco-Drive watches are powered by any form of light ! When fully charged, the Eco-Drive can continue running - even in total darkness - for at least 6 months. For more information about the science behind the Eco-Drive technology, you can refer to the video below. 

Eco-Drive How It Works Video

The specs of the Eco-Drive are also impressive - the watch is water-resistant to 330 feet  (100 M) and the dial is made of Sapphire crystal. The collection has watches for men and women and customers can choose between leather  and stainless steel straps. The designs in this collection are rather sophisticated as well and look akin to a regular, versatile dress watch. 

Citizen's Corso
Citizen's Corso Image Credit: Citizen
Citizen's Arezzo
Citizen's Arezzo Image Credit: Citizen

While the specs the Eco-Drive boasts seems rather novel and high-end, the starting prices for the pieces are surprisingly affordable. The collection includes pieces which cost about USD $297 (SGD $400) and the price range can go up to a few thousand dollars depending on the model.

  1. The Orient Classic Collection - The Sun and Moon watch 

The Sun and Moon designs (Version 4) in the Orient Classic Collection is a bonafide show-stopper. For someone who would like their dials to have something more than the usual, the Orient presents an alluring feature of the sun and moon design as well as a day and date calendar in the dial.

Orient Mechanical Watch
ORIENT: Mechanical Classic Watch, Leather Strap Image Credit: Orient Watch
Sun and Moon with Gold Case
Orient Sun and Moon Guide Image Credit: Wristocracy

Made of stainless steel and sapphire crystal, the model has an automatic movement and a leather band. One feature you’d notice is the use of Arabic Numerals. The upgrade was done so as to give the model its rich, satin finish which complements the hands beautifully. 

Furthermore, the case has also been modified to have a satin finish, which gives us a much more expensive look than its predecessors from the previous collection. The collection has various crocodile leather strap and dial colours to choose from, but the model itself has a classic, almost vintage feel to it. The design delivers a luxurious look at an affordable price of USD$185-$371 (SGD$250-$500) depending on the model and retailer. With it’s classy exterior, the timepiece makes for a great accessory to tie any outfit.

  1. Bering Ultra Slim Classic Collection

The latest Ultra Slim Classic Collection from Bering boasts impressive models which give off a modern, suave look. The design was crafted to look chic and urban and was inspired by the landscape of the Arctic. According to the Bering website, it states how “the cool look of the stainless steel complements the sharp design of the watch, resulting in a smart look.” Furthermore, the use of polished stainless steel and a slim silhouette accentuates the sublime finesse of the model. The colours in the collection are also incredibly eye-catching yet sophisticated. Veering away from the classic Earth tones like black or brown, the collection has lovely shades of blue, grey and even pink and green.
Bering Classic Polished Silver - Men

Bering Classic Polished Silver (Men - 14240-303) Image Credit: BeringTime

Bering Classic Polished Silver - 14531-307

Bering Classic Polished Silver (Ladies - 14531-307) Image Credit: BeringTime

The specs of the watch are also top-notch. The dial is made of flat sapphire crystal and the case is made of silver IP-plated medical grade (316L) stainless steel.The watch also has a quartz movement. Despite being a relatively new brand, the Danish brand has garnered high praise for their designs and product quality. Their models are also reasonably priced at around USD $111-185 (SGD$150-$250) depending on the model. A great choice for anyone who desires something more modern and hip, the Bering Slim Classic Collection is not one to miss. 

  1. The Fossil Neutra Chronograph

If you’re looking for a classic leather dress watch, then look no further than the Fossil Neutra Chronograph Collection. The collection has 17 suave pieces with 4 genuine leather and steel strap options to choose from.
Neutra Chonograph Black Leather Watch
Neutra Chronograph Black Leather Watch Image Credit: Fossil
Neutra Chronograph Black Leather Modelled
Neutra Chronograph Black Leather Modelled Image Credit: Lazada

The watch itself has a stop-watch feature, is 5 ATM water-resistant, of Quartz Movement, has a dial made of mineral crystal and has a stainless steel case. However, the design of the watch itself is what makes it stand out.The slightly larger dial makes for a bold model that makes a statement and has a weighted feel. However, this is perfectly balanced with the use of Earth tones and the classic watch silhouette, making it the ideal dress watch fit for any setting.The 3 smaller dials on the face are set very well into the larger face adding detail but not cluttering the simplistic look. The models in the collection are reasonably priced at USD$96 - $118 (SGD$130-$160).  

  1. Michel Herbelin Art Deco Men’s Quartz Collection

To end the list, we have a classic, sublime dress watch - The Michel Herbelin Art Deco Men’s Watch Collection. Like the Timex Easy Reader, the Art Deco Collection has been enduring since the conception of the brand itself. With new upgrades and improvements to fit modern times, the current collection boasts competitive specs while still maintaining the sophisticated and retro essence of the collection.

Michel Herbelin Art DecoMichel Herbelin Art Deco
Michel Herbelin Art Deco Image Credit: Michel-Herbelin

Made in France, the watches are of 316L Stainless steel and are water resistant up to 5ATM. The dial is also made of Sapphire Crystal, making it resistant to scratches. The collection has a wide array of leather and stainless steel straps customers can choose from. The design of the watch is simple, yet one look at the design would be enough to make an impression. The sleek design, accentuated by the rectangular dial, makes for a streamlined silhouette which makes the timepiece feel vintage but indiscreet. The simplicity of the Art Deco allows it to be great as a dress watch, fit for any occasion and style. Pieces in this collection range from USD$416 (SGD$560) up to a few thousands depending on the model.

Michael Herbelin Art Deco Modelled
Michel Herbelin Art Deco Modelled Image Credit: Michel Herbelin

The pieces shared in the list are testament to the fact that good price, quality and design is a triple threat that may not be as elusive as you think ! More brands are curating timepieces which not only have superior craftsmanship and style but are also created with effective cost cutting measures to keep prices affordable and accessible to a wider market.

It is safe to say then, that the notion of steep prices being a guarantee stamp of quality is a growing misconception which is especially being dispelled by brands such as the ones shared in the list. In the age of possibilities and innovation, creative ways to find a sweet spot between affordability, style and quality may just mean that breaking your bank for luxury pieces might no longer be the norm. In fact, brands which manage to check these 3 boxes truly stand out for the remarkable feat they’ve achieved.

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