The best cheap watches with serious Holy Grail appeal

Whether you’re looking for the perfect first watch, looking for an analog replacement for your smartwatch, or adding a hype to your existing collection, the watch world has you covered. While it’s easy to succumb to the notion that men’s watches should be expensive, it has a lot to do with the marketing bells and whistles. From G-SHOCK to Swatch and Tissot, some of the best-known timepieces in recent years are available for under £500, including mechanical and quartz.

So, what should you be looking for in a cheap watch? Honestly, the most important thing is to avoid those rogue brands who seem to spend more on Instagram marketing than they do on design. Now that we’ve addressed those issues in our edits below, let’s stop worrying about the pedigree or movement and focus more on the good old-fashioned aesthetic. Bright dive watches, cheeky chronographs, and a smart take on the stainless steel bracelet trend are all met below. So, take a look and find what works for you.


Since its introduction in 1968, the Seiko 5 has become one of the coolest and most affordable sports watches ever made. Over the past 50 years, this workhorse timepiece has had numerous designs but has always had five main characteristics: a robust movement, a durable case design, automatic winding, water resistance, day and date display, and a four o’clock position sunken crown. Relaunched in 2019 with the tagline “Born in the Sixties, Redesigned for Now”, the case is larger at 42.5mm, and new strap options include Natto and Milanese. £250.

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Dubbed the CasiOak, the Audemars Piguet takes a lot of inspiration from the Royal Oak, while steering the iconic octagonal bezel in a suitably rugged direction. Featuring an eye-catching analog-digital display and interchangeable resin straps, this G-SHOCK is a G-SHOCK beloved by watch nerds and streetwear fans alike. Arguably even more so now, as it’s recently updated with solar charging and Bluetooth connectivity to smartphones, and comes in a range of on-trend colors that’s perfect for summer. £129.



Although made in Switzerland today, Hamilton watches still retain the American spirit that made them famous. Originally based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the current Khaki Field collection of watches is inspired by the military watches the brand made in the 1940s. Robust and elegant, this latest offering features a 38mm black-coated stainless steel case with white lacquered hands on a black dial highlighted by sand-coloured Super-LumiNova. Powered by a hand-wound movement, the watch’s military flair is reflected on a practical black Nato-style strap. £465.At &