The Best Watches Under $200 Look Like a Million Bucks
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A COMMON misconception is that great watches are expensive. Wrong. If you've seen Men's Health's style pages, you know that a great watch can be had on the cheap. To prove our point, we rounded up the best watches under $200 that you can easily buy online.
To clarify, we mean cheap watches in price and not value. This list is all about getting the best bang-for-your-buck. The sub-$200 watch market is loaded with pitfalls that look nice, but are built from poor quality materials, and run on movements that won’t stand the test of time. So navigating this treacherous territory requires knowing which watch brands are dependably built, keep reliably time, and look stylish. That last part is arguably the most important, because if we’re being honest with ourselves, we use our phones to tell time, but wear watches because they look good.
We've spent two years field testing over 150 watches under $200. We've worn them to work, on cross country flights, on boats, out biking, and virtually everywhere in between to find the best under $200 watches for every occasion. Our fashion team also tested watches across different case and band sizes to find the best tickers for every wrist size. If you're on the hunt for your own sub $200 watch, here are a few things to look out for.
What to Look for:
Movement: Most watches in the sub-$200 range run on a quartz movement, because it is much easier to produce. Smaller and lighter with far fewer moving parts, a quartz watch can be much thinner than an automatic. That isn’t to say a solid automatic watch can’t be found in this price range, they’re just few and far between.
Case Size: Case size is the outside diameter of the watch body, not including the crown or any buttons. Modern men’s watches measure from 34mm to 46mm, with some tool watches running even bigger. You want the size of the case to complement the size of your wrist. Meaning that, when sitting flat on top of your wrist, there should be at least ½ inch of band visible before it hangs over.
Water Resistance: Affordable watches are generally built to be everyday watches. There are many different features out there, all designed to assist you in your daily life. If you spend a lot of time in and around water, then make sure you buy a watch that is water resistant to at least 100m. To make things easier, we translated the meters to a functional rating of what level of watch each watch can handle: none, splashes, swimming, diving
Band Material: Expensive watches come with expensive bands, so when brands are cutting costs to make affordable watches, the band is the easiest place to start. Nylon and rubber watch bands are cheap to make even on high end watches, so they are reliable on bargain watches. For metal bracelets, you want to look for stainless steel watches. Faux leather bands can deteriorate with time. Of course, if you are getting a great deal on a watch that you like, you can probably replace it with a better band if needed.
Expedition North® Sierra 40mm
Ready to take on everything summer has for you? Well this Timex is too. Modeled after the classic field watch design, it features a sturdy case and band that don't mind getting wet, dirty, sandy, and taking a bit of a beating. Plus it looks fashionable enough for the office.
Citizen's Eco-Drive movements are recharged by solar cells hidden behind the face of the watch. That means you get the precision of a quartz watch without ever changing a battery. Sword hands and inset day and date dials give the Corso an appearance well above its price point.
Read more: Best Solar Watches
Japanese watch brands are known for fair pricing, but Orient makes you wonder how it even turns a profit selling watches like the Mako II. A true dive watch with an automatic movement, day-date feature, steel band, and rotating bezel for under $200? Don't ask questions, just add to cart.
G-Shock Solar Atomic
With the solid reputation that G-Shock has built, most models are surprisingly affordable. While G-Shocks are known for its trendy digital aesthetic, Casio also builds the sub-brand for rugged durability. This is an adventure watch through and through, packed with plenty of smart features to assist you along the way.
Read more: Best Digital Watches for Men
Sundby Titanium and Charcoal Steel Mesh Watch
Titanium for under $200? No typo here, Skagen really built a titanium watch case for that price. With a beautiful, sleek face to boot. This is a low-key dress watch that can handle all the bumps and bruises of daily wear.
SUB Ocean Plastic
Not only does Triwa make an interesting variation on the essential diver design, it is made from recycled plastic pulled out of the ocean. It doesn't just look the part either, the SUB can handle any activity on or below the waves.
Virgil Bracelet Watch
A bracelet watch has a square case that is a similar width to the band. Some of the most sought-after luxury watches in the world feature this style (see: the Cartier Tank Watch), but Breda offers it at a much friendlier price. You can keep this one stashed away for formal occasions, but it looks real nice with a t-shirt and jeans too.
Nixon pays homage to Rolex with enough of its own skate culture flavor in the mix to make something original. Plus, much respect for calling a bare bones three-hand watch the Time Teller. Not only does it come in 16 color options, but you can customize your own design as well.
Read more: Best Gold Watches
Q Timex Reissue
Reviving the Q series, along with the Marlin series, put Timex back on the horological style map. The American timekeeping giant was known for being affordable and dependable, now you can add undeniably cool to that list. While the Q series has expanded to over a dozen watches, the original reissue is still the marquee option.
Originally commissioned for Swiss railway workers, the MS1 is a tool watch built for precise accuracy, pristine visibility, and a muted appearance. A uniquely bold second hand is the only distinguishing feature.
Legacy Slim Watch
Growing from start-up to staple, MVMT has made an impression on the affordable watch market. Simple designs, often without any number or complications, equal excellent versatility. Watches like the Legacy Slim can be worn every day with every level of formality.
Fossil is synonymous with bargain-price watches. The Blue series features a dozen color, band, and case combinations in a sleek sport watch. We're partial to the sliver-on-silver with a steel mesh strap because of the retro diver influence.
Why Trust Us?
A product review story that doesn’t actually test anything hands-on or in person isn’t worth your time. Thankfully, we at Men’s Health don’t produce any of that nonsense. In fact, you can rest assured that our product recommendations derive from first-hand experience.
For instance, at Men’s Health, we have a fashion closet dedicated to calling in, trying out, and selecting the best as well as the newest products in menswear. We put them on stylish, fit guys to hear what their opinions are and see how the items look on them before making our final decision. And as style editors, we constantly go into the fashion closet to feel a watch's or material—even put it on ourselves for a spin—to test it. The fashion closet is also where we try out and certify our styling tips.
Lastly, you can trust our opinions on shopping recommendations, whether it’s the products, styling tips, or trends. Not only do we have Fashion Director Ted Stafford and Deputy Editor, Commerce Christian Gollayan, but we also have a panel of style experts—including stylists, fashion influencers, designers and decision-makers at top brands or retailers—that we regularly seek shopping guides from. Therefore, our product recommendations and buying tips are all driven by professional, expert opinions
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