Who watches the watchman?
August 9, 2011 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for an analog wristwatch for my husband's birthday. I know nothing about watches; this is more of a meaningful/nostalgic gift for both of us. Price: let's say up to the $250 range. Anyone have model suggestions or tips for finding one?

He has always wanted to have some nice, solid watches -- more as a sort of male accessory than actually telling time, since he doesn't wear one regularly. Several years ago, I got him a Skagen, which he liked a lot (and inspires this post), but it is currently not working. I'd like something that looks more classic and is a bit of a step up.

He's very low-maintenance but appreciates better things; he wears khakis and a non-preppy polo to his tech job. He would probably prefer a smooth band (leather or mesh -- woven is too casual) to metal, unless someone can convince me that a particular steel band will not catch on arm hair. Features aren't particularly important aside from making sure it's automatic and not too flashy.

So what are some brands/models/online vendors that would be good? Are there some vintage models that are worth looking for, or some good deals to be had on sale/used/refurbished watches?

posted by sheena is a sock puppet to Shopping (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Seiko makes nice, affordable mechanical watches.
posted by exogenous at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

After losing my Skagen (temporarily as it turned out) I got myself a watch from Storm's 'Storm Black' range, they are generally classical analog, at least one with leather (and another with ceramic links - no idea how comfortable those are). I got the Sigma and I like it and use it for formal and business situations. (The standard Storm seems to be very chunky/techhy/novel at the moment, and not what you are looking for.)
posted by biffa at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2011

I'm not a watch nerd but Dezeen Watch Store has some great stuff from a design POV.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:16 PM on August 9, 2011

Poor Man's Watch Forum keeps some lists of recommendations.
posted by box at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd go with one of the Dieter Rams designed Braun watches. They are understated, classy and reasonably priced.
posted by blaisedell at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2011

Seiko 5s are quite nice. It's a long shot for the price, but you may want to hunt around for Seikos that use the 6R15 calibre (the SARB series); those are more or less well-finished 5s with a hackable (stoppable) second hand. Dressier Orients are also really nice and fit the $250 cap, though they run a little bigger; ignore retail since you can easily find coupons for 40%-50% off plus a free gift (watch, shirt, whatever).

The PMWF mentioned above is a great source.

As for catching arm-hairs: well-made metal bands with solid links rather than folded ones usually won't catch 'em, probably due to the better manufacture (ex.: edges are beveled, butterfly clasps don't catch hair vs. simple folded ones).

(Tangent: if you ever went quartz, I think the Citizen Eco-Drive Stiletto line for men has nice classical styling with the plus of Eco-Drive technology -- solar; supposedly ~10 yr. lifespan before capacitor change. My dad owns a black-dialed dress model and it looks great.)
posted by zer0render at 12:36 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

About half your stated price range, but still very nice looking (to me): Fossil.
posted by xedrik at 12:37 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

i have (as mentioned) a seiko and i love it. can't go wrong. also for the $200 price range you should look at overstock.com under the brand names stuhrling and akribos (same company). very good value watches with lots of appeal. they offer automatics etc and have a range from classy and classic to extreme and just plain weird.

stuhrling link

akribos link
posted by chasles at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2011

I got Mr. BuffaloChickenWing's watch from Fossil a few years back. So I guess I am 2nding Fossil. I am unable to find the model I purchased for him. I was shocked at first at the size of the face, but he was pleased. I guess large watch faces are what all the kids are wearing now.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2011

A field watch is a good "middle" between dress watch and sports watch. MWC has some good ones. They usually come with NATO straps which you can swap out for a leather band.
posted by cazoo at 1:10 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: By "analog," I mean one with hands/a dial face. (See what I mean about not knowing stuff?)
posted by sheena is a sock puppet at 1:19 PM on August 9, 2011

I love Movado designs: masculine, elegant, but simple. You might find one of their basic Museum watches for around $200-300 on Amazon or similar.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've worn this Victorinox Swiss Army watch every day for the last 4 years. I only take it off to shower or sleep and it's taken quite a beating, but still looks great. There isn't a single scratch on the face, though the bezel has picked up a few. The leather strap is probably going to break soon at the notch I use and the second strap loop looks dangerously thin, I've priced a replacement at about $30, but haven't shopped around much. It's a classic look that works with shorts and a t-shirt or a suit, I expect this watch to last many more years. It was a birthday gift from my wife and it reminds me of her whenever I check the time.
posted by IanMorr at 1:38 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had a St. Moritz Pathfinder for the last 7 years, and it's tough and very understated. I have the all-titanium version with the sapphire crystal and titanium band, which makes it pretty light.
posted by scruss at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2011

Some in this list of recommendations might be useful ...


... another field watch ...


... I think some of the Citizen Eco-Drives are quite nice looking watches ...


Be aware that some of the military derived watches have fixed bars for mounting straps onto (instead of the little spring-out bars more generally seen) this can make finding replacement straps more difficult (not impossible just reduces choice and drives up price) at least that's my experience.
posted by southof40 at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2011

Nthing Seiko. I have Seiko's SBCM023 which I ordered from Katsu-san at Higuchi in Japan. It looks like it has been discontinued but I would order another Seiko from the Prospex line in a heartbeat. I think I originally saw it mentioned here in fact. I've never had any issues with the metal bracelet pinching.
posted by fieldtrip at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2011

A perfect step up from Skagen is Movado. They have the same sleekness and elegance -- but the price is higher than you want. A new Movado Museum or Bold lists for $500. I know Overstock carries Movados at a discount, but they don't seem to have the men's Museum or Bold now. You might be able to find one used (they last forever, my Museum is 25 years old and runs perfectly) but I know nothing about that (other than ebay is a viper's pit of false claims and cheap knockoffs).
posted by rtimmel at 3:08 PM on August 9, 2011

A quick addendum -- I mistook the Movado Bold for the Sapphire and they are very different watches. The bold is a fairly large watch, see here, while the Museum and the Sapphire are extremely thin (like the Skagen). You can get a Bold for $350, but I don't know if I would recommend it.
posted by rtimmel at 3:27 PM on August 9, 2011

From the (great!) store associated with The Poor Man's Watch Forum, I've had my eye on these two gorgeous Octo watches for quite some time. I just think both the black and white faced versions typify elegance.

FYI, I've purchased from the store in the past and been very happy with the level of service.
posted by smoke at 4:45 PM on August 9, 2011

Overstock.com has a great selection - I got a Stuhrling online and I love it - it's big and oversized as is the current fashion (but it sounds like you want something classier than my tastes).
posted by helmutdog at 4:50 PM on August 9, 2011

I like Mondaine's offerings.
posted by ambient2 at 4:58 PM on August 9, 2011

I got my husband a Movado. It was about twice your pruce range (sorry, I know that in that case my answer may not be helpful), he has worn it nearly every day for the last 10 years and he still gets compliments on it at least once a season. Looks great for work or for casual wear.
posted by vignettist at 7:32 PM on August 9, 2011

You might find one of their basic Museum watches for around $200-300 on Amazon or similar.

Huh. I bought mine for around that amount back in 2008. The weakened dollar sure has raised prices on European luxury items since, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:59 PM on August 10, 2011

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