quality middle-price men's watches?
October 1, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

What are the quality brands for middle-price-range men's wrist watches?

I see watches for $100 or less. Those are too cheap. I want something that I obviously spent more than $100 on. I go into a place that sells nice watches, and everything there is typically in the thousands of dollars (usually starting at over $2000). Those are too expensive for me. I'm looking to pay maybe $500, but I've been surprised at the difficulty I've had at even finding watches in that range to choose from. Is that simply the nature of the beast...that they're either so cheap that almost anyone can afford them, or they're so expensive that you have to be making $100k a year to consider it?

I did find an Alfred Hammel watch today for about $380, and then was distressed when the salesman kept lowering the price while I considered; that just made me feel like it must not be worth much to begin with.

For those who would ask, I'm interested in a classic look, and if it's made for deep-sea divers, it's not for me.
posted by bingo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you want an Automatic or a battery-powered movement? I like the "intricate craftsmanship" idea of an Auto, but I'd worry about fragility and the grave shortage of qualified watch repair techs in the US.

I was once told by a watch-geek friend that the Poljot watches from Russia were a good buy. That's all I can offer.
posted by Triode at 6:19 PM on October 1, 2005

Movado Museum watches, which have no numbers, just one elegant dot at the 12, are favorites with me. You can pay $200-$500+.

I'm a woman, but I hate teeny-tiny women's watches, so I wear a man's Movado Museum watch with a black croc band. I get more compliments on it than I can count.
posted by GaelFC at 6:25 PM on October 1, 2005

I have always enjoyed the look and feel of Citizen Watches.
posted by richardhay at 6:41 PM on October 1, 2005

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Tissot lately.
posted by box at 6:43 PM on October 1, 2005

Tourneau makes watches in your price range. I have a Tourneau watch and am quite happy with it. It's a $600 watch purchased at a sample sale (in the home city listed in your profile) for about half that.

Plus, Tourneau has the added advantage of brand-recognition even to those who are not watch connoisseurs, thus satisfying your status-conscious requirement that it be something you "obviously spent money on."
posted by dersins at 6:50 PM on October 1, 2005

I have a beautiful watch from Swiss Army. They range in price from ~$200-900, and there are different styles so you can choose one that you like. I like the classic look of Swiss Army, and they seem to last a long time, too.
posted by bonheur at 6:52 PM on October 1, 2005

You can get used Omegas for that price range--just stay away from the gold cased timepieces and you'll be fine. Their motion is smooth as butter. For newer (or classic, if you prefer) Bulova makes a good watch, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:56 PM on October 1, 2005

Thanks, C_D, some of those are just gorgeous. When I can spare $1,500 for a luxury, I'll be spending.

bingo-- I'm surprised than no one has mentioned Seiko. As a general rule expect to pay 50-70% of list on many (most?) watches.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:16 PM on October 1, 2005

I gave an automatic winding Bulova as a gift and the recipient was more than pleased. They have a wide range of styles and at least personally I think there are some classy choices there. Their subbrands vary quite bit in price though, so there might not be the name/value recognition you're seeking.
posted by nelleish at 7:26 PM on October 1, 2005

I second Bulova and Citizen. Vintage is a better option, though. Sets you apart.

Second Time Around has some absolutely amazing, classic watches. You have to do some searching, but Bulovas, Hamiltons, and Universals should fit in your price range.
posted by IndpMed at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2005

Lower end Tag Hueur watches (website here) can be found for 800 to a grand and up, and those are very classy.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:13 PM on October 1, 2005

Citizen has a really nice line with their Eco-Drive watches, which float around $500 although a few weeks ago by bud picked on up for $300. Check out this one.
posted by furtive at 8:14 PM on October 1, 2005

...and if you get a vintage watch, how do you know that you're not being sold a fake? i.e. if you get a new watch, no matter what it is, then you know that you can't be more than a step or two away from it coming out of the factory. For example, that 'Second Time Around' site, which looks great...how do i know that they and the people they do business with are on the level?

Thanks for all the responses so far, by the way. This is very helpful.
posted by bingo at 8:23 PM on October 1, 2005

...how do i know that they and the people they do business with are on the level?

Do some reseach. See if they offer box and papers, what reputation they have, compare the watches to manufacturer's catalog... Depends on the level of assurance you are looking for, I guess.

I found out about the Second Time Around Watch Co. through a Land's End catalog. Endorsement doesn't always equal credibilty, but it is endorsement. Here is their about page. I live in LA, so it's easier for me to check them out, but I am sure there are similar shops in NY.
posted by IndpMed at 8:53 PM on October 1, 2005

I wear an Oris - they're really simple and understated and solid as hell. My one (bottom right) cost $1000 new, but I picked it up for $300 on ebay.
posted by forallmankind at 9:07 PM on October 1, 2005

I second Tissot. Mine is what I consider a great buy - in that I was looking for a dual analog/digital (I had to have precise readable seconds for first aid purposes) that was stylish. The sapphire crystal is a bonus - and a feature not often seen in that price range. I bought it from this website - no affiliation other than as happy customer.
posted by birdsquared at 9:43 PM on October 1, 2005

Someone gave me a very simple tip when buyng second-hand watches -- get the seller to take the back off. Nobody making knockoffs makes much effort to get the inside right. I bought a second-hand Longines after checking the inner movement and placement of serial numbers were as they should be.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:07 PM on October 1, 2005

the less-fancy eco-drive 180 models are more like $100-200, and some of them are nicely simple and understated. I've been quite happy with one for the last year or so.
posted by dorian at 11:08 PM on October 1, 2005

Real or fake Rolex?
posted by growabrain at 11:51 PM on October 1, 2005

Virtually all current Swiss watch brands are owned and manufactured by the Swatch Group. While there are stylistic differences between different brands, you can expect the quality and reliability of the movements cased within them to be very uniform.

The brands previously suggested are all nice, just depends on one's individual tastes. Retail jewelry store prices tend to be grossly inflated. Look around online: timezone.com is a good place to start. There are a plethora of watches that fit your "classic look" description, take your time, and have fun looking.
A very large list of mid-range brands.
posted by anticlock at 11:59 PM on October 1, 2005

how do i know that they and the people they do business with are on the level

Because they repair the watches as well as sell them. If they just sell vintage watches, beware. If they just sell vintage Rolexes, beware more. Bringing old watches back from the dead is truly an artform, one that can't be taught or mastered quickly, that requires special tools, a keen eye and a steady hand. That's why when you do get a watch, get one that doesn't take a battery. Batteries are the devil.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:14 AM on October 2, 2005

Oh, and for heaven's sake, if you're going to get a TAG Heuer, please forsake the TAG and go for the Heuer. It'll set you apart from all the wealthy middle-eastern students.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:28 AM on October 2, 2005

please forsake the TAG and go for the Heuer. It'll set you apart from all the wealthy middle-eastern students.

I'm sorry, what?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:42 AM on October 2, 2005

Techniques d'Avant Garde (TAG) is/was an investment company. Heuer was the company that made the watches. Get a classic Heuer without the stupid "TAG!" logo over it. The T/H watch is synonymous with class aspiration in the Northeast, and can be seen native in the wild on thousands of wealthy foreign students in the Boston area. These are the same sorts that get their fashion cues from overpriced handbag/wallet/belt designers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:01 AM on October 2, 2005

Er, overpriced Italian handbag/wallet/belt designers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:02 AM on October 2, 2005

Consider Tissot and Certina - two classic Swiss brands with a wide range of watches. Both are part of the Swatch group.
posted by iviken at 3:19 AM on October 2, 2005

I love my Eco-Drive by Citizen, BUT... the metal on the band/edges of watch scraped off very quickly, making it look dull.
posted by j at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2005

If you're looking for a good quality watch without the huge price tag, I would recommend purchasing a replica Rolex (or other brand) from a reputable online dealer. A friend of mine has nothing but praise for Replica Watch Source. Opt for the high end replicas that contain Swiss ETA movements and high quality materials.

Me? I wear a Citizen EcoDrive which has been flawless for 3 years now. I have not had any problems with the metal scraping off.
posted by taang at 10:14 AM on October 2, 2005

My Seiko has a classic look, I paid $80 for it 23 years ago, and it's still going strong. I prefer an unobtrusive watch, though.
posted by rfs at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2005

Civil_Disobediant: I'm a middle eastern student.
And you're a jackass.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:40 PM on October 3, 2005

Just calling it like I see it. You can't buy class.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:43 PM on October 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

I picked up this Citizen Eco-Drive, and I'm very happy with it. I know you said nothing for deep-sea divers, but this 200m watch is simple/'classic', and the bezel is quite understated.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:07 PM on October 3, 2005

Civil_Disobedient: No, but you CAN buy a watch that you like. Or, as is my case, receive one as a gift.
Although I do appreciate the irony of you TOTALLY calling me out like that, haha.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:57 PM on October 3, 2005

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