Watch buying recommendations
March 20, 2017 6:05 PM   Subscribe

I've been vaguely wanting to buy a new watch for a few years. Only half-hearted efforts I haven't found anything I like and now I really need one but am kind of home bound. Help?

I've got a newborn and a toddler that prevent a lot of irl browsing. I'm also in Australia so need someone that wil deliver over there, and I'd like to spend less than $200. In terms of aesthetics, I'd prefer a metal band and I like a fairly crunchy granola-y aesthetic. US clothing brands I like...Boden, Camper shoes, that kind of thing.

I realise I'm not going to get some kind of stellar watch for life at that price. It's really the aesthetic that I'm having trouble finding online. A lot of places either do leather bands or really very traditional women's watches (ornate, not very modern). But I really don't know where to look. I'm also aware that watches can look quite different in person (from Asos experience) so I'd like to buy from a shop where the brand itself is fairly obviously of my tastes.

Any suggestions?
posted by jojobobo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
And to clarify. I'm looking for women's or gender neutral watches.
posted by jojobobo at 6:08 PM on March 20, 2017

I'm not sure if they fit the aesthetic, but I love my solar-powered Citizen Eco-Drive. I see that they have an Australian site.
posted by rpfields at 6:18 PM on March 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Skagen might be too sleek, but I love them.

Swatch does metal bands.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:28 PM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do you care if the watch has a mechanical movement? If so, Seiko offers the best values in your price range, and many of their watches have small dials that work for just about anyone.

For crunchy/granola style you may want to search for a field watch style. The Hamilton Khaki Field is probably the crunchiest watch I can think of, and I personally like that it must be handwound each day to function. Many of these come on leather or canvas bands, but some have metal bracelets. Keep in mind the strap on any watch can be replaced.

If you don't want to bother with mechanicals you have plenty of choices. To go totally outside the box: There are a number of wooden watches out there that might fit the bill style wise. You might also consider Swatch Sistem 51 or Irony watches for some interesting styles.
posted by cubby at 6:54 PM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I too would say to look at the Citizen Eco-drives! I'm a watchkiller (have recently killed Skagen and Mr Jones watches) and my Citizen is still going strong. Plus they have a variety of styles, I bet you can find one you like!
posted by leesh at 7:06 PM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

My Citizen watch (battery powered) is 18 years old. I keep half hoping it will die so I can get an Eco-drive.
posted by Kriesa at 7:28 PM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Swatch has leather bands too.
posted by brujita at 7:28 PM on March 20, 2017

I have a wooden watch and it's in my pocket because it's uncomfortable to wear. Would not recommend.
posted by aniola at 8:08 PM on March 20, 2017

What do you think about the Timex Fairfield collection? Some of the watch face/strap combinations seems like they have a bit of what you're looking for. The metal banded ones don't really do it for me, but I like a lot of the cloth straps.
posted by strangecargo at 8:49 PM on March 20, 2017

I do like the timex Fairfield but their website does not deliver internationally and, predictably, the australian stockists I found through Google only have older, less contemporary stock. Any ideas about an international shipper of those watches?
posted by jojobobo at 11:22 PM on March 20, 2017

The citizens are starting at $300 aud, so not going to work thanks.
posted by jojobobo at 11:26 PM on March 20, 2017

Check out used Tissot watches on eBay. I (Boden and Camper fan) have been really pleased with mine -- metal band, pretty minimalist aesthetic, good watch at a good price.

(You will find sellers aplenty who say they only ship within the US. It's really rare that I haven't been able to get the eBay thingamajig I'm after with a "Hi, I did note that the listing states US shipping only, and I am sorry to bother you. I am very interested in [item] and am wondering if you would be able to shIp it to me, outside of the US. I am aware that shipping will be on the slow and expensive side! However, if you would be willing to ship it to me here, I will hit 'buy it now' as soon as I hear back from you. Many thanks for considering my request! Best, jojobobo"-style note. Also works to talk sellers into not using the blasted "global shipping program," which likes to tack on a boatload of unnecessary fees...)
posted by kmennie at 1:16 AM on March 21, 2017

I love my Momentum Atlas, it's super customisable too, and very neutral.

For me, I need sapphire glass cause I scratch the hell out mineral crystal but many people find it perfectly fine. The best place for an aussie to buy watches, imho, is amazon. The search engine is great and lets your get very granular with the filters, and they have whopping specials sometimes.

In terms of movement for you, I recommend quartz, or seiko kinetic/solar or citizen eco drive. After having had mechanicals, it's not worth the trouble and they are generally heavier too. Titanium watch bands are super light, fyi.

here's a page with a lot of filters applied (women's, sold by amazon [good for warranty], ships to aus). Real brands include Casio, Citizsen, Bulova, Momentum, pulsar, Seiko, Timex (ish), Victorinox and Wenger.

Wenger in particular often represent very good bang for buck, imho.
posted by smoke at 4:29 AM on March 21, 2017

Your focus on aesthetics at this price is exactly right. The options under $200 are: battery quartz (and every such is basically the same), solar (Citizen ecodrive or Seiko solar), or Seiko 5 (mechanical).

Don't rule anything out based on MSRP; watch pricing is really weird and heavily skewed by the high-end. For instance, here's a nice field-style Eco-drive for $85 US:
A direct competitor Seiko solar:
I'm not familiar with the Australian market, but never ever pay retail for a watch, unless it's a $40 Timex (and even then...).

You mentioned wanting a women's or neutral gender watch. My advice is to forget about those designations and instead look at case size. Women's watches seem to always be blingy, but there's nothing inherently gendered about a watch anyway. Stick to cases below about 38mm (my wife wears a 38mm and loves it, although traditionally women's watches were smaller) and it'll look fine on a woman's wrist, regardless of if the brand calls it a men's watch.

Another one I would recommend is the Seiko 5 field:
They come in a variety of colors, they're smallish (37mm), with a rugged aesthetic, and they're automatic, which means no battery changes, ever. In my experience they are surprisingly accurate for an inexpensive mechanical movement. The tradeoff is you have to wear it (or shake it up a bit) every day, or the watch will stop.
posted by dbx at 6:54 AM on March 21, 2017

Have you considered buying the Timex Fairfield and using a service like MyUS to ship it to you? Looks like they have a free trial period.
posted by bologna on wry at 7:12 AM on March 21, 2017

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