seeking watch: cheap, pretty, functional
December 27, 2018 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I want a watch that's cheap (sub-50$, the cheaper the better) AND pretty (snowflakes inside), BUT that doesn't die or fall apart within a year of purchase. Bonus point: LED backlight button or similar for nighttime viewing.

"Pretty", to me:
1. small, slim. not huge and chunky
2. Not rubbery or plasticky
3. Does not have to be super expensive looking but shouldn't look super cheap
4. adultish, nothing kiddy

the watch i bought that fell apart had a slim white faux leather band and a silvery finish face with some cubic zirconia details. I've seen others I liked with thin metal link bands. Having browsed through ~100 watches I think I almost always prefer slim bands. I seem to be fine with most face shapes. I prefer silvery over goldish face but not dealbreaker and reddish-goldish/coppery color also fine, non-meallic colors could work maybe but are a riskier bet. Should not be easily discolored.

I have small wrists, needs to be able to fit.

minimal waterproof ability needed, for washing dishes with it on or unexpected splashing, not, say, swimming.
posted by Cozybee to Shopping (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First thought: Timex Easy Reader.

I don't know whether you want a "lady watch" or not. Gender absolutism is terrible, but the history of watch styles is heavily gendered: women's watches evolve out of jewellery pieces, while men's watches evolve from pocket watches. If you want something that's more "lady watch" then vintage Seiko quartz on eBay/Etsy is adultish and really cheap. (Though no backlight.) But the 30mm Easy Reader w/ Indiglo and a metal bracelet is $40 on Amazon.
posted by holgate at 9:03 PM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

My last couple watches have been Skagen women’s watches found at Nordstrom Rack (or equivalent) for about $60. They don’t have a backlight function, but they are the slimmest watches (both strap width and watch face thickness) at that general price point. I have a tendency to smack my arm against doorframes and scrape/kill watches that way, so size was important for me! I find their designs super classy and classic - no bonus rhinestone crystals for me. My watch battery died last week and I haven’t gotten a replacement yet, and I am totally missing wearing my watch. A battery lasts for years on my current Skagen because there’s no second-hand to push around. The only reason why I am on my 2nd Skagen is because I smashed my arm against a doorframe at just the right angle to pop off the watch face and lose it. Rather than buy a mysterious replacement watch face online I opted to pay another $30 to get a new watch.
posted by Maarika at 9:16 PM on December 27, 2018

I also have a Skagen, and agree that it sounds like what you're looking for. Costco sometimes carries them.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:19 PM on December 27, 2018

thanks holgate. those watches' bands don't look slim enough. your amazon link led me to this, this (in multiple colors/styles, this, this, this

I don't know how durable these are-- is timex reliable across all styles or only specific ones? -- but they all demonstrate the slimness of band I like. as soon as the watch face is a full-size circle, i dislike the band being almost or as wide as the face itself.
posted by Cozybee at 9:21 PM on December 27, 2018

I have me a few $25 (at the outlet store) TImex ironman watches with cloth bands. They have lasted me years through all sorts of rugged use. If you can find a Timex you like, buy it and buy some extra bands now while they are available. Then you will have the watch for years.

Takes a lickin' and keeps on ticking as they say...
posted by AugustWest at 10:25 PM on December 27, 2018

Nthing Skagen for thin, non-plastic, not super expensive, adult.
posted by supercres at 10:35 PM on December 27, 2018

Isn't that just a Swatch? The metal band ones are thin and they have a few alternative fabric and weird materials for bands as well. They go from very loud and big to extremely plain and can cost $40-$90. I'm using one of their kids range at the moment because I have tiny wrists and it has cats on it.

I really loved my Casio which does elegant ladies watches in the style you want but they are pricier than you ask, still cheap for a watch. IMO worth it, that thing lasted a long while and required little care.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:15 AM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have bought several watches from Stauer, and they have all been very good quality. The ones on the linked page are almost all over $50, but they often offer the watches at big discounts.

RE: small wrists. All of the metal bands can be adjusted smaller by removing links. There's a cheap tool for doing it, or any jeweler will.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:51 AM on December 28, 2018

Slim band: try searching for bracelet or bangle style. Leather is also slimmer than metal, if you're willing to do that again. (And if the leather splits in future you can buy new straps for a few dollars, rather than replacing the watch.)

Cost: sub $50 lands you in the TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory zone. I bought my $25 Anne Klein watch about 10 years ago at the now defunct Filenes Basement. Still looks great, still tells time.
posted by basalganglia at 3:59 AM on December 28, 2018

Strongly seconding a Timex Easy Reader (the ones marked "Indiglo" have the backlight)--or the "Weekender," a very similar watch with slightly slimmer case--but maybe with an additional NATO-type woven nylon watchband (or a couple in different colors) with a central stripe, which will read as thinner and not so chunky. In my experience, any leather strap that comes with a watch at this price point will not last a year of frequent/daily use--it'll soon crack and fray. The webbed nylon straps make the watch slightly less formal than leather but will still look plenty adult if you stick to a neutral stripe--and on the upside, they're more durable and comfortable. I've had my current Weekender plus nylon strap for about 10 years.
posted by miles per flower at 6:21 AM on December 28, 2018

Happy & loyal Timex Easy Reader wearer, over here! Very durable, stylish, and cheap.
posted by stinkfoot at 7:05 AM on December 28, 2018

I wore timexes for years before I got an Apple Watch. If you can find a style you like, go for it! (When I say years, it was probably 4 watches over 15 years, because sometimes you just want a new style, not because the watches stopped working. I did have to replace the batteries and bands. And this was wearing it all day every day including in the shower.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:43 AM on December 28, 2018

I have this watch, which is really pretty and which gets me a lot of compliments. The pink dial is very subtle and makes the watch look classy. I don't think Sekonda is a big name in the USA, but this one from a different maker is very similar to it.
posted by essexjan at 11:49 AM on December 28, 2018


I bought this Timex Easy Reader.

It is bigger/wider than my taste but it is pretty, easy to read as per the name, the night lighting option is wonderful, and also just wow my life is really improved by having a watch again.

Thank you MeFites!
posted by Cozybee at 8:44 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]

...sigh... follow up to follow up: it has become obvious that this specific watch is broken... I assumed my own error the first two times, but it has now lost noticeable chunks of time twice more =(

the similar timex watch I bought my SO has not had any such issues.
posted by Cozybee at 11:32 AM on March 12

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