What is the best brand watch for the money?
August 21, 2006 1:18 PM   Subscribe

What is the best brand watch for the money?

I need a new watch and I want something that will last. I bought a Seiko "black monster" dive watch 2 years ago and have had to send it back for repair twice. I'm very hard on watches - I once had a Timex Iron Man last exactly 2 days before killing it. I specifically bought the Seiko because I was told they were indestructable and yet it stopped working for the second time in 9 months recently. Should I lay out the cash for a Tag Heuer or a used Rolex or would that just be pissing money away on a watch that won't last any longer than a Seiko? I'm not looking for bling. Just something water resistant up to 100m that can take a beating. I'm partial to dive watches and I'm willing to pay for quality as long as I'll have the watch more than 5 years.
posted by photoslob to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2006

oh sorry, you mean what is the best indestructible watch for the money.

Panerai is used by the Italian Navy. It is what you describe, and they look great.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:26 PM on August 21, 2006

Specifically check out the Luminor Chrono Submersible.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:29 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: TJH - those are gorgeous watches but I probably ought to say I'm really looking to spend a grand and no more. Spending only$600-$800 would go a long way towards my wife allowing me to continue sleeping INSIDE the house.
posted by photoslob at 1:42 PM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: Disclaimer: I'm clumsy. My wedding band looks like someone attacked it with a power drill. I often have many inexplicable bruises with unknown origins. My Tag Heuer repeatedly surprises me with loud *PLiNkS* to remind me that I shouldn't hit things with my wrist and it has some surface scratch marks. I've dived with it and scuba'd on my honeymoon (pretty sure it banged some reefs there, too).

It's survived 6 years with me so far, so here's one vote for a Tag's toughness. And, bonus, it looks pretty good, too (if you don't get too close to the scratches).
posted by empyrean at 1:43 PM on August 21, 2006

I'm a big guy, very careless, I have broken no less than 5 tags (about 2 a year). I have an Omega now, can't even scratch it. Cost me about $4k, though.
posted by ill3 at 1:49 PM on August 21, 2006

Luminox supplies the US Navy and Air Force with dive and standard watches. I don't think that implies they're indestructable but I'm assume they're fairly sturdy.
posted by junesix at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2006

I have to wonder WTF you're doing to your watches?

But I digress. I own or have owned a lot of these watches, and I do not believe their robustness is any greater than a high-quality Seiko diver. With the exception of Rolex, they all buy their ├ębauches from the same manufacturer. Once you pay enuf to get a saffire crystal and solid bracelet links, most of the difference in price is simply buying you a visible status marker.

If you really are that extraordinarily hard on a watch, I'd just treat them as a consumable. Buy a decent Citizen or Seiko quartz diver - preferably in bulk - and replace as necessary.
posted by mojohand at 1:56 PM on August 21, 2006

I chew watches up and spit them out on a regular basis, but I got me a sturdy Fossil. It was under $100, it's holding up well, and for $30, I can send it in any time and they'll replace the band and the crystal. It also looks real nice. 1 vote for Fossil.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 2:01 PM on August 21, 2006

I like Nixon watches.
posted by k8t at 2:04 PM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: For pure strength in watch materials, I think your best bet is to stick with stainless steel bands and cases and synthetic mineral crystals. Tungsten carbide for the band and pure sapphire crystals are lauded for their hardness but that just refers to how difficult it is to scratch them. In fact, those exotic materials are rather brittle and will chip or crack with the same or even greater frequency than stainless steel and synthetic minerals and are crazy-expensive to repair/replace.

Basically what mojohand has already said: those stainless steel Seiko Divers are as tough as they get. At some point, you'd almost imagine that a stronger watch might be harmful in that instead of absorbing some horrific blunt force and cracking, it would transmit it all to your wrist and leave you with a broken wrist and an intact watch.
posted by junesix at 2:13 PM on August 21, 2006

I strongly suspect that Casio G-Shock watches offer the best durability value for the dollar. But, as Helms notes, that might not be precisely what you're looking for.
posted by box at 2:14 PM on August 21, 2006

The G-shock certainly is up there in terms of indestructability. The trauma that causes that watch to stop working will also cause you to stop working. But it's not a particularly stylish watch.
posted by justkevin at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2006

BTW, there's a guy in Japan who sells tough, high-quality Citzen and Seiko watches that aren't sold in the U.S. They're about in your price range.

As I've never broken a saphire crystal, I've always been partial to this one.
posted by mojohand at 2:25 PM on August 21, 2006

swiss army
posted by milarepa at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2006

I've worn a Citizen World Chronograph on two consecutive deployments to the Persian Gulf.

Still works.
posted by matty at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2006

photoslob - What are you doing to your watches? Exactly how rough are you on them? Mainly curious...
posted by amtho at 3:45 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: I have no clue what I did this time to have the watch die but my guess is it has something to do with what killed it last time - surfing in chest high conditions. I spent several hours in the water and got rolled pretty hard and I noticed that evening the crystal had condensation on the inside. The watch seized shortly after. I also managed to put a small scratch in the crystal a few weeks after buying the watch and have screwed up the band multiple times. My wife has bought me a few Fossils and they last 6 months tops. The only watch to really last was an old-school Timex Iron Man I bought years ago but the battery died and I've since lost it.

I'm leaning towards a TAG but still open to suggestions.

(btw - this is the watch that currently sits dead on my night stand.)
posted by photoslob at 4:37 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: Junesix - those Luminox look interesting. Anyone have any experience with them?
posted by photoslob at 4:40 PM on August 21, 2006

I don't know, I go through watches like crazy as well. I just stick with the Ironman and know that I'll need to buy one or two a year. It's hard, you can buy an expensive watch, but if you're active (climbing, running, swimming) eventually either the crystal will break or water will get in, so just go with the flow.
posted by patrickje at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: After just a little bit of cursory searching I found several bad reviews on the Luminox. Guess I'm still leaning towards a TAG.
posted by photoslob at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: Where did you get the idea that TAG's were durable watches? Is this some new marketing that I missed out on? TAGs are status symbols for upper-middle class euro/arab kids going to American universities to show off how much wealth their parents have. No way on God's Green Earth are they tougher than a pre-composite case Casio G-Shock.

Personally, if you're looking to throw down some money on a tough watch, I'd recommend a Traser H3.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:35 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: I've known a few folks over the years who've owned TAG's and they've never had an issue. They're swiss made so that counts for something right? Most of the "rich kids" I knew growing up wore Swatch watches which probably gives you an idea of how old I am and out of touch I am. The last thing I'm looking for is a status symbol. I'm looking for a durable, stainless steel diver's-style watch with a scratch resistant crystal for under 1k USD. I literally want to have the "watch thing" taken care of for a decade if possible once I make the purchase.
posted by photoslob at 5:56 PM on August 21, 2006

I'm going to go a different route from a lot of the other posters here and suggest something much less expensive: a Wenger Standard Issue. It's water-proof to 100 meters and has lugs around the face to keep it from getting scratched. The one major change I would recommend is regardless of what kind of band it comes with, I would get rid of it and go with a nylon one. (I suggest this because that way if one of the pins breaks, you don't lose the watch. It just kinda flops on your wrist.)

It's not the most elegant looking end result, but my first one lasted for ten years of hard use, when it finally died I looked all over for something to replace it, I seriously considered a $300 Seiko and was saving up for it when one of my friends noted "If you liked the Swiss Army watch, why not just get another?"

Why indeed? My new one has kept near perfect time for two years now. Cost me about $80. If I somehow managed to lose or break it, I would buy another one in a heartbeat.
posted by quin at 6:11 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: One of those nylon bands on a Traser H3 and you've got a hot looking and potentially indestructible watch. Hmmmmm....
posted by photoslob at 6:39 PM on August 21, 2006

I wonder how many cheap watches at WalMart you could buy for $800.


//Had same Ironman from 1990 through 2001.
///guess I'm not that hard on a watch.

in terms of pennies/day, I think Timex would be hard to beat.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:54 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: Anyone know if Traser and Luminox are actually the same company? Just read that here.
posted by photoslob at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: Answering my own question: Traser and Luminox are made in the same factory.
posted by photoslob at 7:09 PM on August 21, 2006

A watch-happy friend of mine recommended the Hamilton brand. Something about how the company made parts for other brands and now they were making their own brand for the first time.
posted by frogan at 8:35 PM on August 21, 2006

photoslob, instead of asking here, where you have a bunch of advice that isn't really focused, you should head straight over to Timezone.com where all the watch lovers hang out. They will be best able to steer you towards something that is less than $1K and durable.

I think a Casio G-Shock may be your best bet as well but leave it to the TZers to give you the best advice.
posted by gen at 11:10 PM on August 21, 2006

The other site you might want to use is the PMWF, because they specialize in watches below $1000.

There's a backup of the PMWF site as well.
posted by gen at 11:26 PM on August 21, 2006

I've had various brands over the years and if you're going to pay out a significant amount of your hard earned cash then consider a watch from IWC. Understated, stylish and indestructible.

If it's going to take some serious beating then you should also consider an Animal watch. I got my first one when I was 15 and it's been dropped in rivers, bounced down mountains and thrown from windows.

Get it serviced every few years and it'll last as long as you.
posted by Nugget at 1:52 AM on August 22, 2006

I strongly second the Wenger (aka Swiss Army) watch. The one I have is the Standard Issue 70100. It's very tough, very good looking, 100 meter waterproof, and costs about $100. It's been 7 years for me, still looks and works great, and I think it'll keep doing so for many more years.
posted by splitpeasoup at 2:33 AM on August 22, 2006

On the high end, have a look at Bell & Ross.
posted by Heatwole at 9:27 AM on August 22, 2006

Best answer: Followup - I bought a Tag Heuer Formula One. It was relatively inexpensive ($620 - hardly "status symbol" priced as some alleged) and has a 2 year warranty covering everything but the band and the crown. For $70 I was able to buy an additional 2 year warranty through the dept. store I purchased it from. 4 years total and if they have to fix the same thing twice Tag or the dept. store will replace the watch completely.
posted by photoslob at 9:34 AM on August 27, 2006

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