“Can’t you just use your phone to tell the time?" That's the war cry of those without strong fashion game, those who still believe that the primary purpose of a watch is making sure you catch the 19.20 to London Waterloo on time rather than looking good.
The best watches are statements of intent, a fashion piece that can make the drabbest of outfits drip with style and swagger. That is, if you could afford a good watch. As much as you’d love to buy watches advertised by smirking Formula One drivers and tennis players, the price-tags meant they were the preserve of the mega-rich.
And, while that's still true of proper mechanical time pieces, you can still pic of a respectable, fashionable Quartz watch without breaking the bank. Here are some amazing watches you can pick up for less than £200.
The best sub £200 watches to buy today
Unbelievable ruggedness for extreme adventurous types
If you need something that can take a bashing - look no further than G Shock. This affordable model is looks great, with both the case and strap made from matt green resin, and the lens featuring protective mineral glass. This surmounts to a watch which is submersible to 200 metres and is pretty much explosion proof. If you have desires to join the SAS, or become a survival expert like Bear Grylls, buying this watch is the first step on that journey. Just slipping it on will make you feel more extreme. The piece also packs in number features, including multiple timezones, a stopwatch, timer and five alarms - so you can wake up in time for your mission, then time how long it takes to take out a terrorist cell.
Citizen Divers EcoDrive Watch (BN0151-09L)
A true diver’s companion, on a budget
Looking for a budget watch with plenty o’ tech? The Citizen EcoDrive Dive watch is for you. It’s powered by Citizen brilliant EcoDrive technology, which harnesses power from any light source (even artificial lighting) to keep ticking all day long (with a 7 year power reserve). Honestly, you’ll never need to change a watch battery again. This is a functional piece as well, with features including a screw-down crown and screw-back case, luminous markers, one-way rotating slide rule bezel and highly-legible dials, it’s a true Divers watch.
Skagen Brown Havene Chronograph
Impossibly cool Dutch piece
Skagen is a Danish watch company. It’s worth mentioning that Skagen is Danish (in case the name didn’t give it away) because their watches have all the hallmarks of Scandinavian design – minimal aesthetics, a streak of retro, and a cool font. It doesn’t look like it costs a million dollars but this watch proves that they don’t have to have premium looks to leave a lasting impression. The slick design does all the work here and will ensure you keep running your hands through your hair/yawning and stretching your arms out/waving your wrist around to make sure your present company gets a good look at your time piece.
Tom Sayers Limited Black Strap
If you want British and you want retro, this is the watch you need
“Not only designed in Camden but inspired by Camden.” That’s the mission statement for The Camden Watch Company but thankfully, they’ve taken their inspiration from Camden’s rich history rather than the puddles of puke outside Brewdog at 2am. This particular selection celebrates Tom Sayer, the bare-knuckle boxer who fought in Camden (a tradition that, again, is kept alive outside Brewdog at 2am). But you can browse through any watch in their catalogue and see the same retro approach to design shining through, from the fonts used to the busywork design. Best of all, almost all their watches cost less than £200, so you can browse through their selection knowing only a few of their designs will be outside your budget.
A watch that hails from the La La Land, not Russia
These watch-makers make dramatic timepieces and you’ll have to fork out hundreds of pounds for the privilege of wearing them. Some of their watches limbo under the £200 price-tag though and this is one of them, which happens to be one of their best anyway. Tsovet might be Californian but the name sounds Russian and this watch seems Russian in its design as well – no thrills, no spills, just maximum impact. There’s a heavy, sturdy feel to this watch, which combined with the monochrome design makes it feel like a dramatic watch to wear.
Nautica NST 17
Hello sailor! Nautica but nice...
If you've just bought a boat, want people to KNOW you've bought a boat, and can't afford a Rolex Submariner - this piece is for you. The Nautica reeks of nauticalia, from the name, to the blue and white colour combination, the fabric of the strap, the fact it’s even water resistant to 100 metres. It’s the sort of watch that would even let you get away with wearing shorts and a jumper tied around your shoulders, while looking at it and declaring loudly, 'Darling, it's time we get back to the yacht, it's almost high tide.'
Unknown The Classic, Black Dial and Silver Bracelet
Keeping it simple, keeping it classy
East London’s Unknown has a wide range of watches that ooze class and sophistication, all limboing under that all-important £200 price ceiling. Their watches are simple and elegant affairs and this one is our favourite, the black and silver colour combination making it work with almost all outfits (except neon-bright Hawaiian shirt summer get-ups, but you’re mostly on your own with that one). Bonus points for having such a cool company name – having ‘UNKNOWN’ stamped across the dial adds an extra element of mystery and intrigue to the watch. Honestly, it does. Wait until you see how many people ask “why does it say unknown there?” when you wear it.
Iconic doesn’t have to be expensive
And finally, if you’re looking for a budget timepiece, there really is nothing more affordable than the Casio digital watch. Sure, it’s not the last word in sophistication, but the design is iconic and perfect if you're going for a retro/hipster vibe. As well as telling the time, the Casio features an alarm, calendar and stopwatch. It’s pretty much an Apple Watch. There’s a backlight, for telling time in the dark, and the acrylic window is shatter-resistant, so it’ll probably last longer than you will. All for under £10? That’s a steal, and everyone should have one, quite frankly.