Watches are one of many accouterments for dress and utility that don’t have to cost a fortune to look like they’re worth a million. It’s all about design and function and there’s little difference between the extreme high end and the affordable end of watches unless you use a magnifying glass or you hail from royalty. Here are some examples of watches that cost under $100, many of them way below that figure.
Kenneth Cole New York Iconic Chronograph
The Kenneth Cole Chronograph takes top honors for design beauty, his best-looking watch ever. The font design and small numerals give it an elegant and precise touch. It has that old, golden classic look that you might see on the wrist of a doctor or physicist. It comes with good looking pushers and a convenient chronograph.
Bulova 96B104 Silver Dial
You don’t have to fret about the name here—Bulova is recognized and admired all over the world. This one has class written all over it. It’s so stark and clean, you’d think they’d left out the face parts. It’s uncluttered for a reason and it works well. It looks like a dinner of high-end party watch with a futuristic statement. These watches are frequently reviewed in the pages of GQ and Esquire magazine, which place a lot of significance on elegance and trendy fashion.
Seiko SNDC Series
The Seiko SNDC watch appears very busy, intricate and sophisticated. It looks like it would appeal to a mathematician. It’s similar in design to the SNZJ series, but much reduced in cost. The numbers are thin, small and silver over a black background. The hands are nearly invisible since they are black over black. This watch looks daring and bold.
Armitron Nordstrom Exclusive Military
The Armitron Nordstrom Military is big, bold in your face watch and makes no excuses about it. It mirrors the J.Crew Timex collaboration but doesn’t have all the hype behind it. It’s quite possibly the cheapest Bell and Ross knockoff in existence. It has large night-glow hands and numerals, a 44 millimeter face and comes in four colors. The case is stainless steel. The Japanese quartz is a nice afterthought.
Casio G-Shock Rescue
This watch looks like it belongs on a star ship captain since it comes with all the bells and whistles. The Casio G-Shock Rescue is rated to 200 meters, can withstand temperatures to -4 degrees Fahrenheit and is totally shock resistant. You would need a nuclear device to destroy it since it is surrounded on all sides by high-impact plastic and rubber bumper edges. It has a sun-light powered analog similar to the Citizen Eco-drive. It’s dropped the digital in favor of nice display hands.
Invicta Pro Diver Automatic
The Invicta line of watches have been known to be obnoxiously large and over the top, but the Pro Diver Automatic is anything but that—scaled down to evoke some conservatism and class. It looks like a Rolex Submariner with the serial numbers filed off. It has tiny indentations instead of a coin-sized bezel, making it easy to grasp. The strap is thick plastic, but it could easily be switched out to a high-quality leather one. It’s very inexpensive and rugged, yet sophisticated enough to look good at a formal event.