These Men’s Watch Brands Are Affordable, Hard-Working, and Good-Looking
Haute horology enthusiasts know that collecting fine watches is an expensive pursuit—but for those looking to test the waters but aren’t quite ready to dive into the Pateks and Rolexes of this world, or those simply curious about the added value a great-looking watch can bring to an outfit, this introductory list of mid-range men’s watch brands is for you.
Some of these names have years of history and heritage under their belt, just like many of the most hallowed names in the watch game; others have done bold things that have turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry connoisseurs. The best part, though, is that slapping one on your wrist doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of a car or condo. All of these brands are perfectly within reach—as in, you could head to the mall and pick one up today without having to sleep on it, or feel zero shame about name-dropping it on a Christmas wish list.
They’re as accessible and democratic as they come but guarantee respectable performance, like a selfish purchase you make purely for pleasure as opposed to a long-term investment. Or it can earn a place in your collection with the purpose of being brought out on days you want to give your Pateks and Rolexes a rest. Whatever your reasons, this will definitely be a purchase you won’t regret. Not everything exceptional has to be expensive, as owning one of these will prove.
This brand has a history of innovating since making its debut in 1853 with an industry first: The first single movement pocket watch with two time zones. It also introduced the world’s first non-magnetic wristwatch in 1930, the world’s first plastic mechanical watch in 1971, and continued to experiment with materials by coming out with the Rockwatch in 1985, the first watch with a case made out of stone.
The Chrono XL comes in a 45mm case size, perfect for the sporty and not-shy, with a leather strap that lends it vintage, rugged appeal.
If you’re convinced a mechanical watch is the only kind worth having, here’s a men’s watch brand at a great price point. Founded in 1904 and named after a brook near its headquarters in Hölstein, Switzerland, it dedicated itself to producing mechanical timepieces only starting 1982. Today, Oris is known for sport watches that perform under pressure, like the ProDiver and ProPilot range and the Williams, named after the Formula One team.
The ProDiver GMT was developed with the input of professional divers, so you know it’s legit—water-resistant to 1000m and featuring the brand’s patented bezel lock system to keep it in place in the deep.
A German company that has been producing high-functioning timepieces since 1961, it has earned plenty of admiration and industry respect. It has also managed to impress the people for whom it was primarily designed: pilots, divers, and the GSG 9, the elite unit of the German federal police. Expect nothing less from a brand whose name translates to the word “sense,” yet these no-nonsense pieces look great, to boot.
The EZM 12 was created with air rescue service crew in mind, with an inner and outer rotating bezel designed to help emergency doctors monitor when to administer medication during critical time frames. Bonus: It was a winner of the Red Dot Product Design Award for 2019.
This brand started its life as the Schlup & Co. watchmaking factory in Langnau, Switzerland before evolving into Rado by the 1950s. But the brand has really made its mark with innovative materials, like the DiaStar 1, touted as the world’s first scratch-proof watch, released in 1962. It has since become known for its mastery of high-tech ceramic watches, including an ultra-thin ceramic watch, the 5mm-wide True Thinline, as well as reinforcing ceramic with materials like titanium and plasma to create something new entirely.
As ceramic is its signature material, pick one from its classic Captain Cook collection, which draws inspiration from the look of the original release back in 1962.
You might recognize this American-founded, Swatch-owned men’s watch brand from the starring role it played in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Yes, it’s the watch that defied time, space, and parallel universes to bridge the gap between Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain (at least, we think that’s what happened?). Anyway, Hamilton later came out with the Murph, named after Chastain’s character, as a result. But the brand has had a long affiliation with Hollywood, as it was also worn by Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii and appeared in the 1932 Marlene Dietrich film Shanghai Express and Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Naturally, we’re going to go with the Khaki Field Murph Auto. Not just because of its association with the movie (including the cool touch of the word “Eureka” printed in Morse code on the second hand), but also because it looks effortlessly elegant in a laid-back, not-too-flashy kind of way.