While plenty of accessory trends come and go, there’s nothing as timeless as a watch. No matter the outfit or occasion, you can never go wrong sporting the jewelry on your wrist, as a watch can add instant flair and sophistication to any look. And while there are plenty of luxury options available on the market, you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a pick that’s both practical and stylish.
But no matter what kind of watch you go for, the most important thing is that the one you decide upon feels like you. “Watches are no longer just a status symbol worn by Wall Street types,” explains stylist Robyn Victoria Fernandes. “They should be an extension of your personality.”
Meet the Expert
Robyn Victoria Fernandes is a New York-based fashion stylist who’s worked with clients such as Heidi Klum, Eva Mendes, and Billy Porter.
Whether you’re the kind of person who always keeps her look professional or someone who gravitates towards colors and fun in fashion, there’s a price-friendly watch out there for you.
Read on for the best affordable watch brands as well as styling expertise from Fernandes.
If you’re looking for a watch you can wear all the time, MVMT is the brand for you. The company’s variety of attractive items are generally simple enough in design to fit any occasion and trust us—with watches as pretty as these, you won’t want to take them off.
For those who don’t want their jewelry to steal the show from the rest of their look, check out Daniel Wellington. The brand offers elegant, minimalist watches known for their simple, clean lines and subtle details.
Vanna is all about celebrating the spirit and independence of today’s women, and the brand’s sophisticated, avant-garde designs reflect this mission. Its unique, eye-catching watches, come in many shapes and styles.
As lovely as Anne Klein’s watches certainly are, the brand’s customer service policies truly take the cake. If you don’t find the answer to your question on the thorough FAQ page, you can chat with a readily available representative who’ll help you out. Even more, the brand’s loyalty rewards program lets customers benefit from their purchases with real cash and birthday gifts.
A longtime presence in the watch industry, Seiko has a reputation for elegant, work-ready items on the pricier side, but that isn’t to say that the brand also doesn’t have watches at more affordable prices. For under $200, you can pick up a sophisticated watch perfect to wear around the office.
Olivia Burton is a British brand that sells whimsical, vintage-looking watches that feature intricate nature-inspired designs and gorgeous pops of color. Have fun browsing the company’s many adorable options, which range from $100 to $350.
The watches on sale at Nordstrom are lovely and appealing, but what makes the company stand out is its return policy. There’s no time limit on returns, and you don’t even have to have a receipt or paperwork, either. Also, if you buy an item online, you get return shipping for free.
There’s no better place to buy personalized items than Etsy, and the site offers tons of watches with customizable features. Browse the options and see how easily you can find your ideal watch in the color and style you prefer—and don’t forget to engrave it with a message if you’d like, too.
Wanting a classic style watch doesn’t mean you want to simply wear a relic of the past, and BREDA understands this perfectly. The brand’s beautiful, timeless watches take inspiration from older styles and are meant to be worn for years to come, but rather than feeling dated or passé, they have original upgrades to beloved mainstays.
Of the many brands that offer fitness tracking watches, Polar is a standout, thanks to its durable designs and a variety of useful features. Track your exercise, sleep, heart rate, and more with the help of these sleek watches.
Kate Spade is a giant in the fashion world, and for good reasons; the brand’s products, including its watches, make for beautiful and dainty accessories.
Fossil is one of the most popular affordable watch brands out there, thanks to its high-quality items with consistently low prices. The sale options are especially solid, with dozens of attractive options regularly available for up to 85 percent off.
A Danish brand known for its minimalist watches, Nordgreen is also renowned for its commitment to sustainability. The company, which is working to become carbon-neutral, uses sustainable and ethically sourced materials and also donates some proceeds from sales to eco-friendly NGOs.
Want a major pop of color in your look? Check out SPGBK, which offers a collection of fun, bold-hued watches fitting the brand’s name (“spring break”).
What to Look for When Buying Affordable Watches
“The sizing of a watch is measured by the face,” says Fernandes. “So it can vary with small (16 millimeters), medium (about 24 to 26 millimeters), and large (32 millimeters). When picking the right watch for you, be sure to consider the fullness of your wrist. If you want to make a statement, go with the 32 millimeter. But for a safe but chic look, go with a medium size.”
Before buying a watch, think about where you’ll be wearing it most frequently. If you’re going to be rocking it at the office most days, then you’ll want something more formal and professional—but if you plan on only bringing it out for date nights or strolls through the city, you’ll want to go with a more casual or colorful pick.
How do you measure your wrist for a watch?
According to Fernandes, the easiest method to measure your wrist is by using measuring tape. “Wrap the tape around your wrist, preferably a little below the wrist bone where you want the watch to sit,” she advises. “Make sure the tape is snug, but not tight. Line up the tape with the metal of the tape or where the tape says zero and note the measurement in centimeters.” If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can use string or thread, repeating the above steps but cutting the string at the point where one end meets the other. “Once you have that, use a ruler to take the measurement," she explains.
What’s the best way to style a watch with a dress?
“When wearing a dress, don't be afraid to layer bracelets or bangles above your watch,” says Fernandes. “Just make sure the fit is right—you want the bracelets to stay above the watch versus clustered below. And keep your rings simple, maybe just one on that hand.”
What’s the best way to style a watch for the office?
According to Fernandes, it depends on the setting of your workplace. “If you have to wear a tailored suit every day, think less is more—your watch on one hand and one or two bracelets on the other hand," she says. "If your office is more of a casual Friday five days a week, then layer and experiment, but don't overdo it. A watch and three thin bangles (think Tiffany & Co. but on a budget) would look great."
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie writer Rachel Simon has covered shopping and style extensively for publications including Glamour, InStyle, Brides, and more. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and Vice, among other outlets, and she teaches writing with Gotham Writers Workshop and Redbud Writers Project. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College.