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Do affordable watches have luxury looks?

With ongoing supply chain issues, just about every industry and market is feeling the impact. Luxury watches, in particular, are becoming more scarce. Consumers are pivoting to affordable timepieces with luxury looks in the meantime. 

Affordable or fashion watches are distinctly different from luxury watches in that they’re made with inexpensive materials. Although this makes them a fraction of the price of their expensive counterparts, many cost-conscious consumers have discovered that they don’t have the cheap aesthetic they expected. Instead, many of these styles have enviable curb appeal. 

What to know about buying affordable watches

Which watches are affordable?

Affordable watches are placed into a category called fashion watches, many of which are made by reputable brands and designers. This means they’re made with inexpensive materials, such as stainless steel and titanium. 

Quality is hit or miss with affordable watches. Some styles are cheaply made with ill-fitting components and end up breaking after minimal wear. However, many affordable watches have sophisticated details that make them appear more expensive than they are. 

Which watch features have luxury looks?

Affordable watches are often made with inexpensive materials that resemble more expensive ones. 

  • Embellishments: Rhinestones and Swarovski crystals, for instance, typically take the place of diamonds and gemstones on watch faces and cases. However, some affordable watches have diamond or gemstone accents.
  • Gold tone: Watch bands won’t be made from real gold. Instead, they often have gold-tone finishes over stainless steel. 
  • Strap style: Ornate straps are especially popular among fashion watches, and bracelet, bangle and mesh styles are among the most popular. Some styles also have fine leather or suede straps.
  • Closures: Affordable watches often have strap closures imprinted with designer logos to give them a polished appearance.
  • Matching accessories: It’s common for fashion watches to be sold in sets with coordinating accessories, including bangle bracelets, earrings, cuff links or interchangeable bands.

Do affordable watches have to be flashy to look expensive?

Although some flashy watches may appear more expensive than they are, their ostentatious designs sometimes make them look cheap. Instead, some people gravitate toward styles with basic designs and minimal embellishments. In these watches, simplicity exudes refinement, and they’re often viewed as sophisticated and understated accessories. 

Which affordable brands have watches with luxury looks?

Many popular designers and accessory brands now offer watches with high aesthetic value, including Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade and Hugo Boss. Although these brands are made with inexpensive materials, construction quality is notably better than less expensive options. 

There are also upper-class watch brands that aren’t technically luxury, but they have fine construction and are viewed as upscale pieces. Bulova, Citizen, Movado, Tissot and Victorinox Swiss Army watches are well made and share some of the styles of luxury watches. Many of them are backed by better manufacturer warranties and will last through years — if not decades — of wear.

How much you can expect to spend on affordable watches that look expensive

Generally, entry-level luxury watches start at $1,000 — and anything below that is considered affordable. With that said, affordable is a subjective term. Simple styles cost $40-$150, whereas quality watches with more embellishments run $200-$500. Finer watches, including those from reputable watch brands, are $600-$950.

Best affordable watches with luxury looks

Bulova Mens Chronograph Two-Tone Bracelet Watch

Bulova Men’s Chronograph Two-Tone Bracelet Watch

Popular as an everyday watch, this men’s Bulova has an easy-to-read dial and is water-resistant to 30 meters. 

Sold by Macy’s

Michael Kors Womens Pyper Gold-Tone Watch

Michael Kors Women’s Pyper Gold-Tone Watch

The chic and modern Pyper watch has a low-profile design that is comfortable to wear for work or play. 

Sold by Macy’s

Citizen Mens Eco-Drive Axiom Black Ion-Plated Watch

Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Axiom Black Ion-Plated Watch

Black watches are in style, and this sleek Citizen design is a statement-making option that relies on natural or artificial light for energy — never batteries. 

Sold by Macy’s

Bulova Womens Rubaiyat Diamond Rose Gold-Tone Watch

Bulova Women’s Rubaiyat Diamond Rose Gold-Tone Watch

The graceful Rubaiyat design features a real diamond-accented dial that sparkles and elevates the design to a dress watch. 

Sold by Macy’s

Boss By Hugo Boss Chronograph Grand Prix Watch

Boss By Hugo Boss Chronograph Grand Prix Watch

The midrange Hugo Boss Grand Prix is a sporty style that exudes luxury with a shiny stainless steel band and sleek bezel. 

Sold by Amazon

JBW Womens Mondrian Diamond 18K Gold Plated Watch

JBW Women’s Mondrian Diamond 18K Gold Plated Watch

If you’re looking for an eye-catching style, this over-the-top JBW watch is covered in Swarovski crystals elegantly dressed around a green dial. 

Sold by Macy’s

Michael Kors Chronograph Lexington Two-Tone Watch

Michael Kors Chronograph Lexington Two-Tone Watch

A futuristic design, this mixed-metal Michael Kors watch has a smoky aesthetic with romantic undertones from rose gold accents. 

Sold by Macy’s

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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