Best Starter Watches
Looking for a Truly Special First Watch? We’ve Got 6 Great Options
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Don’t get us wrong: we love our smartwatches too, and they definitely have a role to play in our fast-paced lives, helping us to keep up with emails or track runs. But if you want to convey a sense of style and sophistication, or if you want a statement piece of jewelry that won’t be obsolete five years from now, you’re going to want to opt for an old-fashioned watch.
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To help get you started, we’ve picked out five top-notch starter watches, timepieces you can be proud of but that won’t require a small fortune to buy. The right starter watch should embody a few important qualities:
- Mechanical Sophistication: We want a watch that required time, effort and forethought to make, rather than something that came off an assembly line. We’re not saying these watches will never require maintenance; we are saying they weren’t built with planned obsolescence in mind.
- Style: You can sport an Apple Watch with jeans or a tracksuit, but what about for those more formal occasions? The right starter watch will pair well with a suit or your best date-night out.
- Price: There’s a terrible prejudice out there that says that a good watch is an expensive watch, and while you can definitely drop thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on a premium timepiece, the right starter watch should fit well within your budget. In fact, ideally, it should hold some value over time, so you can trade it in down the line if/when you’re ready for an upgrade.
Now that we have our criteria in mind, it’s time to pick out some of the best men’s starter watches of 2023:
Seiko Prospex SNE573
Seiko deserves infinite respect from watch enthusiasts for their consistent delivery of quality, affordable timepieces and the SNE573 is no exception. We love the aggressive styling, centered around the black watch face and black silicone strap, but it’s the technical prowess that earns this watch a spot on our list: a 10-month power reserve charged via light energy, a sapphire crystal display and 200 meters/660 feet of water resistance.
$470 at SeikoUSA.com
Raymond Weil Toccata Classic, White Dial
You need a dress watch, something you can wear to a wedding, black tie event, office holiday party or a fancy restaurant, and we guarantee the Toccata Classic from Raymond Weil will turn heads. The white dial and minimalist, 39mm watch face design pair well with a suit (any suit!), while the quartz movement is probably the best and most accurate you’ll find at this price range. And speaking of the price: we guarantee no one will believe this watch cost you less than $1,000.
$775 at Raymond-Weil.us
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch
If you’re in the market for an everyday watch made with care and attention to detail, check out the Khaki Field Watch from Hamilton. The oversized dial, sandblasted case and green textile NATO strap convey a casual cool, while their house-made, hand-wound H50 movement offers true mechanical sophistication as well, which is exactly what distinguishes a good starter watch from an overpriced time keeper.
$675 at HamiltonWatch.com
Tudor Black Bay 36
Alright, so we freely confess that this constitutes a big leap from traditional “starter” watch prices, but the Tudor Black Bay 36 is priced perfectly for a beginner investment watch. Owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, the same parent company that controls Rolex, Tudor is often thought of as a baby Rolex, and while the premium pedigree is there, the company has done a wonderful job forging its own image over the years. The Black Bay 36 proves our point: classic, subdued styling, an elegant 36mm case, blue dial and a gorgeous leather strap with contrast stitching.
$2,875 at TudorWatch.com
If you want a more stylized timepiece, check out the Calendrier from Citizen. It might maintain the basic features and silhouette of the common wristwatch, but the cobalt blue dial and analog day, month and date displays plus clever moonphase window all contribute to this watch’s standout good looks. And with their signature Eco-Drive technology, you’ll have power so long as you can find some light – no batteries required.
$356.26 at CitizenWatch.com
Shinola Runwell Chrono, 47mm
When you think of premium watches, you probably conjure up images of Swiss manufacturing, not Motor City USA, but Shinola is putting Detroit on the watchmaking map in a big way. The Runwell Chrono boasts a premium quartz movement, two subdials and a date aperture, but its the build quality that sets it apart. Hold it in your hand and the sharp black dial, stainless steel case and premium leather strap all testify to the high build standards. Heck, even the included case is carved from premium, fine-grain wood.
$795 at Shinola.com
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