Feature: Best watches under $300!

How to find value in the sub-$300 watch segment:

For a well-made quartz watch, $300 is the sweet spot. Anything less, and you’re likely to get something that’s cheaply made and rather disposable – *cough* Fossil wearers *cough*. Anything more, you’re better off getting a mechanical option which comes with that revered watch-making artistry involved as well as a respected brand history. Without further ado, let’s go through what you should look out for at this price range:

1) Swiss Quartz (Ronda) Movement

General rule of thumb: always go with Swiss, with the exception of in house movements from reputable and respected brands such as Orient and Seiko, or Nomos and Junghans (if you’re looking at watches in the thousands). There are a lot of watches with either Chinese or Japanese (usually Miyota) quartz movements in the sub-$300 category – look out for those with a Swiss-made Ronda movement. Swiss-made movements tend to cost more than their Japanese and Chinese counterparts, as well as being more reliable.

Luxury brands such as Tag Heuer uses Swiss-made Ronda quartz movements in their 4 figure watches.

2) Sapphire Glass

This is perhaps the most important. Always look out for sapphire glass as they are scratch-resistant, making the watch much more durable and extending its lifespan in your collection. At this price point, one tends to see watches with either hardened mineral crystal, hesalite, or proprietary materials such as Seiko’s Hardlex crystal. These materials are more vulnerable to scratching. As such, look for watches with sapphire glass. Generally, watches with sapphire glass retails at $500 and up, but if you look hard enough (as I’ll show below), you can find exceptions in the sub-$300 price range.

Sapphire, otherwise known as Corundum, has a Mohs hardness rating of 9 – making it virtually scratch-proof. In comparison, mineral glass has a rating of 5.

3) Full grain leather

If you’re looking to buy a watch with a leather strap, don’t get con by those who advertise their straps as “genuine leather”. As long as it comes from a cow, leather is termed as genuine. This means that “genuine leather” straps are often made from the worst parts of a cow’s hide. As such, always look for full-grain leather straps. Full grain leather straps are made from the best portions of a cow’s hide, feels more luxurious, tend to be more durable, and ages beautifully, giving the strap a vintage look. Also look out for full-grain leather straps from Italy – these tends to be the best of the bunch.

Full grain leather is crafted from the top (and therefore most supple) part of the hide, while Genuine leather is generally…crap.

BRANDS TO AVOID!!!

Please, for the love of God, avoid cheap fashion brands like MVMT and Daniel Wellington that have taken over Instagram by storm. Yes, their watches look good in pictures, but are in reality cheap made-in-China watches that cost around $10 to manufacture. Yet, they sell their watches for 20-30 times of the production cost. You’re essentially buying into the marketing of the watch, rather than the product itself.

Daniel Wellington watches are made from cheap Miyota (Japanese) movements, cheap mineral glass, and comes with low-quality leather straps. What about the NATO straps, you might ask? Well, you can get one from https://nomadstoresg.com at $7.50, with free shipping. Daniel Wellington’s NATO models retails at $275. Nuff’ said.

MVMT watches shares DW’s cheap parts. And honestly, I personally think that the design is terrible. What’s the use of a chronograph when the sub-dials don’t have indices??? And look at those cheaply painted hands. Reeks of lack of design thoughtfulness. All the crap about cutting out the middle-man to bring affordable watches to the masses? They are selling you a $10 watch for $200.

2 GREAT ALTERNATIVES:

Alright now that I’ve dissed the aforementioned cheap fashion brands, I’m gonna recommend 2 of my personal favorites which are around the same price point, but much more better built, and is almost guaranteed to last you much longer than the brands above. Note, this is not a sponsored post as no one reads my blog, so recommendations are honest and unbiased.

1) Linjer

Linjer is another watch company that has been taking over Instagram by storm. Unlike DW and MVMT, they actually make well-built watches. For those who are considering getting a DW because of their nice minimalist look, I would suggest looking at Linjer instead. Not only do they look great, they are also superbly built. Features include a domed sapphire glass with Anti-reflective coating (honestly, a feature unheard of at this price point), as well as a Swiss Ronda movement. Their straps are also made of full-grain vegetable tanned leather. Given that Linjer made beautiful leather products before they went into watches (they still sell their leather bags and wallets on their website, go check them out if you’re interested), I would say these guys know what they are doing with their leather. At the time of writing, Linjer watches can be found new at $230 on Carousell.

High quality components, sleek and minimalist design, all at an affordable price point. If you’re reading this Linjer, please sponsor me!!! I would love to review one of your watches :)))

2) Schaffen

For those looking for something a little bit more dressy and unique, there’s homegrown start-up Schaffen watches. The unique selling point about their watches is that they allow customers to customize their own watches, everything from the dial to the hands, to inscriptions on the dial and engravings on the caseback. Truly, they attempt to make time personal. Similar to Linjer, Schaffen watches contain Swiss Ronda 7 series movements, scratch-resistant sapphire glass, and full grain Italian leather. They retail for $229 USD, but 15% promotions can be found from time to time.

I own one of their watches myself, and the build quality is great. Disclaimer: I interned at the company for a short while, but believe me when I say that their watches are vastly superior in quality to brands like DW and MVMT.

And that’s it for my first post! Doing this because I’m terribly bored in NS, but I hope that the article (if anybody even reads this) has been enlightening to some! As this is my first ever attempt at legit blogging, it’s not perfect but if you guys enjoyed this let me know and I might do another article on shoes or something! 🙂

Photo credits (so I don’t get sued):
https://www.prestigetime.com/images/watches/CAY111BBA0927.jpg
http://www.antique-jewelry-investor.com/images/Mohs-Hardness-Scale.jpg
https://shop.r10s.jp/culture/cabinet/1701-pic06/dw-dw00100139_1.jpg
http://afnostore.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/e33c2da89bbff6d771e067dcaff22ace.jpg
http://leclubdesdouze.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/linjer-visual1.png
http://www.nylon.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Schaffen-PR-1.jpg

Posted By Qi Le

Just a watch/formalwear enthusiast who loves finding value offerings on the market, and sharing them with others. Some of my favorite watches include the Cartier Tank Solo, Rolex Cellini Moonphase, Vacheron Constantine Traditionelle, A Lange & Sohne Saxionia Annual Calendar, and the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Tourbillon. Currently focusing on Singaporean watch brands, as well as microbrands.

1 Comment

Bag Review: Oxhide "Wall Street" Briefcase - Wah So Shiok

[…] between quality and affordability. To learn more about leather, I actually wrote a bit about it here, or you can check out this lovely article (no affiliation) here. Generally speaking, full-grain […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *