All of these watches have done the rounds and paid their dues. In most cases they have been around for decades. Some of them are so beloved and worshipped they are still being mass produced some thirty years or more after they were first produced.
They have proved their worth day in and day out, and for the most part kept impeccably precise time. They are the unsung heroes of the watch world, the daily beaters, affordable, simple, unpretentious, but very reliable. They are Japanese watches, because where the Swiss have cornered the market for the most intricate and stunning mechanical timepieces, the Japanese have cornered the market for low priced watches with huge sprinklings of practicality and functionality.
Each of these watches have their legions of admirers. They are undoubtedly the watches watch snobs love to hate, but if you believe a watch is merely for telling the time rather than impressing aficionados, these examples do a fine job and just about anyone can afford them.
Affordable Watches – Casio F-91W
Introduced in 1991, this little watch from Casio has deservedly become a legend. It has a quartz digital read out and has an alarm and stopwatch function. You can pick up a brand new one for as little as $10. It is said that Al Qaeda used them to blow up timed devices, but let us not besmirch the reputation of this charming classic. This watch is not going to impress the girls, but it’s a wonderful piece of 20th century utilitarianism.
Affordable Watches – Seiko LordMatic
Seiko released the LordMatic series in the 60s and they came in several variants. This line was considered the ‘gold standard’ watch of Seiko, aimed at middle class customers. New, these pieces were in the same range or even more expensive than the much-beloved 6138/6139 chronographs. The watches in the Lord-Matic range run on cheap but super reliable automatic movements that just won’t quit. I have owned one for 36 years and it has been serviced only once. Yes, they may lose a couple of seconds every day, but they are so easy to correct you can just set them and forget them every few days once you have the right time from an atomic clock. You can still pick them up at bargain prices. Clean, simple watches with day date at three o’clock. You can pick up a great LordMatic on Ebay for under $50, especially in Far East Ebay locations.
Affordable Watches – Citizen Eco-Drive Pepsi Diver
They come in quartz, they come in automatics, and they come in Citizens’ Eco Drive, meaning the watch is for the most part solar powered, merely relying on a battery when the solar energy depletes. Like Coke and Pepsi, Citizen and Seiko battle it out to win the Pepsi bezel wars. There are several Citizen Pepsi bezel diver models including the automatic 8200, but for a reliable quartz model which takes its energy from sunlight and stores it, this is the baby.
Most Eco-Drive type watches are equipped with a special titanium lithium ion secondary battery that is charged by an amorphous silicon solar cell located behind the dial. Light passes through the covering crystal and dial before it reaches the solar cell. This diver is water resistant to 300 metres with the date window at 3 o’clock. Water resistant to 300 metres, the 43mm watch features a reinforced urethane band and extender ratcheted elapsed-time bezel screw-back case and screw-down crown and runs on an Eco-Drive movement. A simple yet graphically strong looking watch with chunky luminous hands and markers. These watches can be picked up for less than $300.
Affordable Watches – Seiko Orange Monster
Truly a giant among bargain diver’s watches, this hefty automatic watch with day date at 3-clock shines out like a beacon whether you take it underwater or simply into the movies. The watch features Seiko’s Calibre 7S26 self winding automatic movement with 21 jewels. This is housed in a 42mm stainless steel case that has a thickness of 13mm. The watch is water resistant to 200 metres, which is more than enough for most who like to wear the Orange Monster for the way it becomes a stand out star on the wrist. This watch has a huge fan base around the world. You can get them for as little as $75.00 with some careful surfing.
Affordable Watches – Citizen Promaster AT9030-55L
This radio controlled timepiece from Citizen can automatically receive standard time radio waves in Japan, the USA, Europe and China. It uses these waves to automatically correct the time and date when you are within these regions. With the added benefit of world time function, this is the go-to timepiece for the international traveller. But there’s more, it also has a perpetual calendar, 8 months power reserve in power save mode, and features 26 cities worldwide. For all this dependable time telling technology you won’t need to pay much over $500.
Affordable Watches – Casio G-Shock DW-5600
We will finish where we began with another classic offering from Casio. This is a cousin of the Casio F91-W. A bigger, tougher, unshockable cousin. Introduced in June 1987, the DW-5600 became the first G-Shock to be distributed in more than two model versions. Previous G-Shocks such as the DW-5000, WW-5100, DW-5200 and DW-5400 were each released in a ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ variety but the screwback DW-5600 had nine different model versions between 1987 and 1992. At the time of the DW-5600’s introduction in 1987, the G-Shock line was only four years old and had not yet become the home-run hit for Casio that it would later, in the early-mid 90’s. In terms of G-Shocks, this model is the Levis 501, long lasting, dependable and hugely wearable. You could pick up a basic model for under $100.