A man needs a good watch, both for its functionality and to complete his wardrobe, but most of us can’t justify spending what is for most a down payment on a car or house for a horological investment. For most the utmost concern is maximizing how much watch you can get the money. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You’re looking for a watch, and you’ve got $250 to spend. What can you expect to get? Honestly, some pretty great watches can be had in this range.

If you’re looking to spend a bit more check out our guide to the best watches under $500.

Here’s what you should expect from a $250 watch

Typically the movements in this range will be from Japan or China and most will be quartz. A quartz movement keeps time by using the electronically charged vibrations of a quartz crystal, therefor it either needs a means of automatic charging (Casio Eco-Drive watches use light for example) or it will need its batteries replaced periodically. You’ll find some mechanical watches here and there, both hand wound and automatic (wound from the motion of your wrist).

For the most part you’ll see mineral glass crystals, on occasion you might see sapphire (crystal is the “window” over the face). Mineral glass isn’t as hard or tough as sapphire (a colorless man-made version of the gemstone), so sapphire is a good choice for sport or dive watches and is less necessary for dress watches.

A push-pull crown is fine for casual and dress watches but if you plan to do even light swimming with the watch on you’ll want one with a screw-down crown. Metal bracelets and clasps should be tight, strong and easy to use. If you’re looking for a leather strap look for nice seams that are well sewn.

On to some great wathces in the sub $250 price range.

Rodina Sea-Gull ST17

RODINA Watch Sea-Gull ST17 Automatic

  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Dress
  • Size: 40mm
  • Price: $120
  • Link

For $120 you would almost be crazy not to pick up the Rodina. Sapphire crystal, display case back, beautifully simple face, and a very reliable ST17 automatic movement make this one a winner. The Rodina will look great with everything from a suit to jeans.

Tissot Tradition Silver (T063.610.16.037.00)

T063_610_16_037_00
Tissot Tradition Silver
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Dress
  • Size: 42mm
  • Price: $200-$250
  • Link

This is a great watch for formal occasions, and possibly everyday wear depending on your style or how formal your work environment is. You get a sapphire crystal, stainless steel case, and a very nice brown leather strap with butterfly clasp. The 42mm diameter is fairly large, but it’s still sleek thanks to its thin case.

Seiko SNDC31

71spWsDH2hL._UL1500_
Seiko SNDC31
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Chronograph
  • Size: 40 mm
  • Price: $140
  • Link

A great looking, very affordable chronograph. Plays the line between formal and informal nicely, so it can be worn with shorts and t-shirt or a suit without looking out of place. Not oversized but not too small either.

Orient Bambino

41W0N+CTQCL
Orient Bambino
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Dress/Casual Dress
  • Size: 41mm
  • Price: $120-200
  • Link

I’m not sure what’s up with the Bambino name, but this is a very clean looking watch that’s modern in both size and wearability while being easy on the wallet. There are a lot of flavors available: rose gold tone, silver tone and yellow gold. It’s a simple, no frills watch, but its a good looking watch that this sub recommends fairly regularly because it’s a solid choice when spending less than $200.

Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive

citizen-nighthawk-eco-drive-pilot-watch-mens-watch-bj7000-52e-22
Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive
  • Movement: Solar-powered quartz w/ GMT
  • Style: Sport
  • Size: 42mm
  • Price: $210
  • Link

Contemporary looks, high visibility and bright blue lume give the Nighthawk a sporty look. Its low-maintainence quartz movement, GMT function, date, and slide-rule/flight computer on the internal chapter ring are functional additions.

Maratac Large Pilot

20121228-MaratacPilot-01
Maratac Large Pilot
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Military
  • Size: 46mm
  • Price: $219
  • Link

A beefy military style watch ideal for both formal and casual events, built to last with a robust sapphire domed crystal.

Casio Edifice EF503D

81hHCpYsxSL._UL1500_
Casio Edifice EF503D
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Sport Chronograph
  • Size: 41mm
  • Price: $79+
  • Link

More than a passing resemblance to the famous Omega Speedmaster at a small percentage of the price.

Perpetual Watches Regulator

regulator
Perpetual Watches Regulator
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Dress
  • Size: 41mm
  • Price: $170
  • Link: Link

You will find Perpetual Watches highlighted on just about every enthusiast watch forum, and for good reason as they are incredibly impressive watches for the price. Domed sapphire crystal, regulated to plus/minus 15 seconds per day, seagull movements and free speedy delivery, the hardest part is getting one. Waiting lists often exceed 6 months.

Seiko SRP307 “Black Monster”

Seiko SRP307 Black Monster
Seiko SRP307 “Black Monster”
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Dive
  • Size: 43mm
  • Price: $175+
  • Link: Link

The second version of Seiko’s SRP “Monster” line of dive watches is rugged and worth every penny.

Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive

Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive
Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Military
  • Size: 37mm
  • Price: $75+
  • Link: Link

A great durable, military-style watch without the need to worry about batteries or winding. The stock band is the weakest link but with a simple NATO band this watch shines.

Casio G-Shock

Casio G-Shock
Casio G-Shock
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Sport
  • Size: 51mm
  • Price: $50+
  • Link: Link

Big, tough, sport and it looks good with anything but formal wear.

Timex Expedition

Timex Expedition
Timex Expedition
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Military/Field
  • Size: 40mm
  • Price: $25+
  • Link: Link

Dirt cheap, simple, clean and bomb proof. The Expedition line from Timex as well as their Weekender line are worth a look.

Tissot Tradition Silver (T063.610.16.037.00)

Tissot Tradition Silver (T063.610.16.037.00)
Tissot Tradition Silver (T063.610.16.037.00)

 

  • Movement: Quartz
  • Style: Dress
  • Size: 42mm
  • Price: $200+
  • Link: Link

A great looking watch for formal occasions. Sapphire crystal, stainless steel case, and a nice brown leather strap with butterfly clasp.

Seiko SKX009K2 Diver

Seiko Men's SKX009K2 Diver

 

  • Movement: Automatic
  • Style: Dive
  • Size: 42mm
  • Price: $140+
  • Link: Link

A watch forum favorite and excellent watch for any new collector. Classic looks, workhorse durability, and appealing price point. You have to love that Pepsi bezel.