Best Cheap Watches

With so many electronic devices on hand that display time, watches have become less of a functional tool and more of a design accessory for many consumers. Indeed, there are plenty of cheap watches that can add flair to your look and keep you on schedule when you don't have a cell phone right at hand. There are literally dozens upon dozens of watch makers selling models with a dizzying array of designs and features across a wide spectrum of prices. You can buy a watch for as little as $10 or as much as $50,000, perhaps more. Well-known manufacturers include Timex, Casio, Seiko, Omega, Hamilton, Armitron, Anne Klein, Bulova, Fossil, Cartier, Citizen, and, of course, Rolex. All the good cheap watches we found go for less than $35; Timex and Casio in particular offer quite a few watches below that price threshold.

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Our Top Pick

Timex Women's 1440 T5J151
Our Picks
Timex Women's 1440 T5J151

Timex makes several varieties of inexpensive watches for women, and the cheap Timex 1440 T5J151 is an athletic watch that attracts lots of cheering fans. Many users who posted Timex 1440 T5J151 reviews at Walmart assert this digital model is an excellent value given its comfort, styling, and time-keeping accuracy. The practical features, including an alarm, chronograph, and calendar, only enhance its appeal. In reviews at Amazon, wearers say the watch exceeds expectations. Consumers write of using the watch during strenuous workouts, swim sessions, and while jogging and backpacking; one diabetic relies on the timer and the alarm functions to remind her when to eat, check her blood sugar, and take her shots. Watch reviews note that the watch survives sweating and showering without fogging up. Users also like its light weight and looks, saying the watch doesn't overpower small wrists and the gray and pink color is appropriately feminine. A few reviews grumble that the crystal scratches fairly easily.

The Timex 1440 T5J151 (starting at $12) comes with a polyurethane band and features a stainless steel and molded resin case and mineral crystal. Among its digital features are a stopwatch, alarm, 24-hour countdown timer, two time zone settings, and Timex's proprietary Indiglo feature, which lights up the watch so you can read it in the dark. The 1440 T5J151 also has a month, day, and date display, and uses a quartz movement. It's water resistant to 50 meters, or 165 feet.

Women on the go will appreciate the versatility of the features and aesthetic of the Timex 1440 T5J151. The price is a strong selling point and Timex 1440 T5J151 reviews indicate it passes the durability test. This women's timepiece is hard to beat.

Timex Men's Easy Reader T20041

Timex's Easy Reader line of watches is popular among both men and women. The Easy Reader T20041 for men was well-liked by nearly all wearers who posted Timex Easy Reader T20041 reviews, although a few offered some caveats. For example, most reviews at Overstock rave about this watch, but a few report that the leather band is too stiff and seems chintzy and some say the day/date function can be tricky to set. Still, the vast majority of watch reviews on sites such as Amazon laud the large white face and dark numerals, which older wearers declare makes the watch easy to read, even without glasses. This analog timepiece also earns kudos in reviews for precise time keeping, reliability, longevity, and durability; users report that the battery lasts a good two years and the watch can take the hard knocks of yard work or behind-the-desk work. According to reviews, users also appreciate the understated but dressy styling.

The Timex Easy Reader T20041 (starting at $32) is a basic analog watch with a quartz movement and mineral crystal. It features a brown leather strap and metallic case, second hand, and date and day displays. The Indiglo technology lights up the face with the push of a button to enable time checks in dim light -- another feature that users appreciate.

The Timex T20041 is a low-cost watch that keeps reliable time and lives up to its easy-to-read moniker. These are its greatest strengths and enough to keep many frugal shoppers happy and coming back for more: Timex Easy Reader T20041 reviews indicate that many wearers are repeat customers. Just allow for some break-in time for the band (one reviewer suggests applying baseball glove conditioner) and some patience when setting the date, and you'll have yourself a first-rate but low-cost watch.

Casio Men's WS210HD-1AVCF

Casio is best known for its seemingly endless selection of digital sport watches. This model, the WS210HD-1AV, is well-liked by boaters, fishermen, and surfers, according to Casio WS210HD-1AV reviews, because of one particular feature: it displays data about the tides and the moon. At Walmart, users who posted reviews report that the watch keeps excellent time; one, however, notes the need to reset the tides function every few days to keep it accurate, and a few seem a tad confused about how to set and use this and the moon feature. Users' watch reviews indicate they appreciate the solar-powered technology, which eliminates concerns about a battery running dry, stainless steel styling, value price, and overall practicality of this timepiece. A few minor complaints surface in reviews: susceptibility to scratching on the crystal and adjustments to the band for sizing mean a trip to the jewelry counter to remove links. One reviewer at Kohl's, says the watch face, which also displays day and date, is a bit crowded and thus somewhat hard to read.

The Casio WS210HD-1AV (starting at $33) is a digital watch with a solar-powered quartz movement (forget about having to change the battery). It has a stainless steel band and a mineral crystal and is loaded with features; in addition to tracking tides and moon phases, it offers a variety of alarms, a stopwatch, countdown timer, calendar, world time with map, and backlight and afterglow. The watch is also water resistant to 100 meters, or 330 feet.

Men who like to spend time on or near the water will take to the Casio WS210HD-1AV. But this watch isn't just for boaters, fisherman, and surfers. It's a good-looking, versatile watch with enough features to satisfy any gadget-minded user.

Casio Women's LTP1237D-7A

Women shopping for a cheap watch that still gives off an upscale air might consider the Casio LTP1237D-7A, a stainless steel analog watch with a square face. A Casio LTP1237D-7A review at Target summed up its appeal by describing it as practical, classy, and an excellent value. Users who posted reviews on sites such as Amazon and Walmart agree, citing the attractive finish, a design that shows off slim wrists to good effect, dependable time keeping, and a weight that's light enough for all-day wearing. Build quality is high, according to most reviews, as is overall durability, especially given the price. A few users, however, report that the silver dial can be hard to read against the shell-colored background and others note that removing links on the band for a tighter fit may necessitate a trip to the jewelry counter.

The Casio LTP1237D-7A (starting at $21) is a simple analog watch with a mineral crystal, quartz movement, digits and dots denoting the hours, and stainless steel band and case. The watch itself is water resistant to 30 meters, or 99 feet. Like many low-cost analog watches, this model boasts no extra features save for a second hand. Don't look for a date function, alarm or stopwatch, extras that typically show up on digital watches.

The elegant styling of the Casio LTP1237D-7A fits right in at home, at the office, or out on the town. This is an affordable and attractive watch that exceeds users' expectations.

Geneva Women's SW-6886

According to Geneva SW-6886 reviews, the claim to fame of this women's watch is its amazingly low price and serious but not tacky bling. Users rave about the stylish design of this analog watch, which reviews at Amazon say looks so upmarket that many people are startled at its downmarket roots. The lightweight rubber band resembles the fashionable ceramic bands of far pricier watches, assert reviews, and the cubic zirconia stones around the face give it sparkle. Posts at Overstock indicate that many users own several Geneva SW-6886 timepieces, mixing and matching to go with their outfits, including nurses' scrubs. And yet, the performance of this budget watch clearly disappoints. Geneva SW-6886 reviews report problems with build quality, such as a crystal that fell off after three weeks of use, inaccurate time after a few months, a case and band that broke, stones that were missing from the get go, and a watch that just never worked. But as reviews at Shop NBC note, the watch is so cheap that it's no big deal to buy another and another and so on every time one breaks.

The Geneva SW-6886 (starting at $11) is available in several colors, including brown, navy, and white. The strap is made of silicone and the time is controlled by a quartz movement. There face is ringed by cubic zirconia stones set into a stainless steel case. This model lacks extra features, like a date display and night light, but it does have a second hand.

The Geneva SW-6886 is pretty but cheap, and its price may be low enough to overlook its dispiriting performance. In fact, some websites sell this watch in packs of three, reinforcing the notion that it's a disposable piece of eye candy for the wrist. In our book, not a good buy given all the other models out there.

Men's Armitron 408177

Armitron's 408177 digital sport watch for men includes plenty of features given its budget price, but Armitron 408177 reviews complain about a variety of irritating issues. At both Walmart and Amazon, reviews gripe about a beeping sound whenever a little button is pressed to activate a function, settings that revert to factory defaults when the light button is hit, date and time functions that reset themselves when you're trying to set the alarm, a dim display that's hard to read in daylight, inaccurate time keeping after a few weeks of use, and the loss of water resistance after a few years. A few watch reviews also report the crystal scratches easily and the colored coating over the band and case flake off. On the other hand, some users seem quite satisfied with this model. These reviews talk up the simple but attractive design (which includes a square face), the light weight, the comfortable resin strap (even in sweaty conditions), the easy set up, and, of course, the low price.

The Armitron 408177 (starting at $21) is a digital watch with a quartz movement and a mineral crystal. It's available in several colors, including black with red accents, navy with light blue accents, and white; the resin band is perforated. This watch boasts several useful features, including an alarm, chronograph, calendar, countdown timer, lap counter, day and date display, night vision display, and a military time display. The Armitron 408177 is water resistant to 100 meters, or 330 feet.

This watch from Armitron is cheap enough and loaded with enough features that some people will be satisfied despite its questionable performance. However, the volume of critical Armitron 408177 reviews and the number of good cheap watches out there convinced us that this model is a non-starter.

Buying Guide

Cheap Watches Buying Guide

With so many electronic devices on hand that display time, watches have become less of a functional tool and more of a design accessory for many consumers. Indeed, there are plenty of cheap watches that can add flair to your look and keep you on schedule when you don't have a cell phone right at hand. There are literally dozens upon dozens of watch makers selling models with a dizzying array of designs and features across a wide spectrum of prices. You can buy a watch for as little as $10 or as much as $50,000, perhaps more. Well-known manufacturers include Timex, Casio, Seiko, Omega, Hamilton, Armitron, Anne Klein, Bulova, Fossil, Cartier, Citizen, and, of course, Rolex. All the good cheap watches we found go for less than $35; Timex and Casio in particular offer quite a few watches below that price threshold.

Cheap analog watches with the familiar hour and minute hands are generally considered the dressier option but tend to have few features, although some boast a second hand and date display. Cheap digital watches appeal for their casual styling and typically come with practical tools such as alarm, chronograph (stopwatch), and lap timers.

High on our list of best cheap watches are two analog models -- the Timex Men's Easy Reader T20041 and the Casio Women's LTP1237D-7A-- and two digital models -- the Timex Women's 1440 T5J151 and the Casio Men's WS210HD-1AVCF. Aside from a few gripes about minor matters, such as easily scratched crystals or vague set-up instructions, these cheap watches score with consumers for style, wearability, and functionality. Two cheap watches that don't rate due to questionable durability or performance are the analog Geneva SW-6886 for women and the digital Armitron 408177 for men.

There are several features to note when shopping for a watch. The watch crystal is especially important. Cheap watches have either an acrylic or mineral crystal, mineral being more scratch resistant. The watch's movement -- the mechanism that powers the watch -- is another item to consider. All the watches on our list use a battery-powered quartz movement, which is the most popular movement in the cheap watches segment. (More expensive watches may use an automatic or mechanical movement that relies on a spring mechanism and several intricate pieces to keep track of time.) Some cheap watches can be lit for easy night-time reading, and here Timex watches stand out with the company's proprietary Indiglo technology. Cheap watch cases tend to be made of plastic or stainless steel and popular materials for cheap watch bands include stainless steel, plastic or resin, and leather. Cheap watches are generally water resistant, not waterproof, which means they can survive a shower and a dunk in the pool but probably not deep-water scuba-diving.

Whether you choose a cheap analog watch or a cheap digital watch is largely a matter of preference. But before making your choice, be clear about the purpose you want the watch to serve. If you're looking for a simple accessory to dress up your look or telegraph the time through a visual representation, an analog watch with a leather or metal band is probably the best choice. If you like bells and whistles or want a more casual timepiece, digital is the way to go.

Cheap Watches for Men

As we researched cheap watches for men -- and there are many -- two in particular caught our attention. The analog Timex Easy Reader T20041 stands apart from the crowd for its durability, accuracy, and easy-reading face. The digital Casio WS210HD-1AVCF snags a place on our list of best cheap watches for men for its rugged build, accuracy, and rich feature set.

Users of the Timex Easy Reader T20041 heap praise on this cheap watch for men. The majority of comments at Walmart were posted by men at least 55 years old who laud the Indiglo feature that compensates for dim lighting and the plain dial and large numbers that make the watch easy to read for older folks whose vision isn't what it used to be. The resilience of the Timex Easy Reader T20041 is another big draw. Assessments of cheap watches for men tell of users having been loyal to this, or earlier, model(s) over the years -- one served its owner well for more than a decade -- and reports abound of its ability to survive the stress of outdoor chores, such as power washing a walkway. Men say they rely on the dependable time-keeping of the analog Easy Reader T20041 and appreciate the upmarket look of the leather band. Not everyone is thrilled with the wearability of this watch, however; on sites such as Overstock some users say the leather band is too stiff and express doubt about the quality of its leather chops.

Our second favorite among the slew of cheap watches for men, the Casio WS210HD-1AVCF, is made for the great outdoors. Despite some grumbling by several users who mention scratches on the mineral crystal, this cheap watch for men proves to be a handy and reliable time keeper. On Amazon, users commend its accuracy and solar-powered longevity. Its digital technology supports an array of features, such as tide and moon graphs that are much appreciated by surfers and fishermen and a countdown timer that's useful for keeping to a schedule. Note, though, that several users consider these functions a challenge to set and add that the instructions aren't particularly helpful. The LED face is easy to read on this cheap digital watch for men and the stainless steel band wins points for its good looks, although users caution that adjustments to the size (i.e., removing links) call for the tools, skills, and patience of a jeweler.

Frugal and committed athletes are keen on the Timex 30-Lap Ironman T53151. This is another of the cheap watches for men with digital workings that are rich in the functionalities that meet the needs of swimmers, runners, power-walkers -- even medical professionals. As reviews posted at Amazon point out, users value the ability to time starts and splits and store the results in memory. They also report no problems with water seeping under the crystal while surfing. Reviews of cheap watches for men assert that the Timex 30-Lap Ironman T53151 is accurate and durable, performance qualities that have turned some users into serial buyers who replace long-lived Ironman timepieces that finally gave out with new ones.

The Armitron 408177 is also targeted to athletes but fails to win the level of support extended to the other cheap watches for men that we researched. Users seem to like the black coloration of the resin case and band and one review posted at Target says the square-faced digital watch draws compliments from friends and colleagues. Reviews of cheap watches for men posted elsewhere say the band holds up to sweat without getting sticky or emitting a foul odor and can be worn safely in the shower. On the other hand, some users find the reverse LED face (dark background with light numbers) too dim for easy readability and report programming snafus: the watch seems to periodically reset itself to the default factory settings for time and date and is especially prone to this behavior when you hit the button to set the alarm or light up the face.

Cheap Watches for Women

Equality of buying opportunity is rife in the watch world. We found several cheap watches for women that are every bit as functional, long-lasting, and attractive as the men's varieties. Two cheap watches for women that made a big impression are the digital Timex 1440 T5J151 and the analog Casio LTP1237D-7A.

Among cheap watches for women, the Timex 1440 T5J151 is our top pick. This model sits near the bottom of the price ladder and wins over users with its fashionable looks and quality performance. Despite its billing as a sports watch, user comments posted at Walmart indicate it's sufficiently attractive, lightweight, and comfortable to be worn all day for whatever occasion, be it on the job in health care or school or while backpacking or working out. That said, you've gotta like pink; several users note that the accent color on this cheap watch for women is more pink than the online images suggest (we found a similar version with what appears to be aqua, or turquoise, coloration). The alarm and 24-hour countdown timer and chronograph (stopwatch) functions are big selling points, although a few users remark that they're somewhat tricky to set up; one says they make the watch smarter than the reviewer. The water-resistant build of the Timex 1440 T5J151 keeps it fog-free when showering or swimming, according to users.

A fancier aesthetic marks the Casio LTP1237D-7A, which nonetheless manages to keep its grip on user-friendly functionality. In posts on Amazon about cheap watches for women users assert the classic, upscale design belies its budget price. The combination of digits and dots denoting the hours gives it an elegant look, and users say the stainless steel band and case match any outfit, rendering it suitable for the usual round of daily activities as well as special events. A few users complain that the minimal contrast between the digits/dots and shell color of the face makes it hard to read the time and others note that a quick trip to the jewelry counter is necessary to remove links on the band for a tighter fit. The Casio brand gets a shout-out in several reviews of cheap watches for women by way of references to its reputation for quality and longevity.

We found two other cheap watches for women, both analog, that bear mentioning. The Timex 2H351 Easy Reader is another in the manufacturer's line of, yup, easy-to-read cheap watches. And no surprise, comments posted about this model on sites such as Sears extol its virtues for elderly users: large black numbers against a white face and Indiglo technology that lights up the face with the push of a button, enabling dark-of-night time checks. The date function is hard to see, according to some reviewers, but accurate time-keeping is a certainty. (Tip: Remember to set the date first and then the time, otherwise the date will be off by 12 hours.) Users also like the dressy gold expansion band (links can be removed to fit smaller wrists), although one describes it as dull and says the real thing pales in comparison to the picture.

With the Geneva SW-6886, the comfort, sparkle, and $10 starting price for this cheap watch for women seem to outweigh reports of severely limited durability (as in, dead on arrival or after a few wearings) and other assorted ills. In reviews on Overstock, for example, users rave about the bold, fun aesthetic of the cubic zirconia stones ringing the face and the fit and feel of the silicone strap. Some seem so pleased with the look and ease of this cheap watch for women that quality problems don't deter them from wearing one that doesn't work or buying replacements every time one breaks. Other mishaps users report concern stones that fall out, crystals that break, a silicone band that gets sweaty, and inaccurate time.

Watches Reviews

We turned up lots and lots of men's and women's watches for less than $35, which is good news for frugal buyers. Watches reviews indicate that you'll have no trouble finding a nice-looking, reliable model that fits your style, be it a simple, classic analog watch or a more feature-oriented digital model. All of our favorites exhibit the right combination of value, styling, features, and performance.

Watches Crystal

The "crystal" on a watch doesn't refer to any gems or stones that may be set in the watch but to the clear cover that sits on top of the watch dial. The three most common watch crystals are mineral, acrylic, or sapphire. Mineral crystals are relatively scratch-resistant but not shatter-proof. Most cheap watches, including our top picks -- the men's Timex Easy Reader T20041 and Casio WS210HD-1AVCF and the women's Timex 1440 T5J151 and Casio LTP1237D-7A -- feature a mineral crystal. Acrylic is the least expensive crystal to manufacture and the least likely to shatter, but it does scratch easily (buffing may remove shallow scratches). If durability is high on your list of critical attributes, the Timex 30-Lap Ironman T53151 with its acrylic crystal may be your best choice.

At higher price points you'll find watches with a sapphire crystal, which is the most expensive to produce and the most susceptible to shattering but is notably scratch-resistant. A few watches boast a mineral-sapphire crystal (mineral base and sapphire coating), which reduces the likelihood of scratching or shattering. Invicta has developed a hybrid mineral-sapphire crystal called a "flame fusion" crystal, a key feature of the Invicta Men's 9938 Pro Diver.

We found few complaints in watches reviews about scratched crystals on our top picks. Watches reviews posted at Walmart, for example, say the women's Timex 1440 T5J151 survives inadvertent knocks and bangs, fitness workouts, showers, and dish washing without ill effect. The men's Timex T20041 Easy Reader also passes the scratch test in watches reviews found on several sites, including Overstock. Several watches reviews at Amazon about the men's Casio S210HD-1AVCF refer to scratches on the "soft" mineral crystal that appear within days of first use or when fitting the metallic band. (User tip: Buy a protective cover for the face.) The women's Casio LTP1237D-7A is a dress watch and unlikely to suffer much exposure; indeed, we came across only one complaint about scratching in a watches review, although the wearer says the watch still looks classy. Several watches reviews on Amazon about the men's Armitron 408177 report the mineral crystal is susceptible to scratching. Reviewers of the woman's Geneva SW-6886 are mum about scratched crystals but do suggest that this model may have limited durability and usefulness.

Watches Movement

Specifications for a watch always make reference to its "movement," which is the mechanism that keeps the time. Quartz movements are usually battery powered and are the most common, especially in the budget watches segment. Among the watches we researched, the women's Timex 1440 T5J151, Casio LTP1237D-7A, and Geneva SW-6886 and the men's Timex Easy Reader T20041, Armitron 408177, and Timex 30-Lap Ironman T53151 feature a quartz movement. A variant on the quartz theme is the men's Casio WS210HD-1AVCF, whose solar-powered battery draws energy from the sun and doesn't ever need replacing.

The two other types of watch movements are found in models priced far above the Cheapism ceiling. Some upmarket watches use the classic spring-powered, or mechanical movement -- wind it up to set the mechanism and the spring powers the watch hands. Watches with mechanical movements are very intricate, requiring tiny gears and other parts, and thus quite expensive. Watches with an automatic movement, like the Invicta 9938 Pro Diver, are similar to mechanical watches except that your natural motion while wearing the watch provides the energy to keep it running. An automatic watch may need occasional resetting because it can lose a few seconds or minutes over the course of several weeks or if you don't wear it regularly. Alternatively, you can attach the watch to an automatic watch winder, like the Belocia winder, which watches reviews indicate does a fine job keeping an automatic watch ticking on-time while sitting at rest on an inanimate object.

Watches with battery-powered quartz movements should keep good time as long as the battery is working. Again, we found very few negative reports in watches reviews about inaccurate time-keeping by any of our top picks. The men's Casio WS210HD-1AVCF scores for reliability in watches reviews posted at Walmart and Amazon, although a few users note that the tides function needs resetting every few days to maintain accuracy. The men's Timex Easy Reader T20041 also earns kudos for accurate time keeping in watches reviews at several sites, including Amazon. Users say the pricey Invicta 9938 Pro Diver, with its automatic movement, keeps good time if worn regularly or placed in a watch winder, although one watches review at Ashford reports that it gains a couple of minutes every day.

Wearers have little to say about the time-keeping skills of the women's Timex 1440 T5J151 or Casio LTP1237D-7A, which leads us to conclude that these two budget watches hit the mark on time. Numerous watches reviews of the former posted at Amazon and Walmart, though, run on about the sports-oriented features that accurately track workout times and pre-set durations. The Casio LTP1237D-7A is also lauded in watches reviews on Amazon, but largely for its classic and feminine styling. Female users also appreciate the accuracy and reliability of the dressy Timex 2H351 Easy Reader, according to comments posted at Walmart. The women's Geneva SW-6886 gets dinged on the time-keeping front in a couple of watches reviews that report it starts to run slow after a few months.

Watches Extra Features

Fancy watch makers refer to a watch's extra features as "complications." Cheap analog watches tend to have few if any complications (that may mean no second hand), although models like the men's Timex Easy Reader T20041 and women's Timex 2H351 Easy Reader boast a date display. These two watches also feature the company's energy-efficient Indiglo technology, which illuminates the watch in the dark.

Digital watches, even cheap models, often sport several complications. Chronographs (a stopwatch feature), countdown timers, calendars, and alarms are popular extra features in digital watches. Some also come with lap counters and other tools; the men's Casio WS210HD-1AVCF includes a graph to track tides and moon phases. The men's Armitron 408177 features a stopwatch, lap counter, and alarms but users complain that the beeping sound that accompanies every button press to set these functions gets annoying in a hurry.

All but one of the watches we researched are water resistant to at least 99 feet. Specs for the women's Geneva SW-6886 don't mention this feature. Again, reports generally indicate that these models hold true to the stated claims.