Best Cheap Automatic Watch On The Market [Review + Buying Guide]

As Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying Purchases – at no extra cost to you Learn More

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

We all fancy getting an automatic watch for ourselves, don’t we? But the pricing of automatic watches seems to be the biggest problem for a lot of us. After all, these watches don’t come cheap.

Are you facing the exact same issue?

Well, in that case, just go through this article. I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best cheap automatic watch here.

I know that a lot of struggle with the buying considerations. That’s why I’ve added a buying after the affordable automatic watches review section.

So, what are you waiting for?

Start reading!

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS  rating price
best Cheap Watch Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533
  • Size (Case Diameter): 42mm
  • Water Resistance: 10 ATM
10
Premium Pick Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B
  • Size (Case Diameter): 40mm
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM
10
budget Pick Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Seiko Series 5 SNK807
  • Size (Case Diameter): 37mm
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
10
 Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Orient 2nd Gen Bambino Version I
  • Size (Case Diameter): 40.5mm
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
9.5
 Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Bulova Automatic – 98A179
  • Size (Case Diameter): 46mm
  • Water Resistance: 10 ATM
9.5
 Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Bulova Dress Watch 96C132
  • Size (Case Diameter): 42mm
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
9
 Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Seiko Series 5 SNK795
  • Size (Case Diameter): 37mm
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
8.5
 Fanmis “Reginald” Rotatable Bezel Luxury Quartz Watch Swatch Automatic YIM400G
  • Size (Case Diameter): 42mm
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
8.5

8 Best Affordable Automatic Watches in 2021

Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533 – Best Overall

Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533

Let’s start with the most hyped up cheap automatic watch first. Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533 is almost a celebrity of a watch after Captain America (Chris Evans) wore this watch in the 2012 movie – The Avengers.

Right after that, Hamilton Khaki Field became a pop-culture phenomenon, and the sales skyrocketed.

The funny thing is Hamilton Khaki Field has a lot of common with Captain America himself! This watch is tough, durable, and dependable.

Hamilton is known for its ‘American Spirit and Swiss Precision.’

To honor this brand image, Hamilton has included their in-house H-10 caliber as the driver for this watch. H-10 is based on ETA C07.111, which a modified version of the famous ETA 2824-2 caliber.

If you’re familiar with the watch community, you should be well-aware of the capabilities of the ETA 2824-2. This Swiss ‘workhorse’ caliber is one of the most trusted and dependable entry-level calibers in the world.

As I said, ETA C07.111 is a modified version. While ETA 2824-2 has only 40 hours of power reserve, this caliber offers 80 hours. It uses the same technology as the Tissot Powermatic 80 and doubles the power reserve time.

However, there are some negative sides to this caliber too.

To reduce the price, H-10 uses some plastic parts instead of the original metal components of the ETA 2824-2. So, H-10 offers double the power reserve time but an inferior option when it comes to durability.

Some older Hamilton Khaki Field came with ETA 2824-2, but Hamilton discontinued them to offer a better value proposition.

When it comes to craftsmanship and material choice, Hamilton Khaki Fields is on par with the premium Swiss options.

This watch truly is a masterpiece.

Product Specifications – Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533

  • Caliber Number: Hamilton H-10
  • Base Caliber: ETA C07.111
  • Jewel Count: 25
  • Power Reserve: 80 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 10mm
  • Band Width: 22mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Genuine Cow Leather
  • Water-Resistance: 10 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Tang and Buckle
  • Crystal: Sapphire

Pros

  • High-quality movement option
  • Swiss craftsmanship and impressive build quality
  • Better brand value
  • Impressive water resistance
  • Long power reserve time

Cons

  • The H-10 or the ETA C07.111 is a variant of the ETA 2824-2 but comes with a few plastic components to make it cheaper. The original ETA 2824-2 is a superior option but with a lower power reserve

Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B – The Premium Option

Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B

The second option on my list is another Swiss watch – Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B.

It’s a classic elegant option that will elevate your status in any social gathering! This watch is almost unbeatable in terms of looks and reliability in this class.

Frederique Constant uses a modified Sellita SW200-1 caliber called FC-303 here. Unlike Hamilton Khaki Field, Frederique Constant didn’t make many changes to the original Sellita SW200-1.

Sellita SW200-1 is equivalent to ETA 2824-2 in terms of accuracy, reliability, and durability. The only difference is that Sellita SW200-1 has 26 jewels compared to ETA 2824-2’s 25 jewel count.

When it comes to craftsmanship and build quality, I’d put Frederique Constant Classics Index above the Hamilton Khaki Field!

This watch screams premiumness in every aspect.

However, the price is a big issue here.

If you’re on a tight budget, you might have to skip this one!

Product Specifications – Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B

  • Caliber Number: FC-303
  • Base Caliber: Sellita SW200-1
  • Jewel Count: 26
  • Power Reserve: 38 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Thickness: 10.2mm
  • Band Width: 20mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Polished)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel (Polished)
  • Water-Resistance: 5 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Push Button Deployant
  • Crystal: Anti-Reflective Sapphire

Pros

  • Swiss craftsmanship and impressive build quality
  • The reliable choice of movement
  • Elegant and classy design
  • Superior material choice

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive

Seiko Series 5 SNK807 – Best Budget Option

Seiko Series 5 SNK807

Seiko Series 5 is a cult classic in the budget automatic watch segment.

Very few watches can compete with the watchmaking giant Seiko when it comes to price-to-performance ratio. In fact, Seiko Series 5 is the highest-selling budget automatic watch series in the world!

And Seiko Series 5 SNK807 is the most popular model in the Series 5 lineup. The unmatchable pricing and uncompromising durability are the core reasons for the massive popularity of SNK807.

Seiko uses the ever-reliable 7S26 caliber as the driver of SNK807. Seiko still uses this 25-year-old caliber in a number of watches. However, 7S26 doesn’t have hand-winding or hacking features. So, it could be an issue for you.

Still, I’d overlook these negative traits considering the price. After all, we’re talking about the ultimate budget-champ here!

The inclusion of a nylon strap not only helps to lower the price but also makes the watch a perfect fit for regular usage.  

Product Specifications – Seiko Series 5 SNK807

  • Caliber Number: Seiko 7S26
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Power Reserve: 40 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 37mm
  • Case Thickness: 11mm
  • Band Width: 18mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Nylon
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Tang and Buckle
  • Crystal: Scratch Resistant Hardlex

Pros

  • Extremely budget-friendly
  • One of the best entry-level automatic watches
  • Reliable build quality
  • Seiko has a good brand value

Cons

  • Has accuracy issues
  • Poor water resistance

Orient 2nd Gen Bambino Version I

Orient 2nd Gen Bambino Version I

When it comes to Japanese watch brands, people tend to recognize only Seiko, Citizen, and Casio. Yes, they are the giants.

But a true watch lover shouldn’t overlook Orient.

Orient also has a rich history and legacy – the origin of this brand started back in 1901! Yes, this brand is that old.

Currently, the Orient brand is owned by Epson, and Seiko owns Epson. So, you can say that Orient is a subsidiary of Seiko Group. Despite the ownership of Seiko, Orient has a separate business strategy and identity in the market. And, Seiko doesn’t want to indulge in the business strategies as there is a massive following of Orient.

Among the lineups of Orient, the Bambino has cult status among the fans!

After the success of the 1st generation Bambino, Orient launched the 2nd Gen Bambino Version I in 2017. Of course, the watch was an instant hit!

Orient 2nd Gen Bambino offers value and straight-up compete against the big boys (!) Seiko 5s. In some cases, Bambino even beats those watches.

For example, the Seiko 5 SNK807 comes with7S26, and this caliber doesn’t have the hacking and manual winding capabilities, as you know. Orient’s F6724 comes with both of those features. Also, the pricing is very competitive.

Then comes the factor of craftsmanship and elegant looks.

Orient Bambino is a stunning looking watch that is a great option for formal usage. If you’re looking for the best value dress watch, very few watches in the market come close to this masterpiece.

 Yes, the Orient F6724 is not as good as the ETA of Sellita calibers, but you’ll not be disappointed.

Product Specifications – Orient 2nd Gen Bambino Version I

  • Caliber Number: Orient F6724
  • Jewel Count: 22
  • Power Reserve: 40 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 40.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.8mm
  • Band Width: 21mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Genuine Leather
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Tang and Buckle
  • Crystal: Domed Mineral

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Minimalistic design
  • The reliable brand operates under Seiko
  • Offers great value compared to the price

Cons

  • Poor water resistance

Bulova Automatic – 98A179

Bulova Automatic - 98A179

Citizen, the biggest watch company in the world, has some great watches too when it comes to the best cheap automatic watch.

Don’t be confused as I speak of Citizen watches in the Bulova Automatic – 98A179 review. Citizen Watch Co owns Bulova.

Bulova is one of the oldest American watch brands that was founded in 1875! Bulova watches are well-known for offering bold, muscular designs.

The biggest appeal of the Bulova Automatic – 98A179 is the skeleton watch face. This is one of the best skeleton automatic watches that you can find. Yes, they’re cheaper skeleton watches, but those are very inferior compared to this timepiece’s craftsmanship.

Bulova uses the Miyota Caliber 8N24 coming from the parent company Citizen. This is a reliable and well-known caliber that Citizen uses in a lot of entry-level automatic watches.

Let’s talk about the design section now.

Bulova Automatic – 98A179 will impress you with the ion-plated gunmetal finish. The complete watch has a soothing polished finish, and the bold color of the gunmetal looks very premium.

I’d suggest getting this watch if you have a thicker wrist. The 46mm diameter suits the thicker hands more than, the thinner wrists.

The price could be an issue but think about the value proposition this watch is offering. I think the price is quite justified, and anything less will burn money for the company.  

Product Specifications – Bulova Automatic – 98A179

  • Caliber Number: Miyota Cal. 8N24
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Power Reserve: 40 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 46mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.2mm
  • Band Width: 27mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Gunmetal Ion-Plated)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel (Gunmetal Ion-Plated)
  • Water-Resistance: 10 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Butterfly Deployant
  • Crystal: Scratch Resistant Sapphire

Pros

  • Skeleton dial
  • Impressive craftsmanship
  • Superior material choice
  • Great water resistance
  • Fashionable and elegant

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Bulky and heavy

Bulova Dress Watch 96C132

Bulova Dress Watch 96C132

If the skeleton watch face is a bit too much for your taste and personality, you can go for this minimalist looking Bulova Dress Watch 96C132.

This watch even costs significantly less than the previous skeleton watch. Bulova uses the basic Miyota 8205 ‘workhorse’ caliber. This caliber is very reliable and will serve you for years.

You can compare the Miyota 8205 with the Seiko 7S26 as both of the calibers lack hacking and manual winding capabilities. Both the calibers also have a similar accuracy level – Seiko 7S26 gains 47 seconds per week and Miyota 8205 losses 44 seconds per week.

You need to understand that the choice of caliber is not the biggest strength of Bulova Dress Watch 96C132. Rather, the design and craftsmanship are something that stands out.

The silver finish and the minimalistic black dial make the watch very sophisticated and go perfectly well with suits and other formal wear.

Product Specifications – Bulova Dress Watch 96C132

  • Caliber Number: Miyota Cal. 8205
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Power Reserve: 40 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.5mm
  • Band Width: 20.4mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Brushed)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel (Brushed)
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Double Press Fold-Over with Safety
  • Crystal: Mineral

Pros

  • Minimalistic sophisticated design
  • Impressive craftsmanship
  • Fashionable and elegant
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • The caliber has accuracy issues

Seiko Series 5 SNK795

Seiko Series 5 SNK795

You can think of the Seiko Series 5 SNK795 to be an alternate variant of the Seiko 5 SNK807. While the SNK807 is a sporty looking watch, SNK795 has a formal feel to it.

For example, this watch ditches the nylon strap with a complete metal finish. The combination of the brushed and the metal finish looks premium and appealing.

As for the choice of caliber, both of the watches use the Seiko 7S26. As you already know, this caliber is reliable and will serve you for a long time.

The case diameter and size makes this a great option for both gents and ladies. That’s why I think this is the best cheap unisex automatic watch.

Overall, this is a great option if you’re looking for an entry-level automatic watch for the first time.

Product Specifications – Seiko Series 5 SNK795

  • Caliber Number: Seiko 7S26
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Power Reserve: 40 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 37mm
  • Case Thickness: 11mm
  • Band Width: 18mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Deployant
  • Crystal: Scratch Resistant Hardlex

Pros

  • Extremely budget-friendly
  • One of the best entry-level automatic watches
  • Unisex option
  • Reliable build quality
  • Seiko has a good brand value

Cons

  • Has accuracy issues
  • Poor water resistance

Swatch Automatic YIM400G

Swatch Automatic YIM400G

The last option on my list today is a Swiss watch. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the Swiss fashion watch brand Swatch.

Swatch has a good reputation for making fashionable and trendy watches at a lower price point.

Swatch Automatic YIM400G is not an exception either. This watch will stun you with craftsmanship and design. The watch is fully coated with Gunmetal PVD giving a soothing smooth finish. The monochrome color makes the watch look very elegant and goes well with your suits and office wears.

Another strong side of Swatch Automatic YIM400G is the choice of caliber. Swatch uses their famous Sistem51 caliber, which is a modified version of the ETA C10.111. This caliber can keep time for up to 90 hours with full winding.

It’s quite rare to find such a great option in this price range. Even the Hamilton H-10 or Tissot Powermatic 80 don’t have such a long power reserve time.

If you are hunting for a create cheap Swiss automatic watch, Swatch Automatic Sistem51 might just be that watch!

Product Specifications – Swatch Automatic YIM400G

  • Caliber Number: Sistem51
  • Base Caliber: ETA C10.111
  • Jewel Count: 21
  • Power Reserve: 90 Hours
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 14mm
  • Band Width: 19mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel (Gunmetal PVD)
  • Band Material: Stainless Steel
  • Water-Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Clasp Type: Butterfly Deployant
  • Crystal: Scratch Resistant Mineral

Pros

  • Comes with Swiss caliber
  • Extremely long power reserve time
  • Luminous hands
  • The complete gunmetal finish looks fashionable and classy.
  • Great budget option

Cons

  • Poor quality crystal
  • No hand-winding option
  • Poor water resistanc

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Automatic Watch?

Automatic watches tend to be more expensive compared to the quartz counterparts. This is mainly because of the complex mechanism and the intricacies.

Also, it’s a fact that people see an automatic watch as a prestigious possession.

So, when you are shopping for a cheap automatic watch, you’d have to be very strategic. Of course, you’ll have to sacrifice as you wouldn’t get all the premium features in a cheap automatic watch.

Now comes the main question – what are some of the more important buying considerations?

The Choice of Caliber Is NOT That Important!

Yes, you’ve read it right!

We all know that the choice of caliber is very important for an automatic watch. However, when it comes to the affordable automatic watches review, you should overlook it!

Why?

Because in the lower end of the spectrum, you’d be happy to get a basic caliber with a decent level of accuracy. Having an ETA 2824, Seiko 7SXX, or Miyota 82XX caliber on your budget automatic watch more than you can hope for!

Surely, these calibers are NOT the best options – far from it! But they’re perfect for the best affordable automatic watches.

Think about it – you wouldn’t have a $100 automatic watch if these ‘workhorse’ calibers weren’t there.

Basically, you’d want to have a caliber that offers a decent accuracy. Don’t hope for anything too fancy.

More: TRIWA Watches Review: The Disruptive Swedish Brand

Case Material and Size

As you’re compromising in the choice of the caliber (movement), you should make that up by being nitpicky about the case and band.

Most of the decent quality automatic watches come with stainless steel. And, do NOT settle for anything else.

Now, the watch might have a typical stainless steel build or come with 316L surgical grade stainless steel. As you can guess, 316L SS is a superior option here.

Also, you’d want to pay attention to the finishing quality and process treatment. Some come with a brushed finish, while others have a polished finish. Then, some manufacturers offer ion-plating (IP) or physical vapor deposition (PVD) treatments over the base material.

These specialized treatments enhance the beauty of the watch by tenfold!

Choose the type of treatment that suits your taste and choice.

Now, let’s talk about another crucial matter – the size of the case. Sadly, most of the new users overlook this important factor.

It’s possible that you’ve fallen in love with a mesmerizing looking watch online. Without any delay, you hit the ‘buy now’ button and patiently wait for the delivery.

More: How Does a Kinetic Watch Work? – COMPLETE GUIDE

But alas!

The watch seems to fit on an ogre’s wrist!

It’s a very common scenario.

You MUST sync the size of the watch to your wrist size. A mismatch might ruin the complete look, and the watch will end up collecting dust in your closet!

For example, Bulova Automatic – 98A179 is quite a large watch with 46mm diameter and doesn’t look good on a thin wrist. In this case, Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B should be a great option as it has a smaller case diameter of 40mm.

More: Best Watch for Basic Training: The Ultimate Showdown of Tough Watches

Save Your Watch from Water!

Wouldn’t it be a shame if your best cheap automatic watch dies because of some splashes of water?

That’s why you NEED to pay attention to the water-resistance of the watch.

Sadly, automatic watches aren’t known for having impressive water resistance performance. The best affordable automatic watches hardly come with a water resistance rating over 3ATM.

That being said, your watch shouldn’t have a water resistance rating lower than 3 ATM. This resistance rating should be fine for casual swimming but not for diving or snorkeling.

A good place to settle in the 5 ATM resistance rating. With this level of water resistance, you can take a swim in the river with your trusty watch without any worry!

There’re only a handful of watch manufacturers who offer automatic watches with 10 ATM water resistance. This is the gold standard!

This is one of the main reasons why I’ve put Hamilton Khaki Field in the first place. Hamilton Khaki is elegant and reliable in tough terrains – this watch will support you in every condition.

More: How Do You Maintain A Leather Watch Strap

Strap and Clasp – Small Things Matter!

Almost every single premium high budget automatic watch has an impressive strap and clasp. These small things make them superior to the cheaper ones in the market.

A lot of cheap automatic watches come with a fake leather strap or poor metal bracelets. It’s because manufacturers don’t want to spend money on premium features.

While choosing the straps, you should ask yourself – “how do I want to use my watch?”

Based on your choice, you should decide on the type of strap for your watch. If you are planning to use your watch for formal gatherings or special occasions, you should go for the leather option.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a daily driver, a metal bracelet or nylon strap will serve you better.

Leather straps offer a premium look and feel to the watch. Of course, the leather has to be genuine, not a cheap fake alternative!

More: Check our Guide to Mulco Watches Review here

Metal and nylon straps are more robust and can take the abuse of daily usage. The Seiko Series 5 is the perfect example in this case.

Now, you need to understand that the inclusion of a leather strap will increase the price. Aftermarket options can save the day here. Just buy a cheaper watch irrespective of the strap type. Then, look for a high-quality strap in the market and use it with your watch.

This strategy will serve you in two ways – you can get a good watch at a lower price, and offers a chance for customization.

As for customization, you should also pay attention to the type of clasp. Watches tend to have two major types of clasp variants – tang and buckle, and deployant.

Most of the cheap watches (not for metal bracelets) come with a tang and buckle option. These clasps serve a purpose but don’t have the premium feel to them.

If you want to upgrade the looks of your watch, you should get an aftermarket deployant option. Almost all the premium watches have deployant clasps paired with leather straps.

Aftermarket straps and clasps are quite cheap too.

So, you can upgrade the looks of your watch quite easily without breaking the bank.

More: Best Croton Watches Review: Ghost of the Former Self?

Conclusion

So, that’s the end of the discussion for the best cheap automatic watch. I hope this article helped you and you can now buy a decent automatic watch with a better-informed decision.

But, before I finish, let’s end with the rating – what is the best cheap automatic watch?

Considering all the aspects, Hamilton Khaki Field H70555533 is the champion today. Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303BN5B6B comes to the second spot.

Lastly, Seiko Series 5 SNK807 grabs the third spot for being the budget king!

Do you agree with my picks?

What are your favorite cheap automatic watches?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Leave a Comment

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