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It's not every day you find sapphire crystal in a watch retailing for under $600, but we've done it.
At a time when high-tech "smart" watches and fitness gadgets are becoming all the rage for your wrists, we will always have a soft spot for the classics (especially when it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get them).
These are 10 of the best looking, and totally affordable, watches of 2014 – all of which we'd be happy to strap to our own wrists. For best results, wear these watches with a nice suit or smart-casual attire, not to the gym.
1. Tissot Tradition Rose Gold PVD Men's Quartz Classic Chronograph
The Tissot Tradition Classic Chronograph promises to blend "ultramodern watchmaking" with a "hint of nostalgia. The nostalgia piece comes in the form of guilloche decoration, vintage finishes, and classic aesthetic details. The high-tech half takes the form of a Quartz ETA G10.211 movement, a stainless steel case with PVD coating, and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
2. Seiko Men's Stainless Steel Green Dial Chronograph
Seiko watches ooze class for not too many bucks and this one is no exception. The large, open dial comes in a distinguished green shade that will make you want to go hunting or racing immediately. Contrasting features in gold and white provide functionality in the form of glowing hands and hour markers, date display, and an unusual-for-an-analogue alarm. The final piece of the smart-casual puzzle is a brown crocodile-patterned leather strap.
3. Breytenbach BB7760
Here is German efficiency at its finest, coolest and cheapest. As automatic watches became increasingly expensive, Breytenbach became determined to build an automatic watch that offered both unique design and sufficient functionality for an affordable price. The BB7760 has it all, from a Ronda 5020B Swiss Quartz movement, to a stainless steel case and bezel, to a leather crocodile strap, to an eye-catching black and white face - and a surprisingly low price tag.
4. Magrette Regattare Chronograph
Magrette was founded on four themes: mysterious, alluring, old-world, strong. Together, they're the driving force behind a watch brand that champions bold but timeless designs. The Regattare Chronograph achieves the eternally cool look with a chocolate brown leather strap, Superluminova C3 details, double domed sapphire crystal, stainless steel case, and a Seagull TY-2901 (ST1901) hand-wind chronograph (based on the vintage Venus 175).
5. Bulova Men's 98B103 Marine Star Calendar
Bulova introduced its first line of wristwatches in 1919 and maintains its tradition of excellence in technology and design today. With the 98B103 Marine Star Calendar watch, the New York-based watchmaker brings the drama without the bankruptcy. Bulova's affordable watch combines a Japanese-quartz movement with a mineral crystal, square stainless steel case, black dial with a grid design, and a tough-looking black leather strap with distinctive perforations.
6. Lacoste Black Leather Strap watch
Normally decorating your wrist in crocodile means donning a reptilian watch strap, but this time it means sporting Lacoste's famous crocodile emblem on your watch's face. If you ever doubted that Lacoste has anything going for it other than polo shirts, doubt no more. The Lacoste Black Leather Strap Watch is simple, sleek, and stylish, and will hardly put a dent in your bank account.
7. Citizen CA0331-56L Men's Stainless Steel Mesh Strap watch
Citizen Eco-Drive harnesses the power of light from any natural or artificial light source and converts it into energy – meaning it never needs a battery, and it's hands-down one of the coolest features you'll see for under $500. The CA0331-56L gives the Eco-Drive movement a handsome, effortlessly sharp exterior with classic styling and a slightly sporty edge.
8. TRIWA Havana Nevil Brown
Swedish watch and sunglasses company TRIWA takes its name from an acronym: TRansforming the Industry of WAtches. The company is out to bring attitude, individuality and creativity to the traditional world of watches and accessories. The Havana Nevil Brown injects a little more sophistication into that ethos – via a genuine leather strap, a stainless steel sun ray dial, and brown chronograph sub dials – though the orange contrast secondhand makes it clear that the brand's playfulness is still fully intact.
9. Sekonda Chronograph
British watch brand Sekonda has produced innovative designs since its launch in 1966. The Sekonda line-up is built on a foundation of high-quality movements and materials, then amped up with playful pops of colour and bold sports watches with oversized dials. The Sekonda Chronograph is all of that rolled into one, at a surprisingly cheap price.
10. Daniel Wellington Classic York
Daniel Wellington is clear in its mission: provide watches for the preppy market. In keeping with DW tradition, the Classic York is thin and elegant with a clean, nearly-featureless face – designed to complement the bright patterns and colours of a Nato strap. The Quartz Japan citizen 1L22 movement-driven Classic York comes with a dark brown crocodile strap as a chic counterpart to its rose gold body, rather than one of the brand's famous Nato straps, but it's interchangeable if you'd prefer to stick with tradition.
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