Not every guy can afford a Rolex or Hublot watch, or even wants to spend thousands of pounds on one. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish while going easy on your bank account.
There are plenty of affordable luxury watches on the UK market that look just as good as the pricier brands. In this buying guide, I review the five best ones that cost less than 300 pounds. If your budget is even lower than that, check out my article with watches under 50 pounds.
What to Consider When Buying a Budget Luxury Watch
Before you consider anything else, check whether you are about to buy an authentic or fake watch. A couple hundred or more pounds is still a lot of money to spend on a watch; don’t risk buying a fake.
Check the seller of the watch. I recommend buying from brands that are selling the watch directly on Amazon rather than from third party sellers.
To be 100% sure you are buying a genuine luxury watch, look for one that comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Next, consider the materials.
Most budget luxury watches have a stainless steel case. Stainless steel is affordable, has high scratch resistance, doesn’t rust and it lasts long.
The band material is usually the same stainless steel material or leather (make sure it is real leather, not PU leather or some other synthetic alternative).
Also, check the material of the watch face cover. Cheaper watches use acrylic, which is a type of plastic. The advantage of an acrylic watch is that you can buff out shallow scratches.
Mid-range watches use mineral crystal glass. It’s highly scratch resistant.
High-end watches use sapphire crystal glass, which is much stronger and scratch-resistant than mineral crystal.
If your budget is under 300, you are unlikely to find a sapphire crystal watch; mineral crystal watches are more common.
Style is subjective. The best style comes down to your preferences. Some watches have a sporty look, others look very formal while others go perfectly with a casual outfit.
When considering style, consider things like colour, the design of the hands and the band style and width.
D. Case Thickness and Diameter
Watches for men tend to have a thicker and wider case.
Because men generally have thicker hands, you don’t want to get a watch that’s too small. It’ll look dainty and closer to a bracelet.
If you have small or medium size wrists (6-7 inches), look for a case diameter between 36mm and 42mm. If you have a large wrist, a 43mm to 46mm case will do. For extra-large wrists, a 48mm case will be the right fit.
Generally, case thickness goes up with case diameter. If you get a watch with a large diameter, expect a thick and chunky case.
Case thickness starts at 4-6mm for thin cases, 7-11mm for medium, 12-14mm for large and 15-18mm for extra-large.
Tip: While band width doesn’t affect fit, it’s essential for proportionality. A nice-looking watch should have a band that’s roughly half as wide as the case diameter. For instance, a 46mm watch case should be paired with a 23mm (or close) wide band.
E. Type of Movement
The movement of a watch is its engine; what makes it tick, literary. There are three types of watch movements:
- Quartz: The most accurate and cheapest type of watch movement. A good number of watches under 300 quid are quartz. Quartz movements are highly accurate and require no winding. The only thing you need to do is replace the battery after some time.
- Mechanical: Mechanical movements are used in most luxury watches. A mechanical watch will last a very long time. The only downside is that you’ll need to wind it often, usually daily, to ensure it keeps accurate time.
- Automatic: An automatic watch is a type of mechanical watch that doesn’t require the daily winding routine. The watch uses the movement of your hands to spin a rotor whose motion automatically powers the winding mechanism. However, if you stay a few days without wearing the watch, you’ll have to wind it manually and reset it as well. You can put the watch in a watch winder to avoid this.
F. Features (Stopwatch, Alarm etc.)
Apart from showing time, check what other features the watch offers such as alarm, a stopwatch, a 24h mode and calendar.
G. Water Resistance
Finally, check whether the watch is water resistance or waterproof. Most luxury watches under 300 pounds are waterproof.
However, there’s a limit to how much water pressure they can withstand before they lose their water resistance.
It ranges from 3 bar or ATM (30 metres of water) to 10 bar (100 metres of water).
H. Gift Box
If you are buying the watch as a gift for your partner, friend or family member, look for one that comes with a gift box. A branded gift box is much better than a generic gift box.
Best Watches for Men Under 300
1. Emporio Armani Men’s Watch
Emporio Armani is one of the best brands for guys looking for a watch under 300 quid. Their watches look great and are well made.
This particular one has a case diameter of 46mm, perfect for men with large wrists. Case thickness is also on the higher end at 12mm. The band is 24mm wide.
As for material, the 46mm Emporio Armani uses stainless steel for the case as well as the band. This gives the watch a chunky and commanding look. It also makes it hardy and durable.
The watch face covering is mineral glass. It has a very high resistance to scratches and can resist pressure up to 5 bar or 50 metres of water.
The style of the Emporio Armani is formal. It features a black dial with chrome indexes and hands for contrast. The eagle on the 12 o’clock mark is a nice touch.
The Emporio Armani watch features a stop watch, 24-hour mode and date.
The watch comes in Emporio Armani gift box along with a certificate of authenticity to guarantee it’s a genuine watch.
Note that the Emporio Armani watch uses a quartz movement, so you don’t need to wind it.
What I like about it:
- Perfect for men with large wrists.
- Excellent construction.
- Includes stopwatch and 24h functions.
- Comes with gift box and certificate of authenticity.
2. HUGO Mens Multi Dial Quartz Watch
The Hugo Mens quartz watch is another good option for guys with a large wrist. The case is 43mm wide and 8mm thick. The band is 20mm wide.
It uses a quartz movement so there’s no need to ever wind it.
The black dial and grey indexes give the watch face a formal and minimalist look. Even the hour and minute hands are black with white tips for easy identification. The second hand is red, which matches nicely with the HUGO BOSS logo inside.
The black band completes the formal look of this watch.
In addition to the main dial, there are two additional dials for the calendar. One indicates the day of the week while the other shows the date.
Both the watch case and strap are made from stainless steel while the dial window is mineral glass. Ion plating on the strap makes it highly durable and increases resistance to fading and wear.
The Hugo Mens quartz watch is waterproof up to 3 bar/ATM, or about 30 meters of water.
Accessories provided along with the watch include a gift box and watch cushion.
What I like about it:
- Beautiful minimalist style.
- No-wind quartz movement.
- Includes day calendar.
- Comes with a gift box.
3. Michael Kors Men’s MK8281 Quartz Stainless Steel Lexington Gold Watch
If you are looking to spend a bit less on a luxury watch, get this gold-finished one from Michael Kors. This one is on the opposite end of the Hugo Mens watch in terms of style.
While the Hugo watch is understated and minimalist, the Michael Kors MK8281 watch is loud and flamboyant.
Almost every component is finished in gold, including the watch case, strap, crown and pushers and the hands.
Black numbers and indexes provide a good contrast, making it easy to tell the time.
Under the gold surface, both the case and band are stainless steel. The dial window is mineral glass. The watch can withstand 10 bars of pressure or about 100m of water depth.
Additional features include a stopwatch, 24h mode and date.
As for size, the case is 45mm wide and 13mm thick. This is a chunky watch for men with large wrists. The band is 20mm thick.
Overall, the Michael Kors MK8281 is a great choice for men who are looking for a shiny timepiece that’s showy and a bit bling-y.
The watch comes in an official Michael Kors gift box.
What I like about it:
- Great style for men who prefer showy watches.
- Stainless steel and mineral glass construction.
- Low price.
- Includes stop watch, 24h mode and date.
4. Tommy Hilfiger 1791118 Watch
The Tommy Hilfiger 1791118 is another good choice for those looking to save some money on a luxury watch.
The design is sportier than the others, but also works well as a casual style watch.
The Tommy Hilfiger watch combines a rose gold case, a white enamel dial and a dark blue bezel to create a great “Saturday morning brunch” look. The brown leather strap completes the design.
Size-wise, the Tommy Hilfiger watch is designed for extra-large wrists. Case diameter is 48mm and thickness is 12mm. The band is 22m wide.
Oversize indexes match the large size of the watch. Even the hands are larger than average.
The watch face includes the main dial for telling time, a 24h dial and date and day dials. Around the bezel is another dial called a tachymeter.
Most people don’t use it but it’s handy for measuring the speed of something or an activity.
Overall, the Tommy Hilfiger 1791118 is a great casual-styled watch for men with extra-large hands.
What I like about it:
- Water resistant (up to 50m of water).
- Beautiful casual/sporty style.
- Includes calendar, 24h mode and tachymeter.
- Durable stainless steel, leather and mineral glass construction.
5. Armani Exchange Men’s Watch
Shopping on a budget? I recommend the Armani Exchange Men’s Watch. It is the cheapest of my picks.
The watch has basic functionality. It has only a main dial and a date indicator – no stopwatch, 24h mode or a date dial.
In terms of style, the Armani Exchange watch has an urban look to it. It’s part of Armani’s A|X timepieces designed to offer urban fashion lovers something beautiful but affordable.
The dial is black with contrasting silver hands and indexes. The case is stainless steel and the band is real leather.
The Armani Exchange Men’s Watch is designed for men with large wrists. The case diameter is 46mm and thickness is 12mm. The band is 22mm wide.
Overall, I don’t think the Armani Exchange Men’s Watch has the same luxury look as my other picks but it still looks really good for the price.
Go for it if you want something affordable without a gazillion dials on the watch face. The Armani Exchange watch just tells the time and date.
What I like about it:
- Low price.
- Shows date.
- Stainless steel, leather and mineral glass construction.
- Comes in an Armani gift box.