⌚ Last updated September 1, 2019
This Guide Will Help You Buy the Best Quartz Watch Under $100!
When you get a quartz watch, it’s either because you like your watches to be always on time (unlike their mechanical counterparts), or you just want something easy to operate and sturdy enough to cope with everyday use and abuse.
Now, the best quartz watch under $100 is probably not from a brand you see everywhere on social media. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
You can find the best value for money in the traditional brands.
Not only do they offer great quality – but they’re often more affordable and more stylish than fashion watches.
So here are the best quartz watches under $100 you can find today, reviewed. Enjoy!
My Top 11 Best Quartz Watches Under $100
- Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive
- Casio EF-527D-1AVEF
- Fossil Machine Smoke
- Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph
- Orient Flight SS
- Swatch Dirigent YGS472G
- Skagen Hagen SKW6327
- Victorinox 241517
- Bulova 96B104
- Braun BN0032
- Seiko SNE331
Our rating: 98%
Let’s begin our list with this simple Citizen watch.
Citizen doesn’t get much attention, but it’s a manufacturer that builds reliable and good-looking watches for a very fair price.
Now, the value of this one is not fair – it’s tremendous.
Among other things, this Citizen:
- is perfect for everyday wear – with its simple yet striking field watch look
- is comfortable – thanks to its small 37.5 mm case size (small-wristed watch enthusiasts will love this)
- never runs out of power – the Eco-Drive system will tick basically for ever if you let it in the sunlight (it’s a solar watch that recharges with any light source)
Add a day and date complication plus 100 m of water resistance, and that’s probably the only watch you’ll ever need.
But because it’s a perfect everyday watch doesn’t mean it’s boring!
That playful red seconds hand elevates the appeal of the watch quite a lot.
Put it on a military green canvas strap, and you have one hell of a watch to rock in pretty much every occasion.
If you’ve been on the fence about Citizen, don’t – they make great watches and this one is no exception.
Our rating: 96%
When it comes to value for money, no manufacturer can beat Casio, period.
But the Casio Edifice range has probably the best affordable sports watches available on the market today: rugged, built like a tank, well designed, packed with useful features.
Seriously, I can’t think of any other brand who can deliver such great watches for such a comparatively low price.
Now… LOOK. AT. THAT. THING!
Sure, at more than 45 mm, it’s not for the faint-hearted – or the smaller wrists, for that matter.
But if you happen to like (or need) bigger watches, this one over delivers with:
- a 12-hour stopwatch to time everything you can think of – including long work days
- a slide rule that makes for a great currency conversion tool while travelling abroad
- 100 m of water resistance – so you can keep it while washing your hands or when it rains
I already experienced 2 Casio Edifice chronographs in the past, and they were just perfect. This one is no different.
Plus, from a design standpoint, you get a mashup between an Omega Speedmaster and a Breitling Navitimer – only for the fraction of the price and with the reliability of a quartz movement.
The only question remaining is: what are you waiting for?
Our rating: 96%
Fossil is one of those brands who can ride the fine line between selling fashion watches and being a reputable brand.
And this Machine Smoke certainly lives up to the hype.
First and foremost, look at that gunmetal finish: you just don’t see these many watches out there with such a color, and finished this tastefully.
But if you look closer, you’ll begin to see all the great subtleties this watch has to offer:
- a very distinctive hands set – not too bold, not too flashy, but super interesting and always legible
- a small and delicate date window – ideally positioned at 6 o’clock to not detract from the symmetry of the dial (and it doesn’t overpower it either)
- a beautiful bezel featuring one of the most sought-after patterns in horology : the Clous de Paris (literally “Nails of Paris”)
And this, to me, makes it a watch you can wear both for work and for leisure.
It’s just sporty enough to wear every day, but those details makes it equally at ease in a business environment.
I had to sell mine because it was too big for my small wrist. But if you happen to have a 7-inch+ wrist, don’t hesitate and get it!
Our rating: 92%
If you’ve never seen a Timex watch, either on social media or in real life, you’ve probably have been hiding under a rock.
In fact, Timex watches are easy to source (both online and in retail stores) and they offer cool designs and a lot of functions – all for a very affordable price.
This exact model is one of the most interesting colorways available today in the Expedition Scout chronograph range from Timex.
The green dial plays wonderfully with the orange seconds hand of the chronograph and the tan suede leather strap (that is super comfortable to wear).
Not only that, but you get:
- 100 m of water resistance – which you don’t always see on such an affordable chronograph, so you’re good to go for everyday activities
- a nice, clean field watch design – the kind of designs that blends in a business environment or while out having drinks with your friends
- the Indiglo feature – which lets you check the time in complete darkness
And if that looks like a gimmick to you, here is a question I have for you:
How many times have you been driving at night or chatting in a night club, only to find out that you can’t read the time on your analog watch?
That just doesn’t happen on a Timex with the Indiglo feature. Push the crown, and the whole dial lights up!
I loved it on mine, and I’m sure you will on yours.
Our rating: 98%
This watch has strong cues from flieger watches – pilot watches from WW2.
Now, when you think of flieger watches, you think of German watches. After all, flieger means aviator!
So why in the world would you consider a flieger watch from Orient, a Japanese watch manufacturer? Well, because:
- it’s a tribute to the real thing, with its own vibe – you typically don’t see baton hour markers at 3, 6 and 9
- it has a date complication – which usually is a no-no on a flieger, but it’s tastefully integrated in the design here (and it’s super useful)
- it’s part of the Seiko Epson group – it’s a well-built piece that looks and feels substantial from a reputable group
I’ve owned 2 Orient watches, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.
Beautiful, well-built, feature-packed, excellent value for money… seriously, you just can’t go wrong with this watch.
In bonus, you get a brand that flies under the radar (pun intended). So if you want something different, this watch might be it!
Our rating: 90%
Blancpain, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Certina… what do these watches have in common with Swatch?
Everything. They’re all part of the largest watch group in the world: Swatch.
Also : they’re all Swiss Made.
And that’s the beauty about Swatch – it’s probably the only watch brand in the world from which you can buy a Swiss watch for an affordable price.
Now, it’s hard to pick just ONE Swatch to feature, as they are so many cool designs to chose from.
But I figured out this one is worth mentioning because:
- it fits everybody – at 37 mm, it’s a perfect size for both small- and medium-wristed watch lovers
- it goes with everything – the simple yet elegant design makes it a perfect watch to wear for every occasion
- it’s beautiful – with its blue sunburst dial that plays with the light like crazy
By the way, have you ever tried to change the battery of a quartz watch when it’s empty?
It’s a real pain in the neck! You have to figure out how to open the case back without losing one of your nails or scratching your watch.
Not with Swatch.
Like many other watches from the brand, all you need is a coin.
Insert it in the groove at the back of the watch, turn it counterclockwise, and change the battery. Simple and efficient – I LOVE this about Swatch.
So if you want an unpretending watch that can serve you every day for years to come, you may just have found it!
Here is another manufacturer that is more of a fashion brand, yet makes very cool watches – just like Fossil.
Well guess what: both brands are from the same group – Fossil!
Now, the thing I like about most Skagen watches is… their case backs.
Sure, you don’t see it on this picture, but their case backs have large bevels – which means that from the side, the watch appears to be very slim and lightweight.
And it definitely is!
That adds to the overall elegance of this beautiful piece:
- the simple design of the dial, hands and hour indices make for a perfect everyday watch that could even wear for formal events
- the small and delicate day window is something a lot of manufacturers should copy because it’s so well executed
- the Milanese mesh bracelet is delicate and super comfortable to wear
Seriously, when you see a watch like this at such an affordable price, I just don’t understand why you would get a Daniel Wellington.
So make your style, your wallet and yourself a favor, and get a watch from one of the only fashion brands worth considering.
Our rating: 96%
Off to a completely different beast – a blackout field watch from one of the most underrated Swiss brands ever: Victorinox.
Along with Certina, Victorinox is the only brand from which you can get a great Swiss Made watch… and still have both your kidneys.
It makes for a killer everyday watch:
- it doesn’t get more stealthy than this – black face, black case, black strap. Even the hour indices and numbers are dark!
- it’s legible – Victorinox was smart enough to pain the hands in white, so that you can still read the time no problem
- no frill, only the time – and the date, but it’s not like it’s the primary feature of this watch
- still a manageable size – at only 40 mm, it wears fine even on smaller wrists
I say “only” because most rugged watches tend to be A LOT bigger than this.
I have several big G-Shocks and I love them, but you don’t have to go overboard with size to look badass. This Victorinox will do the job just fine.
And if you’re a Panerai lover, you will probably like the 3, 6 and 9 on the dial.
Yes, the overall look is not the same, but you can’t deny the resemblance.
Every time I held a Victorinox in my hand, they felt like well-made, serious watches. It doesn’t hurt that they’re from Switzerland!
Our rating: 94%
If I say Bulova, you probably think of the Precisionist.
Yet the brand has some other cool designs to offer, like this simple and elegant piece.
Everything in this watch screams streamlined.
- the simple stick hands
- the unpretentious hour indices
- the round case and straight lugs
- the silver sunburst dial
- the leather band
All I see here is a watch that feels at home on a beach, in the boardroom or at a formal event.
It’s that versatile.
Come to think of it, it makes me think about watches designed with the Bauhaus style in mind: simple, functional, elegant – stripped down but still beautiful.
And being a 37 mm watch, it’s perfect for every wrist – from 6 to 8 inches, everybody is able to rock this piece.
If rugged, big or tacky is not your thing, I’m sure you’ll love this Bulova!
Wait, what? Braun makes watches?
Yup, and cool ones at that!
This one too borrows design cues from the Bauhaus style. Now, being from a German company, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But let’s see why this watch makes for a great piece:
- it’s simple yet enjoyable – there is no arguing that this watch has a simple design, but the overall look is very cool
- it’s sober yet playful – stainless steel case, simple Arabic numerals, baton hands… all these almost boring details are completely offset by the yellow seconds hand and red chevron that points to the date
- it has some presence but it’s comfortable – 40 mm for watch with no bezel is borderline big, but the shape of the lugs and Milanese mesh bracelet make it hug any wrist
Also, I love the fact that they didn’t try to hide the date.
Rather, they decided to make it obvious that it’s there – kudos to Braun for positioning it at 6 o’clock, which makes this dial symmetrical.
Now this watch doesn’t scream or yell. It just whispers and winks.
You won’t notice it until you look at it.
But when you do, you’ll see all those subtle details that make it a lot more playful and interesting than it initially looks.
So if you like only a touch of color on your watch, this watch will a home run!
Our rating: 98%
Is it possible to have a list of great affordable watches without featuring a Seiko? I think not!
I don’t know about you, but there are so many great Seikos to chose from that it makes picking just one an impossible task.
But I wanted to end this list with a tougher, more rugged watch.
That’s why I picked this one – and it certainly delivers:
- the black case and canvas strap make for a killer field watch look
- the simple hour indices and Arabic numerals, paired with the hands, make for one of the most legible dial you’ll ever come across
- the day and date complication are integrated in the hour marker at 3 o’clock, which is a very cool (and clever) detail
Talking about detail, notice how that super simple yellow inverted triangle on the bezel at 12 o’clock makes the watch stand out.
(The bezel doesn’t turn, it’s only for decoration.)
But shine some light on this bad boy and you will see the beautiful black sunburst dial in all its glory – it’s magnificent.
And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a solar watch too, always ticking if you expose it to a light source.
Add 100 m of water resistance, and you might have found a watch that you’ll never want to take off your wrist!
The Truth About Affordable Quartz Watches
Cheap will always be cheap
If you want an affordable watch, there’s a 99% chance you’ll stumble upon a quartz watch.
In fact, quartz movements are A LOT cheaper to manufacture than automatic or mechanical movements.
Now, does that mean that quartz watches are bad? Of course not!
Actually, quartz watches are a lot more precise and tougher than their mechanical counterparts.
But if you don’t do your due diligence, you’ll end up getting a super cheap Chinese watch from a generic factory.
Yes, they might cost as low as $5 on Aliexpress (or $15 on Amazon).
But don’t get fooled: their build quality is very poor. And they will only last you a few months and that’s it – replacing the battery might cost more than getting a new watch.
They are basically disposable watches.
Does it mean everything that comes from China is bad?
Of course not. China is totally capable of producing great watches – just not the ones that cost as much as a latte.
Are fashion watches worth buying?
Because of those cheap, disposable watches, you now think about getting a fashion watch.
I mean, a $150-300 watch from a brand you see all over Instagram can’t be bad, right? It HAS to be good, right?
You’d be shocked to see that 95% of these so called “brands” use the exact same factories to make their watches as the $5 ones.
Some of them don’t even bother to try and make something different. They just buy readily made watch designs in bundles, slap their name on it and sell it for a HUGE premium.
So you’re basically paying at $150+ to get a $5 piece of crap.
Why reputable brands are still the best option today
Reputable brands don’t play this dirty rebranding game.
- they come up with unique designs
- they build the watches themselves, or make higher-end factories build them to their specifications
- they don’t play the “pay and throw away game”, they’re here for the long run and create more reliable watches
… all the while charging less money for a better quality – and most of the time with a better design too.
So don’t fall for the ads and lifestyle pics you see all around the Internet.
There are plenty of good established brands and micro brands that give you more bang for you buck!