First Time? See The Best Watches for Complete Newcomers

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So, you’re thinking about buying your first watch. This is a big step indeed. A watch is the ultimate accessory for men. A watch is the intersection of fashion and function. Not only does it allow you to tell the time with ease, it makes you look good doing it too.

However, we understand that taking the leap and buying your first watch can be intimidating. There’s just so many options. Well, we’re here to help. Keep reading to see the best watches to buy as your first watch.

In this article, we will cover what you should look for when buying your first watch. If you find yourself itching for a second piece, you can apply this same advice to all future purchases.

Before buying a watch, it’s good to know the various terms and parts related to watches. Click here to see our beginner’s guide to watch terms and here to learn about some watch history.

Things to Consider

When buying a watch, especially your first one, you want something versatile. Something you can wear anywhere, anytime. This is what I call the “one watch collection.” This single watch should be able to act as a whole collection on its own. Your first watch will be the only option you have no matter the occasion, formal or casual. Versatility is key.

You also want to stick to the tried and true brands. Buying your first watch is not really the time to experiment with brand new, untested brands. Buying from a larger, established watchmaker will give you at least some security and quality control. This will hopefully prevent any horror stories of faulty watches, late deliveries, and unresponsive customer service which is sometimes the case with unknown brands.

Last but not least, you want to keep things affordable. If this really is your first watch, you should see if you like wearing watches in the first place. You don’t want to spend over a thousand dollars on a watch you think looks nice and fits you, just to find out you don’t really like wearing it. Instead, buy something that’s good quality and affordable. This will give you a chance to experience watch wearing for the first time without spending too much. If you like it, you can always upgrade down the road.

“The Bug”

Before we get into the list, it’s important to talk about the “watch buying bug.” If after buying that first watch, you think “Hey, watches are pretty cool,” then this is something you want to look out for.

Put simply, the bug refers to that internal itch to buy another watch. Once you cave and buy that one, you want another one. Then, you convince yourself that your collection isn’t complete because you don’t yet have a dive watch (for example). So what do you do? You cave again and buy another watch of course. So on and so forth.

Buying too many watches too soon in your watch journey can be a big mistake. The most obvious downside to the bug is financial waste. Watch buying should not take up a large portion of your budget. Watches should be once in a while purchases, reserved for self gifting.

This is why we believe your first watch should be versatile. It will help calm that itch to keep collecting. This isn’t enough on its own though. You need the mental discipline and financial wisdom to realize that there are more important things than watches, and that you don’t need all those models.

The Best First Watches

Now that you know what to look for in a first watch, let’s go over some potential examples. Following our own advice, we will be focusing on affordable, versatile watches. Even if this isn’t your first time buying a watch, these models are all great additions to any collection.

Casio Edifice Line

Casio is a legend in the affordable watch game. They just have so many different models and lines to choose from that would all make for a great first watch. The Edifice is one of the best, and we feel like it goes a little bit under appreciated.

The Edifice is a line of sporty and luxurious designs. There are different sizes for different wrists. If you have smaller wrists, we recommend sticking with a smaller size. Our favorite is the EFR-S108D, shown here. It has a 40mm case width, meaning that it will work for basically any wrist type.

This watch ticks all the boxes. It’s sporty, yet simple, design gives it that do-it-all capability we talked about. You can easily dress up with this watch, or wear it every day if you want.

Further, this is a really well built watch. It has a durable stainless steel case that is brushed to give it an extra touch of luxury. It also has a sapphire crystal, which is really nice to have at this price point. If you don’t know, sapphire is the absolute best material for watch crystals (the transparent “glass” over the watch dial). At just about $150, this watch is great for everybody, especially newcomers.

Click here to see the white dial version.

Timex Weekender

Timex is an originally American brand with a focus on affordability. The Weekender model is one of their most iconic watches. It features a simple, no frills design that will stand the test of time.

The reason we bring up the Timex Weekender as a good first watch option is simple: customizability. You can easily switch out the strap on this watch with zero tools. This will allow you to experiment with different colors and materials, like leather or nylon. This watch allows you to experience several watches for the low cost of extra straps.

For its low price, this watch is decently built. If taken care of, this watch can lost you a long time through your watch journey. Mostly, we love this watch for its low barrier of entry and customizability. That price tag for this quality is hard to beat. This style of watch would generally be considered more casual, but you can really wear one wherever you like. It succeeds in the versatility category.

You can even get a version of the Weekender with a chronograph. This will expose you to the world of watch complications, the chronograph (stopwatch) being one of the most famous.

Timex Weekender Chronograph

Citizen Garrison Eco-Drive

Next up, we have a model from Citizen’s Eco-Drive line. Eco-Drive is Citizen’s light powered watch technology. Wear this watch out in the sun every once in a while, and you won’t need to worry about replacing the battery.

That technology is exactly why we chose this watch for this list. Without the need for servicing or battery changes (as with other watches), this solar powered watch is truly hassle-free. It is durable, long lasting, and ultra convenient to own. All this adds up to a watch that is perfect for a first timer.

It’s not just the internals that are impressive, either. The model we have chosen, the Garrison, has a pretty classic field watch design. This gives it a rugged, military feel. It is well built with a stainless steel case and included nylon strap. It also has a day/date display for added information. This watch is comfortable to wear no matter the occasion.

Citizen makes a whole lot of different Eco-Drive models, so shop through them and find the one for you.

Anything within Seiko 5 Line

Thus far, we have focused only on quartz watches. That’s because they tend to dominate these more affordable price brackets. However, there are still some really great automatic options that we wouldn’t want to neglect.

The best you can get in the sub $200 price range is the Seiko 5 line. Seiko makes very good automatic watches for a low price. There are a ton of options so you should be able to find the one for you.

No matter which one you choose, you will find yourself with a versatile watch, fit to be worn whenever you please. There are sportier versions, dressier versions, and more casual versions. The one shown here is the Seiko SNXS79J1, chosen for its simplicity.

They all come with a transparent case back so you can admire the automatic movement in action.

To help you navigate the vast world of Seiko 5’s here are three potential options. The common factor between all of these watches is that they are built by Seiko, a highly reputable Japanese watchmaker. All of these watches are backed by the Seiko name, so you can feel easy buying them. They are expertly built stainless steel watches with reliable movements inside.

The other common factor is that they are all automatic watches. This will allow you to experience the intricate world of mechanical watchmaking without breaking the bank.

Bulova 97A123 (Ultrathin Men’s Classic)

Sometimes, people look to buy their first watch before some big event. They want a dressy and classy watch to pair with the fancy outfit they’re going to wear. That’s where this model from Bulova comes in.

It is part of Bulova’s Men’s Classic collection, and it lives up to its name of “ultra thin.” At just 6mm thick, this watch will fit tight to your wrist, giving it an understated and elegant look.

Keeping with that theme, the dial has all Roman numerals. The case is gold colored stainless steel for a little pop of luxury. This watch is a great addition to any formal outfit. When things wind down, you can wear it with your regular clothes too.

Invicta Pro Diver

If we’re going to talk about versatile first watches, then we have to include at least one dive watch. Dive watches are meant to be worn underwater, but they can do so much more. They’re one of the most popular and iconic watch styles for a reason.

This dive watch from Invicta can be worn with just about any outfit, owing to its sporty design that still maintains a sense of refinement. It doesn’t go over the top, and that’s a good thing.

It’s design is pretty clearly inspired by the famous Rolex Submariner, but the price tag is not. As of writing this, the automatic movement version is just $65. That’s a steal considering its stellar build quality and trustworthy automatic movement from Seiko.

This watch is a nice medium sized dive watch at 40mm wide, with a 20mm wide stainless steel bracelet. Although most never use theirs under the water, this is still a dive watch with dive watch features. It has a rotating bezel to time your underwater expeditions. Most importantly, it has an impressive 200 meters of water resistance rating, a good sign of the overall quality.

Yet another reason this could make for a good first watch is its Rolex influence. This watch will give you a small taste of high end luxury watches at a fraction of the price. Obviously, it’s not the full thing though.

They do offer an identical quartz version for slightly cheaper, just in case you don’t think an automatic watch is a good starting point for you.

Any Ultra Cheap Casio You Like

If these relatively affordable options still seem overwhelming to you, then check out some of Casio’s ultra cheap options. Like we said earlier, Casio is a legend when it comes to affordable watches. The build quality is going to be decent, but not outstanding, at such low price points.

For example, there is the F91W, a fan favorite. It is a digital watch, which might be attractive for a lot of newcomers who just want something that tells the time. Then, there is the MTP-V001D stainless steel watch with an easy to read dial.

These watches are purely watches, without all that extra stuff. That is by no means a bad thing. It keeps the price low after all. That’s the best part about these types of models: they do their job as watches very well, all while being accessible to the masses. Props to you, Casio.

These are just two examples out of a wide, wide range. Pick the one you like. But beware of the watch buying bug we talked about. It’s way too easy to keep buying one Casio after another due to their low price.


So that concludes our guide for the first time watch buyer. One thing to remember before buying your first watch, in addition to everything else we have said, is that it is YOUR watch. These are simply suggestions of what we would recommend to any newcomer. At the end of the day, it’s all up to you. You should buy a watch that you like and you can afford. If you find the watch for you, then who cares what anyone else has to say?


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