8 best watches for men under £300
Never lose track of time with a stylish piece of wristwear
Sometimes, the old ways are the best. Take wristwatches for example. They give us the time of day, without the need to turn on a smart device and get drawn into the digital world. If you’re an average Brit, you probably check your phone around 28 times a day. Wearing a watch could help reduce that figure to something more sensible.
Another unique benefit to wristwatches is their potential to complete an outfit, whether that’s with a touch of flair or with classy understatement. We’ve put together this selection of eight outstanding watches under £300 to give you an idea of the options available on a reasonable budget, from dressier models to sporty watches suited to everyday wear.
Mr Jones Watches x Marion Labbez – Nuage: £245, Mr Jones Watches
Once again, Mr Jones Watches has collaborated with French Verre Églomisé artist, Marion Labbez, to beautiful effect. The Nuage (French for “cloud”) is a standout piece, from its hand-crafted, 22 carat gold and silver leaf face to its extraordinary method for telling the time: using a double-ended hand that shows the sun between 0600-1800, and the moon between 1800-0600.
If you’re ready to spend a few extra seconds reading the time in exchange for the privilege of using a special timepiece, we’d suggest you go for Nuage. It’s a perfect demonstration of why traditional wristwatches deserve to keep their place in our smartphone-focused world.
Mondaine Unisex Helvetica Mesh Bracelet Strap Watch: £265, John Lewis & Partners
Here’s a watch for the typography fanatic in your life, we’re assuming everyone has one? The Mondaine Helvetica takes its design inspiration from the typeface of the same name, which has famously been used by the likes of Apple, American Apparel, and the ever-stylish British government. You can see Helvetica’s influence just as well in the watch’s clean lines and acute curves as in the numbers on its face.
This is a particularly delicate, slender piece, with a case width of 26mm – so do bear in mind that it might look a little swamped on a broad forearm. It’s also quite minimalistic in design – a watch content to let its quality do the talking.
Finn Fingal’s Cave White Dial Watch: £279, notonthehighstreet.com
Named for the basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave, this lovely hexagon-faced watch from Irish designer Finn combines a pleasingly chunky aesthetic with fine detail and craftsmanship. It first caught our attention with its unique profile; then charmed us with touches, including the subtle geometric pattern on its face and green contrast stitching on the strap. Speaking of which, this watch’s “Crazy Horse” treated leather strap is one of the most comfortable we’ve encountered, a special purpose wax is applied to acheive the distressed look.
The Fingal’s Cave comes in a gorgeous, magnetically-clasped presentation box, making it an especially good choice for gifting.
Daniel Wellington Men's Classic Sheffield Stainless Steel Leather Strap Watch: £159, John Lewis & Partners
Smart, chic and peerlessly easy to read, this classic watch from Daniel Wellington is in our opinion the swishest of our men’s watches under £300. Impressively, it costs little more than half that budget.
Using index hour markers in place of numbers, and with a broad face covered in mineral glass, this watch is perhaps the easiest to read of all. Its conservative style would make it an ideal accompaniment to a relatively busy outfit – especially one featuring a jazzy print. One of our very favourite watches.
Adidas District L1 Silver Navy and Brown Leather Strap: £79, Very
Where so many of Adidas’ products bring a touch of sophistication to sportswear, the District L1 uses sporty elements in a relatively formal design, inspired by the Bauhaus movement. It’s a match made in fashion heaven.
The beauty of this watch is in its textures – the smooth stainless steel of the case, beside the brushed finish behind the time markers, next to the grainier finish in the centre of the face. We’re also big fans of the District L1’s hands, with their pleasingly rounded ends and hollow centres. A slam dunk from the German sportswear giant.
Timex MK1 Aluminium Chronograph 40mm Fabric Strap Watch: £99.99, Timex
Stylish-looking, feature-packed watches like the Timex MK1 don’t often come for under £100. This one does, albeit narrowly, and we reckon it bears comparison with some of the more expensive alternatives we reviewed. Where the MK1 really excels is in the bells and whistles department.
We’re big fans of its date window and “Indiglo” light-up dial, which we suspect would appeal especially to teenagers wearing a watch for the first time. This watch comes in a range of snazzy face and strap colours, including the rather fetching orange-strapped version shown above.
Timex x Peanuts – Welton Snoopy Watch: £135, endclothing.com
Here it is: the collaboration you never knew you needed. Snoopy and Timex go together like peanut butter and jelly, from the nifty use of the much-loved beagle’s arms as watch hands, to the use of a fluorescent Schulzian typeface for the time markers and Arabic numerals.
To be frank, you’d almost certainly have to be at least somewhat into Peanuts if you were to want this watch – but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t a great watch regardless. Its stainless-steel case feels fantastically robust; its nylon strap beautifully soft.
Swatch Unisex Bellablu Watch: £50, watchshop.com
Bargain-hunters: here’s what you’ve been waiting for. At £50, the Swatch Bellablu is by far the most affordable watch reviewed in our roundup. It also happens to be remarkably smart-looking, with an index-hour-marker-based design incorporating snazzy date and day windows.
The Bellablu is more sporty than showy – something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a watch to wear for best. We think it would make an ideal choice for everyday use, especially for those in a physically active line of work. At 41mm across, this watch’s case is nice and wide, which is helpful when it comes to quickly checking the time on the fly.
The verdict: Men's watches under £300
Mr Jones Watches and Marion Labbez’s one-of-a-kind collaboration, the Nuage, is hands-down our favourite wristwatch for under £300. Through its beauty and ingenuity, it gives the march of time an added spring in its step. If you’re looking for something sleeker, we’d go for the Daniel Wellington Classic or Adidas District L1 instead.
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