Best First Watch to Buy?

I got an 2025 SA offer at my top choice firm. Looking to buy a first watch and seeking advice on an appropriate watch for the first few years of my career. Price range is $200-$300 but willing to go to maybe $500ish for a watch that I really like. Don’t really like anything gold and I’m not looking for anything too flashy. Im a guy and would buy it sometime in the next year. I pretty much know nothing so any advice helps. Really just looking to be pointed in the right direction. Thanks!

Update: Thanks for the advice. I realize the college sophomore budget is too low. I plan to wait until I graduate to buy something a little more expensive. Thanks again.

 

At that price range just go with an Apple Watch/smart watch of choice. If you are interested in an analog watch I would hold off until you can get up to the 750-1000 range as there are some good mechanical options there (Hamilton Khaki Field, Tissot PRX). Otherwise at the 200-300 range you are just wasting money in my view and should just save up a bit until you can afford something you really want.

 

Agree with above I would save your money. You can always look around on Chrono24 or r/watchexchange on Reddit for better deals on 2nd hand.

 

Khaki Field and PRX quartz are both $500 and good fits for OP’s budget. Would recommend the PRX here for the dressier look and availability of quartz option, which is easier for maintenance

 

Would always recommend going used mechanical > quartz . For the price of a new quartz PRX you could find a lot of nice used options on Reddit/ Chrono. 

 

Very nice, I like it.

Investor (30+ years); IB/RE/PE/Corp (MD level); currently, head of boutique private equity firm; principal of family office.
 
Most Helpful

At the $200-$500 price point, I would suggest Seiko or Hamilton.

• Hamilton offers a few options around the ~$500 price point. Hamilton is a nice option and definitely good as a first "nice" watch. However, many of the nicer options by Hamilton are around $1,000-$2,000, so your options might be limited. Among watch guys, Hamilton is known and respected as nice watch, and you can be confident with it around the office.

• Seiko offers quite a few watches within that $200-500 price range, and would be a great option, in my opinion. A lot of good looking watches, solid reputation, and likely the best option within your price range. There are plenty of very nice options. You can be confident wearing a Seiko around the office, without hesitation. (I know a few people who wear Seiko).

Whatever you do, I would not consider the off-name brands that are heavily advertised online, and which try to copy more expensive watches. Also, I would not consider any of the fake watches out there. People spend $200-$500 on these, thinking they will be able to show off a more expensive watch. However, in reality, people do notice they are copies, and it tends to be embarrassing or otherwise make you look bad -- and you want to protect your reputation.

While some might suggest to save your money (for a few years), you may want something to wear right now (not years later), and each day as a future SA; and that will last you until graduation or longer...

If you want a quality watch that you can wear now (rather than wait a few years), and that will last until (and if) you decide to upgrade, I would get a nice Seiko or Hamilton.

A classic watch with a timeless design, so that it can be worn for years, without issue.

Investor (30+ years); IB/RE/PE/Corp (MD level); currently, head of boutique private equity firm; principal of family office.
 

Great starter watches: Tissot PRX, Citizen NB1050, Kuoe Old Smith, anything from Orient, Seiko Presage, and Seiko divers. Microbrands can be a great value too. Islander / Long Island Watches sells a bunch of references of discontinued Seikos that are super cheap.

If you want to just get a one and done, look at the $750-1500 price range. You won’t feel the itch to buy something else for a lot longer. Look at the Seiko Alpinist, quartz Grand Seikos, Sinn, older Credor, and vintage / used Tudor. After that, the next best watches are over $5K.

 

All of the above are good choices, I would recommend (and I am surprised no one has mentioned it yet), the Orient Bambino Open Heart. Falls in the 200-300 dollar range, mechanical movement, open case back, as well as open heart on the dial and a nice variety of dial colors. Really tremendous value in general, especially as a starter watch. Serves best a a dress watch so will go really well for work too. https://www.orientwatchusa.com/collections/orient-bambino/ra-ag0005l10a

 

Personally a big fan of Shinola, most of them arn’t super dressy but you can dress them up. Super well made and usually between $500-$1000

 

I love Seiko so I’d go with with one of the ‘Seiko 5’ models. There are a ton of options from dive style, GMT, field, dressy. Really depends on what you want.


Seiko’s are cheap and the new movements in them are cheap but reliable and reasonably accurate for a mechanical watch. You can replace the movement in the watch in a while if it starts to run poorly for pretty cheap I think.

I have one and have gotten a bunch of compliments on it at work when I wear it.

 

Honestly Seiko and Citizens Eco are both great. I wear both all the time since people keep getting robbed of nice watches. It's a shame I can't wear my higher-end watches anymore unless I go to a wedding or an event. My oldest watch a std Tag I got as a HS graduation gift I now need to get fixed since it stopped ticking due to not being worn enough and I broke my timing box. 

 

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