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Best watch 2022: Stylish sports, casual and fashion watches for any budget

Find a timepiece to suit your style with our roundup of the best watches

Watches can cost anything from a few quid up to tens of thousands, but many of the best watches on the market are more affordable than you’d expect. Depending on your needs and your budget, the best watch for you needn’t be the most expensive. If you just want to track the time and date, then a basic but reliable £20 Casio might suffice. But on the other hand, you might need a watch that can track your heart rate, log your steps, provide GPS tracking and receive your texts – in which case you’ll have to spend a little more.

Ranging from smartwatches and everyday unisex watches to glamorous evening watches, our roundup has something for everyone, taking into consideration the latest styles and trends. And whether you want your watch to come from a company with a long history of watchmaking or an upcoming brand that’s all the rage on Instagram, be sure to check our buyer’s guide at the bottom of this page. We’ve got all the information to help you factor in the right features before you buy your new perfect watch.

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Best watches: At a glance

The best watches to buy in 2022

1. Casio Classic W-86: Rugged, retro and affordable

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

After a smart and affordable digital watch? Casio’s retro timepieces are as timeless as they come, and they’re surprisingly cheap too. At under £20, the Casio Classic W-86 is one of the best-value watches on the market, promising up to seven years of battery life as well as a two-year warranty. Not that you’re likely to need a refund, as this is one of the most durable little watches we’ve ever come across.

The black resin case and pliable strap are well-made, and the dense acrylic dial window is highly resistant to scratching. Although this is one of Casio’s more simplistic digital watches there are still a few neat features, including a daily alarm, electro-luminescent backlight, and a 1/100sec stopwatch. The smart retro design goes perfectly with any outfit and, thanks to the 50M waterproofing, you won’t even have to take it off to have a bath.

Key specs – Case size: 38mm diameter; Movement: Digital; Strap: Resin; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 50M; Weight: 26g

2. Lilienthal Berlin L1: An award-winning unisex watch

Price: From £132 | Buy now from Amazon

This Berlin-based watch manufacturer produces some attractive unisex watches that offer premium quality for a good price. This award-winning contemporary design is great for work or a more casual look and you get to pretty much tailor-make your own watch, with choices of large or small face size and different colours for the case, dial and strap.

Straps come in different types too. Sleek and elegant, minimalistic and classy, you get the two halves of Berlin in the L1 typography, based on the street signs from east and west parts of the city – a nice touch. It feels nice and light on your wrist and the craftsmanship is made to last.

Key specs – Case size: 37.5mm or 42.5mm diameter; Movement: Quartz; Strap: Plant-tanned leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 3ATM; Weight: 50g/63g

3. Xiaomi Mi Band 4: The best budget fitness tracker

Price: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

The Mi Band 4 from Xiaomi is a superb fitness-tracking smartwatch that offers a heap of great features for an almost worryingly low price. Available with a range of different-coloured silicone straps, it has a full-colour AMOLED touch-enabled display, up to 20 days battery life and is fully waterproof up to 50m. Its fitness-tracking features make it an ideal companion for swimming and running, plus it can give you all the usual stats on sleep, step count and calorie intake.

Throw in connected GPS support and it truly is a bargain. The Mi Fit app could use some more work, and there’s no Strava connectivity, but that’s a small price to pay for such an all-round great device. At under £30, there’s nothing that can compete with the Xiaomi Mi Band 4. It’s not bad looking, either!

Read our full Xiaomi Mi Band 4 review for more details

Key specs – Case size: 22.6mm diameter; Movement: Digital; Strap: Silicone; Waterproofing: up to 50m; Weight: 100g

4. Olivia Burton Wishing Watch Midi Dial Watch: Gorgeous and vegan-friendly

Price: £99 | Buy now from Selfridges

Oliva Burton’s decorative, striking floral watches make a real statement among the sea of minimalist designs that are currently in vogue. This one has a dandelion clocks theme, with wildflower print and moving crystals. The result is both pretty and delicate, and the three-hand Japanese quartz movement means it should last a long time, too.

Burton has been making watches since 2012 and built up a huge fan base among those who prefer more feminine timepieces. This one is designed with vegans in mind, ensuring no animals were harmed in its production. Naturally, there’s no leather on the strap.

Key specs – Case size: 30mm diameter; Movement: Japanese Quartz; Strap: Rose and vegan material; Waterproofing: water-resistant to 1 ATM; Weight: not specified

Buy now from Selfridges

5. Tommy Hilfiger Hudson Stainless Steel Watch: Classy American-look watch for men

Price: £140 | Buy now from Amazon

If you want American-style cool – or New York cool, to be precise – this watch is ideal. Hilfiger has long been a go-to brand for the US sports look and, as far as watches are concerned, that means large, chunky, robust, and with a great chronograph.

There’s no mistaking the brand, with its deep blue colouring and iconic flag. It smacks of class without costing the Earth. It’s a keeper too, with a timeless classic feel and good fit thanks to the strap’s fold-over clasp fastening. It’s a statement watch that will stay in fashion for years to come.

Key specs – Case size: 46mm diameter; Movement: Quartz; Strap: Stainless steel; Waterproofing: water-resistant to 50m; Weight: not specified

6. Fossil Men’s Grant Chronograph Leather Strap Watch: A dazzling men’s watch that’s cheaper than it looks

Price: £111 | Buy now from Amazon

Fossil is a big name in the world of affordable watches, and many of its offerings look a lot more expensive than they are. The watchmaker is part of a bigger American designer fashion company, founded in the eighties, which caters for both genders with equal style.

Our current favourite is this classic Grant style watch, which has antique styling, a 44mm dial with Roman numerals, and a split-second accurate chronograph movement. The quality leather strap finishes it off beautifully. The result is a timeless design that won’t look out of fashion any time soon. The watch is stylish and durable, and you can count on the Fossil brand to provide excellent customer service.

Key specs – Case size: 44mm diameter; Movement: Quartz chronograph; Strap: Leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 5ATM; Weight: 77g

7. Superdry Urban Watch: Stylish men’s watch for urban wear

Price: £25 | Buy now from Argos

This uber-cool Superdry watch costs only £25, which is hard to believe. It looks great and is both on-trend and practical. We think it stands out with its simple, clean looks, three-hand quartz movement, silicone strap and metal buckle that’s easy to work even when you’re in a hurry. You’ll need to be a big fan of the Superdry brand as it shouts it from the rooftops, but if you’re comfortable with that, so are we. It’s comfy and robust.

Key specs – Case size: 38mm diameter; Movement: PC21; Strap: Black silicone; Waterproofing: Water resistant to 5 ATM; Weight: not specified

Buy now from Argos

8. Votch Vegan Leather Classic: Striking vegan watch collection

Price: £120 | Buy now from Ethical Superstore

London-based vegan watch company Votch is fairly new to the scene, but it’s already garnered awards from the likes of Peta and Unicorn Goods for its stylish vegan-friendly watches. There are so many stunning watch face colours to choose from, and you can combine these with a variety of fetching vegan leather or mesh straps. We especially love the black and grey colour schemes – they really stand out from the crowd.

All of the Votch ‘leather’ watch straps in the classic collection are made from a combination of PU artificial leather and cotton fibre, though they manage to look and feel just like the real thing. There’s even a separate line of watches, called Piñatex, that uses sustainable pineapple leaf for its watch straps. Votch watches come in a standard size or a ‘petite’ size.

Key specs – Case size: 38mm; Movement: Japanese GL20; Strap: PU and cotton fibre; Waterproofing: 3ATM water-resistant; Weight: not specified

Buy now from Ethical Superstore

9. Nordgreen Infinity: A customisable and contemporary women’s watch

Price: From £132 | Buy now from Amazon

Nordgreen is a designer watch brand based in Copenhagen which launched after one of the most successful European Kickstarter fashion projects ever. After it raised $250k to get the brand going, Jakob Wagner was appointed chief designer – he has previously worked with brands including Bang & Olufsen, Alessi, Cappellini, Hay and Moroso.

We love their pared-back, simple watches in a range of modern looks, including the slimline Infinity, with no numbers on the dial and interchangeable straps. Social responsibility is a big deal for this company – they have an impressive Giving Back programme that empowers the customer to give back to one of three charitable causes.

Key specs – Case size: 36mm and 40mm diameter; Movement: Japanese Quartz; Strap: Leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 3ATM; Weight: 49.9g

How to choose the best watch for you

What features should I look for?

With so many brands, styles, materials and colours to choose from, it makes sense to use the following factors to narrow your selection down:

Size – The size of your watch is essential. On average, men’s watches have a case width or diameter of 35mm, which is just under 1.4in. Women’s watches typically have a case width or diameter of less than 34mm but watches are trending towards larger case sizes for both men and women.

Movement – This is the mechanism or technology used to keep time and, on an analogue watch, move the hands around. An automatic movement winds itself while worn and does not need a battery.

But it will stop ticking if you don’t wear it for a period of time and watches with this mechanism cost more. A quartz movement uses a battery to power it and is generally considered to be the most accurate type, as well as being lower maintenance and cheaper. Swiss- and Japanese-made quartz movements are considered the best.

Style – This ranges from understated, minimal-looking wristwear (currently all the rage) to something bling or bold, solid or statement. Look for a watch that will still look good in a year or even five to ten years (depending on how long you want it to last) yet will still make an impact now.

Brand – Some companies such as Rotary and Patek Phillippe have been making watches for centuries, whereas Nordgreen is brand-new, but already making quite an impact. Just because you haven’t heard of the brand doesn’t mean they’re not worth spending on, but you may need to do more research first.

If you’re choosing a watch made by a fashion brand, remember that they are not necessarily any better made than cheaper watches just because of their higher price point. That’s not to say they’re rubbish – but you may be paying more for the name than for a superior movement or materials.

Country of origin – Some countries are at the forefront of both watch fashion and the engineering behind them. The most notable examples are Switzerland and Japan.

How much should I spend?

If you wear a watch every day or want something special for top occasions, it’s worth splashing out on something you really love. But it doesn’t mean you have to get into thousands of pounds. There is so much choice for any budget nowadays and you can get a very decent watch that’s made to last for under £200.