May 14, 2018 By Nick
For $100 you can have a mid-range Fossil, or you can carry something with class and panache on your wrist.
Now you’re going to have to get creative and go off-brand. But there are some great mechanical watches that might just be a good service away from a lifelong love affair.
When you’ve had a real, old school mechanical watch on your wrist then a chainstore cookie cutter just won’t be the same.
Look for brands, not models
Now it’s pointless to limit the search to precise models at this price point. In other words, beggars can’t be choosers.
You’re looking for the stars to align when you’re looking for cheap watches, so a looser search might snare an unusual find from the depths of eBay. That’s why I search individual brands and am prepared to be flexible.
But when you’ve found your dream watch, make sure you read the dealer feedback and keep your wits about you.
This is still eBay and it is always buyer beware.
eBay searches set up for you, because we care
What I have done is set up the searches by brand, then limited them to certain vintage criteria and the price range.
So just click on the links and you’ll see what particular model you can afford on that given day.
Your dream watch might jump off the page and it could cost as little as $40 to have 50 years of heritage on your wrist.
There are some great Soviet watches and you’ll find the odd Japanese and even Swiss special slipping under the radar.
Here are our best vintage watches for $100 and we hope you find a timeless watch for Amazon prices.
1. Poljot Aviator
You’ll be amazed that slackening off your search terms can turn up all kinds of bargains.
We found a few great ones, including the legendary Poljot Aviator for less than $100.
If you’re prepared to go off-piste then you can find awesome, gold-plated Russian dress watches for $50. Pair that with a modern strap and you’ve got a talking point, as well as a way better watch than you will find at the mall.
We found these and you could get the pair for not much more than $100. So just go with the flow when the search results come in. You simply don’t know what’s going to be there.
2. Gruen Precision
This is a Swiss watch and if you get one for less than $100 then you either got lucky or you’re going to have a $100 vintage watch with character.
That means a patina, it means a few scratches and it means a watch with a story. You might also want to treat it to a new crystal and strap.
Throw in a buff and service and you’ll spend $100 on top of the basic watch to make it sing again, but you can spend it when you’re ready.
Don’t be tempted by the left-field options. Get a good, honest watch and then get it cleaned. You’ll be surprised how well it scrubs up.
3. Bulova 23 Jewels
Bulova are still with us today and you’ll struggle to get a watch for less than $500. But you can pick up an early model for as little as $70. And it will be clean.
Bulova sounds Russian, but is actually Swiss. Its dive watches are the stuff of legend, but you won’t get a good one with this budget.
Stick to the Art Deco square faced vintage watches. Or go for the simple 23 Jewel self-winding watch that we’ve highlighted at the top.
You will get a good one for $100. In fact the sheer amount of great watches in the $100 region is shocking.
I have widened the search to $150, though, just to show you what you can have for a few extra bucks. Spend the extra and your Bulova could be one of the mainstays of a growing vintage watch collection before too long.
You’ll get more of them too.
4. Vostok Amphibian
A real diver’s watch? For less than $100? Yes, you can.
This was a Soviet military watch. So it’s simple, tough as old boots and it’s the height of 1950s Eastern Bloc technology.
You can get all kinds of color combinations and they are really cool watches. But also check out the whole Vostok range as something else might catch your eye.
There is a lot of choice and they are that cheap.
5. Timex, Well, Anything
Timex was always a watch for the working man and that means there are thousands of them. You could pick up five vintage Timex watches for $100 if you buy carefully and they would all look completely different.
I found a few Timex Viscount watches that I would wear with the right bracelet.
You can also have an almighty Timex Chronograph for this money and some of them really do look the part.
Remember if you’re just shopping for a nice watch to wear then you don’t have to go back to the 50s. You can get some very cool watches from the 90s and you could just get a really good deal on a second hand watch.
So don’t limit yourself to the really old stuff. Delve into the recent watches and see what turns up.
6. Vintage Seiko
It’s the same deal as the Timex. Seiko have released so many great watches over the years that it’s down to your personal preference.
So I’ve entered a broad search.
Personally I wouldn’t buy an old-school digital watch. So I’ve cut them from the search and focused on analogue movements.
They’re the ones that tend to have a classic, timeless look to them and you can get some great designs from the 80s and 90s.
You can get a real Chronograph for the price of a fashion watch and the vintage watches really do look the part.
Some old Seikos are changing hands for thousands these days. Yours won’t be one of them, but you can get a classic example of minimalist, Japanese engineering without breaking the bank.
So if you’re looking to buy vintage watches online, Seiko is a good brand to start with. And if you find a good one of these red and blue Seiko diver watches, then snap it up. Occasionally, they go for low money and you’re taking a bit of a flier on a potentially great watch.
7 Omega Geneve 1970s
You won’t get the proper, oceangoing Seamaster for this money. But you can get one of the many dress watches that Omega made as a spin-off.
But if you’re prepared to go even further off the beaten path, you can come up with something truly unique. I found this bright blue, 1970s Omega Geneve and you’ll find something just as eye catching with that basic search.
8. Hamilton Sherman 1940s
This is another great brand with a lot of cheap engineering floating round on eBay. Some Hamiltons go for way more, but you can get one for $100 and it will be a decent strap and a clean away from being a showstopper.
There are some great Vintage Hamilton watches for less than $100. If you’re prepared to stretch the budget for an amazing watch, then $150 will buy you so much more in terms of condition.
The 1940s Art Deco Hamilton Sherman is an awesome watch, but there are lots of others too and you can see the defining characteristics of the 60s and 70s in a general Hamilton search.
You will see some great budget vintage watches along the way. So have fun, enjoy the fact you can get great engineering for fashion watch money and see if you can pick up a bargain.