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Cheap Watches Buying Guide

Cheap analog watches with the familiar hour and minute hands are generally considered the dressier option but tend to have few features, although some boast a second hand and date display. Cheap digital watches appeal for their casual styling and typically come with practical tools such as alarm, chronograph (stopwatch), and lap timers.

High on our list of best cheap watches are two analog models -- the Timex Men's Easy Reader T20041 (starting at $29) and the Casio Women's LTP1237D-7A (starting at $21) -- and two digital models -- the Timex Women's 1440 T5J151 (starting at $12) and the Casio Men's WS210HD-1AVCF (starting at $33).

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Aside from a few gripes about minor matters, such as easily scratched crystals or vague set-up instructions, these cheap watches score with consumers for style, wearability, and functionality. Two cheap watches that don't rate due to questionable durability or performance are the analog Geneva SW-6886 (starting at $11) for women and the digital Armitron 408177 (starting at $23) for men.

There are several features to note when shopping for a watch. The watch crystal is especially important. Cheap watches have either an acrylic or mineral crystal, mineral being more scratch resistant. The watch's movement -- the mechanism that powers the watch -- is another item to consider. All the watches on our list use a battery-powered quartz movement, which is the most popular movement in the cheap watches segment. (More expensive watches may use an automatic or mechanical movement that relies on a spring mechanism and several intricate pieces to keep track of time.) Some cheap watches can be lit for easy night-time reading, and here Timex watches stand out with the company's proprietary Indiglo technology. Cheap watch cases tend to be made of plastic or stainless steel and popular materials for cheap watch bands include stainless steel, plastic or resin, and leather. Cheap watches are generally water resistant, not waterproof, which means they can survive a shower and a dunk in the pool but probably not deep-water scuba-diving.

Whether you choose a cheap analog watch or a cheap digital watch is largely a matter of preference. But before making your choice, be clear about the purpose you want the watch to serve. If you're looking for a simple accessory to dress up your look or telegraph the time through a visual representation, an analog watch with a leather or metal band is probably the best choice. If you like bells and whistles or want a more casual timepiece, digital is the way to go.

by Michael Sweet (Google+ Profile)

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