MY BEST VALUE WATCHES Beaters, Divers & Military

In my experience I feature here my pick of best value Daily Beaters, Divers watches and Military watches –

This is the category of “daily beater” or the watch you like to wear most of the time – the watch that’s just part of you, it’s there to tell you the time, day and date maybe and forgotten on your wrist until you glance at it.   And this is a difficult choice as my own ideas change with the weather!  But nevertheless I have made a couple of choices.

Best Value “daily” – (1st choice)

The Citizen Eco-Drive 180 (BM8180-54E) – quartz analog (solar)

Citizen Eco-Drive 180 ( BM8180-54E )

Citizen Eco-Drive 180 ( BM8180-54E )

Based on a military concept this Eco-Drive Solar model keeps appearing in new and slightly altered disguises virtually every year and is still, in one form or other, a current offering from Citizen.  Testament to it’s inherent good design and obvious that the basics are right.  Water Resistance is 100m and the case size is approx’ 40mm including the Crown and really slim at 9mm depth.  And being a very neat lug to lug size of just 42mm it will fit small wrists easily.  Always remember Patek Philippe watches tend to be just 36/37mm and who wouldn’t wear one of these!  And come on this one’s only £70 . . .

Eco-Drive Solar means no battery issues ever (an 18o day power reserve) stainless steel throughout including screw back.  I got mine in 2008 and it’s been faultless ever since.  The broad hands and numerals (complete with 24hr marks) are luminous blue and show reasonably well in the dark.  It also has an orange and white tipped (luminous) center seconds pointer hand and a good sized Day and Date window @3 which I prefer rather than just Date.  At my age it’s nice to be reminded what day it is, as after I retired one day’s much like another!

 

Citizen Eco-Drive Solar BM8476-23EE

Citizen Eco-Drive Solar BM8476-23EE

Some versions have a bracelet, others straps and one I saw at some time ago at Timeshop4you – the BM8476-23EE has a textile strap, black coated stainless case and a cleaned up grey tone dial which makes it look very modern military.  Slightly larger at 45mm inc crown x 11mm depth probably as a result of fashion change for larger watches.

Accuracy wise it’s really good and as an example mine is maybe to a few seconds or so each month, so no complaints from me.

Prices range from £70 to about £100 depending on variant.

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Best Value “Daily” (2nd Choice) Digital only (battery)

Gone for digital only this time with the well priced and compact (for Casio) the Casio DW9052-1V

Casio DW9052-1V

Casio DW9052-1V

This model in my opinion is almost a hybrid for Casio, defying the logic of their more modern “large” format G-Shocks, this model is refreshingly compact at just 45mm diameter, which I for one am truly pleased about.

For it makes this model a good contender for a decent “Daily Beater”.  Good function set sets the tone here as it provides enough for the average guy without going over the top or adding in features that really are gimmicks at best and at worst dial clutter.  The dial here is OK with basically two windows for data display.  The upper one for indicators and Day, Date and Month and the lower one for the Time and Seconds.  It also of course will display Chronograph, Countdown Timer and Alarms and so on and all at good size.

The pushers on this case are much better than many on Casio models as they are large and easy to use and find – some models are so shrouded they are difficult to find or use without fumbling.  And the excellent Illuminator back light is operated by a front mounted pusher in the style of Timex.  The only downside for me is the odd Casio insistence for a custom bracelet which is not standard, so fitting alternative straps for instance is not easy if not impossible.  Are after sales so important that this ploy has to be used?  I wonder.

However that said this is a great all round model with a 200m Water Resistance rating which is really excellent at this price and is well worthy of my Daily Beater choice, though whilst I did mention Timex earlier, they too have a few that could easily manage the same function and personal choice at the end of the day rules . . .

Priced at under £50 in the UK so good value all round.

Forgot to mention the back light – this is excellent with the Casio Illuminator luminescence technology they introduced in 1995.
Fact – Timex actually introduced the first electro-luminescence for their watches 3 years earlier in 1992 (Indiglo) – but they are both similar and by far the best on the market today.


If you’ve never considered a Divers watch, there has never been a better time to find one and in fact you are spoilt for choice.  I estimate there are around 20 or so that are really great buys and probably the best “daily beaters” around and a great alternative to the resin cased “shock” styles that seem to be everywhere.  And these guys have shied away from tricky to read digital displays and opted instead for what I call the basics – Clear dials, big luminous hands and markers, and near perfect readability, day or night – and they are very tough indeed.

Best Value Diver (quartz) 1st Choice

Absolutely no question here as this model tops everything I’ve tried and on every level (I’m not talking here of “True Professional” Dive watches with depth meters and logs and so on – just the everyday Diver daily beater).

Apeks Professional Diver 200m

Apeks Professional Diver 200m

This is the Apeks 200 AP0406 Mens Professional Diver, named and sold by the Apeks Diving Company and one of their best sellers – and I can see why.

For a Divers model straight out of the box it ticks all the boxes –

Easy to read analogue dial, large luminous markers and hands.
Tested to 200 metres Water Resistance.
Tough compact Stainless steel case with Screw Down Crown.
Large uni-directional bezel for dive timing.
Very reliable Seiko VX43/3 Quartz movement (note VX42 has no Day/Date) & SR927SW battery.
A readable day and date window @3 (not a requirement but nice if you have it).
Polyurethane PU strap fitted to standard lug strap fittings (note the “wave” grips unusually are flat on the underside, so very comfortable for prolonged wear)

Available for under £70!

My Review plus an update follow up – click  HERE and HERE

 

Best Value Diver (quartz)2nd Choice

Actually a choice of 3 model versions here – basically it the Seiko Solar Quartz Scuba Diver Sports SNE107P2 black dial or the same priced Seiko Solar SNE109 with a pale Orange dial or perhaps the slightly more expensive (discounted) Solar SNE245P9, the latter probably being my choice if looking for a Solar Diver.

Seiko Solar Diver SNE245P9 in black dial and case.

Seiko Solar Diver SNE245P9 in black dial and case.

Depending on the version these can be picked up from £100 to £170 mark.  These models again are very clear and easy to read, great Lumibrite hands and markers with indented lume marker @12 on the uni-directional bezel.

They feature the V158 Calibre Solar Seiko quartz movement and has the Day and Date @3in a decent sized aperture.  The V158 Solar movement manages around 10 months on full charge, which is approximately 9 hours of sunlight and whilst not an exact figure gives an indication of Solar capacity.

Seiko Solar SNE107P2 Diver

Seiko Solar SNE107P2 Diver

A 30mm Hardlex crystal sits in a 45mm (incl crown) x 12mm depth stainless case which is either polished and brushed stainless steel finish or in the case of the SNE245P9 features Ion Plated black stainless steel.  All are depth rated at 200m Water Resistance.  And there’s no question these models score very highly with folks and the fact they are Solar means no battery worries – ever.

Note – The supplied rubber straps (red on the SNE245P9) maybe ideal for wearing over a neoprene wet suit, but often the rubber “wave” grips are too aggressive for long periods on my wrist, so a change of strap may be worth thinking about.  No problem in doing so with standard lug spring bars of course and certainly not a negative any means, but maybe a point to consider.

I like the idea of the ion Plated model as it’s a bit different to most of my stainless Divers – so my choice this time is for the Seiko SNE245P9.  Contrasting the black steel case is a bright red rubber strap and it can be got for around £170 but perhaps discontinued now so IF you can get one at a decent price then it represents very good value.
On the other hand if stainless is OK for you and not too shiny then the SNE107P2 is probably the best value/price option, as other than the finish the models are identical as indeed is the Orange dial version.

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Best Value Diver (mechanical auto)

It has to be the Seiko Orange Monster – looks big but wears small and a fabulous watch in every way.  With it’s 21 jewel Seiko 7S26 Auto it is a tried and tested ultra reliable movement plus 200m Water Resistance – difficult to beat at any price.

Seiko Diver (Orange Monster)

Seiko Diver (Orange Monster)

And I’ve seen them for under £150 in the UK and even cheaper if you look really hard and with it’s amazing asymmetrical case and overall design it’s a Seiko classic.
Again there are many other Divers watches that give very good value, though for an Auto mechanical from such as Seiko, this has to be great value and it’s just that bit different.

See my review HERE.


Not a difficult choice this one as I featured this one just a few months ago.

Best Value Military(1st Choice) – and only choice actually and I’ve looked at an awful lot of ’em . . .

Has to be the Timex Expedition T49976 shock model in camouflage garb which manages two things – it looks good and it is good.

Timex Expedition T49976 camouflage digital Alarm

Timex Expedition T49976 camouflage digital Alarm

With it’s neat black/green resin shock case this is a pretty good example of a “military style” watch that seems to me to be about as good as it gets – period!  Note the supplied strap is in resin/rubber camouflage with a non reflective buckle and standard lug fixing. In fact the entire watch is non-reflective, just as it should be – others please note!

The digital display is also as good as you can get, great contrast and no issues seeing the digits and subsequently has excellent day and night vision, which puts many other brands to shame.  It also features one of the best incarnations of Timex’s Indiglo I’ve seen and provides superb night vision.  Amongst it’s functions we have Dual Time, Chronograph, 5 Alarms, Timer and so on and it is very easy and intuitive to use.  Also the countdown Timer has a graphic counter which is very useful.  The dial also shows all your basic data with a quick glance – that is – Day, Date, Month Time and running Seconds.

The case is in a light weight resin and also a sensible size at just 45mm diameter and if you include the textured pushers barely 47mm.  Importantly the lug to lug measurement is commendably short at 48mm, so this watch will fit the smaller wrist and not look like macho man.  And at 14mm depth the overall look of the watch is unobtrusive and has the bonus as previously said, of no shiny or reflective parts.  The watch is so light weight you really forget it’s there.  Good Water Resistance at 100m and a big CR2016 battery (available almost anywhere) plus that front mounted easy to use and find Indiglo dial light pusher, this is a very practical watch.

Note the case is cleverly constructed in that the the base body of the case is made from a hard compound resin, but, the upper part with the bezel is made from a softer compound, which is almost rubbery in texture.  And his gives really good and quiet protection of the hardened mineral crystal glass and as it protrudes above the glass assists in the protection process.

What’s not to like?

Most military folks will tell you (and I’m an ex) that a straightforward 3 hand analog that’s well made, accurate and luminous, is in practical terms all you really need.  However times move on and when it comes to digital models of course there are no standards and the fact that most digital modules have lots of functionality, this is fine, BUT are they easy to use without an instruction booklet with you at all times?  Also, many so called military watches have this idiotic “stealth” description, which almost always means you can’t see the dial even in a half decent light – so just pure gimmickry and stupid too!

Well, for me I like this model as when you look at it from any point of view and I include a military aspect – it has most everything you need, with excellent and useful functions and with good control (pushers) positions that are easy to find with the fingers (unlike some Casio’s).  It’s simple, simple ease of use (no need for an instruction booklet in your pocket), great battery life and with just 4 screws on that stainless steel back plate, that battery is super easy to change too – add a bit of grease on that seal (yes there is one) and you’re in business again and not forgetting – this is also one tough watch.  And it’s brilliant at night.

It also lasts – as I’ve worn this in all sorts of situations, including combat and it still looks great.

In fact, I could put this forward as best equal as a “Daily Beater” as it’s one of those models that can do most anything, anywhere and anytime.  And it’s accurate enough that the last time I changed from Summer Time, I just moved it back 1 hour with no time adjustment required.  So I have not changed the minutes time setting for about a year and I note it’s just 19 seconds fast against my computer as I write this.

Price wise maybe just under £50 in the UK – now I call that value!

See my Review HERE


 

 

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