Russian Watch Lover left a comment about my review of a Vostok watch I serviced. He asks what I would recommend for a mechanical watch under $100.
Don’t get attached to it. When you buy a mechanical watch for under $100 you should expect it to be only moderately accurate (within 10 or 15 seconds a day). It will most likely have an eastern European or Chinese movement in it so spare parts are probably not readily available here in the U.S. I would say expect to throw it away in five years instead of having it serviced. If you like the way it looks it can be lots of fun and for the price its probably worth it.
Timex tried a $99 automatic about 4 years ago at Christmas time but it didn’t fare so well. I saw an Armitron automatic at Wal-Mart the other day. Fossil has mechanical and pseudo-mechanical watches for very reasonable prices. All of these are disposable – not meant to be serviced. My experience with Russian watches is limited but I wasn’t pleased with the Vostok I serviced.
One way to get a quality watch for under $100 is to buy a vintage mechanical. Don’t expect to find a steal on e-Bay. It’s pretty well picked over these days, but you may find a treasure at a yard sale or a flea market. I have a couple really nice watches I bought at garage sales. Unfortunately you will most likely have to get these watches serviced. Expect to pay $100 to $250 for a mechanical or simple automatic for service, but you could end up with a really nice watch. When buying vintage remember that movement parts are attainable but dials, hands and cases are harder to come by so buy a watch that looks like it’s in really good condition and let your watchmaker worry about the movement.
As for good deals on current production mechanical watches I recommend Victorinox Swiss Army and Hamilton. Both of these brands use well made Swiss Movements and house them in well built cases. Automatic Swiss Army watches start with a MSRP of about $600. Some other brands to look at are Accutron, Seiko & Citizen.