As much as we’ve learned about watches from NBA tunnel fits, Drake diss tracks, and Justin Bieber’s IG, the kind of five-and six-figure grails favored by the A-list are only one side of the celebrity watch equation. While they may not get as much hype as Drizzy’s Richard Milles, there are affordable watches celebrities love, from cult classic Timexes to Casio G-Shocks built to survive the apocalypse. You won’t find tourbillons, diamond-set bezels, or turquoise Tiffany dials here, but you will find a ton of style on a budget, along with an, ahem, timely reminder that a cool watch doesn’t have to cost thousands.
Pete Davidson’s Casio Classic W735H-1AV watch
From extremely wide Y2K-era jeans to kooky jewelry to sleek tailored tuxes, Pete Davidson’s personal style is all about embracing the unexpected. So it follows that his current timepiece of choice is this department store Casio, which looks like a G-Shock but costs significantly less, and includes a nifty vibrating alarm.
Tyler, the Creator’s Casio MQ24-9B watch
It should come as no surprise that GQ’s Most Stylish Man of 2021 also has an excellent eye for watches. When he’s not flexing his collection of vintage Cartiers, Tyler, the Creator proves a budget Casio looks just as good as any of the pricier timepieces in his rotation—with or without a big, furry hat.
Barack Obama’s Actively Black x Teleport Watch
Obama favored a $400 Jorg Gray watch while in office, but this past New Year’s Eve 44 showed off a collab between two Black-owned businesses, and helped put this sporty (and affordable) chronograph on the map. Designed by Teleport Watches and Actively Black, it combines the look of a classic sports watch with a comfy silicone strap.
John Mayer’s Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GGB100-1A watch
In addition to his covetable array of rare Pateks, Rolexes, and Audemars Piguets, John Mayer also has a soft spot for the G-Shock—so much so that he’s collaborated with Casio on two separate limited-editions. Mayer’s got a few G-Shocks in his personal rotation, but he’s particularly partial to the Mudmaster, one of the beefiest (and most indestructible) G-Shocks around.
Bill Murray’s Timex Easy Reader watch
The Easy Reader is a simple three-hand watch with big, modern numerals designed for maximum legibility (even at the movies, thanks to Timex’s famous Indiglo nightlight). It’s about as far from a typical grail watch as you can get, but as Bill Murray proves here, it’ll look good pretty much anywhere you wear it—and no matter how much the watch on your other wrist costs.
JJ Redick’s Seiko x Rowing Blazers watch
This limited-edition collaboration proved what many Seiko fans (and GQ readers) already knew: the Seiko 5 is one of the most stylish entry-level mechanical watches on the planet. If you didn’t manage to cop one when they released last year, keep an eye out: given the popularity of the style, we suspect another drop won’t be far off. Luckily, there’s plenty of equally cool Seiko 5 variants to choose from while you wait.
Steph Curry’s Movado Museum Classic watch
Priced a hair under $600, the Movado Museum Classic isn’t the most affordable watch on this list, but it’s definitely the most historic. Designed in 1947 by American architect Nathan George Horwitt (and now housed in MoMA’s permanent collection) the Museum remains of the most avant-garde watch designs of the midcentury era. Almost 80 years later, it’s still one of the best-looking watches you can buy for under a grand.
Bernie Sanders’ Citizen Eco-Drive watch
Not only does this low-key watch come with a streamlined case and a bracelet made of brushed titanium, it also boasts a light-powered Eco-Drive movement that will run forever on one powerful battery. And unlike those mittens, you can wear this guy year-round.
Kid Cudi’s Casio G-Shock x BAPE x Kid Cudi watch
Kid Cudi’s three-way collaboration with G-Shock and his pal Nigo yielded a watch that—like all of his best fits—is as stylish it is attention-grabbing. This particular model sold out long ago so you’ll need to track down your own on the aftermarket, or pick one with a similar vibe from the brand’s analog-digital GMA-S140 series.
Tony Parker’s Tissot XL NBA Special Edition watch
Collaborative sports league watches can sometimes be heavy-handed in their branding, but this NBA tribute hits the sweet spot with its matte black case, orange accents, and a basketball grain leather strap.
Ed Sheeran’s Casio G-Shock Ref. 6900 John Mayer x Hodinkee watch
G-Shock superfan John Mayer took inspiration from the Casio keyboard he had as a kid when he started dreaming up this limited-edition design. Fellow G-Shock fans snapped up the original run in short order, but you you can still find a handful of options on the secondary market. Or you can skip the hassle and just buy the original 6900—and then keep an eye out for Mayer’s next G-Shock drop.
Jack Nicholson’s Timex Easy Reader watch
The clean lines and pared-down design of this Timex mean it’ll look at home pretty much anywhere—including courtside at the Lakers game, where Timex’s expandable bracelet adds an appropriately sporty vibe.
Kristen Stewart’s Casio LA11WB-1 watch
Vying with Tyler the Creator’s Casio for the most affordable celebrity-approved watch on this list is Kristen Stewart’s Casio LA11WB-1. It boasts a digital display, waterproof case, and some serious ‘80s energy, a whole lot of value for a sub-$20 timepiece.