When finding your first gig out of school, there will be a few things on your shopping list. The right garb to master the ever-elusive “business casual.” A good pair of dress shoes. Pens. A padfolio. Those sort of things. But somewhere on that list should be a quality watch.

It may seem unnecessary when you can have an accurate time-telling device in the form of your phone, but there are a couple of good reasons to go with a classic analog timepiece. Wearing a watch conveys a certain sense of punctuality and professionalism when interviewing or while in a meeting. And while you certainly could look at your phone instead, it might see like you’re checking your notifications instead of the time, which comes off as inattentive or rude. A subtle glance at the wrist is just a safer way to go.

In buying your first professional watch (or gifting one to your graduate), strive for something subtle with a hint of personality that reflects both yourself and the atmosphere in which you’ll be working. It doesn’t have to cost a semester’s tuition, too. There are some great pieces with far more attainable price tags — ranging from just over $100 to just under $1,500 — that look at home in the workplace while conveying just the right amount of humility.

Orient Bambino

The Orient Bambino is the perfect example of a watch that looks like a million bucks but costs barely anything (at least as far as mechanical watches go). This “version 3” variant comes with a brilliant metallic gray dial with sunray finishing, a retro-inspired domed crystal and a Japanese-made automatic movement inside.

Movement: Orient F6724 automatic
Case diameter: 40.5mm
Water resistance: 30m

Merci Merci LMM-01

Parisian concept store Merci Merci took its first crack at designing a watch and the LMM-01 is the wonderful result. It feels like a cohesive cross between a classic field watch and a minimalist dress watch, which seems like the perfect kind of timepiece to wear in a younger-skewing, casual office. And at well under $500 and packing a Swiss-made hand-winding movement its one of the best values for money on this list.

Movement: ETA 2801-2 hand-winding
Case diameter: 37.5mm
Water resistance: 50m

Tissot Visodate

Based on an old Tissot design from the 1950s, the Visodate has plenty of mid-century charm without screaming “I want to look like Don Draper!” The 40mm case diameter is relatively reserved in an era of mostly-oversized dress watches and would do well as a wardrobe accent in offices that require business casual attire.

Movement: ETA 2836-2 automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Water resistance: 30m

Christopher Ward C65 Diver

So many modern divers are difficult to wear professionally since they’re so big, but vintage or modern vintage-inspired divers with smaller proportions work with everything from a t-shirt to a suit. Christopher Ward’s homage to dive watches from the 1960s is an especially good choice; at 41mm around it’s not too big, and thanks to a hand-winding movement it’ll easily slide under a shirt cuff.

Movement: Sellita 210-1 hand-winding
Case diameter: 41mm
Water resistance: 100m

Junghans Max Bill Automatic

If you’re heading into a creative field, there’s a good chance your cohorts will recognize the Junghans Max Bill at first sight. After all, the dial design was penned by one of the greatest designers of the 20th century and has been around, unchanged, since the ’50s. If they don’t, they’ll at least appreciate the Max Bill for what it is: an enduring, minimalist design.

Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic
Case diameter: 38mm
Water resistance: “splash resistant”

Seiko Presage SPB047

Seiko’s reputation in the US is that of a humble (usually quartz) and well-thought choice of timepiece, but this Presage model comes touting an excellent automatic movement and a dial crafted from enamel, a material usually only found on five-figure Swiss watches. Despite this, the Seiko sports a decidedly under-the-radar design that dresses up well and conveys the aforementioned humility.

Movement: Seiko 6R15 automatic
Case diameter: 40.5mm
Water resistance: 100m

Farer Lander GMT

Lucky enough to score a gig where you get to travel? A GMT is a great timepiece for keeping track of time at home base while at work abroad. While mechanical GMTs usually command a hefty sum (such is the price of a mechanical complication), Farer’s series of automatic GMTs is a much more stomachable $1,425.

Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
Case diameter: 39.5mm
Water resistance: 100m
The 30 Best Affordable Watches Under $1,000

Need more inspiration? From $80 to a cool grand, these are the best watches to get when you don’t want to spend a fortune. Read the Story