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Britain was once seen as the centre of watchmaking - a horological hub of pioneers in the industry. But this was back in the 19th century; since then, outsourcing for luxury watches became popular and Britain took a back seat - until recently.
Countries such as Germany and Switzerland are still hot spots for watches, but Britain is making a comeback with a greater variety of watches than has been seen before. Variations include more contemporary designs as well as watches that use the rich history of Britain within the design itself. With this comes a range of prices, so watches can be affordable as well as a luxurious accessory.
From unique modern designs to traditional timepieces, this article explores some of the top affordable British watch brands.
AVI-8 is a relatively young brand, but one that captures British history throughout every aspect of their watches. AVI-8 focuses on the world of aviation, using every essence of the flying machines in the designs to honour the engineers and pilots of our past.
Each watch is named and inspired by a particular aircraft model, including one of the most popular watches: the Hawker Hurricane AV 4011. This watch is based on features from the Second World War-era fighter and includes three unique chronographs on the clock face.
The range of aviation models are popular for both everyday use and for collectors, as AVI-8 provides highly affordable British watches for function and collection. Every watch reveals a piece of history, bringing a unique British charm that makes it arguably one of the top UK brands.
Established in 1946, Accurist watches began on St John Street in London’s Clerkenwell district. The brand focuses on quality and durability, giving you a watch that’s made to last.
This trusty-yet-affordable British watch brand actually uses Swiss components to combine a unique look with high quality. In later years there was an increase in focus towards fashion; Accurist began creating watches with a classic but distinctive style, proving to be an excellent choice of watch today.
These watches incorporate diverse colours and elegant shapes within a classic model. Both mens’ and womens’ ranges cover an array of beautiful designs, including this ladies’ rose gold stainless steel piece.
As an iconic and already well-known brand for fashion, Ben Sherman covers the latest fashion trends for both clothing and watches. Offering one of the largest varieties in style, these watches are all modern and stylish - perfect for a trendy look.
Despite having a contemporary take, the Ben Sherman collection still incorporates a British heritage look, so those who prefer a classic feel can find something to love within the range.
Founded in Brighton in 1963, Ben Sherman has always remained an affordable brand with watches from as little as £30.
This British watch company takes its design to heart. The company name means to explore, and to fit with the theme, all of these watches are named after explorers, locations or means of travel. This includes heroes such as Dame Freyer Stark - a great female adventurer. This quaint British watch company was created in 2015. To try and combat the overpriced market they set out to create affordable watches without compromising on quality. They achieve this by designing their watches in England and manufacturing with the help of the Swiss company Roventa-Henex. Farer’s range is distinctive, using bold colours and standout features to create both a functional watch and a statement piece at the same time.
Thomas Earnshaw watches are the epitome of British horology. Thomas Earnshaw himself was born in Manchester in 1749 and is considered to be a pioneer in the field.
Within his era, he improved upon the Marine Chronometers used by the ships of the Royal Navy to circumnavigate the globe, making breakthroughs in science and history.
Today, these watches maintain that classic approach, using intricate designs with sturdy straps. Despite their rich history, they still remain an affordable British watch brand, perfect to be worn as a fashionable token of British history.
Since 1912, the British watch company Limit has designed watches of high quality and value. With a focus on reliability, watches made today use a Japanese high precision quartz movement for the highest accuracy, making their watches extremely dependable.
Offering a contemporary style, Limit watches offer something for everyone, with designs for men and women. Limit watches are one of the most affordable brands of British watches, with prices as low as £19.99.
Cabot Watch Company (CWC) watches
These watches are deep-rooted in the British military, and were founded by ex-military member Ray Mellor. These watches were supplied to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, so pilots in the RAF and Navy were wearing the very first CWC watches.
They progressed to producing the diver’s watch for the Royal Marines and other members of H.M. Forces, and they continue today - but now they’re available to everyone.
Perfect for anyone who is proud of British heritage and wants this reflected in an affordable, high quality watch.
Beginning in Oxfordshire in 2013, Pinion watches are created in small batches for that added uniqueness. Quality is of the highest priority with this brand, with every watch designed, finished and tested in-house.
Pinion watches have a strong visual identity, so they’re recognisable through each generation of watch. Each one is a classic timepiece that’s one of a kind, and is ideal for a standout look because these watches aren’t mass produced and seen on everyone’s wrists.