Making the transition from college to the professional world can be a challenge for several reasons.  You have to say goodbye to many of your friends, find a good job and start thinking about things like a 401K. And if you’re like most, you have to learn how to start dressing like a grownup.  After all, yoga pants and hoodies don’t exactly fall into the “business casual” category.

As you interview and start establishing yourself in a new career, it’s critical to look the part of a competent professional.  Of course a big part of that is clothes, but that’s not where it ends. The extras are important too.  And no matter who you are, your look will be instantly upgraded by a classy and sophisticated watch.  No, not a smart watch, but a real, ticking timepiece that will impress your boss and make you look put together.

But since you’re not raking in the dough yet, we picked out several beautiful affordable watches that won’t leave you eating ramen noodles for dinner for the next year of your life.

Men’s Watches

  1. Tissot Tradition Silver Quartz Classic -$300

Millennial Magazine - tissot

When you start moving up in the world, you’ll want a luxurious Swiss watch made by companies like Breitling and Omega, but for now this more affordable Swiss brand is just right.  With a small budget, you can still own a prestigious brand that makes sophisticated pieces like this one. Its subtle vintage styling shows that you have taste and know quality without having to shout it from the rooftops.  Believe me, your boss will notice this and appreciate its understated class.

  1. Movado Bold – $495


The minimal simplicity of this watch is perfect for a young professional looking to make an impression.  It’s elegant, looks good with any suit or more casual outfit and won’t make you look like you’re trying too hard.  But with its stainless steel casing and bracelet and rose gold accents, it’s clear that this piece has a distinct style.

  1. Hamilton Pilot Pioneer Chrono Quartz – $645

Millennial Magazine - hamilton

For the man who wants something a bit more traditional in design, this reasonably priced Hamilton is ideal.  Its stainless steel casing and quartz movement means that it’s reliable, accurate and will withstand the test of time.  Plus, with its date display and 2 sub-dials, its function matches its form.  It’s simple but striking, which is exactly what you want in a fine watch.

Women’s Watches

  1. Tissot Lady T02 Quartz Watch with Brown Dial – $495

Millennial Magazine - Tissot lady

This is one of those cases where a watch is much more than a watch – it’s a beautiful piece of jewelry.  This Tissot is classy, stylish and sure to be noticed wherever you go.  Because of the square face, wide band and brown mother of pearl face, it’s a standout statement piece.  And it just looks like an adult timepiece, one that’s seen in places like boardrooms and important client meetings. Put your old Fossil watch in a drawer and start wearing this pretty piece to work instead.

  1. Rado Original S Quartz – $525

Millennial Magazine - Rado web

For a modern woman, who likes her accessories simple and not overly feminine, the Rado Original is perfect.  But the unusual dome-like stainless steel casing and scratch-proof face make it something entirely unique and definitely eye-catching.  Perhaps the best part is that this is a watch that will seamlessly match any outfit you wear, whether that be a fierce suit, cocktail dress or jeans and a sweater.

  1. Michele Deco 16 Diamond Dial Black Patent – $695

Millennial Magazine - Michele Deco

Inspired by the art deco design movement of the early 20th century, this watch has a subtle nod to vintage style while still remaining appropriately modern.  The mother of pearl face and real diamonds at each hour mark put it firmly in the grownup watch category and ensure that those who notice it will be mightily impressed by your sophistication and taste.

While it’s certainly your work performance that will determine your success in your career, it helps to have the trappings of a successful achiever when you’re trying to establish yourself somewhere new.

So although you can’t drop thousands on a luxury timepiece just yet, all of these watches fit nicely into the budget of a young professional while still conveying a mature level of class and professionalism.

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