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Sekonda Budget Watches - Too Good to be True?

Posted on March 30 2021

Sekonda Affordable Watches

Beware of Expensive Imitations.

It's a cheeky tagline and one that Sekonda has used frequently. It tells you something about the attitude of the brand.

They're acknowledging that Sekonda watches are cheap. But they're also suggesting that they're good enough to copy.

And Sekonda watches are incredibly cheap. Most of their models are under £50 - often much less.

I find that intriguing. A brand with Sekonda's history and popularity is selling watches at very affordable prices. They're also claiming that they are good quality.

Can that be true?

Are Sekonda - a brand with Russian heritage - releasing attractive, good quality watches?

Let's find out.

The 7 Best Sekonda Watches


Sekonda's popularity isn't in question. They've been the biggest selling watch brand - by units - in the UK since the late 1980s. They sell a lot of watches.

But if you're at all familiar with the brand, you'll know that they compete at a low price point. That's part of the appeal. Sekonda watches are great if you're on a tight budget.

But are their watches appealing? Apart from price, is there a compelling reason why you should buy a Sekonda?

I'll argue that there is. We don't have to get bogged down in the brand history here - I'll come back to that.

First, let me show you the seven best watches currently available from the brand. Then afterwards we can look at their history and quality.

Sekonda 1461

This would be my first choice for a modern Sekonda watch. It's a very inexpensive way to get a military-inspired quartz piece. Bear in mind, this watch is only £25!

So what do you get for that money?

First, you get an attractive design. That should be your primary focus with a watch at this price-point. You can't expect more than basic specs. But you can get good designs if you know where to look.

This Sekonda is a great example. It's a very legible watch that hints at military and field watch themes. The dial is straightforward and easy to read, despite being quite busy.

The numbers are bold and I like that they've removed the numbers that would have clashed with other areas of the layout. So there isn't a number at 6 o'clock. Instead, they have the water rating. The same at 3 for the date - and 9 and 12 to maintain the symmetry.

The short, stubby hands are distinctive and are in keeping with the military aesthetic. As is the simple case. It's a coherent and handsome design that makes for a functional watch.

Ideally, the knurled crown would be bigger, but it's not a major issue. The fact there is 50m of water resistance, making the watch splash-proof, is a bonus.

This is a fun watch, priced at less than a half-decent watch strap.

Sekonda 1461

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



The British Army's G10 is an iconic military watch. This Sekonda is the best way for you to get that style on a tight budget. They have nailed the design. It has the G10 DNA.

The 3347 has the clean design that I'd expect from a military watch. All other functions are secondary to legibility. It's what the best tool watches all do - they allow you to easily tell the time in challenging environments.

Sekonda has worked from that template.

This model has simple, bold numerals and a triangle in place of the number 12. It's very familiar. The date has been moved to 6 o'clock, but other than that, it's a typical military watch.

At 42mm it's larger than CWC and MWC's G10s. But, depending on your wrist size, that could be a plus. It's certainly more in keeping with modern watch tastes, but less faithful to the original G10 watches.

The other elements are self-explanatory.

It has a reliable quartz movement and a chunky crown that is protected by crown guards. It's also splash-proof and has a mineral crystal.

For less than £30, you can have a watch similar to those issued to the British Army. And it's going to give you the same functionality.

Sekonda 3347

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



This is Sekonda's very affordable version of Rolex's Submariner Hulk. It's their green monster. An eye-catching dive watch that gives more than a nod to the classic Swiss watch.

Ok, so it's not a legitimate dive watch. But, it looks the part and at this price that is fine.

It's not a homage to the Submariner, but the comparison is valid. This stunning combination of green dial and bezel was a favourite with Rolex fans before the watch was discontinued. The same style works just as well for Sekonda.

This is an uncomplicated piece, but with a colourful take on a popular dive watch style. The features that you'd expect are here. A mid-sized case with crown guards and a rotating bezel.

The markers are plain dots - the same as the Rolex - but the hands are different. I like that. It gives the watch its own character. That's important when you're producing inexpensive watches. Any innovation or individuality is welcome.

But remember, this is very much a desk diver. It's not a true sports watch, instead, it's a very affordable way to get the look. And it certainly has the look.

Sekonda 1622

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Sekonda Navitimer Homage Watch

You have to be careful with cheap chronographs.

It can be hard for a manufacturer to capture both the functionality and design needed in this style. There's not much budget, but there is a lot of complication.

The military watches I've featured above are meant to be plain. That's the style. It's realistic to create that appearance at a low price-point. With Chronographs, it gets more difficult. There are subdials, extra hands and a tachymeter to consider.

My experience has been that many cheap chronographs end up looking like cheap chronographs. The designs are often cluttered and have colour schemes that hurt your eyes.

One way to get around that is to use an established design. Sekonda has done just that. This is a homage to Breitling's Navitimer.

And that is why it works so well. For under £50 you can have a Navitimer look-a-like.

Of course, it only looks the part. It's a functional chronograph, but it's not a Breitling. What it is, is a fun way to try out the design. It's bold, colourful and enjoyable.

At 42mm it's a nice size for an aviation piece. With such a busy dial you need a bit of extra space. And the dial is attractive - it follows the colouring established by Breitling.

The rest of the design continues this. The hands, date window and chronograph pushers are all reminiscent of the Swiss original.

This is the most affordable way to get the Navitimer aesthetic.

Sekonda 1564

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Sekonda Root Beer Chronograph Watch

This next model presents three sub-dials in a more refined and restrained design. It's a clean, simple look with a root beer colour palette. It's tasteful and understated.

Although it has three sub-dials, this isn't another chronograph. The dials on this watch are for the date, the day and 24hr hour timekeeping.

They're arranged neatly on the dial and maintain a nice symmetry. Each is outlined with gold accents, as are the hands, markers and bezel.

Again, it's a tried and tested colour scheme that works well. The use of gold is subtle and contrasts with the black background. The Milanese bracelet finishes the look off brilliantly.

For me, this watch is a real success. It's an inexpensive high-street watch that presents itself as a more desirable piece. And it has a versatility I appreciate.

You can wear this watch with a suit or as a slightly sporty model. The touch of colour and the sub-dials will work in most environments. It's hard to pin down the style and I like that.

If you'd like a watch with multiple functions, but still quite simple, try this model.

Sekonda 1841

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Sekonda 3278 Watch

This quirky watch doesn't look like a famous Swiss model. It's a smaller watch with a more original appearance than some of the others.

If you're ok with a watch under 40mm wide, this could be ideal for you.

So first, the size. This comes in at 39mm. That's fine with me. As I'm typing this I'm wearing a 38mm Bulova Hack and it's a comfortable size. The modern trend is for larger models, but 38-39mm is far from small.

If that isn't a dealbreaker then this would be a great Sekonda watch to take a closer look at.

It's less obviously influenced by luxury brands and benefits from that. It's an attractive watch that doesn't slot neatly into any niche. That's helpful if you only want to own one watch.

There are a few colour variations, but this full silver model stands out. It feels pared-down and cohesive. The slightly unusual hands and markers work well on the plain silver dial.

The second hand adds the only touch of colour, making it quite noticeable. Otherwise, this is a fairly simple design. There are a neat minute ring and larger numerals on the bezel. They're practical and don't compromise the spartan aesthetic.

The date window is in the traditional 3 o'clock position and both the crown and crown guards are modestly sized.

If you don't fancy a Rolex or Breitling inspired piece, this could be a great starting point.

Sekonda 3278

  • 39mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 16mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Sekonda Datejust Homage Watch 1656

I want to finish this round-up with a Sekonda that again resembles a Rolex. This watch is a cracking budget alternative to a Rolex Datejust. It aims to give you the same sophistication and clarity of purpose as the more expensive watch.

Again, I've got to caution that this is a very cheap watch. It's going to give you a similar look to the Rolex, but with much lower quality. That's not to say that it's poor quality. Because it's not. It's good for the price.

But that price is a little over £30.

It's a great value watch. It has a trusted Japanese quartz movement and even 50m water resistance. But remember to judge it as a £30 watch.

Sekonda's watch is also classically styled.

It has the date window at 3 o'clock - an innovation of Rolex's - and the same neat dial and simple indices. Sekonda has opted for a plain bezel - I prefer that to the fluted option.

They've also stuck with the simple minute track around the edge of the dial and have kept the dial text to a minimum.

It's very affordable and very stylish. And like other watches on this list, it's a cheap way to try out the style. At £30 you have nothing to lose. Give it a go.

Sekonda 1656

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


A Brief History of Sekonda Watches


Let's be clear, the current Sekonda watch company is different from the original. Since the early 1990s, the company has been producing watches in Hong Kong.

But there is a history before that. And it features the biggest names in Russian watch manufacturing. The likes of Raketa, Vostok and Luch.

Created in the mid-1960s Sekonda was a British brand name used to market Russian watches in the West.

Remember, this was during the Soviet era. At that time, all Russian watches were built in state-run factories

Two of the biggest factories at the time were the 1st Moscow Watch Factory and the Petrodvorets Watch Factory. The former produced Poljot and Sturmanskie watches and the latter made Raketa.

Early Sekonda watches were rebranded Poljot and Raketa models.

This means that there are some stunning vintage Sekonda models. At the time Russia was producing watches to be used by its military. It also designed watches for the Soviet space program. The quality of their watchmaking was excellent.

Other Russian factories also produced Sekonda watches. This included Vostok's Chistopol factory and the Minsk Watch Factory - home of Luch watches.

At this point, the Soviet Union was involved in watchmaking innovation. Although they were working to a strict budget, they did manage to compare with the West. Without the same finances, they were still able to match the technical advancements of European brands.

A great example is the Poljot Strela. It's a favourite of mine.

It's a beautiful vintage chronograph worn in space by Russian cosmonauts. There was also a Sekonda branded version made available to Western watch fans.

So Russian-made Sekonda watches were among the best watches that the USSR could produce.

But the introduction of quartz models lead to some production moving to Hong Kong. To give you a sense of scale, in the late 1970s Sekonda was selling over 1 million watches a year.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Within two years, Sekonda was relaunched with new designs and Japanese movements. Its last ties with Russia were broken.

Where are Sekonda Watches Made Now?


Sekonda watches are still designed in the UK and the brand sees this as its primary market. They've been the UK's bestselling watch brand for over 30 years.

The watches are no longer Russian-made. All production is now in the far-east, with Sekonda watches using reliable Japanese quartz movements.

Are Sekonda Watches Good Quality?


I suggested in the introduction that Sekonda watches sound too good to be true.

It's a good point to consider. Can you really get a Rolex or Breitling homage watch, built to a high standard for £30?

Up to a certain point, you can. A standard Sekonda watch has a Japanese movement and a stainless steel case. They will usually have at least 50M of water resistance.

That's good value.

Although the watches are built in the far east, they're quality tested in the UK. There are 32 checks and tests for each watch. This includes checking the water-resistance and drop tests.

So Sekonda watches are designed in the UK, built with Japanese components and then QC'd back in the UK.

That sounds like a robust and reliable process for watches that are inexpensive.

As long as you remember that Sekonda is a mass-market watch brand, you will be ok. Bear in mind the low price-point and that you're not shopping for a Rolex and you won't have to worry about the quality.

They're not exactly too good to be true, but the brand certainly gives good value for money.

Conclusion

Remember the line, Beware of Expensive Imitations?

It's amusing because quite a few Sekonda watches are affordable imitations of Swiss luxury brands.

In this list of my favourites, you've seen a couple of Rolex and Breitling homages. And Sekonda has played with the idea that other brands are copying them.

It's fun because Sekonda is a hugely successful watch company. 31 years as Britain's bestselling watch brand? That is astounding.

They do it precisely because they use UK designers and a touch of imitation. Despite the low price, the build quality is good.

You can't sell millions of watches, year upon year, without doing something right.

I hope this post has piqued your interest in the brand.

Despite no longer being Russian made, they're still an appealing company. Personally, I'd suggest that you start with a military-inspired model or a fun Rolex clone.

But, if you have a better suggestion, let me know below.

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