Why Do the Rich and Famous Love Affordable Watches?

Rich person wearing a cheap watch

Do one thing: imagine a billionaire and how they ‘look’. What are they wearing? How is their hair styled? What accessories have they got on?

Got the image in your head?


We’re going to bet your imaginary billionaire is decked out in the biggest designer labels right down to their unmentionables. And every single item has an unmentionable price tag too.

If you have to ask how much it costs you can’t afford it, right? Well, actually, wrong.

It might surprise you to learn that the billionaire club loves a bargain, especially in their choice of watch. They’ll happily strap on a Casio or a classic Timex and still look sharper than a samurai’s sword.

So, the next time you think billionaire, think budget. 


It’s a good question. But there’s a straightforward answer: they understand value. And when buying watches most people, including the rich and famous, value:

1. Function

2. Style

If you can get both without splashing out the cash, why would you? Most rich people wouldn’t – that’s how they keep a hold of their Coutts account.

But in order to understand their psyche, let’s get inside the head of the super-rich for a minute.

Stock exchange graphic on laptop

An Expensive Watch Proves Nothing

There’s something a little ‘try hard’ about wearing a six-figure watch. And billionaires don’t need to be dripping in gold to gain respect – they are already at the top of the tree.

They’re mates with other billionaires who can afford exactly the same things – none of them are going to be impressed with a wrist flex.

So that means people with bulging bank balances can please themselves. And most of the time that means buying a watch that is stylish but functional.

Another thing you have to remember is that billionaires spread their investments. They don’t put all their eggs in one basket. Treating themselves to a £200,000 watch means they’ve got £200,000 less to invest in their next project.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that amount is peanuts to a billionaire – they know where every penny goes.
Man holding Euro notes

Budget Watches Stops the Slide

No one wants to be called a hypocrite, least of all the rich and famous. And many famous people are very aware that they are being judged on their morals.

If you think of the biggest billionaires, the names Gates and Bezos are probably going to spring to mind. And both are known to wear comparatively cheap watches. Why? All the reasons mentioned above and many more. Let’s look at a biggy:

Both Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates run charities and foundations. Let’s take the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s a non-profit dedicated to fighting poverty and inequality in the world. How would it look if the founder of that kind of charity wore a watch so expensive it could feed a small country for a month? Yeah, not good. That’s why Gates wears a Casio Duro.

The same goes for Bezos’ Earth Fund. The money spent on a watch with multiple zeros could be better spent saving the planet. It’s really a no-brainer for them. And considering his vast wealth, Bezos’ Ulysses Nardin timepiece, IS a budget buy for him.

Celebrities Don’t Always Buy Expensive Watches

And as for other celebrities – we’re talking, actors, sports stars, singers. They are walking adverts. It’s very likely the Rolex® or Hublot® they’re wearing was a ‘gift’ from the companies themselves.

Who needs a glossy magazine spread when you can get a living, breathing advert on every red carpet from New York to Cannes?

Casio Duro cheap watch made famous by Bill Gates


Talking of the glossies, GQ’s Most Stylish Man of 2021, Tyler, the Creator, wears a Casio MQ24-9B. It’s £22 on Amazon, people. This one’s a little bit of a shocker, too, as the music industry is notorious for artists who love their bling. After all, the world’s most expensive watches are owned by Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

However, if Tyler is flipping the script on big-budget watches in the rap world, that’s great news. It shows that you can still look ‘street’ on a significantly smaller budget. And if you can win one of the world’s most prestigious style wards with a two-figure watch, why would you spend millions?

Sticking with the music industry, we have our very own auburn-haired songster, Ed Sheeran and his reasonably priced Casio G-Shock Ref. 6900 John Mayer x Hodinkee watch. These beauties can be picked up on eBay even cheaper than the £450-ish price tag for a new one.

Despite his less-than-polished exterior, Ed Sheeran is notorious for his extensive watch collection. And while there is a Patek Phillippe and Richard Mille a-piece (at least) on his list, he also has a Swatch x Omega MoonSwatch that costs only £207 (if you can get your hands on one). Clearly, if you love watches, it’s the design that’s more important than the cost.

In the acting world, the celebrated but slightly unsettling actor, Jack Nicholson, prefers his wrist attire to be basic. A Timex Easy Reader is his choice of the moment. If you were in the US, you could pick one up at Target. Here in the UK, go straight to the horse’s mouth and they’re a snip at £59.00.

It’s possible that as the actor ages, he’s gone back to a preference for function – the watch’s name is a little clue. In any case, Nicolson has never been one for convention and it’s another way of showing his devil-may-care flare for fashion.

Politicians aren’t always at the cutting edge of fashion. But that doesn’t mean they can’t look sharp. At the très bon price of 500 €, French President, Emmanuel Macron, sports an LMM-01 Original Mechanique below his cuff.

In fact, Macron has been spotted wearing a range of lower-priced watches. But as we know, the French are always capable of turning cheap into chic. C’est Magnifique!

British Prime Minster, Liz Truss, is another fan of thrift. She probably has other things on her mind at the moment rather than shopping for watches, but she has recently been snapped wearing, what looked like, a snazzy red Swatch.

It’s not clear what model she prefers but a quick comparison on UK Swatch suggests it’s unlikely to be new. If you’re a fan of Truss’ style, though, you can pick up a similar model for less than £100. Considering ‘the lady’s not for turning up’, the choice of red is interesting, though, don’t you think?


That’s a simple enough answer: cheap watches don’t offer MORE than expensive watches.

Wait! Hear us out.

It’s not that cheaper watches have more. But they don’t have LESS. They offer the same value, the same style and most importantly, the same functionality.

They can be beautiful and work, well, like clockwork. 

What more can you ask?

Most of us are over the unobtainable culture of the super-rich in any case. It can be vulgar and look cheap. And if you’re taking photos of that Rolex around your wrist but it’s being paid for over ten years in monthly instalments, is it really yours or the bank's? 

We want sustainable watches. We want to reuse and repair. And most of all, we want to care for our watches so they can last as long as possible, whatever they cost.

When billionaires DO buy expensive watches, they often buy them as heirloom pieces. Timeless watches can be passed down through the family. And that’s something we can all do – even if the watch’s value is only sentimental.

So, maybe start accessorising less like some millionaires and more like a billionaire!

And if your strap gives up the ghost on your billionaire inspired watch or you’re looking to personalise it just a tad more, The Thrifty Gentleman has got you covered with our range of "billionaire" (affordable) watch straps!

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