Top 10 Worst Watches Ever In Ben’s Watch Club History!
Last time, we went through the top 10 watches in this blog’s history. However, this wouldn’t be Ben’s Watch Club if we didn’t also celebrate some of the greatest fails. Indeed, in this second half of our anniversary special, we’ll be analysing some of the worst watches I’ve ever come across. A roundup of the rubbish you shouldn’t waste your hard-earned cash on.
It was difficult to fit all of the garbage in just one post, so we do have a couple of honourable mentions. First up is Out Of Order. This brand goes heavily down the faux aged patina route, with watches looking like they’ve just been pulled out of a landfill site, despite being brand new. For an insane £300, it was a basic quartz dive-style watch with an awful strap and a flat mineral crystal. In other words, it was a hugely overpriced gimmick.
The other mention has to go to Nordgreen. This is just another ‘cut and paste’ Scandinavian brand that market the heck out of low-quality Chinese-made fashion watches. It seemingly followed the tick list of low-end startups with basic specifications and failed to stand out in any significant way, despite the £164 asking price. It seems most of that money just goes into buying out influencers, as is evident from the way they have been hounding me to promote them via email.
Now let’s move onto what you’ve been waiting for, the real shockers!
Aah, where else to begin but MVMT watches. M-V-M-T. After all, their greediness partially led to the creation of this blog and YouTube channel.
You see, not only were they bombarding me and many of you with invasive and aggressive advertisements, declaring that these were high-quality and a third of the price of their competitors, but they were also throwing money at gullible influencers. Some of whom were going to truly extreme lengths to grab the fat stacks, without any consideration for their audience whatsoever.
I’ve never been against sponsored content but when you’re misleading your viewers it crosses the line. Ben’s Watch Club was founded to give viewers a thorough, unpaid perspective on these tremendously overhyped fashion brands, in an ocean of false, paid reviews.
Of course, the watches themselves were absolute garbage. I first looked at these on my old fashion channel way back in 2017.
The quartz pieces I initially reviewed were bottom of the barrel junk with rudimentary finishing, bad specifications, awful quality control and leather straps that felt like sawdust. I’ve seen faeces take more time and effort to produce than these lazy Chinese-made cash grabs. For the $59 Indiegogo price a few years back, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but for triple that? You have to be kidding me!
More recently, I did analyse the MVMT Arc Automatic, which showed some signs of improvement including better finishing and materials. The only thing that wasn’t improved was the price. At £269, it was hugely overpriced, especially when you could grab a near-identical Cadisen with better glass for £200 less.
In 2021, buying a MVMT watch makes about as much sense as it did 4 years ago…absolutely none!
Fossil Coachman Chronograph
While lots of influencers may have been hyping up MVMT watches, genuine customers were doing so about the Fossil Coachman chronograph. In mid-2020, I decided to review this one based on the exceptionally good review score on Amazon, where the watch had an average rating nearing the full 5 stars.
I had a great experience with a Fossil wallet I was gifted several years previously, so had high hopes for this watch, which was my first from the brand. Unfortunately, this one was extremely sloppily executed.
From the moment I began unboxing, I knew I was in trouble, as I was met with a cardboard lining that looked like it was stolen from McDonald’s or Starbucks. While the custom crystal shape was impressive, the piece fell short in every other area. The steel case looked and felt incredibly cheap, with amateur-level finishing, a set of fake screw-down pushers and a loose crown that could be spun like a Beyblade with minimal effort.
The dial is where the Coachman truly collapsed. Not only was colour coordination absent, but the metallic sections looked incredibly cheap and the markers weren’t aligned with each other or the bezel!
To compound the pain, the luminescence was poor and the leather strap wasn’t even close to the standard of my old wallet. The latter also contributed to the watch being monstrously thick on the wrist, rendering it unwearable for anyone with a BMI under 5000.
My body still shudders with how poor that watch was and I’m yet to try any Fossil since.
Daniel Wellington Sheffield
Luckily, I didn’t have to spend much to try multiple Daniel Wellingtons. After having paid northward of £130 for one from their official website, I felt a bit shafted. Therefore, I headed to AliExpress to see if I could save some cash.
Sure enough, for under £20, I found a watch that was identical in every perceivable way other than the case colour. The listing had no logo, yet the watch arrived with the full Daniel Wellington branding and trimmings. So at a sub-£20 retail price, a random seller was still making a substantial profit with an equal product. This revelation exposed how extortionately-priced Daniel Wellington watches really were, so when it came to the dedicated review post in June 2019, I had all the ammunition I needed.
The experience here was very similar to that of MVMT. While the Sheffield I featured didn’t look as awful as the MVMT 40 series, it was obvious that the watch was nonetheless manufactured for an incredibly low cost.
Once more, there was the same underwhelming spec sheet and a very basic design that just looked like every other minimalist watch out there. Additionally, there was the stereotypical backstory and build quality that well…wasn’t there. If you tear back the branding, marketing and hype you’re left with something resembling a grocery store watch for multiple times the cost, despite it looking rather sleek and slim at a glance.
I’ve since made articles showcasing much better minimalist alternatives that won’t leave you feeling ripped off.
However, what if you wanted an actual grocery-store quality watch? Well, I’ve reviewed one that almost meets that description. In December 2019, I created a blog post titled ‘Why You Should Never Buy An £8 Watch’, in which I featured a dirt-cheap watch I had purchased from budget UK fashion chain Primark.
When you consider the low retail price, this is far from the worst value proposition on this list. Unsurprisingly, the watch was still absolutely terrible and I’d be lying to myself if I excluded it from this list. This one had alloy construction, acrylic crystal and a fake leather strap.
Technically, the watch did tell the time, but the movement was very loud and the packaging was so terrible that the watch was completely exposed to the elements, resulting in the case having scratches on it before the first wear.
The dial was flat and generic, with the hands being so similar in shape and size that it was hard to read the time at a glance.
In some ways, it was scarily similar to other watches featured in this post, but as the title suggested, I’d in no way recommend spending this little on a watch, as it’s a waste of materials.
One brand that was far from generic was Filippo Loreti. Yeah, their approach to exploiting customers took things to a whole new level when I attempted to review one of their pieces back in late 2020.
Their pretentious advertisements were being forced down my throat on YouTube and I’d noticed that some of these contained implausible claims, such as the watches being ‘luxury’ for £200 and equivalent to watches worth ‘4 or 5 figures’. Of course, this put them in my crosshairs. I paid £200 for their most popular watch with extra fast delivery. Three months later and the watch still hadn’t turned up.
When researching to see if this delay was normal, I ended up down a rabbit hole that revealed some extremely shady and questionable facets of this company.
Not only did this ‘Italian’ brand have no legitimate connection to Italy in any way, shape or form, but hundreds of Kickstarter backers had not received their watches; in some cases several years after projects had concluded. They bragged about cutting out the middleman, yet were offering affiliates insane commissions of up to 25%, alongside possible cash payments too; so it was no wonder that a plethora of ‘influencers’ were shamelessly plugging these online.
We also explored the possibility that the reviews for this brand on Trustpilot and their website were faked and paid for. To this day, I am 99% sure that that is the case.
Following the release of our documentary, we then did go on to receive the watch. What a coincidence, eh? Unsurprisingly, the watch, while not terrible, did not live up to the insane marketing claims in any shape or form. While it looked okay, it was basic and poorly finished for a watch costing so much money. It’s clear any money made from cutting out the middleman had just been pocketed by Filippo Loreti.
From top to bottom, this company was an absolute disgrace, yet their marketing department has continued to reach out to me in an effort to recruit me as an ‘influencer’, despite me butchering their brand online. While the watch wasn’t a complete disaster, the fact that you may not ever receive it easily bags it a spot on this list.
Drop-shipped/Scam Watches - No Label Watch
Perhaps the only brand that has rivalled Filippo Loreti in terms of pure scumbaggery was the aptly named No Label Watch. I covered them back in December 2019 after having discovered the brand via Instagram and recognising their entire product line-up.
It turns out I recognised them from a Chinese wholesaler site that you may have heard of…it’s called AliExpress.
Indeed, the brand was shamelessly dropshipping its entire collection and marking the watches up by an insane amount, whilst simultaneously claiming that the lack of fancy packaging and logos were conscious decisions to help the customer look better and save money.
Remarkably, they had managed to turn the inherent flaws of the dropshipping business model into marketing points, enabling them to ship the cheapest possible products under the guise of minimalism.
While this was, in a weird way, a stroke of genius; it was still totally anti-consumer. This brand was inserting itself into the sales process and taking a huge fee for doing nothing but making people buy through their website. Unbeknownst to customers, they could have gone to AliExpress themselves and bought the same product for a fraction of the price.
Like with Filippo Loreti, my marketing buddy Frederik also thought this brand was faking reviews by using a program to pull them directly from AliExpress or parent company Alibaba. While yes, they could be perceived as reviews for the same product, those reviewers likely paid much fairer prices for the watches, as opposed to the ridiculous mark-ups on nolabelwatch.com. Therefore, the reviews are likely obsolete.
They weren’t the only brand to offer ridiculous markups on this channel. A perfect example of where the price can ruin everything was the Sternglas Kanton that hit the blog back in March 2020.
I had praised the Naos Automatik from the same brand a few months prior, for offering a sleek design and good value for money. Unfortunately, its Swiss-made follow-up didn’t reach those heights.
While the Kanton wasn’t a bad watch and was reasonably stylish, it wasn’t anything special. Everything on the dial was printed, with the colour scheme and design leaving a little to be desired. For a whopping £700, it was way off the mark and didn’t feel nearly as premium or refined as an entry-level luxury watch should.
I think someone at Sternglas got greedy and decided to charge Junghans money for a watch that isn’t nearly a Junghans in terms of craftsmanship or brand prestige. This one was worth £300 at the very most and wouldn’t have held its value nearly as well as other better-known brands; making it an illogical proposition at £700.
I think they have heeded my words, as they’ve not dared release anything over the £400 mark since, which is the right move in my eyes. They’ve got to build up their credibility and production processes with these lower-cost models before attempting something in that higher price bracket again, or else they risk appearing on this list in the future.
Orient SK Diver Reissue
A brand I never expected to see on a ‘worst’ list on this blog was Orient. That was until, in December last year, I reviewed their attempt at a retro revival watch; the SK Diver Reissue. In addition to the vague naming scheme that left retailers and customers confused about the product, I struggled to understand why they had revived a dive-style watch without constructing it to have diver-level water resistance. This reincarnation had a mere 5-bar, which seemed like an obvious and lazy oversight.
Unlike other reissues that we’ve seen brought to market, I thought the design of this one hadn’t aged well at all. It had an unusual asymmetrical case, with a set of odd staggered crowns, though it was the dial that was the dealbreaker for me. It was a mishmash of different angles, shapes, textures and colours, resulting in an overall aesthetic that, in my opinion, was the definition of cheap and gaudy. I briefly showed it side by side with an Indian ‘Frankenwatch’ and as bad as it sounds, the Orient outdid it in terms of garishness.
While the inner-rotating bezel was quite cool and it did genuinely look like something out of the 70s, unfortunately, it maintained some of the poor construction that you might expect from that era.
Although the steel case felt nice, it came fitted with a lacklustre mineral crystal and a terrible folded link bracelet that even clashed with the finishing style of the main body. If this watch were £75, that may be forgivable. For £200, it was pretty shocking!
Though a portion of commenters had differing views regarding the visuals, I think it’s clear that Orient still did a lazy job of this low-effort cash-grab. They quickly tried to jump on the reissue trend without putting in the work required to make it successful. I also think they should have chosen a different watch to bring back altogether. In my opinion, this is comfortably the ugliest watch I have reviewed on the blog, so its place on this list is very well-deserved.
Camden Watch Company
Another blast from the past came in the form of the odd Camden Watch Company No. 29. This London-based brand promised to offer the vintage pocket-watch aesthetic within a wrist-hugging packaging.
In September 2019, I finally got around to reviewing this one after it had been sitting idle on a shelf for around a year. The reason I hadn’t been wearing it was because it sucked. Sure, the design was unique and they’d done a great job with the thematic marketing and branding. Nevertheless, straight out of the box, the watch felt very cheap. It turned out that despite the British branding, the watches were made in the Far East, as you might expect when spending this sort of money.
The case was steel yet felt too light to inspire any confidence in its durability, with the flat inked dial lacking any sort of charisma or charm. Over the dial was mineral crystal and under the hood was a low-cost quartz movement (think we’re seeing a theme here). The leather strap was also mediocre, which ultimately led me to question why anyone would spend £110 on this basic watch when there are dozens of higher quality vintage-looking alternatives out there for similar prices.
It’s fair to say that the brand didn’t appreciate my criticism and got a little triggered by my remarks. They left an essay-like comment of corporate jargon refuting and discrediting my observations, which suspiciously gained 7 likes within seconds and no more in the subsequent 2 years, leading me to believe that they potentially upvoted this from multiple accounts. The same happened with the video itself, which instantly accrued 7 extra dislikes (totalling 11) and no further since.
They repeatedly claim in this comment and on their website that they offer the best value and materials possible, yet the watch I was sent told a completely different story. Some of their other models do look better but the No 29 easily makes it onto this rubbish roundup.
A watch that didn’t lack in beauty was the Braun BN0211 that I tried to review also in late 2019. Not only did this one look incredible in the stock images, but I loved the slick design in person too. Unfortunately, this one never even made it past the unboxing.
Why? Well, there were a couple of primary reasons.
First up, like with the previous Braun I reviewed, the movement was terrible. This unit was had significant variance with each tick, as well as terrible overall alignment. In retrospect, I was probably a little harsh in that regard, given the watch was only £60. Nevertheless, I haven’t forgotten the second and arguably more important grievance, the lugs.
You see, while the case shape and bracelet were very elegant, they had a fundamental design flaw; the complete lack of flexibility. This meant that when secured, the bracelet was fixed in a rigid circular shape that rendered the watch unusable for anyone but those with a giant wrist.
To date, I’m still yet to encounter a more bizarre issue with a wristwatch. It’s almost as if Braun never bothered to test the watch on a human being. This is made all the more infuriating as they opted for a 38mm diameter and slim case that they surely knew would appeal to those on the slimmer end of the spectrum, yet this watch had no chance of fitting any of them.
This condescending brand has cropped up in my content a couple of times before, thanks to their overzealous marketing and lacklustre products. On this blog, I gave the first seemingly honest review of one of their watches on the internet. I found the design uninspiring, the sizing overbearing and the quality mediocre at best. The strap was also so stiff, you could probably use it as a medieval trebuchet.
Just over a year later, in January 2020, I showcased a much better alternative on this blog; the Pagani Design chronograph from AliExpress. This watch used a more premium movement, had comparable build quality, featured cleaner aesthetics, whilst being fraction of the price.
It also maintained the same faux-Italian branding, which takes me to my next point. I am sick of all of the nonsense that surrounds this company. Following my review, they initially removed the ‘luxury watch’ rubbish that I called them out for. However, I’m afraid to say the rest of their advertising efforts have since multiplied in stupidity.
I’ll go into full depth another time but all you need to know is that this guy and his marketing team sure know how to chat some trash. Together with their army of bought-out influencers, they’ve been spouting objectively false messages regarding the quality of their watches.