I wasn't originally aware of the symbolism when I bought one to commemorate my own personal career achievement. I hope it doesn't get taken the wrong way. I just liked the way it looked. I definitely try to get items that don't obviously appear to be affiliated with any groups.
You want something that is AE quality without spending over $200? That is a tough task unless you can find a good deal on some AEs. I was once able to acquire a pair of seconds for ~150 with discount so it is not impossible. Otherwise, I would look at Johnston & Murphy or Cole Haan. They will be glued, but honestly...good looking shoes that will last you long enough if you take care of them.
I think it all comes down to personal preference. I don't feel like the color of the hands or indices would keep you from wearing it with anything. The Portugese chrono is also a super versatile and beautiful watch. Great choice