With clocks on every digital interface we encounter, wristwatches may seem pointless. But the best men’s watches are about more than just telling time.
Much like attention-getting socks or a cheeky monogram inside a suit jacket, the right wristwatch showcases the wearer’s personality in a unique way.
A wristwatch is the one accessory that not only serves a specific purpose, but also stands the test of time. You won’t look at photos of yourself twenty years from now and say, “Oh man, how embarrassing, I can’t believe I’m wearing a
Since we’re striving for classic and timeless when possible, you should know a little something about your options before you make a purchase.
So in this guide to the best men’s watches, you’ll learn the design and features that make our recommended timepieces stand out from the crowd.
And since we’re all about dressing smart and sharp no matter the setting, we’ll show you:
- Parts of a
watch(so you know what you’re referring to and talking about)
- The best watches for each type of outfit
- Where each
watchfits on the casual / formal spectrum
- Our top picks for the best watches to add to your wardrobe
“Show me the watches first, B!”
I hear ya, you wanna see what watches we recommend. Make sure to read the rest of this article to learn exactly why. Here are all the watches we mention in this article.
Parts of a
Watch Watch Movement
Let’s dive into each.
Watches with mechanical movements use a set of tiny, intricate gears to release the energy from a wound spring and calculate time based on that energy release. An easy way to spot a mechanical
Manual mechanical watches require physical rewinding while automatic mechanical movements rewind themselves using the energy created by the wearer’s wrist motion throughout the day.
So which is the best
If you want a budget timepiece for everyday wear, go with a quartz movement. But for an investment-worthy dress
A quick note on
watch case sizing
Most men’s watch cases are 36mm-50mm in diameter.
Formal and luxury
Some fashion brands take it a bit too far and look like you’re wearing a wall clock on your wrist. Avoid these.
And keep in mind, the right
That’s why it’s important to measure your wrist and try on a few different watches.
Watch Face and Dial
Stick or Roman numeral indices tend to be found in more formal watches. Arabic numbers appear on more casual watches. Of course, there are exceptions to both.
Is the dial elegant and simple, or does it have multiple functions and complications?
The simpler and more elegant the
- Worn-in leather looks better dressed down with jeans than it does with a suit. Thicker, bulkier straps are better with casual outfits, as do nylon straps.
- Glossy, slim, and thin leather bands best complement formal attire. They usually look out of place with denim and other casual clothes.
- Metal bands can go either way. But if your
watchis sport-specific (chronographs, divers, etc.) it’s meant for more casual wear, or that particular sport.
- Rubber straps are decidedly sport-specific – save them for time when you’re active.
The 5 Types of Watches
Best for: Formal settings
- Slim, understated profile
- Metal case
- Leather strap
When attending a formal event – anything from a traditional wedding to a black tie event – a classic and understated men’s dress
Your accessories should match the formality of the setting, so a simply styled
For “dressy casual” or business casual situations when you’re still in a suit and / or tie, a similar
While it’s possible to get by with an all-purpose wristwatch in most instances, there’s something special about having one specifically for formal or special business occasions.
Best for: Casual, smart casual, and professional settings
- Larger case
- Metal or leather bracelet
- Activity specific features built-in to the
Metal fashion watches can be used in a variety of casual situations. They combine form and function in a way that speaks to your personal style.
Fashion watches aren’t right for formal settings, but they can work with just about any other situation. For example, I have a Gucci Pantheon steel watch. It works just as well casually with jeans and a T-
Want a fashion or sports
Activity-specific fashion watches have built-in features that are purpose driven. For example, diving watches are built to withstand underwater pressure. Pilot watches have large, easy-to-read numerals and dials.
But you don’t have to be a pilot, diver, or race car driver to enjoy watches that are specifically built and designed for these activities. It comes down to preference, so just make sure you’re wearing it in the right situations–in this case, not to a formal event.
Best for: Active/Sports settings
- Large but lightweight
- Rubber or nylon straps
- Sport-specific features built in to the
- Digital or analog
Sport watches are fun to have when you’re working out, playing sports, or being active. They’re lightweight, can take a beating, an are easy to clean up after a sweaty game or workout.
These watches have built-in features like timers (or chronographs if analog), water resistance (for diving and swimming), backlit screens or dials (for nighttime use), compasses, and altimeters.
Because of their strap material, large faces, and plethora of features, these watches are very activity specific. They’re best worn only when doing something active – they’re totally wrong for formal settings and can sometimes even be overkill for a casual outfit.
Best for: Everyday wear, casual settings
- Metal casing
- Nylon, leather, or metal strap
These are the best men’s watches for when you’re not going anywhere in particular and you don’t need a special
Since these watches are daily wearers, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a more affordable option if restricted by budget. You can find stylish men’s casual watches with leather, nylon, or metal straps in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and designs.
Best for: Everyday wear, sports/fitness, professional settings
- Large touchscreen face
- Interchangeable straps
Smartwatches represent the modern marriage of fashion and technology. For that reason, it’s hard to pin them down into one category or degree of formality.
In most cases, you can fit a smartwatch into one of the above categories and style them similarly. Consider these three factors before you head out wearing a smartwatch:
Design. A GPS running or fitness
Strap. Sports-focused smartwatches often come with rubber straps, so wear them as you would any other sports
In the case of multi-use smartwatches with interchangeable straps (like the Apple
Best Men’s Dress Watches
Here are the factors we look for when choosing the best men’s dress watches:
- Case: Relatively thin and made from steel or precious metal.
- Strap: Leather or some type of exotic animal hide, sometimes metal.
- Face/Dial: Simple stick or roman dial with light-colored, neutral, unadorned details.
- Movement: Mechanical in luxury watches, quartz in less expensive options.
Best Everyday Men’s Watches
The perfect everyday watch is classically styled, not too sporty, and can still be worn with a blazer. At the same time, it can’t look so dressy that it feels out of place with denim.
Most of all, it can’t be so expensive or fragile that you’d be scared to scratch it up or break it. After all, you want to be able to wear this watch in just about any circumstances.
Your perfect everyday