The watch is a staple in every guy’s wardrobe. It’s that one item capable of pulling an outfit together and giving it that finishing touch. It’s a necessity for the modern man.
If you’re here, you’re probably wondering what are the best watches for men. The best timepiece for you will depend on what you’re looking for. It’s helpful to start your search for the perfect watch by answering some questions about how you plan to use it:
- What functionality are you looking for in a watch?
- How will you be wearing it?
- What size watch face looks best on your wrist?
- What’s your budget?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to focus your search better. To help you in your shopping, we’ve created this handy guide detailing the different types of watches for men and how to style them.
Top Men’s Watches: the Dress Watch
The dress watch is one of the more popular men’s watches and with good reason. Classy and understated, the dress watch is made to complement your attire. Of all the watches on the list, this one is the least concerned with timekeeping. Its main job is to pull your suit together.
If we had to define the dress watch, the word that comes to mind is minimalistic. A dress watch is simple and smart. It should enhance any outfit you wear but shouldn’t demand too much attention.
To keep the focus off the watch, it’s important that the face be proportionate to your wrist. Dress watches should also have a slim profile so that they can slip in and out of a dress shirt with ease.
How to Wear It
Styling a dress watch is straightforward: if what you’re wearing is black, go with a black band. The same holds for any color you wear.
As its name implies, dress watches are not to be worn with jeans or for casual events. They look best with business or formal attire.
For certain events that require formal wear, like funerals, or remembrance services, you might even consider not wearing a watch. The reason being that wanting to check the time says that you have somewhere more important to be—an image you don’t necessarily want to give in these serious moments.
Stylish Men’s Watches: the Pilot Watch
As its name suggests, the pilot watch was created for pilots at a time when men only wore pocket watches. Pilots needed a way to tell time without taking their hands off the controls, and thus the pilot watch was born.
Since they were first created, these watches have evolved quite a bit. Pilots now use their specially made watches, but the original features have persisted. It’s one of the most common, best watches for men.
Though there is no set style and the characteristics can vary widely, these watches are easy to distinguish. Some distinctive features include:
- A large and easy to read face
- High contrast hands and legible numbers, usually with white numbers and a black dial
- Dual time functions that tell the time at location and time at the destination
- An oversized winding crown
- Crystal technology that protects the watch in case of sudden pressure drops
How to Wear It
Most of us have never seen the inside of a flight deck, so you may be wondering where to wear this watch.
Pilot watches are great for everyday and casual use. They should be avoided for black tie and formal business wear.
Nice Watches for Men: the Field Watch
The origins of the field watch date back to WWI, when soldiers had the same problem as pilots. They needed something more accessible than a pocket watch to tell the time, and so the pilot watch was born.
They were built to withstand battle, and it was important that the watch be readable in low light so that soldiers could always tell time. Though their use nowadays has evolved beyond the battlefield, the field watch remains one of the most popular watches for men.
The field watch has several defining characteristics, which include:
- A small to medium sized face
- Leather bands that prevent the scratching that typically occurs with metal bands
- A high contrast black dial with white numbering for readability
How to Wear It
The field watch is best for casual or business casual attire. Avoid wearing it as a sports watch or for business formal or formal wear.
Men’s Watch Guide: the Dive Watch
When it comes to nice watches for men, the dive watch is a staple. With its water-resistant design, this watch originated for divers—meaning that it needed to be highly accurate so divers could manage their air supply.
The dive watch became one of the most popular men’s watches after Sean Connery sported one in the James Bond films and has been associated with him ever since.
What features define a dive watch? It has:
- A longer silicone or rubber band to fit on dive equipment
- Water resistant capabilities up to 100 meters
- Stainless steel or titanium casing
How to Wear It
The dive watch is quite a versatile timepiece, appropriate for a variety of settings including sport, casual, business casual, and business formal. The only place it’s really off limits is in formal wear.
Best Watches for Men: the Racing Watch
The racing watch came about in the 1930s with the advent of car racing, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Rolex initially made their mark with this watch, but TAG Heuer was the company that standardized racing watches. TAG Heuer added a chronograph and tachymeter, which are the two features that define this type of watch.
Since then, it’s become a mainstay best watch for men. There’s no uniform look when it comes to racing watches other than that they tend to be flashy.
What are features standard in a racing watch?
- A tachymeter to make time and distance calculations
- A chronograph, which is a separate stopwatch function
- A stainless steel case
- Medium to a large watch face
- Leather or metal band, though leather is a better choice
- A large dial with Arabic numerals or hash marks
How to Wear It
Racing watches are one of those types of watches for men that should stay far away from business or formal wear, as it’s much too showy. The field watch is perfect for casual wear.
Some Watch Considerations
Watches have a variety of functions, which we can see especially in the case of pilot watches, dive watches, and racing watches. We recommend putting in some time to get to know how your watch works. That way, you can get the most out of your investment.
It’s also critical to buy a watch that is proportionate to your wrist. Nothing looks sillier than a large watch on a slender wrist or a little watch that would look more at home on a woman’s hand.
The general rule of thumb is that for a wrist circumference between six to seven inches, the diameter of your watch case should be somewhere between 38 to 42 millimeters wide. For a wrist circumference above seven inches, look for cases anywhere from 44-46 millimeters wide.
If you’re not sure about whether or not a watch suits you, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.
The Wooden Watch: A Category All Its Own
If you’re looking for a watch that will look great in any casual setting but want something less flashy than a racing watch, check out some wooden watches.
Wooden watches are beautiful and highly versatile. They’re perfect for weekend wear, but when appropriately styled, they can be a great wedding or business watch.
Besides being a fantastic all-around watch, wooden watches are one-of-a-kind. You can personalize them with your name, initials, or a message on the back of the watch case, making it an instant family heirloom.
On Choosing the Right Watch for Every Occasion
The most popular men’s watches in our guide are popular for a reason: they are classics that every man should own. Since your staple watches are the basis for a versatile wardrobe, it’s important to choose carefully.
Every watch has its time and place, and understanding when to wear each one is just as important as finding a watch you like, and that looks good on you. Make sure not to commit the cardinal sin of wearing the wrong watch for an occasion.
Pro Tip: Getting married? Watches make a fantastic gift for your groomsmen. Check out our swanky style guide to matching some of our fantastic watches to your wedding attire.
And if you’re in the market for a timeless gift, check out Swanky Badger’s stylish collection. From pocket watches to classic timepieces that you can wear in the office and on the weekend, we make watches that stand out.