Best Watches For Men: Complete Guide
By Nick Hall - GuidePublished: 25 Aug 2023, Last Updated: 26 Aug 2023
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Whether you are on the hunt for your first timepiece or you’ve already amassed an enviable collection, a new men’s watch is something to behold. Over centuries, watches have become symbols of status, sophistication and luxury, giving a glimpse into the mindsets of the men who wear them. However, while you might know the classic watch brands and manufacturers well, there is a lot more to the wide world of watches than just Rolex, OMEGA and TAG Heuer. Enter the following men’s watch guide, which tackles the best types, price points, styles and brands from every conceivable angle.
Not only does our expert guide explain the key terminology, movements and designs you’d like to encounter—complete with links to more comprehensive articles—it features trending topics, helpful pointers, and buyer’s guides as well. From luxury and dress to dive and chronograph, the best watches for men are diverse. Here is a complete guide to watch types, prices and movements.
From the early days of carriage clocks and pocket watches, the horological industry has tinkered with different types of watches. While they all have the goal of accurately telling the time, many watch designs have activity-specific functions or purposes behind the features. So, if you are wondering what is a dive watch, the difference between a chronograph and a GMT and what the best pilot watch you can find is, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find all our guides to different watch types, along with some insights and expert opinions from our team of watch aficionados.
Perhaps the most iconic type of watch on the market, thanks in part to their prevalence in the James Bond franchise, dive watches are a staple of style and sophistication. The style first reached global appeal in the 1930s, courtesy of the ongoing battle between Rolex and OMEGA. The former unveiled the Oyster, while the latter is responsible for the Marine, which is widely considered to be the first commercially available dive watch.
Dive watches are characterised by their sealed casebacks and water resistance, unsurprisingly for the purpose of deep sea diving. Nowadays, these timepieces feature an assortment of modern features, including illuminated dials, robust designs and rotating bezels, however, they’re often seen far from the ocean. Popular models such as the Rolex Submariner, OMEGA Seamaster, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Tudor Pelagos have become status symbols for corporate workers, rarely feeling the cool embrace of salt water.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, dress watches are aesthetically driven pieces that exclude style without the need for excessive features. These elegant pieces are designed to stand out, providing a level of sophistication and class that elevates any outfit. This type of watch also plays host to a number of the world’s most iconic manufacturers, with brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin embodying the incredible craftsmanship of the modern dress watch.
Another watch type designed for function, Pilot watches were originally designed as instruments for aviation and navigation. These timepieces feature typically large faces over 40mm in width and are adorned with highly legible, even oversized indices and numerals. These watches can also withstand dramatic changes in temperatures and pressure, with the back of a pilot’s watch designed to be protected from magnetic fields. Importantly, a number of the world’s most iconic timepieces started as pilot pieces, with revered collections such as the IWC Big Pilot, Longines Avigation and Breitling Navitimer being examples of the very best pilot watches.
Military watches and tactical watches are designed to survive the elements. Geared toward adventurers, these timepieces traditionally pair durable construction with an extra tier of functionality. While often stylish, they generally take on the role of wearable tools. Some of the best military watches are as follows: Marathon WW194007 TSAR Military Diver, Casio G-SHOCK The 6900 Military, Marathon Military Navigator, Suunto Core, Breitling Cockpit B50, and others.
Distinguished by their rugged bodies, legible dials, hand-wound movements and slim, 36mm (on average) cases, field watches were initially conceived for military use. These pieces are designed with legibility, luminosity and robustness in mind, ensuring that the unique piece of kit can handle anything thrown at it. While modern militaries probably don’t depend on a trusty field watch the way they used to, the best ones still make for some resilient and stylish timepieces
Simply put, a GMT watch is a unique type that features a fourth hand. This additional hand displays Greenwich Mean Time, allowing you to view more than one timezone, with the GMT hand measuring a standard time that is independent of your current time zone. Much like the birth of the modern dive watch, the history of the GMT is up for debate, but the general consensus is that the Rolex GMT-Master from 1954 was the first commercially available GMT. Hosting an iconic Pepsi-coloured bezel, the GMT-Master had the unique ability to relay two separate time zones at once. As the years progressed, more GMT watches emerged, and soon enough it wasn’t just the pilots wearing them, but the passengers too.
Big and bold not really your style? Over the past 20 years, minimalist watch brands have popped up across the globe providing sophisticated-looking timepieces without the clutter. Featuring simplistic designs and straightforward time-telling mechanisms, their purpose is to tell you the time without all the bells and whistles we come to expect from luxury watches.
A sign of things to come, the watch industry took a step back when the first smartwatches were unveiled, but now the industry is firing on all cylinders. The popularity of the Apple Watch, along with other players such as Fitbit and Garmin has seen an explosion in the smartwatch market, making it one of the most pivotal sectors in watchmaking. In fact, iconic luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Montblanc have even unveiled smartwatches of their own in response to the growing demand.
If you are looking for a watch to purchase, price will inevitably play a large part in your final purchasing decision. We’ve curated several lists by price point, allowing you to select the best-quality timepiece in your respective budget.
When it comes to watches, often the most impressive elements are on the inside. The movement that drives the watch function can play a large part in dictating price, accuracy and popularity. Below, we’ve outlined the most common movement types, who;e also providing some helpful guides and explainers on each.
Mechanical watches are timepieces that utilise is a ‘clockwork’ mechanism to measure time. This differs from other movements in that they do not require a battery to operate. Mechanical watches have no battery, microchip, or circuitry, with all parts are machined to work perfectly at microscopic sizes.
A chronograph is a type of watch that can act as both a stopwatch and a display watch. From a basic perspective, chronographs have an independent sweep second hand and a minute sub-dial; meaning they are able to be started, stopped, and returned to zero by pressing on the stem. These models are favourites among collectors and first made their name in the world of aviation, auto racing and sports.
As the name suggests, a solar watch is a watch that is powered by the conversion of light energy into electronic energy. The light energy is received by a solar cell underneath the dial and is then passed through to a rechargeable battery. Brand such as Seiko and Casio are pioneers in this space, however, as the move towards sustainable operations gathers pace, several high-end brands like TAG Heuer are following suit.
Perhaps the most complex mechanism ever created, the tourbillon is added to the mechanics of a watch escapement for the purposes of increasing accuracy. With this design, the escapement and balance wheel are mounted in a rotating cage, eliminating errors of poise in the balance giving a uniform weight. Its origins date all the way back to 1801, when the design was patented by Swiss-French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. In recent years, tourbillon movements have been reserved for only the most expensive and complicated pieces, favourited by brands such as Girard-Perregaux, Patek Philippe and H. Moser & Cie.
Put simply, a moonphase watch is one that relays the 29.5-day lunar cycle by exhibiting the current moonphase in an aperture on the dial. This is often also referred to as a moonphase complication – meaning any feature on a watch that’s not directly related to the time display.
Quartz watches are timepieces that utilise an electronic oscillator regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. Generally, this crystal oscillator creates a signal with very precise frequency, meaning that despite their lower price point, quartz pieces are often more accurate than mechanical clocks.
Sometimes the finish is everything. With watches, the difference between a stainless steel, gold, bronze of platinum watch can be several hundred of thousands of dollars. If you have a specific style in mind, we have you covered with our guides to different watches buy colour and material.
Naturally resistant to wear, gold watches render striking visual statements, the kind that can traverse an entire room. Even as materials such as stainless steel and titanium continue to dominate, men’s gold watches still occupy a respectable niche in the modern market
The best bronze watches are innately anti-corrosive, anti-magnetic, long-lasting, resistant to seawater, and harder than stainless steel and iron combined. If you want a timepiece that ages with you, this material also develops a rich patina over time.
Representing a darker, and arguably sleeker tone than yellow gold, rose gold watches exude a modern and stylish aesthetic. With a finish that will certainly stand out from the crowd, this material is best suited for a dress watch or evening wear.
Judging by Watches & Wonders events in recent years, green dial watches are taking the industry by storm. While atypical compared to the standard silhouette, green face watches conjure a bold and handsome essence with nature-based undertones.
The world’s foremost luxury watch brands are going smaller than ever, with Piaget and Bulgari aiming to make their pieces almost nonexistent. Whether it’s the Altiplano Ultimate 910P from Piaget or the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, watchmakers are finding new ways to pack big things into smaller and smaller packages.
Watch lovers are notoriously brand loyal, so when it comes to the best brands in the business, it’s worth doing some research. From Rolex to OMEGA and everything in between, we’ve outlined the top brands to keep abreast of and which smaller operations you should know.
Needless to say, the price of luxury watches has skyrocketed in the last two years – and we’re not just talking about the latest and greatest Rolex. From Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet to Patek Philippe and Breitling, the best luxury watch brands are as exciting now as ever before.
Arguably the most well-known watch brand in the world, Rolex SA is a Swiss watch designer and manufacturer based in Geneva. Founded in 1905 as Wilsdorf and Davis by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London, the company is best known for pieces such as the Daytona, Submariner and Oyster Perpetual.
View all of our Rolex coverage
A Swiss icon, OMEGA is responsible for some of the most incredible watches ever produced. From the legendary Speedmaster and Seamaster collections to special edition releases, OMEGA has cemented itself as a titan of the tool watch segment.
View all of our OMEGA coverage
Patek Philippe is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer renowned for its superior craftsmanship, timeless design, and meticulous quality. With a rich history spanning more than 170 years, the brand continues to set the bar for timepieces that are not just fashionable but also highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs.
View all of our Patek Philippe coverage
IWC Schaffhausen is an iconic Swiss watch brand founded in 1868 that specialises in luxury timepieces & high watchmaking. The Maison is best known for its Big Pilot and Portugieser collections, which blend high-end watchmaking with aviation history.
View all of our IWC coverage
Piaget is a Swiss watch and jewellery maker renowned for its trademark use of gold The glitzy and glamorous designs take an innovative approach to luxury craftsmanship, with pieces such as the Polo garnering worldwide acclaim.
View all of our Piaget coverage
Perhaps the most revered complication maker in watch history, Zenith has a long and storied history in the world of horology. Launching in 1865, Georges Favre-Jacot’s Swiss Maison is responsible for the concept of “in-house movements”. The famed entrepreneur believed that by controlling the entire process, he could achieve a more consistent level of quality. Pieces such as the Chronomaster, DEFY and the now-defunct De Luca are proof that Favre-Jacot was right.
View all of our Zenith coverage
One of the world’s most renowned jewellery and watch brands in the world, Cartier is famous for crafting some of the industry’s best-loved pieces. Classic designs such as the Tank, Ballon Bleu de Cartier and Pasha have helped forge the brand’s legacy in the industry. While Cartier is perhaps still best known for its range of ladies’ pieces, the overall collection has become hugely popular across the globe.
View all of our Cartier coverage
Vacheron Constantin is a renowned Swiss watchmaker that has been in the business of luxury timepieces since 1755. The brand is one of the industry’s most revered makers, with pieces such as the Overseas and Historiques helping to propel the business into the 21st century.
View all of our Vacheron Constantin coverage
Founded in 1833, Swiss luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre is renowned for its craftsmanship and precision engineering. The brand is unparalleled in its quest for ingenuity and timeless design, with the fabled Reverso model being one of the most coveted timepieces ever produced.
View all of our Jaeger-LeCoultre coverage
Blancpain is a renowned Swiss watchmaker with over 270 years of watchmaking excellence in its back pocket. The brand is best known for its stunning collection of dive watches, most notably with the iconic Fifty Fathoms range.
View all of our Blancpain coverage
Not only an icon in the watchmaking world, Audemars Piguet is one of the most recognisable luxury brands globally. With its classic Royal Oak design copping a myriad of different alternatives, the masters of the integrated bracelet have achieved almost everything in the game.
View all of our Audemars Piguet coverage
The king of affordable luxury, Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer has had an interesting path to success. With roots tied firmly to auto-racing, performance and Hollywood movie stars like Steve McQueen, the brand has established an impressive collection of Carreras and Aquaracers that fans can’t get enough of.
View all of our TAG Heuer coverage
Hublot is a Swiss luxury watch brand that has been crafting suitably unique timepieces since 1980. The brand often dips its toes in the classic chronograph space, however, most fans would know the Maison for its collection of avant-garde stunners, diamond-encrusted watches and ultra-modern connected pieces.
View all of our Hublot coverage
Designed to withstand the elements, Panerai watches are renowned for their distinct design, flawless craftsmanship, and timeless style. The Italian brand’s focus is firmly on modern divers’ watches that combine innovative technology and luxurious materials.
View all of our Panerai coverage
A luxury arm of classic Japanese watchmaker Seiko, Grand Seiko steps the production quality and design language to a new level. The watchmaker takes inspiration from the natural environment, with many of its chronograph models featuring patterned dials to accompany their high-beat movements.
View all of our Grand Seiko coverage
Famous for its Navitimer and Superocean releases, Swiss watchmaker Breitling is one of the most recognisable brands on the market. The top-rated timepieces in the brand’s range are targeted towards adventure, with aviation watches forming a large part of the Breitling collection.
View all of our Breitling coverage
Chopard is a Swiss luxury watch and jewellery manufacturer founded in 1860. From the iconic L.U.C., Alpine Eagle to the Mille Miglia, the company has a long history of producing exquisite pieces that embody luxury, sophistication, and taste.
View all of our Chopard coverage
You don’t always have to break the bank to secure great style on your wrist. The best mid-range watch brands prove that great things can still come in (relatively) affordable packages, remaining optimal, fashionable, and beautiful inside and out.
Best Mid-Range Watch Brands
Longines is a world-renowned watchmaker known for its elegant designs, high-precision timekeeping, and unparalleled craftsmanship. The Swiss Maison has an extensive background in the world of aviation watchmaking, with timepieces such as the Zulu Time, Spirit Flyback Chronograph and Ultra-Chron a testament to its long-standing success.
View all of our Longines coverage
Renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, Tissot’s timepieces combine traditional Swiss watchmaking with modern design. Models such as the PRX have become favourites in recent years, with fans clambering to get their hands on the vintage-inspired watches.
View all of our Tissot coverage
From the affordable Seiko 5 Series to the new Prospex collection, Seiko is a shoo-in for the title of best value watch brand in the world. The Japanese watchmaker has done an incredible job of crafting stunning timepieces that are accuracy, responsive and seriously affordable.
View all of our Seiko coverage
One of the most popular watchmakers in the world, Casio is responsible for driving the growth of the quartz market. The brand has an extensive collection of digital watches, alongside some more premium releases. Get the lowdown on the latest Casio styles and find out how they are made to last.
View all of our Casio coverage
Founded in 1926 and acquired to serve as a sister brand to Rolex, Tudor has come a long way in recent years. The brand is best known for delivering high-quality dive watches at affordable prices, with releases such as the Black Bay and Pelagos garnering worldwide recognition.
View all of our Tudor coverage
If you are looking for an alternative to the big names, microbrands, boutique brands, and independent brands play into a variety of modern trends. Capitalising on the powers of the Internet, a number of these brands maintain direct lines with their customer base, cutting down on overhead in the process. Below you’ll find our top picks for microbrands.
When it comes to the country responsible for producing the world’s best watches, one name stands strong – the Swiss. For centuries, Switzerland has dominated the industry, producing any number of terrific timepieces and models across a myriad of revered brands. That being said, the rest of the world is catching up quickly. Check out our guides to the countries taking to the Swiss.
The lesser celebrated but equally impressive cousin to the Swiss, German watchmakers are responsible for some of the most incredible timepieces ever produced. The historic region is home to brands such as A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original and Junghans.
Best German Watch Brands
Another former industry giant, British watchmaking was once seen as the epitome of quality. At the turn of the 19th century, however, the industry took a sharp turn and much of the country’s luxury watch brands were outsourcing production. In recent years, brands such as Bremont are attempting to bring production back home, spurring a renowned interest from collectors.
Best British Watch Brands
While Russian watch brands aren’t talked about much these days, the history there is incredible. At one stage, the former Soviet Union was home to a thriving watch industry, which took off under Stalin and continued to expand throughout the 20th century. Nowadays, you can find some of these fantastic pieces second-hand, but it pays to do your research. Check out our guide to the Russian watch brands you should keep an eye out for.
Best Russian & Soviet Watch Brands
Sticklers for quality and consistency, the Japanese craftsman driving the local market are true savants. The market was born during the boom of the Quartz revolution, however, it was a dedication to traditional practices that helped Japanese watchmakers stay on top. Brands such as Seiko, Casio and Orient have continued to shell out terrific timepieces at an affordable price point, making it hard for other countries to compete.
Best Japanese Watch Brands
There was once a time when the best American watch brands were few and far between, but the likes of Timex and Sinola have certainly changed the game, or at least, restored it. Check out our guide to the best American watch brands still operating today.
Best American Watch Brands
A fledgling industry on the world stage, Australian watch brands are steadily growing in prestige and popularity. With labels such as BAUSELE and Creux Automatiq staking their claim as some of the most innovative and durable pieces anywhere in the world, expect to see more Aussie-made watches on your favourite celebrity’s wrist.
Best Australia Watch Brands
Much like a car, buying a timepiece is only step one in the process. From here, you’re able to customise and accessorise your piece to better suit your style and aesthetic. Below, you’ll find out guides to the best watch accessories for your timepiece.
If you are looking to buy a watch gift for the horology fan in your life, we’ve got you covered. Our gift guide features winders, storage boxes, accessories, books, clocks, and more. Anyone who loves watches will love each one, so make like a sweeping second hand and get moving!
With so many brands, complications and references to stay across, the watch industry is a moving beast. To help make sense of the situation, we’ve covered the major questions and outlined the key guides and insights for you to be across. Whether you are looking to buy a new watch or simply stay across the industry news, you’ll find some valuable information here.
Each year, the watch industry comes together to share its latest novelties, innovations and releases to the general public. While the biggest event is reserved for the first half of the year, with Watches & Wonders taking pride of place in the horology calendar, the second half also provides a few stand-out shows. Here are the top watch events to put on your radar this year.
When it comes to buying watches in Australia, you’re in luck. There are a number of great places across the country to score brand-new and second-hand timepieces. We’ve put together a curated list of our top picks below for you to peruse.
It’s no secret that celebrities love to flaunt their money, but in the watch world, things get dialled up to 11. More often than not, the big names in Hollywood, sports and entertainment are eager show off their unique collections on the daily, and we’ve made sure to document the pieces accordingly.
The most revered watch brand in the world is Rolex. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer is based in Geneva, Switzerland and is renowned for its high-quality and precision timepieces, such as the Submariner, Oyster Perpetual and Datejust.
The top-selling watch brand in the world is Rolex, according to the latest data from Watchbox and Watches of Switzerland.
In 2022, the United States imported the highest value of Swiss watches in the world. The country is responsible for the import of around 3.9 billion Swiss francs’ worth of watches.
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Nick Hall is an award-winning journalist and the current Editor-in-Chief of Man of Many. With an extensive background in the media industry, he specialises in feature writing, lifestyle and entertainment content. Nick is the reigning Mumbrella Publish Awards ‘Editor of the Year’ and B&T ‘Best of the Best - Journalist’, courtesy of his work with Man of Many.
Prior to working at the men’s lifestyle publication, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting.
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