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The absolute worst thing that can happen to you when you decide to wear a watch is to realize that its battery is kaput. Dead. Not working. That’s why so many guys love automatic watches. Automatics are powered by the natural motion of the wearer. And no, you don’t have to wildly swing your arm at odd intervals to power it up. The best automatic watches for men are the ones that fit in with your life and style.
Automatic watches come in a variety of prices, so you don’t have to go into debt to get a watch that’ll keep time for, well, basically forever. While lesser-priced watches won’t have a lot of complications (meaning additional items like perpetual calendars, moon phases calendars, etc.), the truth is, all anyone wants from a watch is that it looks good, fits well, and tells the time accurately. If it’s got day or date (or both) complications, that’s a bonus.
We’ve found snazzy-looking automatic watches that range from under $50 to right under $2000. There are sport watches, dive watches, skeleton watches and watches from cool indie brands too. So scroll on through and find the best automatic watch for your wrist.
1. Nixon 5th Element Watch
You get a lot of bang for your buck with Nixon’s automatic watch, which is why it’s one of the best automatic watches for men on the market right now. The sleek, minimalist stainless steel watch houses a Miyota 8215 Japanese automatic movement, twenty-one jewels and a three-hand setup with a date complication. It has a unidirectional tungsten flywheel with a 40-hour power reserve. Nixon watches sit comfortably on the wrist. The dial is protected by a mineral crystal and has LUME indices and accents so that you can read the watch even in the dimmest light. The back of the watch is a half skeleton; a window highlights the mechanisms at work.
Full disclosure, I have bought a few Nixon watches, and to me, they’re on par with high-end luxury brands. The watch is water-resistant to 10 ATM/100 meters. They perform fantastically well, and one can’t help admiring the watch throughout the day.
2. Nomatic Automatic Watch
Nomatic started out as a company with one product and grew from there. Headed by two cousins, this company’s aim is to create functional, versatile items that are as good as your favorite luxury brand, but not as pricey. This is one of the best automatic watches for men, and right now a steal. It normally goes for $119.99 and is one sale for under $50. This watch has Swiss Ronda movement, day and date complications, is water-resistant to 30m and has an interchangeable strap. It’s a smart-looking watch that can go with work and weekend wear. Reviewers mention that it doesn’t weigh down the wrist, unlike other watches. Shown in beige, it also comes with a black strap.
3. Mondaine Official Railways Evo Automatic
BEST FOR MINIMALISTS
The experts over at WatchRanker consider Mondaine watches to be a good investment. Their Swiss Railway watch collection’s design is based on the station clocks used by said railway. Created with a nod to Bauhaus’s school of design, this watch is a “form follows function” watch, which means it’s easy to read the face at a glance. The cover is hardened mineral crystal, and this automatic watch is a nice size, it clocks in (pardon the pun) at 40mm. It has two complications: day and date, and the sweeping second hand is bright red. The case back has a clear cover, making it a sneaky skeleton. Flip over the watch to see how it marks time.
4. Timex Marlin Automatic New York Yankees Watch
BEST FOR SPORTS FANS
Timex’s Marlin automatic watch is one of the best automatic watches for men who love baseball. If you’re not a fan of the Yankees, you can pick up a Cubs, Red Sox, or Dodgers version. The watch’s design was created back in 1960, and it’s got a bit of that MCM style going for it. Timex uses this watch for cool collabs too, like the one they did with Todd Snyder. Inside it has 21 jewels, and a 40-hour power reserve. The Marlin has a date complication, and an open case back.
5. Fossil Inscription Automatic Gold Tone Watch
Generations of guys have turned to Fossil watches because they give you so much bang for your buck. It’s a fashion brand that consistently delivers the goods. The Inscription’s square dial isn’t something you see every day, and that’s a good thing. It’s 42mm and is water-resistant to 5 ATM. This skeleton watch has a solid back. If you want a toned-down version, pick it up in black.
6. Skagen Holst Automatic Black Leather Watch
BEST DANISH MODERN
We’ve covered Skagen watches before, and we’ve always been impressed by the brand. Yes, they look cool on the outside, and their inside is just as handsome. Holst is one of the brand’s core styles that’s been used in quite a few of their styles including their sexy chronograph. The watch’s strap is eco-leather, and the case is 42mm. The center of the dial is guilloche, which adds a nice touch of contrast to the outer black band and golden numerals. The dial features a peep-hole window that shows off its inner workings.
7.Baume et Mercier Classima Automatic Watch
BEST FOR MAXIMALISTS
Born in 1830, this venerable Swiss watch luxury watch brand is always innovative and always creates cool watches. This black-on-black automatic watch is a subtle luxury for your wrist. It doesn’t have to scream for attention, it is that awesome.
It’s 42mm, has a sapphire glass crystal and is run by Swiss-made Sellita SW 200 movement with a 38-hour power reserve. The case is polished stainless steel that is attached to black calf’s leather straps. The eye-catching face is black with Rhodium-plated indices, hands, and numbers. This Baume et Mercier watch has a single date complication, and it’s water-resistant to 5 bars. This is one of the best automatic watches for men as it ages, its value increases.
8. Verdure Splendor Automatic Watch
Verdure is a relatively new watch company. Black-owned and based in the United States, the company’s been getting tons of great press in a variety of luxury magazines. When owner Eddie Johnson designs a watch, he creates watches that he would fall in love with if he was a client. Looking for something new in watchland? Splendor has a unique skeleton peek-a-boo face that’s 43mm. This automatic watch, and all the watches in Verdure’s collection, come with a two-year warranty that covers all mechanical and manufacturing issues.
9. Gucci Unisex Swiss Automatic G-Timeless 40mm Watch
As a watch company, Gucci falls into both the “good watch” category and the “fashion watch” category. Commonly thought of as fashion watch as it comes from a legendary fashion house, it is also a good or luxury watch because the company owns and operates a manufacturing plant in the holiest of holy watch places, Switzerland. The G-Timeless also comes in navy, and whether you wear it on white or the deep shade, the golden bear and starfish that live on the face really pop. It’s 40mm in size, and the dial is guilloche. The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters and comes with a two-year warranty.
10. Heritor Automatic Sebastian Black & Gold Leather Watch
BEST MOON PHASE
Heritor’s black and gold moon phase skeleton watch is visually arresting and made really well. This automatic watch has 20 jewels, a sapphire-coated mineral crystal and a 36-hour power reserve. Yes, this watch is definitely eye candy, and it’s got cool complications that you normally see in a higher-end watch. It has a moon phase, date and day sub-dials, and a semi-skeleton back. The stainless steel case is 40mm and it’s water-resistant to 5 ATM. Looking for a watch that’ll light up someone’s eyes? This is one of the best automatic watches for men that can do that job and do it well.
11. Sturhling Alligator Embossed Strap Watch
Sturhling is a new watch brand that’s based in Brooklyn. The watches have a touch of New York Swagger mixed in with their mechanisms. The line is affordable, and they have really fun designs. Their rose gold skeleton watch is 42mm, and the markers are luminous. Water-resistant to 100 meters, it also comes with a two-year limited warranty.
12. Alpina Recycled Plastic Swiss Automatic Sport Watch
Everyone is looking for smarter ways to manufacture everything. Here at SPY, we’ve covered sustainable jeans, eco-friendly phone cases, and eco-friendly eyewear. So, it makes sense that watchland is looking to create more eco-friendly and sustainable products too. This Alpina divers watch is part of Alpina’s Seastrong Diver Gyre collection. You’ve probably heard about plastic waste floating along the currents and people’s constant attempts to clean them up. Alpina has harvested that plastic and used it to create the watch’s dial. This automatic watch has 26 jewels, 38-hour power reserve and a unidirectional bezel. It has a sapphire crystal and luminous markers. It’s water-resistant to 100 meters and comes with an additional rubber strap.
13. Seiko Men’s Analogue Automatic Watch Seiko 5 Sports
Seiko makes a good, not a great, watch. They’ve been the official timekeeper for the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and other sporting events. And they’re one of the very few top watch companies not based in Switzerland. The Seiko 5 model was introduced back in the 60s, and no matter how this automatic watch is redesigned throughout the years, it’s always visually arresting and on-trend. Why does this automatic sporty-styled watch get the superlative “Double Take?” Well, it looks awfully like the Rolex GMT-Master II, but it’s a few thousand less in price. This baby has a 41-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 100 meters. It’s 43mm in size, has a unidirectional bezel, day and date complications and both the case and band are stainless steel.
14. Bulova Archive Series: Military – 98A255 Automatic Watch
BEST AMERICAN HERITAGE BRAND
Originally based in New York City, Bulova has supplied its watches to various military branches. This automatic watch is the best automatic watch for men who like to wear a bit of history, as this is watch also known as the Hack watch was issued to the Marines back way back when. The timelessly designed watch has a black dial that offers military and civilian hour markers. Both the markers and hands are luminous. It has a sweep second hand, 21 jewels, and a 48-hour power reserve.