Watches are statement pieces that can serve many purposes. They can signify a crowning achievement in your life, from anniversaries to birthdays, graduations to retirements. They can be a quality investment for young professionals moving forward with their careers, or an upscale novelty that flaunts one’s wealth. For most of us, these wrist-worn clocks are EDC (aka everyday carry) accessories that accentuate our personality and style, while keeping track of life’s most valued asset: time.
What comprises the best men’s watches? Is it craftsmanship? Maybe the movement – automatic or manual? Could it be cool features? What about the manufacturer? Several factors come into play when buying or gifting a men’s watch. But, to be clear, it’s really a matter of preference and practicality. How you choose to wear one and for what reasons will better determine your needs for a fancy timepiece.
Now, you might think that a premium watch comes at a premium cost. Not necessarily. No one said you had to go broke on a Hublot, Patek Phillipe or Rolex watch to style and profile. You can easily score some of the hottest men’s watches online between $100 – $1,000 and from popular watch brands like Citizen, Hamilton, Movado, MVMT, and Timex, just to name a few.
To better guide you on this horological journey, not only did we list the best watches for men across several price points (to accommodate your budget) – we enlisted a few industry experts from some of the world’s greatest watchmakers to break down every popular category. This includes automatic watches, dress watches, military watches, dive watches, and smartwatches.
Here’s a look at the best watches for men, by category and price.
Best Automatic Watches for Men
Another term for self-winding watches, automatic watches are the most popular of the bunch due to their ability to tell time accurately, reserve power, and appreciate over time. The build quality of these devices is undeniable as well.
One brand that knows its way around a well-designed automatic watch is newcomer MVMT, which the VP of Product Development & Design, Thomas Moran, discusses in detail: “A reliable and dependable movement is the most important element as you venture into the world of automatics. These movements are a complex series of gears and parts that drive the hands displaying the time.”
To get the most out of an automatic watch, Moran believes you should follow three key points. You’ll want to wear it regularly for optimal performance and keep it wound to ensure accurate timekeeping. The watch should celebrate the complex inner workings of the movement via an exhibition case back. Lastly, let the experience of owning one inspire a deeper connection.
Invicta Two-Tone Automatic Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $100
Invicta watches are some of the more supremely crafted timepieces you can find for under a Benjamin. Here is a looker that offers plenty of flare and functionality. The front is draped with a bold, electric blue dial that any style savant will catch out off the corner of their eye, alongside the gold-and-stainless-steel-tone bracelet. Turn to the case back and admire the skeletonized movements that keep the watch running with precision. Also, the watch doubles as a marine companion with water-resistant coating that keeps it operating up to 660 feet under water.
Swatch Sistem Fly YIS404 Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $250
Perfect for horological newbies with short funds, Swatch’s digital quartz watch does a fine job of blending advanced technology into a swanky, polished design. The “bottomless blue” dial and silver hands make for an exotic-looking watch face, while the alligator-skin-patterned strap exudes boss status. We’re also fans of the openwork case back that reveals the watch’s intricate mechanics. It’s a piece you’ll be proud to show off in any watch case or watch winder.
MVMT Arc Automatic Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $500
MVMT sells an attractive entry-level automatic watch designed for millennials who fancy a sub-luxury timepiece in mechanical form. The Arc is powered by the Miyota 821A automatic hacking movement; it delivers accurate results and remains one of the more reliable movements at this price point. However, the beauty behind every MVMT watch is its sophisticated, minimalist appearance, which the Arc embodies, while also adding unique touches such as a neatly curved case and domed sapphire glass. You can purchase it in several charming colors, including Iron Elm, Ivory Oak, Jet Noir, and our personal favorite, Bourbon Rose.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart Automatic Leather Strap Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $1,000
Top design doesn’t come cheap, and if you’re planning to splurge, place that investment into a timepiece that masterfully demonstrates the complexity and timekeeping precision of an elite automatic watch. Enter the Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart Automatic. A prime example of Swiss ingenuity, it features stunning design elements you would normally find on a model four times its cost. The skeletal watch face is quite the conversation starter. Its meticulous three-hand movement and an 80-hour power reserve guarantee this stunner keeps ticking for years to come.
Best Dress Watches for Men
The dress watch is an extension of most watch categories and one that’s highly valued among fashion-forward men and trendsetters. The category has evolved over the years and now consists of a few styles that provide a “glimpse of a man’s personal aesthetic,” says Mary Leach, Chief Marketing Officer of Movado Group.
“If they can choose a metal bracelet – stainless steel, yellow gold or black PVD – it clearly differentiates the wearer’s style, while strap watches provide a tremendous amount of fashion choices including materials (leather, exotics, fabrics) and color.”
Be it brand name, movement type, dial design or strap material, selecting the proper men’s dress watch is all about personal taste. Some nuggets of advice from Leach are to find a model that can be a physical reminder of important milestones, complements your wardrobe in fit and size, and serves as a potential family heirloom.
MVMT Black Tan Classic Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $100
For the self-conscious dresser with little wristwear experience, MVMT watches are a great starting point to boost your confidence and style game. Something clean, simple and casual, like the Black Tan Classic Watch, looks great with a blazer and denim, or most any casual getup. The black dial with a pop of red on both the logo and second hand is an eye-catcher that won’t go unnoticed at social functions. Even cooler is the ability to swap out the strap for black leather or metal link bracelet, offering more ways to customize your look.
Bulova Clipper Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $250
The Bulova Clipper a classic-inspired timepiece with the horological aura to enhance any black-tie look. It’s simple in design and inspires confidence with bold details that command attention at first glance. The stainless-steel construction and black dial with silver hands are handsome, but it’s the brand logo as the 12 o’clock marker that gives the watch some sophisticated swag. Keep it in the rotation when stepping into your finest threads and oxfords.
Shinola Canfield Leather Strap Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $500
Only a true watch enthusiast can appreciate the remarkable craftsmanship and value that comes with owning a Shinola timepiece. The Canfield Leather Strap Watch (currently marked down during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale) appeals to dapper males who appreciate presentation and finishing touches. Take a second to gaze at the solid steel case and thin coin-edge bezel surrounding the double-curved sapphire crystal face. The richly embossed leather strap also accessorizes well with black Chelsea boots and denim, while fitting snuggly on your wrist. And if black isn’t your cup of tea, look into the Shinola Runwell Midnight Leather as a suitable alternative.
Movado Bold Sport Chronograph Bracelet Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $1,000
Gallant and stylish, the Movado Bold Sport is a more aggressive take on the popular Bold Watch. It combines sports-centric features with Swiss movement to ensure the grandest performance. The case diameter is durable and thick, providing up to 100 meters of water-resistant protection. Three sub-dials and a more discrete date window are also new additions that blend nicely into the watch face. Then there is the exquisite khaki/black colorway, which emphasizes the masterfully-designed black ion-plated stainless-steel bezel and finely brushed bracelet. Altogether, it bears the makings of a luxury chronograph watch.
Best Military Watches for Men
Several models fall under the military watch category including pilot, tactical and what’s labeled as general purpose. While normally considered unpretentious timepieces with rugged appeal, you’ll often find models that pair nicely with business casual attire. Just make sure the watch is built for longevity and utility.
To provide a better look at what makes an ideal military watch, we had Director of Product Management at Timex, Craig Thompson, share some pro tips. He suggests looking for a timepiece with a “clear and bold font, classic case profile (42mm to 44mm in size), luminous in-fill on hands and hour makers, and sturdy strap construction made from either leather or woven fabric.”
MVMT AT Field Watch
Best Military Watch Under $100
Part of the brand’s all-new Field Collection, the AT Field is a minimal, tactical watch that merges the fundamental elements of past field watches into a contemporary design. Build quality is official with a brushed stainless-steel case, hardened mineral crystal display, and a resilient nylon canvas strap. The watch face is also easy on the eyes with big bold numbers on a clean backdrop to tell time more clearly when venturing into the wild. You’ll sleep well knowing the watch tells time accurately using Miyota quartz movements. Four more colors are available under $100, but you can strap on a fancier metal-linked version for a bit extra.
Timex MK1 Steel Chronograph Leather Strap Watch
Best Military Watch Under $250
The Timex MK1 is a modernization of the classic leather field watch for historical watch lovers that want a rugged, functional chronograph at a relatively affordable value. There’s much to admire about the military-inspired colorway; picture pairing the watch with some earth tones and Doc Martins. Glowing dials are a nice addition, bringing vibrancy to the minimalist watch face design. The burnished leather strap has the MK1 moniker embossed on it, along with numbers atop each strap hole to optimize fit. Speaking of which, wearability is the MK1’s greatest attribute, offering great comfort and support for all-day wear.
Citizen Promaster Skyhawk Watch
Best Military Watch Under $500
Citizen watches have earned a solid reputation over the years. The Tokyo watchmaker designed this rare chronograph to commemorate the US Navy Blue Angels, making it a great gift for those who have served. Certain details like the anti-reflective crystal dome, rotating blue bezel, and navy-blue colorway with yellow accents embrace the watch’s aviation roots. It’s also one of the most versatile military watches ever created, using light as its power source (no battery) and Citizen’s precise atomic timekeeping to maintain accurate time across 43 different cities worldwide. There are some notable dial features such as a countdown timer, dual time, perpetual calendar, and UTC display. To score one for under $500 is a sweet deal.
Garmin Tactix Charlie Watch
Best Military Watch Under $1,000
The Garmin Tactix Charlie is a charming, military-inspired watch disguised as luxe GPS wristwear. One can’t help but admire its immaculate and rugged build quality right out of the box; a carbon-coated titanium bezel, titanium rear cover and stainless-steel buttons make up its entire body. But the biggest selling point is its feature set that includes advanced fitness metrics (heart rate, VO2 max), night vision goggle compatibility, projected navigation waypoints, and an innovative Jumpmaster mode that tracks jumps from airplanes. Now you know why Garmin is the king of GPS watches.
Best Dive Watches for Men
Dive watches are usually targeted more to swimmers who value underwater timekeeping. That’s not to say, however, that they don’t serve a great purpose on land. In fact, these submerged time-tickers often appeal to style mongers and watch collectors with an acquired and expensive taste, granted the market has recently opened itself up to more budget-conscious watch owners.
Some key notes to consider when purchasing a dive watch: A corrosion-resistant band and case, ISO certification, luminous design elements (bezel and dials), and waterproof protection up to hundreds of feet underwater.
Invicta 8926 Pro Diver Automatic Watch
Best Dive Watch Under $100
The Invicta 8926 spoils owners with the braggadocio that comes with sporting a luxury Swiss watch, sans the $1,000+ cost. Powering the watch is a Swiss automatic movement, which, if you know your horology, practically sets the bar for precision and performance. Even some of its unique details like the glowing silver-tone hands and markers and fluted crown contribute to the dive watch’s graceful presence. It’s also water-resistant up to 200 meters. Overall, it’s an inexpensive option you can comfortably sport at either a pool party or wedding.
Citizen BN0151-09L Promaster Professional Diver Watch
Best Dive Watch Under $250
Those looking to scuba dive in style should have this aquatic treasure on their wish list. The 43mm stainless steel case is moderately sized and well-built, and produces great shine when worn outdoors. On the face is a blue dial and luminous markers that make telling time easier when submerged 660 ft. in the ocean. And like most Citizen watches, it operates on the proprietary light-powered Eco-Drive movement. What really sells the watch is its customization, as the sturdy blue polyurethane diving strap, which already gives the watch some edge, can be swapped out for flashier bands. Every watch comes with a 5-year warranty as well.
Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 Watch
Best Dive Watch Under $500
Not many dive watches can achieve a high-end utilitarian look. Then again, not many watchmakers are Tissot. The company’s Seastar collection has remained a category staple dating back to the mid-70s, and this entry-level diver is a reliable performer worth every penny. A radiant three-hand analog display and ceramic bezel with minute tracking play to the watch’s bold design. The Powermatic 80.111 Swiss movement offers power reserve up to 80 hours, so you can hit the high seas for days and not lose track of time.
Tissot Two-Tone Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 Watch
Best Dive Watch Under $1,000
Tissot’s more extravagant version of the Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 certainly doesn’t fall short in the looks department. The stainless-steel case with yellow gold PVD coating looks sexy, especially for a dive watch. Some might feel inspired to wear it as a standard automatic or dress watch, which is justified. Many of the same performance hallmarks are carried over from its predecessor including movement and power reserve. You do have the option of skinny dipping with it up to 300 meters as well.
Best Smartwatches for Men
The ingenuity and popularity of the Apple Watch have made smartwatches a modern fashion fixture. Average Joes, CEOs, and public figures all have some form of intelligible hardware strapped to their wrist. We’re even seeing heritage fashion houses like Fossil, Tissot and Salvatore Ferragamo joining the movement.
Ryan White, Creative Director at Fossil Watches & Jewelry, shares with us the importance of owning a smartphone and its everyday impact on our lives: “The term ‘fancy’ can be interpreted in many ways, from functionality to polish and glam. I think it’s relative to the intention of the product, and in this case, a smartwatch should be that: SMART. Therefore, its capabilities and how it seamlessly integrates itself in your day-to-day should be labeled ‘fancy.’”
White believes that the perfect smartwatch is one that allows users to glance at mobile notifications, can monitor and record biometric data (e.g. heart rate, sleeping habits) and is compatible with other apps. “It’s the ability to truly access everything on your wrist in a stylish design,” adds White. All of that, plus the option to personalize a smartwatch with different straps can keep the modern man “ready for any occasion through intentional design.”
Michael Kors Access Hutton Hybrid Smartwatch
Best Smartwatch Under $100
Since stepping into the smartwatch space, we’ve seen Michael Kors drop some chic, high-tech selections over the past two years. Despite the Access Hutton Hybrid Smartwatch falling into the budget section, it offers enough serviceability and style to warrant the purchase. It works with iOS and Android devices, so users can stay connected to their smartphones through “custom-filtered notifications” they’ll feel by contact or view on a mobile app. In particular, you’re paying for its prime look, highlighted by a black leather strap and stainless steel, water-resistant frame.
Withings Steel HR Smartwatch
Best Smartwatch Under $250
Withings’ hybrid wearable is an ambitious smartwatch that merges the signature features of a fitness tracker with the sleek design of a premium watch. A chunky stainless-steel frame surrounds a glass display that exhibits health metrics and incoming notifications. Battery life is clutch, holding up to 25 days of power and 20 more days when enabling the power reserve mode. Withings also designed the Steel HR with customization in mind, selling a variety of leather straps that feel comfy and durable for long-term wear.
Apple Watch Series 4
Best Smartwatch Under $500
Apple’s game-changing smartwatch has won over the high-fashion crowd and traditional watch wearers, alike. In fact, one watch expert believes Jony Ivy found inspiration for the Apple Watch from another historical timepiece, the Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582G. The Series 4 has a bigger, more vibrant screen, seamless iOS integration between Apple devices and more advanced sensors for health tracking. You also have the option to deck it out with different straps. Check out these Apple Watch bands if you want to go with something more classy or sporty.
Montblanc Summit 2 Smartwatch
Best Smartwatch Under $1,000
Dropping nearly a grand on a smartwatch is asking a lot from even the most avid watch collector. With the Montblanc Summit 2, you’re not just paying for high-tech features on a luxury timepiece – you’re paying for the stellar build quality and performance that comes associated with the German watchmaker. It’s an all-black beauty, from bezel to leather band, with versatile features to upgrade your style such as swappable watch faces. Strong internals and gesture-friendly controls (raise to wake) also earn it gift guide consideration.