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 find top-notch selections online between $100 – $1,000 and from some of the best men’s watches brands, including 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 men’s watches 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.
We’re going to cover:
- The best watches in each category ranging from automatic, smart to military and dress
- And breakdown of each category and how they’re different from one another
- The best watches for a variety of budgets
- Industry expert advice on certain brands and styles
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 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.
MVMT Arc Automatic Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $250
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 refined, 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 Bourbon Rose, Iron Elm, Ivory Oak, and Jet Noir; the latter is currently on sale and well worth the look.
Bulova Maquina Automatic Classic Watch
Best Automatic Watch Under $500
An automatic watch that doesn’t shy away from flaunting its inner workings, the Bulova Maquina is a gallant and stylish piece you’ll be proud to show off in any watch case. The rose gold-tone complements the black dial and sporty silicone strap; it accessorizes well with the gold iPhone 11. Bulova included a 40-hour power reserve as a backup for the 21-jewel, skeleton self-winding movement, so you won’t have to worry about winding the watch regularly. And while it wasn’t created for adventurous play (e.g. diving, hiking), the watch is water-resistant up to 100 meters (328 feet), just in case you ever take a spill in the deep end of the pool.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart Automatic Bracelet 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 that this stunner will keep 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. 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 a metal link bracelet, offering more ways to customize your look.
Tissot PR100 Bracelet Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $250
The PRO100 has a horological aura that can enhance any black-tie look. It’s simple in design and inspires confidence with bold details that command attention at first glance. Tissot’s stainless-steel construction and black dial with silver hands are handsome, though it’s the brand logo below the 12 o’clock marker that gives the watch its certified stamp of approval. Keep it in the rotation when stepping into your finest threads and oxfords.
Shinola ‘The Runwell’ Leather Strap Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $600
Only a true watch enthusiast can appreciate the remarkable craftsmanship and value that comes with owning a Shinola timepiece. The Runwell 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 top-stitched strap also accessorizes well with dark Chelsea boots and denim, while fitting snuggly on your wrist.
Bulova Curv Watch
Best Dress Watch Under $1,000
Feast your eyes on the first curved-movement quartz chronograph watch. Bulova constructed this beauty with fit and style in mind, shaping the case so it sits comfortably and hugs the wrist, while exhibiting its sexy contoured shape. But we can’t talk about this watch without mentioning some of the other components that add to its distinctiveness, such as the open dial with gold-tone hands and hour markers, three subdials, and the tuning-fork crown. Add Bulova’s high-accuracy quartz movements into the mix and the Curv certainly 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.”
Timex Men’s Expedition Scout 40 Watch
Best Military Watch Under $100
This no-frills tactical watch merges the fundamental elements of past army watches into a rugged design. Build quality is official with a brushed stainless-steel case, a hardened mineral crystal display, and one hell of a resilient nylon canvas strap. The quartz movement inside is trustworthy to keep you on track for appointments and other time-sensitive engagements. Unique details like the big numerals, large indices, and an indiglo nightlight make telling time simpler in dark settings. There are 23 other colors and styles currently available for under $100 on Amazon, many under $50 if you act fast.
Jack Mason Aviation Leather Strap Watch
Best Military Watch Under $250
Anyone who loves pilot watches should have a Jack Mason on their wrist. The Aviation Collection is a standout due to its novel design, maintaining the iconic look of classic models in the category, while also pairing nicely with non-military attire; picture sporting it with some earth tones and Chuck Taylors. Jack Mason also added practical features to give the Aviation a modern touch. Swiss Super-LumiNova markings are cleverly placed atop the clean black dial for high legibility. The brown Italian leather strap ensures durability for long-term wear too.
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 five-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 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.
Certina DS Action Diver Blue Dial Automatic Watch
Best Dive Watch Under $1,000
The DS Action Diver is a sharp-looking diver and one of the few watches in the category to meet the full requirements of the IS 6425 standard. Translation: it is waterproof up to 300 meters (985 feet). The watch’s gorgeous appearance might make you hesitant to sport it anywhere near the water. However, features like the protected screw-in crown and Super-LumiNova marking to view time better underwater only encourage you to sport it on diving expeditions. Power reservation is where the DS Action Diver Automatic really shines, featuring a Powermatic 80 caliber that holds up to 80 hours for dependable timekeeping precision.
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.”
Fossil Sport Smartwatch (Gen 4)
Best Smartwatch Under $200
We’ve seen Fossil drop some chic, high-tech selections since entering the smartwatch space. Despite receiving a generous price drop, the Sport Smartwatch is still a capable smartwatch that offers a lot of bang for the buck. It works with iOS and Android devices, so users can stay connected to their smartphones and receive notification alerts via gentle buzz. Powering the watch is a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip that delivers lag-free performance. What you’re really paying for is its sporty look, as illustrated by the aluminum bezel and swim-proof, silicone band. You can kit it out with different straps as well to personalize your look.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Best Smartwatch Under $250
Want something that looks and feels more premium than the Apple Watch, and at a much lower price? Then it’s the Samsung Galaxy Watch you fancy. The build quality here is impressive, highlighted by the circular stainless steel case and stylized rotating bezel that is functional for effortless menu navigation. Samsung has also made the watch fully waterproof. Battery life is clutch on both the 42mm and 46mm versions, holding a charge for three to four days, which you can achieve by changing the settings; we recommend enabling Good Night Mode and having a black watch face to preserve power. Spotify integration is arguably the device’s biggest selling point, allowing Premium subscribers to download and enjoy their playlists offline. You can choose from over 60,000 watch faces, exercise with six auto-tracking workouts, and make mobile payments using Samsung Pay too.
Apple Watch Series 5
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 Ive found inspiration for the Apple Watch from another historical timepiece, the Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582G. The Series 5 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 and protective cases. Check out these Apple Watch bands and Apple Watch cases 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 charmer, 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. Those with an extra $170 to spend might want to consider the upcoming Montblanc Summit 2 Plus, which adds LTE connectivity and a bigger battery to the mix.