Are you looking to buy a watch? Are you looking to buy a man’s watch as a gift for someone? This is the ultimate watch buying guide meant to shed some light on any and everything you need to know about watches and about buying them.
For many, a watch is a perfect gift. It’s classic, timeless (punny!), and can be a statement piece. Or more simply a watch can be a practical item for every day use.
I know… I usually write about parenting and motherhood and shit like that, but I also write about things I actually give a fuck about and as it so happens, my husband, the father of my babies, my soul mate and love of my life gives a lot of fucks about watches, and thus. Here we are.
Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
The Joy of a Mens Watch
For some men, there's nothing quite like the excitement of a watch.
For my hubby learning about and acquiring watches is both a hobby and a pastime that elicits all of the passion of a car collector and the attention to detail of an amateur horologist (a technical term for watchmaker, obvi). And lucky for you he shares with me some of what he’s learned over his years of watch collecting.
If you’re hoping to buy a watch on line today, look no further because I’ve got this whole thing on lock.
A quick note about watch prices: For many men, watches are the only jewelry they will ever own, and often, watchmakers recognize and capitalize on that (read: inflate the eff out of prices).
However, you can buy a very high quality watch at a reasonable price. And Amazon is a fantastic place to buy as they have a solid return policy, so if you find that it’s not the perfect watch after all, no worries! Back it goes, and you can exchange it for any of the other ones below.
For what it’s worth, many of the more high end “luxury” watches, while certainly constructed flawlessly, can be easily substituted for something in the $2 - $500 price range. The biggest difference tends to boil down to the specific movements and complications (we’ll get into that in a sec). But if you don’t really give any fucks about that, you can opt for a more modestly priced watch without sacrificing much other than “name recognition.”
3 Essential Things to Know About Men’s Watches
In watch land there are two different elements to set all watches apart, and these are known as movements: Quartz and a mechanical/automatic.
In a quartz movement watch, you can see the big hand slowly tick minute by minute, indicating the passage of time (my toddler boys prefer these and have a couple of their own). Quartz watches tend to be more accurate in their ability to tell time and rarely lose any seconds.
With a mechanical movement (often these are “automatic” watches, which use the movement of your wrist to wind them), the big hand seamlessly circles around the face of the watch. For watch lovers, once they make this connection, it’s hard to go back to quartz. Although there are a lot of things to love about quartz watches.
The Breitling Men's AB012012-BB01 Navitimer Chronograph Stainless Steel Watch
Mens Watch Face Shape and Color
Most watches have a diameter of between 34 - 44 mm. If you have a thinner wrist (or if the man in your life has thin wrists), you’re going to want to opt for a 34 - 40 mm case. Men with large, thick wrists, will do better with a model up to 46 mm in diameter.
Please keep in mind as you choose any watch that the physical design of the watch can impact the way the watch LOOKS on a wrist. That is to say, my husband has relatively average size wrists, but he has a 44mm dive watch that looks pretty large on him, but also balanced at the same time, simply because of the design of the bezel and the frame of the watch. (The bezel is a rotating outer rim on the watch that can serve as a sort of “timer” and is often used by divers/pilots to track other important information).
In watch land, complications is a fancy way of saying all the extra bells and whistles added to a watch to both increase the price point, but also the function of the watch. You may wonder why the same looking watch is $200 more expensive than another watch, and it's likely due to the complications of the mechanics inside the watch itself.
Finding the Perfect Watch
For this guide, I tried to stick to the five main design types of watches and also give you a range of affordable watches ($200 and under) to a mid-range watch (Under $500), all the way to a splurge ($1,000 and up...sometimes way up). While it is certainly a mens watch buying guide, there’s a lot of this information that can be applied to women’s watches as well.
A Diver Watch
The diving watch gets its name from its ability to function in extreme depths and was used to time dives. I.e., if you were submerged, it could accurately tell you how much time and oxygen you have left before you need to rise to the top. It's usually a rugged watch, with a glow-in-the-dark dial and hand, and a unidirectional bezel, which is the fancy wheel that allows you to "time" things sort of like a stopwatch or timer.
Splurge Diver Watch: The Rolex Submariner is a classic, but definitely at the higher end of the pricing scale. This is most certainly a splurge watch. Like, for example, if your hubby's birthday happens to also fall along the same timeline as Father's Day does (in the case of my hubby), then it might be a good two for one gift. And also a Christmas and Anniversary gift. Like, it might be the only gift you give that entire year. Unless you're loaded, in which case, good for you, you get that paper, momma!
Mid-priced Diver Watch: Seiko Prospex (or Samurai) is a solid mid-range choice, priced under $350 if you want to drop a little money (but not too much). It's classy and also chunky in a good way and derives its design from Rolex.
Budget-Friendly Diver: The quartz, Casio Duro is popular in watch loving circles for being an affordable "Rolex knockoff." And priced under $50 it’s easy to see why they love it so.
A Dress Watch
A dress watch is usually understated and straightforward, with a Roman numeral dial, and a classic face. It's classic, and pairs very well with a nice suit, or with slightly more upscale business casual attire. Dress watches are pretty basic though and merely tell the time. There are no fancy other functions, dials, or bells and whistles.
Splurge Dress Watch: The Omega Deville is easily the most popular of the brand’s collection.
Mid-Range Dress Watch: The Seiko Sarb 033 or Seiko Sarb 035 are some of the most badass classic dress watches on the market in this price range (under $500). Also, pro tip, These watches were recently discontinued, but it's easy to still find them on Amazon or eBay. in other words, the value of this watch is likely to increase in the coming years. Hint hint, nudge, nudge... #Investorpiece.
Budget-Friendly Dress Watch: Orient makes a beautiful dress watch typically priced under $200 (and sometimes even less). Many watch enthusiasts say that it is by and far the best dress watch in this price range.
Aviation or Pilot Watches
Aviation or Pilot watches get their name from, you guessed it, pilots! Cartier made one in 1911 for pilot Alberto Santos Dumont that helped him navigate his flight before the days of electronic navigation. Most have a black time face and a luminous dial (aka glow-in-the-dark).
Splurge Aviation Watch: The Breitling Navitimer is the most iconic of aviator watches. And a splurge. Like legit.
Mid-range Aviation Watch: Hamilton makes a mid-priced pilot watch that’s pretty solid. This one happens to be on sale as well. You’re welcome.
Budget-Friendly Aviation Watch: Priced under $100 this Seiko SNK 805 is famous among Watch enthusiasts who tend to refer to it by name, and have strong thoughts about it. But please note the diameter is on the smaller side, at 37mm.
Driving Watches (or Chronograph Watches)
Driving watches are inspired by and wholly related to motorsports. They're both masculine and glamorous, and many include a tachymeter on the bezel, which is a super fancy party word that means it can accurately measure speed.
Splurge Chronograph/ Driving Watch: The Rolex Daytona is the watch Paul Newman’s wife famously gifted to him to help him time his laps in his car racing days but ya’ll. This beauty is over $20,000. ( I know. But I had to include it because… I mean. I HAVE to have a Rolex on this list or else what kind of wife of a watch loving man would I be?)
If you’d prefer a splurge but not THAT much of a splurge, consider the Omega Speedmaster Man on the Moon. Also famous for a different reason - this watch has been a part of six different lunar missions. Hence the name.
Mid-Range Chronograph/Driving Watch: The Seiko Solar is an excellent midrange driver watch and comparable to the above watches, and more affordable (under $500).
Budget-Friendly Chronograph/Driving Watch: And yet another Seiko (Are you sensing a theme here? Seiko is pretty reliable when it comes to watches. See above.) This is a pretty budget friendly watch with all the same bells and whistles.
A Minimalist Watch
If the Dad you're shopping for enjoys a craft beer, vintage Mac computers, or man buns, then this might be the ideal watch for him. Minimalist watches are precisely what they sound like. Basic, no huge bells, and whistles, but beautiful and timeless. They're inspired by the minimalist art movement of the 1960s (think clean lines and lots of white space)
They tend to be quartz movements, however, but that only means you can find some seriously good looking ones at a very affordable price. There are a few minimalist watches that do have an automatic movement if you want a little of the best of both worlds.
Splurge Minimalist Watch: Nomos Zurich White Dial 801 is a fantastic option for a minimalist watch. It’s also technically a bit of a dress watch. So, two for one!?
Mid-Range Minimalist Watch: The Tissot Everytime Mens watch is both relatively affordable and minimalist in design.
Budget-Friendly Minimalist Watch: Hands down the most affordable watch on my list ($30!) is this Timex Easy Reader.
Time to Buy A Watch Online
If you made it to the end of this list YAY! Now it’s time to buy a time piece. And most of these watches I’ve included can be shipped via Amazon Prime (if you’re a member) so you can probably get them just in time for your holiday celebration.
Now that I’ve helped you, maybe you can help a fellow watch buying momma out and pin this below pin to Pinterest to share the love. Thanks so much!
Did I miss any of your favorite watches? Let me know in the comments below!