Young smiling man points at watch

Find a terrific timepiece with this buying guide for men's watches

Published 12th December 2022
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The right watch can be the perfect finishing touch on any man's wardrobe and can convey a lot about his identity and style. A good watch conveys sophistication, class, and confidence and can make a great gift for a loved one.

Whether you are in the market for a simple and timeless classic or something more fashion-forward, it is worth taking the time to research the best men's watches before making a purchase. This buyer's guide will cover the key factors to consider when shopping for a men's watch, different types of watches available, how to pick the perfect size, and how to make sure you're getting the best value for your money.

Factors to consider when shopping for a men's watch

When shopping for a men's watch, there are several key factors that should be taken into account. First and foremost, decide on a budget. Watches can range from under £30 to tens of thousands, so it's important to know what you can afford before you start shopping.

Next, decide on the type of watch that best fits the occasion. If you are looking for a dress watch, something with a classic look and thin frame is the way to go. If you are looking for something a bit more casual, a sportier model with a larger case and more features may be the better option.

Size is also an important factor to consider. Watches come in a variety of sizes, so be sure to measure your wrist to get the right fit. If you plan on wearing the watch while engaging in activities such as swimming or playing sports, you may want to consider a model with high water resistance and a durable band. If you prefer a more formal look, a slimmer model will be a better choice.

Styles of men's watches

When it comes to watches, there are a wide variety of styles and designs to choose from. The three main types of watches are dress, sport, and fashion.

Dress watches are the most formal style of watch and generally feature thin profiles, classic detailing, and often come in silver or gold finishes. These are great for more upscale events and are an excellent choice for men of all ages.

Sport watches, comprising both chronographs and diving watches, are designed first and foremost for sports, exercising and other activities. That said, thanks to their shiny stainless steel bodies, they can also be a fashionable choice given the right scenario and paired with the right clothes.

Fashion watches are the most versatile type of watch and are designed to make a statement. They often come in bold colours, unique shapes, and can feature edgy designs. Often digital with plastic straps, some fashion watches (such as Casio watches or Timex watches) can be great value for money, but keep in mind that they may not be as durable or last as long.

You can find more information on the different styles of men's watches in our blog on popular watch trends.

Types of men's watches

Beyond a variety of styles, you also need to know the different types of men's watches to better make your decision.

Analogue watches

Analogue watches are the pieces that feature the traditional hands and numbers on the face. One of the advantages of analogue watches is the diversity of styles and the amount of customization options available. You can find watches with unique dial displays, decorated faces, or even intricate shapes and designs.

If you’re looking for an analogue style, it’s important to know the difference between quartz and mechanical watches. Quartz watches are powered by a battery and have been around since the 1960s, while mechanical watches are powered by a spring, which must be wound manually or automatically. Our blog post about different watch mechanisms goes into more detail on this. Mechanical watches are made only by premium brands, such as Rolex watches, Citizen watches and Fossil watches.

Digital watches

Digital watches are the pieces that feature a digital display instead of hands and numbers. They often come with features not typically seen on a traditional analogue watch, such as alarms, stopwatches, and illuminated faces. Digital watches also tend to be more affordable than analogue watches and often come with a longer battery life.

Smart watches

Smart watches are timepieces that sync with your phone. These watches allow you to access notifications, send messages and make calls, and even control your music, all from your wrist. This type of watch is usually made by tech brands, such as the Apple watch series , Samsung smart watches and Fitbit smart watches, but some watchmakers have created their own smart watch products, such as Garmin watches.

Smart watches are also typically equipped with fitness tracking capabilities, making it easy to stay on top of your health and fitness goals. If you’re looking for a watch that does it all, a smart watch is the way to go.

Chronographs

Chronographs are watches that feature a stopwatch function, typically in the form of two or three extra dials on the face. These pieces are more complex in design and often feature leather straps. Chronographs are ideal for those who need to keep track of time, such as athletes or adventurers. Many brands make chronographs, including Hugo Boss watches, Tommy Hilfiger watches and Tissot watches.

Dive watches

Dive watches are timepieces designed to be used underwater. These watches typically have features like water resistance up to a certain depth, a rotating bezel for measuring dive and decompression times, and a reliable, highly visible dial. Dive watches are not just for serious divers – they also make great everyday pieces that can also handle a casual dip in the pool. You'll find dive-ready time pieces on offer from Seiko watches and Bulova watches.

Picking the perfect size

When it comes to picking the right size watch, it is important to take into consideration the size of your wrist and the type of watch you are looking for. For dress watches, a smaller case size is usually the best option. This helps to keep the overall look of the watch more subtle and classic. For sport watches, a larger case size is often more appropriate as the watch face is easier to read when you're moving about.

The case is the metal housing that holds the watch’s movement, and most men’s watches come in three case sizes: 38mm, 42mm, and 44mm. A 38mm case is considered the standard size for a men’s watch, but if you want something more substantial, a 42mm or 44mm case may be a better choice.

It is also important to consider the band size. Most watch bands come in two sizes—standard and extra-long. The standard size is usually a good fit for most wrists, but if your wrist is larger than average, try an extra-long band for a more comfortable fit. Many watchmakers provide extra links for segmented metal watch straps and it's fairly easy for a highstreet jeweller to remove or add links.

When it comes to the watch band width, there’s quite a bit of variation. The most common sizes are 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 22mm, and 24mm, but many watches also come in other sizes, such as 26mm, 28mm, and 30mm. It’s important to find a watch band that fits your wrist not only in size, but also in style.

Accessories

Watches come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, and the accessories available for them can give it a personalised touch. Changeable watch straps, for instance, allow you to switch up the look of your watch without having to buy a new one. Watch winders are a great way to keep your mechanical watch wound and ready to go. Other accessories such as replacement watch batteries, watchmakers' tools, and cleaning cloths can help you maintain your watch and keep it in top condition.

Shopping for a men's watch can be a daunting task, but arming yourself with the right knowledge can make the process much easier. Consider the type of watch you want, the size, and how you plan on using it and use the tips in this buyer's guide to find the perfect watch for you. By following these steps and doing your research, you can be sure that you are getting the best value for your money and finding a watch that will be an enduring part of your wardrobe for years to come.

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