Find the right watch for the right occasion and outfit: take a look at the year's best sporty, casual, formal and luxury watches constructed of everything from silicon to stainless steel and titanium.
What's Your Style?
From casual watches that color-match your t-shirt and sneakers to bold, formal watches that complete a classy outfit for an important function -- 2014 has already seen its share of innovative new textures, colors and styles in the realm of mens watches. Technomarine, Converse, G-Shock and Diesel continue to evolve their sporty lines while the "rubber" fad continues to explode. Citizen, Seiko and Pulsar dominate the market with universally fashionable mens watches for sport or formal wear.
Casual vs. Dress
Always know that there is a difference between the two. You wouldn't wear a Movado Fiero to the ball game, nor would you wear a Seiko Sportura to your retirement dinner. Casual watches are for everyday use, such as work and recreational events; whereas dress watches are for special occasions.
Remember Your Wardrobe
What kind of clothes do you wear the most? How about colors? Select watches that match best with the outfits you commonly wear -- that especially goes for watches that were designed with a specific solid color or a two-tone pattern. For instance, an all-red G-Shock resin watch goes great with that pair of equally red Adidas shorts and white stripes. Choosing colored watches that match the majority of what's in your closet is the best and more economical choice.
Men's Causal Watches Fit Any Attire
It's the "run of the mill" style that's safe to wear for practically anything: office work, hanging out or formal occasions, making 'casual' be most sought-after category of mens watches. Owning one made by a quality manufacturer will mean years of uninterrupted use. Seiko and Citizen continue to dominate the market, quickly followed by other powerful brands like Tissot, Invicta and Bulova.
Citizen Eco-Drive Perpetual Calendar
Continually one of Citizen's best sellers, the Eco-Drive line of mens watches are light-powered and will never need a battery change. Featuring a wide 42" titanium case and genuine contrast-stitched leather strap, it has chronograph and day features, with a water resistance of 660'.
Seiko Kinetic Black Ion
An unbelievably stunning watch and perhaps one of Seiko's most impressive so far: the Black Ion almost borders on 'formal,' featuring black stainless steel with gold and bronze tones. Being part of the "Kinetic" line, it is motion-powered and never needs a battery change. The Hardlex crystal that protects the 39mm case is scratch-proof.
Citizen Eco-Drive Canvas
Very laid-back yet traditional, this light and solar-powered watch from Citizen has a military or survivalist tone to it, with its olive green stitched canvas strap. The sleek rounded font of the dial's numbers and red second-hand against a black background give the watch a unique sporty appearance.
Invicta Pro Diver
Water resistant to 660' and made for diving (but worn by non-divers alike), this beautiful brushed stainless steel men's watch from Invicta has a handsome, lustrous pearl-blue dial, Swiss quartz movement, chronograph and magnified date features.
Tissot T-Sport PRC200
Sleek and smart looking, Tissot's popular casual watch features a white dial and chronograph within a 40mm stainless steel case, which is greatly accented by a genuine crocodile brown leather band. Much like any certified Swiss watch, this Tissot is sure to last a very long time with its solid build.
A strikingly masculine watch with a black bezel & silicon strap, a thick 44m-wide stainless steel case, and white markings. Highly sporty yet wearable for any occasion, Fossil left a strong impression within the casual watch category with this one -- it continues to be a best seller with numerous alternate styles.
Which Watch Features Matter?
What's A "Chronograph?"
Watches that have chronograph functionality will feature three readout dials and a bezel (outer ring that encircles the watch dial) that is capable of counting to 60. In essence, it is a stopwatch feature that can be used to time events. In field applications, they are used primarily in yachting, aeronautics and auto sports. If you're not into those, then your chronograph is pretty much nothing more than an attractive design around your watch dial.
Mechanical vs. Quartz
Quartz technology was developed in 1969 and popularized in 1980. Quartz watches pass vibrations through a quartz crystal, creating a signal that is extremely precise. After being introduced to the world, the technology was in such high demand that several watch brands who hadn't adapted it, such as Invicta, practically went out of business. Any quartz watch, right off the bat, is a quality product.
Swiss? What's That About?
When a watch is advertised to feature "Swiss movement," know that this phrase isn't simply 'sales talk.' It's an official certification given to a watch by the Swiss FH (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry), if, and only if the watch meets three ground rules: 1) its movement is Swiss, 2) its movement was cased in Switzerland, and 3) the manufacturer inspects the watch in Switzerland. Having the "Swiss movement" designation is a highly prestigious title.
Colorful Rubber Watches Make Bold Statements
There's no doubt that the biggest rising trend is in rubber -- that is, watch cases and bands made entirely of the stuff. It's kind of a retro-revival of the 80s, meeting the updates of the modern day. Big brands have caught on to the hype, and it has never been easier to find a complimenting watch for whatever outfits you wear most. Diesel and G-Shock are the big winners this year, alongside Nixon, Adidas and Converse. They're mainly for the younger crowd (teens to 30's) and highly favored for color-matching sneakers, t-shirts and other clothing color accents.
G-Shock Rescue Concept 9700
Casio's G-Shock series exploded in retail this year thanks to the rubber trend, with its loudly-colored "Concept" series. Available in bright red, green, white, black, yellow, silver and multiple other trims and combinations. This series is priced at under $100, but others in the G-Force line reach up to $500 retail!
Diesel Color Domination
Available in white, black, grape or hot pink, Diesel created one of the most minimalistic, sleek men's rubber watches on the market. It has a big 44mm dial a large side-lug and an extra-wide rubber bracelet for the 'big' watch look -- sure to get spotted on your wrist from a distance.
Available in all-black or all-navy, this 3-hand heavy duty rubber men's watch is part of a longer line of similarly-shaped watches ranging from rubber to steel. If you noticed that the crown is located on the left of the case, you're observant! It's one of the very few with this feature, great for lefties. It has a one-piece injected silicone case and band.
Armani Exchange Neon Yellow
Armani's more affordable line (known as "Exchange") has their own answer for rubber fans with this yellowish-green neon rubber watch, constructed with a pure silicone case. This particular color has been popular with many types of Nike and Adidas sneaker laces and trims, and is a great compliment for them. It has a wide 50mm case, fitting big on your wrist.
Converse Scoreboard Classic
Converse released a number of these rounded square-shaped rubber mens watches with a whole slew of colors - this one being navy with a luminous orange face, featuring a square-font stacked digital readout featuring hours (top), minutes (middle) and seconds (bottom). Its chunky, over-sized appearance makes it a favorite amongst rubber watch fans.
What Does Water-Resistant Mean?
Dispelling common beliefs about the term
To free up any misconceptions, "water-resistant" is a term vaguely stamped on watches, although most people aren't exactly sure if it should be taken literally. In general, it gauges the water depth/pressure level that a watch can survive in, but it does NOT gauge the depth in which water will enter the watch's internal parts (which most people commonly confuse the term with).
As a rule of thumb: don't dunk your watch under the water, EVER, unless it's actually waterproof, or specially made for diving purposes.
Water Resistance Depths
Here are some general benchmarks for the different water-resistant marks. Please always keep in mind that it's never recommended that you "chance" putting your watch underwater:
- 50m/164' - The watch should survive casual hand-washing
- 100m/328' - The watch should survive surface swimming
- 200m/656' - The watch should survive scuba diving at 30m/98' deep, max.
- 1000m/3280' - The watch should survive pressure at this depth.
They Don't Get Any Wider Than This
Cuff watches are aptly named because their strap is literally a cuff that encircles your whole wrist while continuing under the watch bezel. It's a unique style that fits many personalities -- cuff watches can range in motifs from western to modern to even steampunk, and they go well with distinct casual attire. They have a lot of attitude and are set far apart from more traditional men's watches -- it takes that same kind of guy to wear them well. Check out some of this year's best entrants in the cuff category:
Invicta Lupah Chronograph
With a heavy look-and-feel of rustic aeronautics, this sharp looking cuff watch from Invicta measures 52mm across and is Swiss movement with a scratch resistant flame-fusion crystal. Its cuff is black leather with white contrast stitching. It has chronograph and date features.
Armani Exchange Silver Dial Cuff
Measuring 48mm across, this extremely sporty men's cuff watch from A|X is made of a stainless steel dial and silver bezel, complemented by a rich looking brown leather cuff. This chronograph also features scratch-proof mineral bezel and sleek markers. A great choice for an every-day watch for the cuff enthusiast.
Nemesis Signature Stainless Steel Cuff
Los Angeles-based 'Nemesis' is crazy about cuffs -- it makes up the vast majority of their product line, and they're pretty damn good at it. It's something any punk rocker would love: a black calfskin leather buckle strap along with its stainless steel bezel and massive crown catch your eye at first glance. Matches perfectly with a black leather jacket.
Fossil Brown Dial Cuff
Thinner than most others in its category, this cuff watch from Fossil is 38mm wide. A polished brown bezel gives off a distinctive sheen that accentuates the watch's markers and details. It includes a contrast stitched brown leather strap with a dual enclosure on the back.
Cost vs. Quality
What's In A Brand Name?
A $100 watch and a $1,000 watch will both work the same. However, the $1,000 watch is built to last, and then some. It is also precise enough to never deviate within minutes of keeping the time, as less expensive watches always do in the long run. Generally, the old adage "you get what you pay for" is true.
Watches Priced to Last
You pay for the brand name, but you also pay for the quality that particular company has worked so hard to attain, to earn writing that amount on the price tag. That's why your $25 Timex lasts a few years, and the $2,700 Omega Seamaster watch lasts your entire lifetime (and your next several generations afterward).
The Big Deal About Luxury Watches
There's a more meaningful reason as to why the most discerning mens watch fanatics stick with high-cost brands like Rolex and Omega. The watches are simply made better on an entirely different level. For instance, Rolex's patented "Oyster Case" is literally the most tighly-sealed watch case on Earth.
Even if desired, you'd have to take it to a specialty Rolex repair shop just to get it open. These watches also contain less inner-parts, yet, have vastly more precise funcionalities than any other common watch on the market. They also last nearly forever, and many times, are constructed with real gold, titanium, ceramic, and even diamond accents.
Men's Dress Watches for Dress-Down Occasions
There's a saying about wearing the right thing for the right occasion, and that's where men's dress watches come in. Sometimes, casual can't do, and something more elegant and sophisticated is needed -- a black tie event, wedding, 50th anniversary party or retirement dinner always come to mind. A good dress watch should be in every man's drawer, even if these special events are far and between as the year goes by. The best dress watches in the world don't necessarily have to cost a fortune, but should look the part while having a build quality you can count on for years (self-winding also helps, considering you'll be wearing the sporadically throughout the year).
Movado's world-renowned minimalism defines their brand and the watches they make. Synonymous with their design is the marker-less dial with signature concave dot at the 12 o'clock position, as seen here in this very representative "Museum" watch for men. Lightweight and sleek, its 40mm case is made of stainless steel and features a smooth calfskin strap.
Michael Kors Scout
With a twinge of sportiness, this chronograph from New York originated fashion designer Michael Kors has a textured stainless steel bezel around a wide 45mm case, quartz movement and a tan leather strap. A great choice for those who favor big dial watches and need something a little more formal.
Citizen Eco Drive Calibre
It's Citizen's luxury watch at a far lesser price -- the Eco Drive Calibre series is one of Citizen's more elite. This model features a gold tone stainless steel bracelet and case, 36 single-cut diamonds fitted within its bezel, a scratch-resistant crystal, chronograph and date functions. As with all Eco Drive watches, it charges by light and never needs a battery replacement.
Seiko Dress Black Leather
With a gold tone brass square case, rounded Cabochon-style crown and a rich looking black patent leather strap, Seiko's affordable dress watch is a great accessory to any man's formal wear. Rectangular-cased watches like these always look best on thinner wrists.
Bulova Silver Dial
Modest and modern, this mens dress watch from world-famous New York based Bulova is a top seller for being universally appealing and compatible with many different kinds of dressy or formal attire. Its stainless steel case has a flat white dial and steel markers with date, and a black calfskin strap. Interestingly enough, this, and other Bulova watches, are engineered to be shock-proof.
Supreme Quality At A High Cost
Mostly sought after by those who have "made it," or simply anyone looking for that one 'investment' watch they'll wear for the rest of their lives, only to be passed down to the next generation: luxury watches are high priced but high quality. They're engineered differently, using better parts, sophisticated techniques, and are made to accommodate a different set of customer expectations. Much like how a Honda Civic can't be compared to a Lamborghini Aventador, a luxury watch is in an entirely different class in and of itself -- but it comes at a cost. Luxury's best watch brands continue to point toward Rolex and Omega, but don't shy away from these other models that have piqued this year:
Headquartered in Geneva, Rolex is synonymous with the luxury watch, and it spans numerous models. This Submariner model is one of their more popular dive watches, water resistant to 1,000', featuring the company's famous "Oyster" bracelet. It has a ceramic bezel and signature magnified date at the 3 o'clock position.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer
Well-respected Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has been in the business of making luxury sport watches for over 150 years, with their "Aquaracer" dive watch line being amongst their most popular. Constructed of stainless steel, it features a regal blue dial with luminescent silver hands and markers, is self-winding and and is water-resistant to over 980'.
Since the early 1800s, Longines has been a famous Swiss watchmaker within the luxury realm. This mens Admiral watch is an example of their quality: sporty in appearance, certified Swiss movement, and featuring a chronograph, anti-reflective sapphire crystal and patent black leather calfskin strap. This watch also has a 46-hour power reserve.
Movado's high-end series of mens watches, the "Fiero" line, features scratch-proof tungsten carbide-constructed cases and bracelets, and a distinctive rectangular-style shape known as "Tonneau." As always, the patented "Museum" setting of a single dot within a black dial portrays the elegance of Movado's minimalistic style.
Adjusting Watch Bands
Mandatory for your new link-bracelet watch band
Any watch band that is not a buckle strap will have to be re-sized for your wrist. This especially goes for higher quality watches, which are packaged with oversized bracelets. Adjustments can be done at any hole-in-the-wall jewelry shop for about $5, give or take. Just make sure that they give you the links back, and keep them in a safe place.
Adjusting Watch Bands At Home
You can simply use a watch band link remover to perform a lifetime of adjustments at home for your watches, or your family's' and friend's watches, too. Don't worry, they're usually around $5.