Perhaps the best accessory a man can own is a watch. They’re stylish, easy-to-wear, and can be utilized for both time and fashion. On one hand (no pun intended), it’s a timepiece and on the other hand, it’s a piece of jewelry that tells a story.
Watches can tell a story in many ways, by combining elements of craftsmanship, design, historical context, and cultural symbolism, and personal significance. They aren’t just timekeeping devices but also objects with the potential to convey meaning, heritage, and personal narratives.
Watches Have Meaning, Style & Function
What separates watches from other pieces of jewelry isn’t just the time-telling aspect of it. Watches hold more sentimental value than other pieces of jewelry. You’ll usually hear more stories about someone’s watch than about their necklace or their bracelet.
That’s because watches are also durable and can withstand the test of time. It’s not uncommon to see people wearing watches that their grandfather wore back in the 80s, which is why they’re so valuable. They tell the time both figuratively and literally.
But what if you’re in the market for a new watch? Well, first off, let me tell you that there’s no “one watch” to solve your problems because there are different watches for different activities.
There are watches for people who are around water all the time and there are watches for people who like to wear suits to work. But maybe you’re an all-around guy. Maybe you like to wear suits to work, but you go swimming in the evening.
» Quick note: If you’re enjoying this article on watches every man should own — then you’ll probably like this article Vincero Watches Review too.
5 Watches Every Man Should Own
In this article I’ll help you find the five watches every man should own. Now, does that mean you have to go out and spend your hard-earned money on five watches right away? Absolutely not!
Watches are meant to be cherished and you can do that over a period of time. Some people take years to buy their second watch. Others take months. It’s up to you to decide whenever you feel like you’re ready to buy another timepiece.
However, these five are absolute essentials if you’re looking to start a watch collection. Not only do they cover the entire spectrum for utility, but they’re also very simple pieces that are easy on the wrists.
Here are my five types of watches every man must own!
1. Field Watch
A field watch is great for the outdoors. It’s simple, great for active work, and fits well for most seasonal outfits.
Originally designed for soldiers during World War II, these watches were literally called “trench watches” because they would wear them in the trenches while they fought. Therefore, field watches were built to be durable and tell great time.
Field watches usually have large dials, around 38mm-45mm, and are also built with stainless steel or titanium casing. And because battles could go throughout the night, most field watches are now equipped with lume hands and numerals.
A field watch’s dial tends to have a very high contrast so that it’s easy to see the time. The dial colors are usually white numerals on a black dial or black numerals on a white dial. To top it all off, most field watches come with leather or canvas straps.
Some people might think that a bracelet strap would be more durable for a field watch, but that’s not the case. Bracelet straps can scratch easily and the purpose of the leather and canvas straps is to be able to change them out quickly in case of an emergency.
All in all, the field watch is great for outdoor activities. The stainless steel/titanium casing provides a solid reinforcement against scratches and marks. The lumed hands and numerals allow you to use this watch during nighttime, and the leather canvas straps are easy to wear and replace.
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2. Dress Watch
Despite its name, a dress watch isn’t only meant to be used whenever you’re going to a formal event. A dress watch’s purpose is to elevate your outfit and if you’re wearing the right clothes, it’ll do its job.
The standard dress watch has a clean dial face, a thin case made from precious metal, and comes with a leather strap. For a dress watch, the presentation is the first priority. Timekeeping is second. There are several things you need to make sure you’re doing right whenever you wear a dress watch.
For one, the dress watch must be proportional to your wrist size. Too big of a watch dial and you’ll look uncultured. Too small of a watch dial and your watch will have no effect on the crowd.
Secondly, the dress watch must be simple. The most a dress watch can have is a date window. Things like a sub-dial, a chronograph, or a perpetual calendar will only take away from how a dress watch looks on your wrist.
You should also wear jewelry to complement the watch, but to do so, you must first understand how to properly wear jewelry. A well-fitted bracelet or a nice pair of rings will improve your outfit even more.
Even though I said that the standard dress watch has a clean dial, thin case, and a leather strap, these standards are starting to be broken. With major luxury brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Richard Millie, and Rolex creating new watches every year, the rules of a dress watch are constantly being modified.
Today, the idea of a dress watch is relative. People can get away with wearing something like an Omega Speedmaster and have it considered to be a dress watch in the sense that it was worn to a dinner party.
However, if you’re looking to follow the rules of time and go with the standard look, then I recommend something like a Nomos Tangente or an IWC Portofino to start off. Some more budget-friendly options are the Seiko Presage and the Hamilton Jazzmaster.
3. Dive Watch
Dive watches were originally meant for people who spent a lot of time around water. But like the dress watches, diver watches have experienced a slight change in the rules.
Thanks to their ruggedness and aesthetically unique look, diver watches are starting to be used for their looks as well as their functions. A well-fitting diver watch can look great on a rugged outfit, such as a leather jacket on denim.
But their functionality is still what makes them special. They have many features that other watches don’t have. The most obvious of these functions is that they’re waterproof and can withstand different pressures underwater.
Along with being waterproof, dive watches also have bezels that can act as a timer, a reinforced sapphire glass, a crown to adjust the time, and a strap that is either made up of metal or rubber
As for withstanding the pressures of being underwater, you’ll want to get a dive watch that fits your activities. A watch that goes up to 100 meters can be used for things like recreational swimming and scuba-diving.
Watches ranging from 200-500m can be used for scuba diving as well as the other activities mentioned above and watches that go up to 1000 meters are usually military-grade watches intended for deep-water diving.
Dive watches have become a norm for watch enthusiasts because they can withstand most of the rigors of on-land activity and can also be styled fairly well with different outfits. A common outfit that people would wear with dive watches is a white t-shirt, jeans, and your favorite pair of sneakers.
Out of the 3 pieces I’ve mentioned so far, most people like to start with a dive watch. They’re a medium between a dress watch and a field watch. They look nice, are easy on the wrists, and keep great time.
4. Digital Watch
The digital watch has been a staple in the world of horology for decades, and while it may not be considered essential for every man in the same way as a traditional analog watch, it does offer unique features and advantages that can make it a valuable addition to a man’s collection of accessories and arguably an everyday essential.
First, digital watches are known for their exceptional accuracy. They use electronic components, such as quartz crystals, to keep time with high precision. This makes them reliable for activities that require precise timing, such as sports or professional settings.
Digital timepieces also often come equipped with various functions and features beyond telling time. These can include alarms, stopwatches, countdown timers, world time zones, and calendar displays. These additional functions can be highly practical for everyday life, work, or travel.
Additionally, many digital watches are built to be rugged and durable, designed to withstand various environmental conditions. They are often water-resistant or even waterproof, making them suitable for outdoor activities, sports, and adventures.
Furthermore, the digital display of these watches typically provides clear and easily readable time, even in low-light conditions. This is especially beneficial for quick glances during activities like exercising or driving.
You’ll also notice that digital watches are often more affordable than many high-end mechanical watches. This accessibility makes them a practical choice for individuals who need a reliable timepiece without breaking the bank.
And finally, digital watches are known for their long-lasting battery life. Depending on the model and usage, a single battery can power a digital watch for several years before needing replacement.
When it comes to digital watches, you can’t go wrong with the legendary Casio F91W-1 (the once $10 legend). The G-Shock 5600 or G-Shock Quartz Resin Sport Watch are also a fan favorites. For a notch above the rest at a heftier price point, you’ll want to look into the G-Shock Full Metal.
» Related: Check out this article in review of the classic Casio F91W Digital Watch.
5. Pilot Watch
The pilot watch (a.k.a. aviator watches) isn’t just for pilots or aviation enthusiasts. They hold a special place in the world of horology due to their unique history, functionality, and timeless design.
Pilot watches have a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. They were initially created to assist aviators in keeping precise time during flight missions. Many iconic watch models, such as the Rolex GMT-Master and the IWC Pilot’s Watch, have been associated with aviation history and famous pilots.
Historically, they are known for their large, easily readable dials and hands. The design often includes bold numerals, markers, and hands with luminous coatings, ensuring excellent legibility both day and night. This feature is not only practical for pilots but also for everyday use.
Many pilot watches include chronograph complications, allowing users to measure elapsed time with precision. This is particularly useful for aviation-related tasks, but it can also be handy for various other activities, including sports or professional use.
Some pilot watches include additional features like slide rule bezels or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) functions, aiding pilots in navigation and time zone tracking. These features can be valuable for travelers and professionals who frequently cross time zones.
These watches are often built to withstand the rigors of flight and outdoor activities. They are typically designed to be robust, water-resistant, and resistant to magnetic fields.
Additionally, they often feature a classic and timeless design characterized by a large round case, prominent crown, and a simple, utilitarian aesthetic. This design makes them suitable for a wide range of occasions and styles.
While pilot watches have aviation roots, their versatility extends to everyday wear. Many people appreciate the blend of functionality and style that pilot watches offer, making them suitable for both casual and formal attire.
Furthermore, pilot watches are often sought after by watch enthusiasts and collectors due to their historical significance and iconic status. Owning a classic pilot watch can be a source of pride and a conversation starter.
Several renowned watch brands, such as Breitling, IWC, and Zenith, have a long history of producing exceptional pilot watches. These brands often infuse their pilot watch collections with heritage and innovation.
Ultimately, while they’re timepieces originally designed for pilots and aviation professionals, if you have a passion for aviation history, appreciate legible and functional timepieces, or simply enjoy the classic design of pilot watches, they will make for an essential addition to your watch collection.
How Watches Can Tell A Story
We tell our story every single day with the choices we make. And even the watch that you decide to wear is speaking for you in ways that you might not realize.
Here’s how watches can tell your story…
1. Quality & Craftsmanship
Watches are often considered works of art and engineering. The craftsmanship that goes into creating a watch, from intricate movements to precise detailing, can tell a story of the skill and dedication of the watchmaker. A well-crafted watch can be a testament to human ingenuity and craftsmanship.
2. Design & Aesthetics
The design of a watch can reveal a lot about the era in which it was made and the design trends of that time. Different watch styles, such as vintage, minimalist, or sports, can evoke different emotions and reflect the tastes and preferences of the wearer. A watch’s design can also speak to the brand’s heritage and values.
3. Historical Significance
Some watches have historical significance due to their association with important events or figures. For example, a watch worn by a famous person or a watch that was present during a significant historical event can become a symbol of that moment in time. Owning such a watch can be a way to connect with history and tell a unique story.
4. Brand Heritage
Luxury watch brands often have rich histories and traditions that are reflected in their timepieces. Owning a watch from a prestigious brand can tell a story of exclusivity, craftsmanship, and a connection to the brand’s legacy.
5. Personal Connection
Watches can hold personal stories and memories for their owners. A watch given as a gift for a special occasion, passed down through generations, or purchased during a memorable journey can carry a deep personal significance. The watch becomes a symbol of those experiences and relationships.
6. Mechanical Complexity
Mechanical watches, with their intricate movements and complications, can tell a story of precision engineering and innovation. The development of new watchmaking techniques and the pursuit of accuracy have been central to the history of horology.
7. Evolution of Technology
The history of watchmaking is closely tied to technological advancements. From the invention of the spring-driven watch in the 15th century to the introduction of quartz movements in the 20th century, watches have evolved in response to changing technologies. Each technological shift tells a story of progress and adaptation.
8. Cultural Symbolism
Watches can carry cultural symbolism and significance. In some cultures, watches are seen as status symbols, symbols of achievement, or markers of important life events like graduations or retirements. These cultural associations add layers to the story a watch can tell.
If you’re in the market for a new watch, I recommend that you try out a dress watch, dive watch, field watch, digital watch and pilot watch. All five options are wonderful and each watch type can be worn to elevate your style.
For both watch novices and watch veterans alike, you won’t go wrong with choosing a watch under one of the five categories I’ve mentioned. They all have their own special characteristics to them and will help you become a better man.
Tristan is an avid follower of men’s fashion. He loves wearing a well-fitted white t-shirt and talking about watches. When he’s not writing about the latest Seiko timepiece or the best outfits for the season, he’s playing tennis, watching Mad Men, and taking naps.
WHAT WATCHES DO YOU ALREADY HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION?
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Looking forward to seeing you in there.