How To Buy A Men’s Watch In 2021

A watch is a very personal purchase. Make the right choice and your men’s watch could become your most prized possession. Get it wrong and it will be relegated to the sock drawer. With over 1.2 billion watches manufactured every year and many hundreds of watch brands available in the UK alone, the amount of choice can seem daunting. The horological world can also seem like an exclusive club that without the right knowledge or extensive watch collection, you cannot gain access to. Right? Wrong! Anyone can get into watches. We are here to help you navigate your way through. Whatever your budget and whatever your needs are, you can own an interesting, stylish timepiece that is exactly right for you. Also, the great news is that all the men’s watches featured in this guide are available and in stock now.

Why Buy A Watch When I Can Use My Phone?

These days most people can use their phones to tell the time. Phones can also be used for many of the other functions that we used to rely on watches for such as timing, tide times and moon phases. However, watches will always have the advantage that they are discreet and always to hand. Furthermore, your men’s watch says more about you than your phone ever can. Unlike phone technology, the best watch for you isn’t necessarily the latest model with the most features. Also, it doesn’t follow that the best men’s watches are the most expensive.

Citizen Perpetual Chronograph A-T Radio Controlled watch with brown dial and gold tone case and bracelet model AT4106-52XWhat Does Your Watch Say About You?

It was James Bond creator Ian Fleming who famously said: “a gentleman’s timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit”. You need to consider what your watch needs to do and when you will wear it. Also, the amount you spend on it should reflect whether it will be your only watch.

Main Types of Men’s Watches

There are six main types of men’s watches to consider.

1) Dress/Classic Watches
2) Diving Watches
3) Pilot Watches
4) Military Watches
5) Racing Watches
6) Horological Smart Watches

We will look at each men’s watch type in turn. However, before we do, there are two further questions to ask yourself: Swiss Made or Not? Quartz or Automatic?

Swiss Made or Not?

Seiko Presage men's automatic power reserve watch with stainless steel case and black leather strap model SPB045J1

Realistically, the Swiss Made label depends on your budget. The starting price for a Swiss Made men’s watch is around £400. Traditionally, Swiss Made is seen a mark of quality. However, you will pay around 20% more for a Swiss Made men’s watch. This is because to be Swiss Made, the watch has to pass the rigid standards imposed by the Swiss Watch Industry. Additionally, 60% of the production costs of the watch must be based in Switzerland, half the value of the parts must be from Swiss-made components and 60% of the movement manufacture must be done in Switzerland. Furthermore, 60% of the technical development for the watch and movement must also be carried out in Switzerland. Therefore, although only a fraction of the world’s watches are made in Switzerland each year, Swiss Made watches account for over half the total value of the world watch trade.

However, plenty of exciting, leading watch brands are not Swiss. Seiko is a great example. Famous for launching the world’s first quartz (battery-powered) watch in 1969, this Japanese brand and the “quartz revolution” that followed, brought the Swiss Watch industry to its knees in the 1970s. Today, Seiko produces many ground-breaking timepieces with technologically advanced movements and innovative materials.

Ask yourself: is the Swiss Made label important to you?

Quartz or Automatic?

This leads us neatly on to the question of movements (also known as calibres) and quite literally: what makes a watch tick.Bulova Curv chronograph men's watch with black strap and dial model 98A162

If accuracy and reliability are important to you then a quartz watch is the obvious choice. Although the battery will need to be changed every 18 months to 5 years (depending on the life of the battery), there is very little else to worry about. Regular servicing will be necessary but other than that, quality quartz watches are relatively hassle-free.

MeisterSinger Circularis automatic men's watch movement model CC927G-SL02Automatic watches have a mechanical movement. Rather than winding them by hand, automatic watches have a rotor inside which harnesses the power created by the movement of your wrist to power the watch. By horological standards, an automatic watch is without doubt the preferred choice.

Manufacture calibres created in-house as opposed to those bought in from movement manufacturers are considered even more desirable due to the skill and workmanship involved in creating them. Automatic movements are appreciated as tiny mechanical masterpieces or works of art. This is why many automatic watches have either a see-through caseback or an aperture in the dial that allows the wearer to view the mechanism in action. However, the down-side of automatic watches is that they are generally not as accurate as quartz watches. A tolerance of between +25 to – 15 seconds per day is not unusual. Chronometers are certified to have achieved a greater level of accuracy. Even so, they have a tolerance of -4 to + 6 seconds per day.

Ask yourself: is accuracy important to you?


What Are the Six Main Types of Men’s Watches?

Men’s Dress/Classic Watches

The first category of Men’s Watches are Dress Watches. Also known as Classic Watches, these are chosen for their looks alone. Firstly, they tend to have slim cases and classical dials. Designed to fit discreetly under a shirt cuff, they are not obtrusive. Secondly, they do not have complications. In terms of styling, the look is pared-back with simply three or even just two hands. Dress Watches have a timeless appeal and do not follow every trend. A well-made Dress Watch should last for many years and still look the part. A Dress Watch is also arguably the only watch you should wear with a tuxedo (unless you are James Bond).
Swiss Brands such as Frederique Constant and Oris create beautiful Men’s Dress Watches.

The Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Watch is very elegant. With a movement designed and manufactured in-house, it

Michel Herbelin mens Epsilon watch with yellow gold PVD case and bracelet model 19416-BP01N
Michel Herbelin yellow gold Epsilon

has a classical silver guilloché dial with hand polished hands. A see-through caseback enables a great view of the automatic movement and with blued screws and decorated with Cotes de Geneve and Collimacon patterns, it is certainly worth looking at. Priced at £2,360.

For a bracelet watch that will never go out of style, the Oris Classic Date Watch is

priced at £1,100. With an automatic movement, it has a silver guilloché dial and fluted bezel.

If a quartz movement is more to your taste, the Junghans Max Bill Watch is a great choice. Channelling Bauhaus design principles and priced at £540, the look is pared-back and sleek.

Finally, for a great Dress Watch priced at under £500, the Michel Herbelin Epsilon Bracelet Watch is hard to beat. With a slim case and refined bracelet, it is French Made with a Swiss movement. It is also available in bi-colour and stainless steel options.


Men’s Diving Watches

The second category of Men’s Watches to consider is Diving Watches. Also known as Dive Watches or Diver’s Watches, these are the most well-known “tool” or sports watch. They are designed to fulfil a need: primarily to function under water usually to a depth of at least 200m/660ft for scuba diving. Therefore, their construction has to be durable. Firstly, they have robust cases usually made from stainless steel. Secondly, uni-directional bezels inform divers how much time they have left under water. The diver turns the bezel, lining up the arrow with the minute hand to indicate the time they started their dive. The minute scale on the bezel indicates how long they have been under water. Crucially, the bezel can only turn in one direction so that any accidental adjustment can only leave the diver overestimating the time left rather than underestimating it.

The dials on Diving Watches are designed with legibility in mind. Consequently, hour and minute markers are big and bold. Also, along with the hands and bezels they are usually coated in a luminous substance so they glow in poor light conditions. Furthermore, the straps and bracelets on Diving Watches are practical and comfortable. Silicone straps are popular, particularly accordion style straps. Invented by Seiko in 1975, the accordion strap overcomes the problem of the expansion and contraction of a diver’s wrist at different depths. Bracelets are also a great choice as they are so durable. Designed with extension pieces included, the length of the bracelet can be extended so that the watch can fit over a dive suit. Furthermore, crowns are big so that they can easily be operated even with neoprene-gloved cold fingers. Also, they are often located at 4 o’clock to allow for maximum wrist movement.

Best Men’s Diving Watch Under £250

The Citizen Promaster Diver is a great value Diving watch. At only £249, it is water resistant to 200m and has all the attributes you would expect. Also, with Citizen’s Eco-Drive movement, you need never change the battery.

Seiko Prospex Monster PADI Diver's men's watch special edition with stainless steel case and bracelet model SRPE27K1
Seiko Prospex Monster PADI Diver

Best Men’s Diving Watch Under £500In the sub £500 category (and above!) it has to be a Seiko Prospex. The new Monster PADI Special Edition has an automatic movement and is water resistant to 200m.

Best Men’s Diving Watch Under £1000

There are loads of great watches in this category. We love the Seiko Prospex Save The Ocean King Samurai Manta Ray Watch for its amazing blue dial and value for money. Also the Seiko Prospex Divers 1965 Modern Reinterpretation Auto Strap Watch for its 70 hour power reserve. Both are water resistant to 200m with automatic movements.

Best Men’s Diving Watch Under £3000

Launched in late 2020, the Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 is a game changer. Priced at £2,700 it has a highly efficient movement and is covered by an incredible 10 Year Guarantee. It is also water resistant to 300m and has a 120 hour power reserve. Read more here.

Men’s Pilot Watches

Pilot Watches have an enduring appeal. Like Diving Watches, they are designed with function in mind. Although the first aviation watch was created and sold by Cartier in 1911, it wasn’t until the Second World War that pilot watches became popular. The major military powers contracted watch manufacturers to develop aviation watches. Therefore, these government-specified designs were rugged and utilitarian. Cases were oversized to as much as 55mm for ease of use. Similarly, dials were also designed for legibility with large, easy to read numerals. Furthermore, Pilot Watches often feature an inner hour dial and an outer minute dial. The reason for this is that for the aviator, especially bomber crews, knowing the minutes is more important than the hours. Finally, the straps on Pilot Watches were originally like belts, designed to fit over the top of heavy flight jackets.

Today, Pilot Watches remain hugely popular. Heritage pieces draw on original designs and offer a no nonsense, legible timepiece. Some also include complications such as a chronograph or slide rule bezel for calculating fuel consumption. However, many brands now draw on the latest technology to create aviation timepieces for the modern world. For example, an altimeter can warn the pilot if there’s a sudden drop in cockpit air pressure that doesn’t register on the instruments. Similarly, a GPS function is also incredibly useful.

Best Pilot watch Under £250

For a great value modern aviation watch, take a look at the Citizen Red Arrows Chronograph. For hassle-free enjoyment and value for money, it can’t be beaten.

Best Pilot Watch Under £1000

In the sub £1000 category, we love the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic and the Alpina Startimer Pilot Big Date Chronograph for their vintage good looks and

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date automatic men's watch with stainless steel and gold case and tan brown strap model 0175477414365-0752071
The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date

practicality. Both are created in the same spirit as the original Pilot Watches created by the brand in the 1920s:

Best Pilot Watch Under £1500

The Oris ProPilot range is the result of extensive research between professional pilots and Oris product designers. The Oris Big Crown ProPilot is hard to beat with its 41mm case, automatic movement and clear blue dial. For vintage charm, the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date is also a heritage watch that has an enduring appeal.


Men’s Military Watches


Bulova Hack Military Automatic men's watch with grey stainless steel case and leather strap model 98A255
The Bulova Hack Military watch

Also known as Field Watches, Military Watches are the descendants of the first ever wristwatches. Before the outbreak of the First World War, pocket watches were the order of the day. However, for soldiers serving in the trenches, pocket watches were impractical. It was difficult to access a pocket watch inside a greatcoat and yet watches were imperative to synchronize troops going into battle and to prevent an army being fired upon by its own artillery. Therefore, soldiers began soldering lugs onto their watches and attaching them to their wrists with heavy duty fabric. Consequently, they could see the time at a glance. After the war, these improvised wristwatches made their way home and watchmakers started creating similar rugged wristwatches. By the time the Second World War broke out, Military Watches were issued to soldiers for use in the field.


Like Pilot Watches, Military Watches have clear, functional dials. However, their cases are smaller so they don’t catch on cuffs or equipment. Straps tend to be made of nylon or canvas. The NATO strap (which feeds underneath the case) is a practical choice and is designed so that the watch won’t be lost even if one of the lugs break. Additionally, hacking seconds are a feature of Military Watches. Designed so that watches can be synchronized, it is possible to stop the second hand without stopping the watch itself.

For a heritage piece, check out the Bulova Hack Military Automatic Watch. At only £249, it is a recreation of a watch Bulova produced for U.S. soldiers in WWII.

For a more contemporary look, the Citizen Men’s Military Black Strap Watch is water resistant to 200m with bold luminous dial markers and hands. With a black nylon strap and an Eco-Drive movement powered by light, it is great value at £169.


Men’s Racing Watches

Citizen Promaster Bullhead Racing limited edition chronograph men's watch with green dial and black leather strap model AV0076-00X
Citizen Promaster Bullhead Racing watch

Racing Watches (also known as Driving Watches) are for the competitive racing driver within you. Rugged in design, they include a chronograph complication to measure laps. A tachymeter is also an important element to measure the speed of a vehicle against a measured mile. Today, many modern Racing Watches take their design cues from the cars themselves using innovative lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and titanium.

The Junghans Meister Driver Chronoscope is a sophisticated timepiece that evokes the era of the early days of motoring. However, if a Limited Edition piece takes your fancy, then check out the Citizen Promaster Bullhead Racing Chronograph and the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Chronograph.

Men’s Horological Smart Watches

Frederique Constant Vitality Horological Smartwatch with black dial and stainless steel case and black rubber strap model FC-287B5B6
Frederique Constant Vitality Horological Smartwatch

The final category of Men’s Watches is the newest. Horological Smart Watches combine a traditional watch with smart features. Unlike smartwatches, they have an analogue dial rather than a digital screen.

Swiss brand Frederique Constant were the first to launch a horological smartwatch. They continue to produce elegant-looking timepieces with added functionality such as activity monitoring and sleep tracking. The Frederique Constant Vitality Smartwatch is the latest connected watch from this pioneering brand. Bursting with technology, it embraces a major innovation: an integrated sensor which can measure the heart rate directly from the wrist. Additionally, it features a digital dial revealed on demand – a first for Frederique Constant.

Alpina are another Swiss brand that leads the way in horological smartwatches. The Alpina Alpinerx Smartwatch is a practical watch for outdoor use. As well as wellbeing and notify features it also boasts a UV indicator, altitude, compass, temperature and barometer.

Horological smartwatches are a great choice for techy watch lovers. Packed with great features, they retain the charm and convenience of a traditional watch.


Which Case Size Is Right For Me?

Once you have decided on the movement type and the style of watch, it is important to consider the size of the case. If the watch is too big for your wrist it will look garish. However, if is too small, it will look as though you’re wearing a woman’s watch. Generally, for a man with a slighter wrist, a 34mm-38mm case diameter works best. An average sized wrist suits a case diameter of 38-44mm whilst men with big wrists should go for cases that are 44mm-48mm wide.

Ball Engineer III Bronze Marvelight men's watch
Ball Engineer III Bronze Marvelight men’s watch

How Much To Spend?

How much you spend on a watch depends of course on your budget and whether it will be your only watch. Also, with more of us working from home these days, rules about the correct type of watch to wear with your business shirt have been thrown out the window. It is perfectly acceptable to wear a Pilot Watch or Diving Watch for work, particularly when your attire is more casual. Also, these types of watches tend to say a bit more about you and where your interests and aspirations lie.

Spend what you can comfortably afford and don’t overthink it. If a watch appeals to you, suits your wrist and budget, then go for it! If it is something really special, perhaps it would make a great gift for a milestone birthday or anniversary. Start dropping hints now! Of course, there are those who buy watches as investments but for most of us, watches are to be worn in order to get the most enjoyment from them.

Where to Buy Your Watch?

So you now know How To Buy A Men’s Watch In 2021. You’ve done your research. You’ve decided on the type of watch you want. You may have even decided on the exact model. You will usually be able to find a multitude of online watch sellers offering the same watch at different prices. However, you should ask yourself one final question: can I buy this watch from an Independent Watch Retailer that will offer me fantastic customer service and after sales back-up? Not all online watch sellers are the same! champions UK based Independent watch sellers some of whom are fifth and sixth generation family businesses. These High Street heroes offer the very best expertise and back-up. Want your watch bracelet sized or your new watch set-up? No problem. Want looking-after if your watch develops an issue under warranty? Definitely. Want continued care into the future with regular servicing? Absolutely. Customer care is what these guys do best plus they genuinely want to share their expertise and passion for beautiful watches with you. A shiny new watch with a feel good factor? Yes please!

Explore the fantastic selection of men’s watches on and support an Inspiring Independent UK business.