Essential Men’s Watches for Every Style and Occasion

By: Tom Mulraney

The scope of choice in men’s watches can be overwhelming, especially when shopping for a gift. Though watch lovers may remain loyal to one brand, most have learned to appreciate a variety of styles and characteristics. In addition to choosing brand, style, and materials, it’s important to consider personal style when purchasing a watch for yourself or a loved one.

In short, shopping for men’s watches can be a daunting process. Conversely, it’s possible to find a great watch to suit any wrist and budget. Use this guide to help navigate the intricacies of the watch market and find the perfect time piece for any man on your holiday gift list.

The All-Rounder

Lot 917: Panerai, a stainless steel cushion form wristwatch, circa 2011. Sotheby’s (December 6).

As the name suggests, all-rounder watches are designed to be worn on a daily basis. A good all-round watch should look sophisticated but should be able to be paired with both casual and dress wardrobe. Steel is a respectable choice for the case material as it is robust yet less showy than gold. Keep in mind that leather straps will likely need replacing every few years due to the expected high volume of wear, but the material pairs well with the more rugged aesthetic of an all-round option.

Our Picks:

Left: Bell & Ross, a stainless steel square form automatic wristwatch, circa 2011. Sotheby’s (December 6); Right: Breitling, Chronomat stainless steel chronograph. Tajan (December 12).

The Athletic Type

Lot 238: Chopard, stainless steel chronograph, 2011. Lyon & Turnbull (December 6).

For the man who likes his watch to reflect his active lifestyle, a good quality sports watch is a sound investment. The most popular among them is the chronograph, although the dive watch continues to grow in popularity. When shopping, keep in mind how it will be used, and look out for features like a stopwatch, compass or rotating bezel, along with things like levels of water and corrosion resistance. Ensure you check the specifications to make sure you’re getting what you want.

Our Picks:

Left: Hublot, a pink gold and titanium automatic flyback chronograph wristwatch, circa 2011. Sotheby’s (December 6); Right: Montblanc chronograph sport. Tajan (December 12).

The Best Dressed

Lot 240: Omega, 18 carat gold-cased wristwatch. Lyon & Turnbull (December 6).

Every man should own at least one tailored suit and an equally high-end dress watch to go with it. A fine dress watch is elegant, understated and ageless. Precious metals like yellow or white gold are classic choices when paired with a leather strap that complements the polished finish of the metal. Matching a precious metal case with a bracelet of the same material is acceptable but can sometimes be a little overwhelming, so choose wisely. Traditionally, a dress watch should only display the time and the date, so avoid watches with additional complications.

Our Picks:

Left: Oris Artelier, pink gold manual winding wristwatch; Right: A. Lange & Söhne, white gold manual winding wristwatch, 2014. Tajan (December 12).

The Complicated Type

Lot 2555: Patek Philippe, Perpetual Calendar, 1985. Koller Auctions (December 7).

When shopping for experienced watch collectors, consider a more complicated timepiece at a higher price point. In watchmaking, a complication is defined as any function other than the indication of hours, minutes and seconds, regardless of whether the mechanism is hand-wound or self-winding, mechanical or electronic. This can range from something as unassuming as a date display all the way up to tourbillons and minute repeaters.

Our Picks:

Left: International Watch Co. Ltd. Schaffhausen, an 18 carat gold-cased wristwatch. Lyon & Turnbull (December 6); Right: Jaeger-Lecoultre, pink gold rectangular reversible skeletonized tourbillon wristwatch, circa 2009. Sotheby’s (December 6).

The Old Soul

Lot 741: Heuer, a stainless steel triple calendar chronograph wristwatch, circa 1960. Sotheby’s (December 6).

There is something undeniably charming about vintage watches: the smaller cases, the simple yet elegant designs, the incredible history. Purchasing a vintage timepiece is a great way to round out an aficionado’s watch collection. Choose wisely, as some models carry more cache than others. Our advice is to keep it simple and go for what you think he will love. If it appreciates further in value over time, that’s a bonus.

Our Picks:

Left: Rolex, gentleman’s 18 carat gold wristwatch with leather strap. Lyon & Turnbull (December 6); Right: Zenith, gold manual winding wristwatch. Tajan (December 12).

About Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney is the Founder and Editor of The Watch Lounge, a popular online luxury watch publication dedicated to enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Read the Invaluable Guide to Buying Men’s Watches for more information on watch styles and materials, and shop men’s watches on Invaluable.