Watches have been an essential accessory for men for centuries, not only for telling and measuring time, but also for making a fashion statement. From classic and timeless designs to modern and innovative ones, the world of watches has come a long way.
With so many options available in the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one that not only meets your needs and complements your style, but will also last through the coming and going of trends. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best watches for men that have stood the test of time, from the traditional to the avant-garde, and discuss what makes them so enduringly popular.
Whether you’re a connoisseur of luxury timepieces or simply looking for a reliable everyday watch, our selection is sure to inspire you. Here’s our list of the best watches for men.
Best Watches for Men, Our Picks
1. Rolex Submariner
The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic and recognizable watches in the world — it’s no wonder that it has made our list.
First introduced in 1953, it was originally designed as a professional diving watch. Over the years, it has become a symbol of luxury and prestige, worn by everyone from professional divers to movie stars. The original model featured a black dial, rotating bezel, and Oyster bracelet and was waterproof up to 100 meters. Over the years, the Submariner has made leaps and bounds in terms of technology and aesthetic, and yet it remains a classic and highly sought-after timepiece.
Due to the long production period of the Submariner, you’ll find a vast number of variations. The Submariner is available in different metals – from stainless steel to solid gold, and two-tone, as well as in various colors. Different generations of the Rolex Submariner may also vary when it comes to their case and bezel design and materials.
Current editions of the Submariner, last updated in 2020, feature the most popular colorways of the collection, as well as a 41mm case size – the largest it has been. The classic stainless-steel model (Ref. 126610LN) features a black dial and bezel, as well as a new movement with improved accuracy. The two-tone model (Ref. 126613LB) has a blue dial and bezel, while the all-gold version (Ref. 126618LN) is a luxurious statement piece.
2. Omega Speedmaster Professional
The Omega Speedmaster Professional is one of the most iconic watches in history, known for its association with NASA’s lunar missions and its reputation as a classic racing chronograph.
It was first introduced in 1957 to meet the needs of professional race car drivers, but it soon gained fame as the first watch worn on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It has since become known as the “MoonWatch” and remains a favorite among astronauts and watch enthusiasts alike.
The Speedmaster Professional is known for its classic design, including its black dial with three sub-dials, tachymeter bezel, and stainless-steel bracelet. Over the years, the Speedmaster Professional has undergone several updates and changes. In 1971, it received a new movement, the Caliber 861. In 1997, it was updated again with the Caliber 1861 movement, which remains in use today. In 2022, they revived the famous Caliber 321 which was first used in 1946, and became the driving force for their triumphs in space.
The Speedy has also been released in several limited editions, including ones celebrating the Apollo 11 mission and other space-related milestones.
Today, the Omega Speedmaster Professional is still available in its classic design, with a few modern updates. While the MoonWatch is considered the quintessential Speedmaster model, there is a vast number of variations of the Speedmaster, including models with different dial colors, materials, and strap options.
3. Rolex GMT-Master II
The Rolex GMT-Master II is one of the most popular and recognizable watch collections in the world, known for its bi-colored bezel with 24-hour graduations.
The collection was first introduced in 1954 (as GMT-Master), through a collaboration between Rolex and the airline company Pan Am Airways. The watch was especially designed to help pilots keep track of multiple time zones while flying across different countries.
The Rolex GMT-Master II is known for its dual time zone function, which is displayed via an additional hand and a 24-hour bezel. Additionally, it is equipped with Rolex’s Oyster case and screw-down crown, which helps to ensure its waterproofness. The watch also famously features a distinctive two-tone bezel, which is divided into two colors to indicate daytime and nighttime hours. The colors used for these bezels have made way for creative nicknames coined by the watch community – such as Pepsi, Coke, Root Beer, and Batman.
Over the years, the GMT-Master II has undergone many changes and improvements. In the 1980s, Rolex introduced the independent adjustment of the hour hand, hence making way for the GMT-Master II line. In the 2000s, the watch was updated with a higher-beat movement, a redesigned case with a more resistant Triplock winding crown, as well as Cerachrom ceramic bezels.
The current Rolex GMT-Master II collection includes several different models, each with its own unique features and design. The Rolex Pepsi (Ref. 126710BLRO) and the Rolex Batman (Ref. 126710BLNR) remain the most sought-after models. In recent years, we’ve seen Rolex incorporate their patented rose gold alloy, the Everose, in a two-tone and full gold model.
4. Cartier Tank Louis
The Cartier Tank is a classic watch collection that has been a symbol of luxury and elegance for over 100 years.
First introduced in 1917, the timepiece was inspired by the shape of Renault tanks used in the First World War. The watch was designed to be a departure from the traditional round watch shape and was intended to be both practical and stylish. The Tank Louis, named after the company’s founder Louis Cartier, was first introduced in the 1920s and has served as the benchmark for all succeeding Tank watches.
The Cartier Tank Louis is known for its rectangular case shape and rounded brancards, which is designed to resemble a tank when viewed from above. The watch features a clean and minimalist dial with Roman numerals, a simple date display, and Cartier’s signature blued steel hands and blue sapphire cabochon crown. Paired with a leather strap, it is the epitome of the classic dress timepiece.
Today, the Tank Louis is available in several different versions, each with its own unique features and design. The classic model features a yellow gold case and a simple leather strap. Today, there are variations in rose gold, white gold, and stainless steel, as well as bolder colors for the dials, apart from the classic silvered guilloche.
5. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was introduced in 1972 and was the first ever luxury sports watch made in steel. It is widely credited for creating the genre and for disrupting the industry that was reeling from the Quartz crisis.
The Royal Oak was first designed by the legendary watchmaker Gerald Genta in 1972. The watch was named after the British battleships of the same name and was designed to be a high-end sports watch that combined luxury and performance. It was considered revolutionary at the time due to its distinctive design and the use of stainless steel, which was not commonly used in luxury watches.
What made it stand out in particular was its distinctive octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, which are secured by visible screws. The watch also features a “Grande Tapisserie” or waffle dial pattern, which gives the watch a unique and elegant look.
In the 2000s, the watch was updated with a larger case size and more complex complications, such as a minute repeater. Today, the collection includes several different versions, including the Royal Oak Offshore and the Royal Oak Concept, which push the boundaries of design and engineering.
6. Patek Philippe Nautilus
Since its launch in 1976, the Patek Philippe Nautilus has become one of the most sought after luxury watch lines. Interestingly enough, the Nautilus was designed by the famous Gerald Genta who also created the previously mentioned Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
The watch was named after the submarine from Jules Verne’s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and was designed to be a high-end sports watch that combined luxury and performance. Patek Philippe was pigeonholed as creators of ultra high-end complicated dress watches, and with the Quartz crisis in full swing, it was Patek’s turn to make a groundbreaking watch. The Nautilus became their first sports watch, with a steel finish of the highest quality.
For the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus in 2006, Patek Philippe released the famed 5711 reference. A faithful recreation of the original Nautilus by Gerald Genta, it only further cemented the Nautilus’ status as the steel luxury sports watch to own.
Today’s Nautilus collection is available in stainless steel, rose gold, and white gold, with time and date models, calendar models, and pavé diamond styles.
7. Rolex Daytona
When it comes to a classic luxury chronograph, the Rolex Daytona is top of mind. This collection has been highly sought after for decades since its initial release in 1963.
The Rolex Daytona was first designed for professional racing drivers and was named after the famous Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The watch was designed to measure elapsed time and speed, with a tachymeter bezel and chronograph functions via three subdials.
The Daytona’s association with racer and actor Paul Newman, the cult appeal of “exotic dials”, coupled with the strong and still growing interest in vintage watches, elevated the Daytona to becoming one of the most collectible watches of all time. It consistently breaks records on the auction block, particularly for vintage models.
Today, the Daytona has largely evolved into a luxury chronograph, whose famous silhouette is rendered in all metals – from stainless steel, to gold and platinum. Ultra luxe models are decked in diamonds, sapphires, mother of pearl, meteorite, as well as bold colors that make a statement.
8. Cartier Santos
The Cartier Santos was first designed by Louis Cartier for his friend, the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904. The watch was designed to be worn during flight and featured a square case with rounded corners and a leather strap. The watch was considered revolutionary at the time, when pilot’s watches and men’s wristwatches weren’t the norm.
With more than 100 years of history to look back on, there are different sub-families of the Santos de Cartier watch – from the original Santos-Dumont, to more angular styles like the Santos Galbee and Santos 100, to today’s ergonomic Santos de Cartier.
The current collection includes several different versions, including the Santos de Cartier Chronograph, Santos de Cartier Large, and Santos de Cartier Skeleton. They’ve also replaced the original leather strap with easy-change metal bracelets for a sportier design and modern aesthetics.
9. TAG Heuer Monaco
Launched in 1969, this revolutionary watch was the first automatic chronograph to come in a square waterproof case. Named after the Monaco Grand Prix, it was designed to showcase the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, the Caliber 11.
While the Monaco was already a commercial success, it rose further to fame in 1971 after Steve McQueen wore it in the racing movie “Le Mans”. The image of McQueen zipping up his racing suit with a Monaco on his wrist is forever etched in both movie and watch history.
The TAG Heuer Monaco is known for its distinctive square case, and the quintessential design comes with a blue dial with red details. Over the years, Tag Heuer has incorporated bold colors, cutting-edge materials, as well as complications, while retaining the square silhouette for which it became famous.
10. Omega Seamaster 300M
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M has been around since 1993. With its scalloped bezel, blue wave pattern dial, and supple but robust link bracelet, it was an ode to Omega’s maritime heritage.
It entered mainstream consciousness with it was featured on Pierce Brosnan’s wrist in the 1995 Bond film “Goldeneye”, officially marking the first time that Bond wears an Omega watch. The partnership between Omega and the Bond franchise continues, with the most recent Bond, Daniel Craig, sporting different Seamaster models. He also helped design the Seamaster 300M model that appeared on his wrist in his final Bond film, No Time To Die.
A true dive watch, the Seamaster 300M is known for its distinctive blue wave dial, helium escape valve, and unidirectional rotating bezel. The collection has grown to feature a variety of different complications, including a chronograph, GMT, and a date display. It is now also available in several different materials, including stainless steel, gold, and titanium.
Over the years, the Seamaster 300M has undergone several major changes and updates. Since 2006, the Seamaster 300M has been equipped with Co-Axial movements. In 2018, they have been upgraded to Master Chronometer movements; and they now also feature a ceramic bezels, laser engraved dials, as well as slightly larger cases.
Best Watches for Men: Final Thoughts
Each watch we’ve included on our list of the best watches for men has a unique history and set of distinguishing features that make it stand out from the crowd. From precision engineering to elegant design, each watch has its own story to tell. That said, there are many more fantastic watches we missed that make up the world of horology.
Discover them for yourself by checking out the incredible inventory of authentic, pre-owned watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.