In a world where people have the entire sum of all human knowledge accessible via a rectangle in their pocket (including the time), a device as simple as a wristwatch could be viewed as a tad outdated.
But we’d argue that a good timepiece is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. A watch is so much more than merely a tool for a job. It’s an age-old accessory, a little round window to someone’s personality, and a functional way to finish off an outfit with a flourish. Plus, with the advent of smartwatches, it can now be all of the above and then some.
But if you’re in the market for some wrist-based horological action, the process of finding something that’s right for you can be a tricky one.
That’s why we’ve taken a look at a varied selection of watches to suit every taste and budget.
They had to be versatile, they had to be reliable, and, of course, they had to look good. Below you’ll find several options that we think are perfect for handling day-to-day duties.
From cheap digital watches to Swiss-made, automatic masterpieces, these are the best men’s watches to buy right now.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Timex m79 automatic diver’s watch
Timex has long been the go-to brand for reliable, affordable and good-looking timepieces. That’s three reasons to buy one right there, but with the brand’s increasing use of automatic movements – meaning they run off kinetic energy as opposed to a battery – there’s now a fourth. Take the m79 for example, which draws inspiration from one of Timex’s bestselling quartz watches from the Seventies. It’s a proper automatic watch at a great price from one of the most trusted names in the business. Plus, it looks the part. If you yearn for a Rolex submariner but lack the bank balance to make it a reality, this is the watch for you.
Seiko skx007 diver’s watch
For those who know their watches, Seiko’s skx007 needs no introduction. For everyone else, suffice to say that this is as good as it gets for less than £500. This chunky timepiece is a purebred diving watch that has earned the respect of the famously snooty watch community and is often described as a classic. With its self-winding, mechanical movement, it’s probably the most affordable “real watch” on the market and serves as a common gateway into the world of luxury timepieces. If you buy one, chances are you’ll have it for life.
Swatch twice again watch
Sometimes less is more. If you’re looking for a clean, minimalist watch that’ll work across your entire wardrobe, this one from Swatch has you covered for well under £100. It’s super basic, easy to read and budget friendly, making it perfect for those looking for a daily driver that they don’t have to worry about getting the odd bump or scratch. Plus it is water resistant up to 30m, so you don’t have to remove it every time you wash your hands. Which, in the age of coronavirus, amounts to a pretty significant amount of time saved.
Casio f-91w-1xy digital watch
When people talk about iconic timepieces, the conversations tend to revolve around automatic watches from the likes of Rolex, Cartier and Omega. But we think there’s a case to be made for Casio. After all, is there a person on earth that isn’t familiar with this classic piece of design? Probably not. The Casio f-19w-1xy may not have the catchiest name of any watch on the market, but what it lacks in a snappy title it more than compensates for with its transcendent retro charm. This is a watch that does everything you need for a shade under £20 and will likely still be ticking (bleeping? blooping?) long after you’ve stopped.
Tudor black bay gmt automatic watch
For those with the cash to splash, Tudor offers some really beautiful watches that stop just short of “silly money”, but still reside comfortably in the luxury category. The black bay is one of Tudor’s most popular styles and condenses the brand’s more than 60 years of experience in crafting fine diving watches into a single timepiece. It’s a highly versatile model that can completely change its look depending on what strap it’s paired with, which makes it smart enough to wear with a suit, but casual enough to slum it with jeans and trainers at the weekend.
Mondaine essence rubber strap watch
A Swiss-made watch for £150? No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. This striking yet minimalist rubber-strapped watch from Mondaine hails from the global capital of haute horlogerie, but comes in at a refreshingly affordable price point. It may not boast a fancy automatic movement, but what it does have going for it is timelessness (no pun intended) and versatility. It’s a blank canvas of a watch that will never look out of place. And when you consider that, the price tag is even more appealing. Oh, and it’s vegan too.
Shinola runwell watch
If you’re a man in search of a big, bold watch, there are few brands better equipped to deliver the goods than Shinola. The Detroit-based company specialises in all things leather and chunky, bombproof, leather-strapped watches are no exception. The runwell is a classic round-faced watch that’s heavy on the Americana styling. We particularly like the simplicity of the dial and the bold, easy-to-read numbers.
Apple Watch series 3 smartwatch
Gone are the days of watches simply telling the time. Now there’s a new breed of timepieces that can do so much more. King among them is the Apple watch – a sleek, stylish bit of wearable tech that can do everything from tracking your fitness to allowing you to interact with messages on your phone. The series 3 may not be the latest and greatest, but it offers up all the best bits of a smartwatch at a price that will hopefully leave some room for manoeuvre. Plus, we’re big fans of the sheer variety of interchangeable straps and digital display options that allow you to turn yours into whatever you want… provided what you want is a watch of some description.
The verdict: Men’s watches
Timex may not be the flashiest name in the watchmaking world, but it is one of the most trusted, reliable and historic. We love the classic look of the m79 automatic and think it’s about as close as it’s possible to get to a perfect everyday timepiece.