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Types of Watches: The Ultimate Style Guide for Men

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A watch is one of the most versatile accessories for men. Whether it’s finding one for an everyday look or having an assortment for every possible occasion, your choice of watch is a representation of your style and personality.

There are so many different styles and features to watches that choosing one seems intimidating. By following this guide, we narrow down what your ideal qualities to look for in a timepiece, and will help you find the perfect watch that will have every stranger asking for the time. 

Why Are There Different Watches? 

Basically, different watches are made to suit different needs. There are tons of human activities that require keeping track of the time. Some purchase them for practicality and others do it for aesthetic purposes. 

Say, you’re a scuba diver and you want to know how long you’ve been underwater. A rubber waterproof watch would be your best timepiece. A special and formal night out with the wife? Then a classy leather watch will be your best friend.

Watches Are for Women

Before we dive even further, here’s a bit of history. 

Watches were actually made for women hundreds of years ago, as men preferred using pocket watches. But when WW1 happened, soldiers resorted to wearing watches in order to tell the time more quickly. This quickly influenced the trend of men wearing them. Eventually, wrist watches evolved into different types, shapes, and sizes.

Types of Watches

There are so many types of watches, so buckle up. 

We’re looking at dials, movements, bands, and even the shapes. 

Movement Type

The movement of a watch is how it functions. This internal powerhouse of geras causes the hands on the watch to work, providing movement to chronographs, calendars, external time zones, and other features. 

There are two primary movements, quartz or mechanical. You can take a look at the second hand on your watch to tell which is which. A mechanical watch will have a more fluid, sweeping motion of the second hand (the thin and long arm), while a quartz watch will have the second hand tick every second. 

That’s just one of the differences though.

Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches are often the choice for luxury brands because they are made of small components that are meticulously crafted. These craftsmen take extra care and use modern crafting methods to ensure that the watch is of high quality and accurate, but the way the watch operates is the same technology that has been used for over centuries. 

A mechanical watch completes its movement thanks to a spring. This main spring provides the required energy to move a series of smaller gears and springs that then move the hand on the watch. An automatic watch is a mechanical watch that is self-winding thanks to the natural motion of the wearer, as opposed to a manual watch that needs to be wound.

Luxury watches made by well known companies are often mechanical watches that are made to last, like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Choose a mechanical watch if you want a timepiece that will last a lifetime, with proper care and maintenance a mechanical watch can become a family heirloom. 

Quartz Watches

Quartz watches are often more affordable than the mechanical ones. Because quartz watches are easier to create, they tend to have a lower price point. 

These watches are battery powered. The battery in quartz watches supplies power by sending an electrical current through a quartz crystal to create a vibration, which then powers a motor and allows the hands to move. You’ll have to replace the batteries every four to five years though. Digital watches are a type of quartz watch too, because they’re powered by batteries.

Choose a watch with quartz movement if you prefer accuracy, as it will only lose four seconds a month, as opposed to a mechanical watch that loses between 5 and 10 seconds a day. 

Functionality Type

There are numerous features that are available when it comes to choosing a watch. Whether you are more athletic or spend more time at the office, choosing a watch that suits your daily needs is not an easy decision. 

A brand whose a household name will tend to have quality, although these are likely to be more expensive. 

Smart Watches

A smart watch is an advanced timepiece that has more features than your standard watch. Smart watches got their name because of the small computers found within the watch, also because they have a touch screen display.

Digital smart watches are so advanced that they can replace the need to always have your phone in hand. These digital watches connect to your phone and will notify you of any alerts or phone calls you have received. Most digital smart watches have a touch screen surface that shows additional features like calls, emails and text messages. 

Analog smartwatches also come with a number of features that wouldn’t be found in a basic watch. With features like alarms, multiple time zones, stopwatches, calendars, leap years, and even bezels, these smartwatches not only look classic, but also cover all your desired qualities in a watch.    

Basic Watches

Basic watches are the traditional ones that we all know about. They’re appealing because of their timeless look. A basic watch doesn’t have as many features as a smartwatch but this keeps it clean and more aesthetically pleasing, making it a minimalist classic. 

A basic watch generally won’t have more than a few features and they do not connect to your phone. Its qualities can include a calendar, alarm, or stopwatch. A field watch is an example of a basic watch because it does one thing: tell perfect time. It may also have simple features like shock or water resistance, but this classic watch allows focus to be on the design of the time piece. 

A basic watch is perfect for the office or even just for everyday wear. Keeping track of your time without any additional distractions makes this basic timepiece the ideal accessory. It also has a clean look which will match any uniform or outfit.

Dial Type

There are many styles and dial types that are available on the market. The dial is the surface underneath the hands and is also considered the main design of the watch face. Every dial expresses a different vibe, so choose carefully. 

Dial types are available for both analog and digital watches. Although most dials for analog watches might be set in stone, digital ones like a smart watch can often be customized to fit your style. 

Analog Watches

An analog watch is considered a traditional watch because it has a miniature clock display. The watch face has twelve hours depicted and has an hour hand, a minute hand, and sometimes a seconds hand. The numbers can sometimes be represented by roman numerals or dashes, and some even have smaller lines showing the minutes in an hour. 

Chronographs are a feature found in some analog dials. They are a secondary display that is often used as a way to keep time. A chronograph watch isn’t always used as a stopwatch, but will often provide additional features or information to the wearer.

Flieger watch dials are often used in aviation or boating. The numbers on the face of the watch are often larger and easier to read, and a large triangle or arrow is displayed at the twelve o’clock position to help with mapping or tracking.   

Digital Watches

Digital watches come either with a series of buttons or a touchscreen. The display on a digital watch gives the hour, minutes, and sometimes seconds at the exact moment during the day. These watches will often come with specific features like stopwatches or pedometers (pedometers count your steps and not how likely you are to like minors). You can wear these for physical activities or at heavy labor job sites. 

Smart watches are becoming more popular as technology companies have started to pair the watches to phones. Smart watches allow information from your phone to be displayed on the watch screen along with the time, making notifications easily accessible.

Traditional digital watches, such as the iconic Casio, are watches that tend to only display the hour, minute and second. A button will sometimes be on the side to access a stopwatch or alarm. These digital watches can be found cheap and used as an everyday piece, or can be purchased from luxury brands to have a more luxurious element for an important occasion as a luxury watch. 

Visual Enhancement Type

Because a watch is worn on your wrist every day, it must be appealing to the wearer. Visually enhanced watches are an excellent choice for when you’re looking for a beautiful statement piece. The exposed gear watch is the most common, because of the window that allows the watch gears to be seen.

These watches often have a part of the face that stands out. The interior workings of the watch might be clearly seen, or maybe a small portion of the mechanical aspects will be peeking through. Either way, these watches are always fascinating to view. 

A visual enhancement type watch is ideal if you are looking for a great timepiece to invest in. Being a quality form of excellent craftsmanship, these watches retain their value and withstand the tests of time.

Skeleton Watches

A skeleton watch is a type of mechanical watch where all the moving parts are visible on the watch face. Skeleton watches allow the wearer and any viewers to see the intricate design of components that are working within the watch, allowing a luxury experience. 

These watches often have creative designs and are created by talented watch craftsmen. The timepiece has so many intricate workings that a watchmaker will put in a significant amount of time and energy into creating a masterpiece. 

Because of the amount of work involved in creating skeleton watches, they are often sold at higher prices and are rarer than the typical watches. Most times they are even considered more as a collectors item, like a sports car or luxury vehicle. 

Tourbillon Watches

Tourbillon watches differ from skeleton watches. Instead of having the entirety of the inner workings shown, there is either one or multiple different windows. These windows allow the viewer to get glimpses of the intricate inside of the watch. 

Creating a small window to show the inner workings of the watch is such a large task, that the compilings of the feature in these watches are called complications. The more features that are found within a watch, the more the watchmaker has to work to make them all fit, making them very complex as they are captivating. 

These watches carry a high price and are not easily replicated like skeleton watches. Tourbillon watches are more often found in a collection as well, and are mostly purchased by the wealthy. 

Status and Collection Types 

Status and collection type watches can range from a cheap knock off to one of your most prized possessions. These watches are either worn to be ruined or never worn so they are preserved. 

Status watches are worn to express an air of sophistication. Often a luxury brand, status watches are worn to formal events or occasions that require a certain level of class. There often isn’t any need for more than one in your possession, as it won’t be worn very often and will stand out whenever it’s brought to a party.  

Collection watches are for the shelf. Rarely worn, collectors watches are rare and extremely expensive. They may be worn a couple of times, but collection watches are to be kept on display. This way they maintain their value, and you are certain that they will not receive any damage. 

Beater Watches

A beater watch is used when you need a timepiece that can handle some abuse. You do not concern yourself with the appearance of a beater watch, you wear it because you know it will get banged up and scratched. 

People wear this type of watch for convenience. By wearing a beater watch for hard jobs or on the go, you protect your quality watch from any damage. Even if it doesn’t look as refined as premium watches, beaters still look magnificent covered in mud, dust, or water during dives. 

The important thing here is that these watches can be roughed around with, heck, even thrown! And it’ll probably still work 99 percent of the time. 

Grail Watches

Grail watches are the holy grail of collectors. The watch itself might be different depending on the collector, but generally once obtained the intention is to never sell. Collectors maintain their grail watch in good working condition and strive to keep the casing mint.

Depending on the type of collector, a grail watch will contain different features. The reason it is the holy grail of a collector isn’t its price point, but what functions are found within the watch itself, as well as its appearance. Basically, a grail watch is up to the collector’s preference as well as the reason why they considered it as it is.

The Shapes of Watches

Because watches are designed to suit your every need, they come in different shapes. The shape you choose can be dependent on personal preference or the purpose of the watch. 

Round

The most common style of watch found is a round casing. From digital smart watches to classic analogs, round casings are most common because it is the most clear way to read the time. 

Round casings are often found in classic style watches because they give a sense of minimalism. These casings look clean and simple, making it an elegant and timeless piece.

Square

The square watch came around in popularity in the mid-20th century. It evolved from being a popular style for dress watches to a more sport style in the 70s. Square watches are popular when you want to have a more vintage look, and can be chosen for a more upscale event or a more active lifestyle. 

Because a round watch is more common than a square watch, the square tends to stand out. If you prefer a look that’s an effortless eye catcher, choose a square watch as an accessory. A square watch will add spice to any outfit and is appropriate for any occasion. 

Rectangle

Rectangles are referred to as tanks because they resemble the original Cartier Tank, a watch design based on tanks found in WW1. Although their popularity has decreased since the early 20th century, they were still what inspired the rectangular style. 

A rectangle timepiece screams vintage as it pays homage to the old design. Rectangle pieces are more suited for events or for everyday wear that require a bit of sophistication because of their old fashioned appearance. Choose a rectangular casing for those dinner parties or meetings with the boss.

Tonneau

The name tonneau derives from the French word for barrel. As its name suggests, the tonneau shaped watches can be best described as a barrel, or a curved rectangle. The casing has a rectangular base, with curved sides to create the barrel shape. 

The tonneau style was often found on dive watches in the late 1960s to early 1970s. More common today, it is found on dress watches. The barrel shape is now considered a more elegant look, and is more often found in watches that are to be worn to parties rather than during deep dives. 

Avant Garde

Avant garde watches stand out because of their unusual yet appealing shapes, which differ from watch to watch. They are often designed by more luxury watch brands, and are not created for vigorous wear and tear. These timepieces are high end and often seen on those who wish to make a statement. 

When choosing to invest in an avant garde casing, it is important to keep in mind that it is an investment as much as an accessory to tell time. By adding an avant garde piece to your collection, you are expanding your style. Wearing a piece to an event or function will showcase your versatility and taste. 

Asymmetrical

These watches are sometimes considered to be more of an avant garde look, although they don’t stand out as much as an avant garde style watch. Asymmetrical watches have faces and shapes that aren’t symmetrical. Meaning one side of the watch doesn’t have the same shape as the other side.

The extra edge provided by the asymmetrical casing is to allow for some extra space for the watches band and possible push buttons for a chronograph. The asymmetrical design is usually reserved for tool watches that need the extra space for buttons and dials and provide the wearer with easy access to its features.

Oval

A classic timepiece shape is the oval. Similar to the very popular round shape, oval watches are common yet pleasing to the eye. Because oval watches are typically worn by women, an oval watch on a man keeps the masterpiece of the round casting while adding the flair of an oval shape. It certainly stands out.

While I’d normally tell you to stay away from oval-shaped watches, what you wear on your wrist is a very personal choice. If you want to have the feminine or gentle aesthetic of wearing an oval watch, then cheers to you my friend. Give it a shot!

Types of Watch Bands

Watch bands and straps are important when it comes to the look of the watch. Being a very visible aspect of the watch, it is important to choose a watch band well so that the watch will keep looking fresh for years to come. Choosing the right material for your watch is an important step for its functionality, so let’s take a look at our options. 

Rubber

These watch bands are often found on active or smart watches. Rubber watch bands are easy to swap out and come in a variety of colours that allow a noticeable change to your everyday watch. Because of their comfort and durability, rubber watch bands are more suited for a watch you intend to wear every day. 

Silicone Rubber

Silicone watch bands are increasingly common because of their comfort and versatility. The material is very malleable which can allow for high comfort on the band, making it ideal for wearing during light activity. Be aware of the durability of silicone bands, because pulling too much or applying a significant amount of stress can stretch or tear the band.   

Polyurethane Rubber

These rubber watch bands are more durable than silicone bands. They are perfect for strenuous activities and are often used in diving and swimming. Polyurethane bands are comfortable, although they’re a little thicker than the silicone band. These are an excellent option for athletes and outdoorsmen that need durability.

Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel is a popular band because of its fashionable appearance. These bands are always in style because of their versatility. Choose a stainless steel band with smaller links for a more elegant appearance. A steel band that is thicker and with heavier links gives off a more tough and powerful look. A loose band can appear sloppy, so steel links should be adjusted to fit your wrist perfectly.  

Leather

Leather is a high quality material to be used for a band that is offered in a variety of price ranges. Although it can be found on the cheaper side, it is a durable material that adds a natural air to your watch. The affordable leather band is long lasting and has no need for extra care. As it ages, it will stay in good shape. 

Genuine Leather

The appearance of genuine leather is maintained over extensive use because of its high quality. This type of leather looks better with age and is guaranteed to last a long time. Genuine leather is easy to find and has a high class feel, so this small investment can change the whole look of your watch. 

Faux Leather

The affordable alternative to genuine leather. Faux leather provides the classy look of genuine leather without costing as much. You can find faux leather straps that are impossible to differentiate from real leather, but they will not be the same level of quality. Faux leather doesn’t age like real leather, which is a bummer.

Wood

Wood watch bands are starting to become a popular alternative to leather. Because of their natural look, they stand out. The style of the band and its links can vary in size and colour, allowing you to tailor the design to your preference. Because of the abundance of its material, wood watches are an eco-friendly option.

Nylon

These watch bands are extremely breathable, making them ideal for wearing in warm climates or during the summer. Nylon bands come in all shapes, sizes and colors as well. Not to mention, nylon is thin, so the bands dry quickly. Because it is made of tightly woven plastic, the nylon watch bands are also extremely durable.

Features

A watch can either be extremely basic, giving you only the time, or packed with features that can serve you for different purposes. Choosing a watch based on what you wish to use it for allows you to consider the different features available and choose the one that best suits you. 

Alarms

Alarms are one of the most important features to have in a watch. Because your watch is always on your wrist, using the alarm feature is an effective way to never miss a meeting or to ensure you’ll wake from your afternoon nap. 

Both analog and digital watches can come with an alarm feature. A digital watch, including smart watches, will often vibrate the entire watch on your wrist to wake you up. On the other hand, a traditional analog watch typically beeps until you’re awake. 

Dee-dit. Dee-dit. Classic.

Calendar

The calendar function on a watch is one of the most common features. The display can either be a small number to represent the day on an analog, or a complete date depicted on a smart watch. 

Typical analog watches will show 

GPS

Global positioning systems are integrated into some watches, and are used mostly for fitness. The GPS in your watch tracks your steps or helps you locate yourself in the map. Just by having a GPS, smartwatches can tell your pedometer and find you on the map application, if your watch supports the map feature.

Shock Resistance

Shock resistance is advertised in sport watches because it provides a level of strength and resistance to the watch. The term originated with mechanical watches as they were provided with a spring suspension system to protect the inner workings in case the watch was dropped. The standard shock resistance rating is ISO 1413, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a watch that can take a beating.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is becoming a common trait in watches. A mark is stamped on the back of the watch to indicate how well the watch can withstand oncoming water, and includes a number indicating its pressure resistance. The standard rating is ISO 2281. The term water resistance is not to be confused with waterproof. 

The water resistance tests create a standard to ensure the watch can withstand water for short period activities like washing hands or walking in the rain. Even with a water resistant rating, do not wear your watch in the shower because the steam can still damage the inner workings of the timepiece. 

Heart Rate Monitor

A watch equipped with a heart rate monitor is a quality feature for those who wish to monitor their health. The most common use of the heart rate monitor is for fitness, since knowing your heart rate signifies if your body is working hard enough or not. 

The heart rate monitors found in watches are a tool for activity measurement only and are not to replace any medical devices. At rest, the heart rate monitor found in watches will accurately monitor 89 percent of your heart beat. Just because it can be an excellent tool for exercise and self care, doesn’t mean it should be your second doctor.

Step Counter

A step counter has become a very common feature in watches, especially fitness watches. Because fitness watches rely so much on calculating your steps to process your fitness information, the accuracy in watch pedometers has increased. 

Since watches are always with you, fitness watches have become a popular tool in order to track your exercise throughout the day. On average a man should be moving at least 7000 steps a day, and it is nearly impossible to keep track without a pedometer. If you have a weight loss or diet plan, tracking steps is one of the most crucial parts of your fitness journey. 

Stopwatch

When thinking of a stopwatch, most would think of a digital watch. Digital watches come with different interfaces but most provide an easy method to use a stopwatch. Digital watches will sometimes have features that record the data and times that you used the stopwatch. In traditional analog watches, you can use a stopwatch through a chronograph.

Bezel

A bezel is a feature found on round dial watches, and surrounds the crystal face. It is a circlet of numbers that can be added to the watch by snapping or screwing on, or is a permanent facet of the watch. A divers watch will often feature a rotating bezel. This allows the diver to easily read the watch and keep track of time spent underwater. 

Bezels are a very common feature found on pilots’ watches. The ring is often used for calculations of fuel, distance, time on route and endurance. Although the use of computers are now commonplace within airlines, general aviation pilots still use traditional methods of calculating costs and fuel burn. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best type of watch to use every day?

The best watch for everyday wear depends on what your average lifestyle is. If you are someone who works in the office or at home, a more classic-styled watch would be more appropriate. If you are an athlete, coach, or trainer, then a digital or sport watch with high shock and water resistance would be your best choice. 

Which watch style is most popular?

Round watches are still the most popular watch style on the market. These watches with a traditional look and dial are also more common than digital watches. At the moment the tech world is still producing watches that are geared more towards an active lifestyle, but over time it is possible for digital watches to take over in popularity. 

What is the best material for watches?

Stainless steel to this day is considered one of the best, if not most common, material for watches. Due to its durability yet sleek appearance, stainless steel is an inexpensive option for a watch that looks luxurious but doesn’t break the bank. 

A Final Word From The Trending Man

Your watch is your most prominent accessory and is a representation of the style or feel you’re trying to emit. Choosing a watch for a prestigious event means selecting an appropriate dress watch, while going to the gym will require a more sport oriented watch. Having a few watches in different styles to match your outfit and occasion will make it so your primary timepiece doesn’t look out of place. In the end, wearing the appropriate type of watch for any event is guaranteed to make you tell the time, with style. 

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Article by:

The Trending Man

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of The Trending Man Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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