No, you don't need a watch. And no, you definitely don't need multiple watches. But don't you want multiple watches? Isn't it the little things that make life exciting? (Or at least tolerable?) We thought so.
And with that in mind, there are indeed many different types of watches. There are dive watches, pilot's watches, GMT watches...the list goes on. And yes, at this point most of these distinctions are marketing mumbo-jumbo, because your iPhone does all this shit for you, anyway. But if you thought about everything in your life so practically, you would die of boredom. You would be so bored, you would be dead.
So without further ado, here are our favorite watches in each watch category, including a Smart Spend pick (for those on a budget), a Just Get This pick (for a best all-around pick that we recommend without thinking twice) and a Step Up pick (for those whose bonus checks just hit their bank accounts and are looking to do some damage to the ol' bottom line). Enjoy!
Perhaps the most universally useful type of watch, the diver requires a robustness that makes it the perfect candidate for the "one-watch collection." If you're gonna buy just one type of timepiece, we'd recommend a dive watch: something with a minimum of 100m of water resistance, a screw-down crown, a rotating, count-up bezel for timing, a highly legible dial covered in a luminous substance, and a solid bracelet.
Of course, not every dive watch will have each one of these features: some will lack the screw-down crown, while others might come on a rubber strap instead of a bracelet. But if you only have room for one watch in your live, we'd say make it a diver.
Alright, so you have your trusty dive watch. Could you wear that thing with a tuxedo? I mean, you could, but it might look a little weird, unless your last name is Connery. The better bet, if you're gonna expand your collection, is to go with a svelte dress watch. And though many dress watches are indeed made in precious metals, you can absolutely go for a steel model and not drop a month's (or two or three months') salary on one.
There are no firm regulations for what constitutes a dress watch, but most of them are relatively thin, tell only the time and nothing else (some even omit the seconds hand), and ship on a handsome leather strap. Here are some of our favorite examples.
We get it — you don't fly a plane, so what do you need one of these for. But though pilot's watches were originally indeed designed for those captaining aircraft, today the genre encompasses a whole slew of practical, rugged timepieces that can easily take many forms. From simple, time-only models recalling watches from the 1940s and 1950s to complicated chronograph, pilot's watches truly run the gamut.
The biggest requirement of a pilot's watch is really that it's legible to someone flying an aircraft. In the past this sometimes meant huge, oversized watches, but it could also easily mean a smaller, cleanly designed piece. These three watches will each get the job done admirably.
Of the complications — that is, a watch movement feature that does something beyond simple time-telling — available to the modern watch buyer, perhaps none is as useful as the GMT. Designed in the 1950s to offer pilots and air crews the ability to track Greenwich Mean Time in addition to local time, the GMT function has since proliferated and become ubiquitous to the point in which it's available even within budget watch offerings.
There are two primary types of GMT — that with an independently adjustable hour hand, and that with an independently adjustable GMT hand. Both are useful in different situations, and the availability of quality third-party movements that feature the latter configuration has allowed for increasingly more affordable GMTs in the past five years.
This is such a wide category that it can admittedly be tough to whittle down to just a few great picks. However, almost anything from Casio, the king of digital watches, will serve you well, from sub-$20 beaters to expensive, special edition G-Shocks. And does this mean we think nobody else makes a solid digital watch? It certainly doesn't: gems from the likes of Timex, Hamilton and others are certainly on our radar, and are even among our favorites in the category.
But Casio continually does digital best. From their wide array of timekeeping features to the rugged quality of the average G-Shock, they have the digital watch nailed. (We believe in their products so much that we took the time to produce an exhaustive guide to them.) Here are three gems.
You might think of a field watch as a simplified dive watch: meant to withstand the rigors of the outdoors, they're generally simple, time-only watches with fixed bezels and less water resistance than a diver that still perform adequately in wet conditions. Classically, they're based on a military model of a black, time-only dial with white numerals and indices and a fabric or leather strap — though some iconic models, such as Rolex's Explorer, are equipped with matching steel bracelets.
Field watches truly run the price gamut: you can pay well under $100 for one, or you can pay close to $10,000 for one. Thankfully, however, all this choice means that there's truly a field watch out there for everyone, and every type of budget.
Ever see a timepiece with two little buttons protruding out of the side of the case? That's a chronograph, which is essentially a wrist-borne stopwatch. While these used to be relegated completely to the mechanical realm, quartz chronographs have since become quite popular, especially in less expensive "fashion watches." And your favorite G-Shock? That thing is a chronograph, too, albeit a digital one.
Mechanical chronograph movements can make a watch quite expensive — indeed, the most famous models from well known marques ain't cheap — but again, the proliferation of high-quality, more affordable Swiss and Japanese movements have recently made relatively inexpensive, quality chronos available to the masses. The following are some of our faves of the mechanical variety.