T3's best men's watch guide
With only the best watch brands in existence, this is T3's round-up of the best men's watches to buy in 2016. It's not all about Rolex and Tag -- there's a host of top pieces for any budget right here.
One in seven Britons might be replacing watches with new technology, such as fancy smartwatches or fitness trackers, but we still believe a quality timepiece is an essential executive accoutrement. Serving two purposes, it makes a statement about your style and standing, and it also tells you what the time is (which is super useful).
- Looking for the best women's watches?
So, whether you flex a rugged, tech-heavy chronograph or a classic, slimline timepiece designed to compliment your suits, your choice of watch says a lot about you, which is why we've taken care to pick out the best men's watches including the timepieces that caught our eye at Baselworld.
Before you start, here are a few watch buying tips to keep in mind
- Remember the basic rules. Black leather strap for formal wear, metal strap with a black face for the office, and a chronograph for weekend escapades.
- Much like shorts with suits, oversized hats and the Hoxton fin, these things all have a shelf life. That’s okay if you’re thinking budget, but if you’re splashing the cash it’s best to stay classic.
- Need more help and guidance buying a new watch? Head over to T3's watch buying guide
Let's start with the Dunhill Classic Crushed Black Diamond watch (pictured above). Betting has never looked so swish, and if you blow it all on baccarat chemin-de-fer you can always use this fine watch as collateral. the black dial features crushed black diamonds in lacquer, while a Jaeger-leCoultre movement and black alligator strap round things off with suitable style.
Price: £5,500 | Dunhill watches
Victorinox INOX Paracord
Put together by the same industrious Swiss tinkerers who make those little red army knives, you'd be right to expect some engineering creativity in the Victorinox INOX watch. As if a steel shell and hardened sapphire crystal face didn't make it out-doorsy enough for you, the INOX also features a paracord strap, which you can unravel and voila! You've got some potentially life-saving rope. Victorinox will also replace you strap for free if you tell them how it saved you.
Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01
The classic Tag timepiece, the Tag Heuer Carrera was created in 1964 as a tribute to the Carrera Panamerica, or "Mexican Road Race" of the fifties, at which the day's most balls-out drivers raced 2000 miles across Mexico at full speed. Today's Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 is made from titanium carbide coated steel, and is completed by a strap made from black rubber for a stylish, sporty look.
Hermes Clipper Chronograph
This attractive chronograph from Hermés really stands out with its grade 2 titanium case and orange rubber strap. Despite being from a fashion house, the watch still features a self-winding mechanical movement with a 46-hour power reserve.
Price: £4,800 | Hermes watches
No best watch list would be complete without Swatch, the budget Swiss brand (who also happen to make some pretty snazzy designs). We love the Swatch Originals range -- made from plastic and silicon but featuring quartz movement and waterproof to 3 Bars, but we've gone for the Sistem51, which is a bit more techy.
In fact, the Sistem51 is a technological wonder, featuring 51 parts, one screw, and a 90-hour power reserve.
Price: £108 | Buy from Swatch watches
Rolex GMT-Master II
Before Omega started looking into sending watches into space, the bods at Rolex had a more humble goal: to create the first water resistant watch. Invented in 1926, Brit swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swam the channel in ten hours wearing a Rolex Oyster in 1927, and it's been the darling of big business types and shady internet resellers ever since.
Equally legendary, the GMT-Master II has been a legend of the jet age, embraced by airline pilots as their onboard chronometer of choice.
Price: £19,950 | Rolex watches
Tissot T Touch Expert Solar
If you're after a watch which is a bit smarter than a normal watch, but not as smart as an Apple Watch, the T-Touch range from Tissot may be for you.
T-Touch is a technology developed by Tissot that turns the glass into a 'touchscreen', showing different information (such as altitude, digital compass, or timer) depending where you touch. This newest watch in the range, the Expert Solar, uses the Sun's rays to power all of the functions.
Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope
We’re a bit obsessed with the Junghans brand at the moment. It’s the largest German watch manufacturer founded in 1861, and now creates clean, simple, very attractive timepieces. The Max Bill Chronoscope is our favourite model, commemorating one of the most extraordinary designers of the last century.
Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre
Created to tie in with the 24th Bond film, Spectre, this limited edition Seamaster 300 comes packing some serious style. Featuring a bi-directional rotating bezel, 5-stripe NATO strap, and lollipop second hands, this is a very special timepiece. Limited to just 7,007 pieces (see what they did there) it's also going to be rare, so if you manage to find one, buy one.
If you can't find the Spectre limited edition, there's still the regular version, which is slightly easier to find and equally as stunning:
Bell and Ross BR03
This watch is for those who prefer square faces. No complicated bells and whistles here; the Bell and Ross BR01 has its roots in aviation, a heritage the folks at B&R have clearly channelled into the BR03's straightforward, seconds-minutes-hours design. Now happily available to those of us without our wings, the BR03 packs a sapphire crystal face and a hard-wearing rubber strap.
Taking inspiration from Deiter Ram's classic design, this Braun Watch is understated, sharp, and sophisticated. It's not too chunky with a 38mm diameter, and only 8.5mm thickness. Perfect for industrial design fans.
Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute
This stunning watch is a tribute to Scot Carpenter, who orbited Earth in the Aurora 7 capsule. Stuck aboard a tin can hurtling around the world, it was impossible to distinguish between day and night, so his chronograph had a 24-hour graduation. As a tribute Breitling has commemorated the 1962 mission with its Navitimer Cosmonaute – constructed from 1962 pieces. It also requires manual winding, and has the Aurora 7's insignia engraved on the case.
Bremont Jaguar MKIII
Bremont is T3's favourite English watch brand, but despite appearing so historic, they've only been going since 2002. This range of watches were built in collaboration with Jaguar, celebrating the historic Jaguar E-Type. The MKIII is beautifully paired back, featuring a slim steel case and black tachometer-inspired dial. The winding crown resembles the original Dunlop tyre tread, and features Bremont's anti-shock movement.
Casio Edifice EQB-500DB
If you want to dip your toes into the smartwatch pool, without going full Apple Watch, we'd suggest you check out the new Casio Edifice. The analogue timepiece packs Bluetooth and a smartphone app, allowing you automatically adjust the time depending what time zone you're in, set daily alarms, and find your phone. It runs on a rechargeable battery, but thanks to a solar watch face, will manage seven months in between charges.
Monsieur de Chanel
Behold Chanel's first dedicated men's watch, it's quite a looker and made completely in-house (which makes it even more impressive). The timepiece is a jumping hour retrograde movement with three-day power reserve, that means the hour is designated in the little window, and the minute is displayed around the outside (but doesn't go full circle). It looks great from all angles and is limited to just 300 pieces.
Price: £25,000 | Chanel
Christopher Ward C5 Malvern MK II
This Christopher Ward watch is a quintessentially British design, it's 39mm case is precisely engineered and the galvanic silver dial is elegant. Christopher Wards fine timepieces help retain his position as the world's most affordable luxury watch, probably.
Price: £199 | Christopher Ward watches
Citizen Promaster Navihawk GPS
With a watch face that could be described as a little bit busy, the Citizen Navihawk GPS is Citizen’s latest hero watch. The GPS is used to keep your watch synchronised as you travel across the globe. With world time in 27 cities, the Navihawk boasts the fastest time keeping signal reception speed and pretty much every single dial you can imagine on a watch face.
Chopard L.U.C Louis-Ulysse Tribute
Featuring roman numerals and a classic design, this timepiece is a blend of tradition and innovation which pays homage to the founder of Chopard. The 18-carat case can be worn on the wrist, or as a pocket watch, and bears the Poinçon de Genève and chronometer-certification, making it a peak of watchmaking art.
Price: POA | Chopard watches
Eterna Royal KonTiki GMT
Eterna has had a bit of a resurgence of late, with the end its relationship with Porsche Designs and refreshing the company's product line up. At the heart of the new Royal KonTiki is the Eterna 39 calibre, which allows 88 different movement versions. The GMT features a dual time zone feature, it’s rugged, and masculine and elegant.
The Fossil Wakefield has taken elements from a professional diving watch to create a really fashionable timepiece. It's a rugged looking thing, with a case of 45mm and water resistance of up to 10 ATM. We're not exactly diving experts, but we're guessing the red section of the rotating bezel denotes you've been underwater for 20 minutes (or how long the chips have been in the oven).
Price: £105 | Fossil watches
Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase
Founded in 1988 by Aletta Francoise Frédérique Stas-Bax and Peter Constant Stas, the company is still and independent and family owned business. The Classic Moonphrase, as the name suggests will display the moonphase in a stylish dial, as well as the time and date. It's sophisticated, and features Clous de Paris guilloché decoration... whatever that is.
Named after creative director, Riccardo Tisci’s, lucky number, we love the delicate yet industrial look of the Givenchy Seventeen. The case is made from stainless steel, and the strap is interchangeable between nylon and leather.
Price: £750 | Selfridges
Glashütte Senator Chronograph XL
If you hadn’t guessed from the name, Glashütte is a German brand, and the Senator Chronograph XL is a bold, very ‘Germanic’ watch. The watch face and stainless steel case looks quite classical, and the Louisiana Alligator leather strap adds luxury.
Price: around £5,250 | Glashütte
Graham has succeeded in creating a true luxury diver's watch. It's equipped with a patented chronograph start/stop/reset trigger allowing you to use it underwater (which is apparently quite rare) and can resist the ocean's pressure until around 600 feet, so after your head explodes, basically. There's a new generation of luminescent coating on board, and there's also an automatic helium release valve. Time to don your flippers, chaps.
G-Shock claims the Mudmaster was designed for people who frequently come into contact with 'rubble, dirt, mud, debris', and judging by the styling - explosions. This update boasts a digital compass, thermometer, LED lighting and timeserver signal reception. There are few watches more robust than the G-Shock, but they also work as statements - you could literally knock someone out with this watch.
Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Auto
Circular watches are for, well... squares. If you're looking for something a little different check out Hamilton's Ventura range. This timepiece looks like a 1950s interpretation of a futuristic watch, and we love it.
If you hadn't guessed from the name, this model pays tribute to the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley (a Ventura actually featured in his film, Blue Hawaii). Powered by Hamilton's own H-10 movement, with a massive power reserve of 80 hours, it is a truly modern timepiece.
Hublot Big Bang 44MM
Hublot’s Big Bang series is the saviour of the brand. The brain-child of Jean-Claude Biver, and worn by every hip-hop artist under the sun, it’s a true modern-day success story.
The Big Bang 44MM in Steel is one of the more understated designs in the range. It's constructed from 257 components, and uses the HUB4100 movement. It’s chunky, oversized, and a perfect way to show off your wealth.
Price: £7,500| Hublot watches
If the OG Big Bang isn't exclusive enough for you, we'd suggest you take a look at the Sang Bleu special edition. Designed in collaboration with the World reknowned tattoo artist, Maxime Müchi, the Big Bang Sang Bleu is very special indeed. No hand appears on the dial, instead, the time is displayed through the superposition of three rhodium-plated octagonal-shaped discs, covered in Superluminova. It's limited to 200 pieces, and intended for those who won't get a real tattoo, but instead will "wear this unique model like an ephemeral tattor on their wrist".
A Bauhaus-flavoured homage to Dieter Rams' work at Braun, Instrmnt 01 comes in three parts (case, movement and strap), and you have to put it together yourself, so you can truthfully say that you made your own watch. The Instrmnt 01 is as elegant as it is simple, and considering you're getting a proper Swiss movement and PVD coating here, it's very reasonably priced, too.
The piece is available to buy online and in Instrmnt's new shop (or 'shp', presumably), located in Glasgow's fashionable Trongate district (or 'dstrct'). As you can see, the store is as impeccably tasteful as the watch itself.
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph
The self-winding Aquatimer has 12-bar waterproofing, meaning you can take it scuba diving without incurring damage. The display is framed by a luminescent mechanical bezel and treated with an anti-reflective coating to limit glare. A durable and stylish watch.
Price: £3,950 | IWC watches
Larsson & Jennings CM Anthracite
This watch from Larsson & Jennings is the ultimate accessory for minimalists. It combines a matte black bezel with a white dial and muted indexes. Quality is top notch, with a stainless steel casing, and crystal sapphire face.
Longines Pulsometer Chronograph
This classic looking wristwatch was designed with doctors in mind. The watch features a Longines calibre L788.2 self-winding mechanical movement, with a subdial that is used to measure your heart beat.
Price: £2,750 | Longines watches
Mondaine Helvetica No1 Regular
We can't describe the Helvetica any better than Mondaine can: "A classy-unpretentious and practical timepiece. No1 for simplicity and unshowy neutral elegance." The case is made from polished stainless steel and it's water resistant to 30 metres.
Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed Chronograph E-Strap
Montblanc’s beautiful new Timewalker features all the hallmarks you’d expect from the collection in its 10th year. Narrow bezel and Arabic numerals give the face its signature clean look, whilst the diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating makes the watch tough as nails.
Best of all, this watch comes with the company’s E-Strap, which features an activity tracker, smartphone notifications, remote music control, and a ‘Find Me’ function.
Price: £3,660 | Montblanc
Nixon 51-30 Automatic LTD SW
If Darth Vader wore at watch, this would be it. Most Star Wars merchandise looks more at home on a Big Bang Theory cast member, whereas these timepieces from Nixon just about pass as fashionable.
This Swiss made automatic mechanical watch features a dial inspired by Vader's vent, with custom moulded hands incorporating the Imperial logo.
The case is made from titanium, and is waterproof down to 200 metres.
If your pay slip can't quite stretch to a mechanical Vader watch, Nixon also offers more affordable quartz designs, taking inspiration from Stormtroopers, Imperial Pilots and Boba Fett.
If you're not a fan of Star Wars, but like Nixon watches, we'd suggest the Nixon Diplomat. Ideal for people who have to jump between countries for business on a regular basis, ‘The Diplomat’ is an analogue watch that can display the time in two different regions at the same time. Built with a stainless steel bezel and domed hardened mineral crystal which has been given the anti-glare treatment, the four hand Swiss Made GMT watch can display the 24-hour time and is water-resistant to 200m.
Oris Artelier Jumping Hour
This traditional swiss timepiece also makes room for innovation with digital hour aperture design. The strap is leather, the dial is silver and the case is stainless steel. We really love its quirky yet traditional design.
Panerai Luminor Marina 1950
If you’re looking for a bit of Italian-flare mixed with Swiss watchmaking, look no further than Panerai. The company is based in Milan, but all watches are made in Switzerland. Our favourite watch from Panerai is the Luminor Marina 1950, with its clean watch face and automatic movement, designed entirely in-house.
Price: around £5,000 | Panerai watches
Patek Philippe Calatrava 6000G
Patek Philippe is one of the oldest Swiss watch brands around, founded in 1851, so knows a thing or two about designing watches. The company is known for creating some of the most complicated mechanical watches you can buy. The first Calatrava model was created in 1932, inspired by the minimalist principles of Bauhaus.
This beautiful blue timepiece features a white gold case, hand-stitched alligator strap, and a sunburst dial. Rather than having a date complication, it is displayed on the outermost circle, which we think is a very elegant solution
Price: around £13,000 | Patek Philippe watches
Paul Smith 'Atomic' Watch
Paul's personal watch of choice, the 'Atomic' features a brown mock-croc leather strap, a silver case and a gold dial with an accent orange second hand. It's a great watch from the guru of Brit style, and it's not massively expensive either.
Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Special Edition
Aimed at pilots (or, at least, those who think they are) this automatic chronograph is the result of a collaboration between Raymond Weil and plane-maker Piper. The special edition Freelance has a few neat little touches, such as marking on the hands to resemble rotor blades, and the chronograph subdial at 9 o’clock inspired by an altitude indicator.
Richard Mille RM 63-02 World Timer Automatic
The RM 63-02 from Richard Mille is perfect for world travellers with its innovative rotating bezel which is connected to the movement directly. This ensures a quicker and more accurate time-setting, and showcases the time in other cities. The watch runs a new in-house movement and sticks to the brand’s philosophy that the watch should be as easy to use as possible.
Price: A bargain at around £100,000 | Richard Mille watches
If you’re after a classy looking watch on a budget, the British brand Rotary are perfect. This classic looking timepiece is worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock! Get buying Cumberbitches.
Price: £95 | Rotary watches
Shore Projects St.Ives
As I was going to St Ives, I met a man with a very nice watch. Inspired by various seaside towns, the clean-cut aesthetic of Shore’s design and interchangeable NATO straps make them an easy everyday choice, free from all the random bits and bobs that crowd some watch faces.
Tiffany&Co Annual Calendar
Another first men's watch, this time from the prestigious Tiffany&Co. Inspired by the gold watch given to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 - the Annual Calendar has got a beautiful vintage appeal. It features a swiss-made mechanical movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
Price: £15,400 | Tiffany&Co watches
Owned by Rolex but breaking away to make its own distinctive line of watches, the Pelagos is part of Tudor’s diver collection that shares similarities with the Rolex Submariner but uniquely uses Swiss ETA movement. Built from tough titanium with a matte ceramic bezel and an adjustable strap, the 500m water-resistant watch has a helium valve to cope with variations in pressure, luminous markers and the signature Snowflake watch hands.
U-Boat Classico 45 AS 1
With superb Italian decision, the theme of the U-Boat Classico 45 AS 1 precision, and with a high calibre U-77 movement, it's got it in abundance. Visually, it's bold, with an industrial design that's reminiscent of the stealthy killer subs it takes its name from. With 316L Steel – a higher grade metal than your average watch.
Price: £1,650 | Selfridges watches
Unknown The Classic
If you’re looking for something simple, stylish and affordable, look no further than The Classic from Unknown. The brushed stainless steel case, red leather strap, and white dial make this timepiece minimalist, yet still clearly legible.
Zenith Elite 681 Ultra Thin
The Ultra Thin is so named for a reason: the stainless steel or 18kt rose gold casing is only 7.6mm thick. Inside that svelte frame, the Tungsten rotor and movement is made up of 128 moving parts. Like your watches exclusive? Only 250 of these exist.
Price: £6,895 | Zenith watches
Ball Trainmaster Officer
Stripped back and packed with class, this Ball classic watch is one of the most finely engineered watches you're likely to see. Ball has developed its own patented shock protection system, which is great for drummers and golfers alike, by all accounts. Special attention should be paid the gas tubes which offer vibrant light after dark, and it's also water-resistant to 50m.
Price: £1,930 | Ball watches
CWC British Army Quartz General Service Watch
With ownership generally restricted to members of HM armed forces, civvies wanting to sign up for a tour with the British Army's official timepiece have to go through its lone authorised retailer, Silvermans. As you'd expect from a watch that's seen action from Bosnia to Baghdad, it's pretty hardy, with an acrylic face, a steel body and a Swiss-made quartz movement.
Price: £115 | Cabot Watch Company
Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Bois
Inspired by the brand’s nautical origins, the Admiral’s Cup collection is perfect for water-lovers. Nods to nauticalia are clear, with the teak watch face inspired by decking, and ICS signal flags as hour marks. Naturally, the watch is also waterproof to 300 metres, in case you take a quick trip overboard.
Franck Muller Giga Tourbillon 7048
It may not be the clearest watch for, err, telling the time, but if you had such a complex mechanical movement it’d be a crime not to show it off. This beautiful timepiece features four barrels, in comparison to traditional tourbillons with generally feature just one or two barrels, to ensure a nine-day operating reserve.
Price: POA | Franck Muller watches
Long Distance 1.0
The minimalist clock faces, monochrome styling and calf leather strap make this smart without being too showy. Both dials can be set to different time zones for easy comparison, and it’s pretty tough to thanks to a solid stainless steel case topped with a hardened crystal lens.
Price: £300 | Kitmenkeung watches
Marc Jacobs Larry
Embracing a militaristic feel, we're guessing this won't hold up as well under fire than the G-Shock. You could wear this with a suit, however, so it's swings and roundabouts. The black stainless steel casing could probably still take a bashing, and the tan leather band gives a sense of rustic chic.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Manufacture Squelette Ltd Edition
The Squelette's metallised sapphire crystal skeleton dial displays almost all of its movement's complex workings, while remaining waterproof to 100m. A crocodile and calfskin leather strap adds class. A limited run of just 250 adds exclusivity.
Price: £6,146 | Maurice Lacroix watches
Police watches can be a tad unsubtle, but this keeps its youthful, Eurotrash edge whilst being more wearable. The white, 44mm chrono face, brown leather strap and stainless steel case leave nothing to complain about, looks-wise, while the quartz movement keeps the price right down.
Price: £130 | Debenhams
Beautifully simplistic in design, the stainless steel watch with a 24mm leather strap hosts a square face that swaps numbers for a 110 letters to spell out the time instead of the more traditional sense of telling you it's time to go home. There’s a calendar function, four dots at the bottom to let you know the precise minute and it can display In German, English or French.
Price: £550 | QLOCKTWO watches
Fortis Mars 500 Chronograph
So tough it’s worn over the space suit, this is the official watch of the Mars 500 cosmonauts. It’s got a 42mm titanium case, automatic movement with 25 jewels and an Incabloc shock absorber. It’s also water-resistant to 200m, if you happen across a lake on your red planet travels.
Price: £2,980 | Fortis watches
Want a cheap ugly watch which looks like a much more expensive ugly watch? Storm should be your first point of contact. The Dualon has plenty of cogs and dials on the watch face, but behind that facade is a regular old Quartz movement. The dual time function allows you to keep track of two time zones, and despite costing only £160 the casing is 21 Karat Rose Gold (plated).
Get off the grid and embark on an adventure with Timex's Expedition watch. Inspired by the company's WS4 design, this new watch features a vibrating alarms, timers, and indiglo night-light for stealthy exploring. The hardened resin case with stainless steel top ring is officially "shock resistant" and water resistant to 100 meters.
Price: £79.99 | Timex watches
If the CWC British Army watch is altogether too peacetime for you, why not step up and consider the Traser H3 - longserving time keeper to the SAS and the Navy Seals. Earning its stripes in the first Gulf War, the H3 uses gaseous Tritium in lieu of luminescent paint for increased brightness at night, and its steel casing means its tough as the chaps who carry it, to boot.
Price: £480 | Traser watches