This is T3's guide to the best watches, featuring the best watch brands in existence. It's not all about Rolex, Omega and TAG – there's a host of top pieces for any budget right here.
While some people might be replacing watches with smartwatches or fitness trackers, 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 tells you the time (which is incredibly useful).
So, whether you flex a rugged, tech-heavy chronograph or a classic, slimline dress watch designed to compliment your suits, your choice of watch says a lot about you.
That's why we've taken care to pick out the best men's watches available to buy, including the timepieces that caught our eye at all the watch trade shows.
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
- Check out T3's guide on how to match a watch to your outfit
- There are 5 types of watch every enthusiast should own
The best watches, from A to Z:
1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
Audemars Piguet, also known as AP, is a favourite of the rap elite. The company was founded in 1875, and the Royal Oak is the brand's most popular model. We love this simple stainless steel model with a blue Grand Tapisserie pattern dial. It features a a self-winding manufacture calibre 2385 movement with a 40-hour power reserve, and is water resistant to 50 metres.
Price: £21,500 | Browse Audemars Piguet watches at Rox
2. Bamford London Mayfair Date
The Bamford Mayfair Date is dependable and has the added benefit of being waterproof to 10ATM, making it a great accessory for outdoor activities whilst remaining effortlessly cool and stylish.
Price: £500 | Browse watches at Bamford London
3. Baume Small Seconds
Baume is a sustainability minded watch brand which only launched earlier this year (2018). The brand aims to use sustainable, recycled, and up-cycled materials where possible, and the elegant watches are fully customisable, with over 2000 permutations achievable on an online configurator.
Price: £430 | Customise your watch on Baume's website
4. Bell & Ross BR03-92 Nightlum
This watch is for those who prefer square watches. No complicated bells and whistles here; the Bell and Ross BR03-92 has its roots in aviation, a heritage the folks at B&R have clearly channelled into the BR03's straightforward, seconds-minutes-hours-date design. Now happily available to those of us without our wings, the BR03 packs a sapphire crystal face and a hard-wearing leather strap.
Price: £2,300 | Browse Bell & Ross watches at Goldsmiths
It's worth checking our Goldsmith's discount codes to save on your order.
5. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
Blancpain is the world's oldest watch brands, founded in 1735, and the Fifty Fathoms is one of the first diving watches. This model has been updated for 2018 and features a striking blue bezel, dial, and canvas strap. Each piece is designed and assembled in Switzerland, and embodies all the luxury you'd expect from such a historic brand.
Price: £11,480 | Browse Blancpain watches at Selfridges
6. Braun BN0021
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.
Price: £88 | Browse Braun watches at Watch Shop
7. Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph
The Navitimer is Breitling's most iconic and popular collection, it has been a fan favourite with aeronautical enthusiasts since its original release in 1952. This model boasts a 43mm stainless steel case with a transparent case back, showing off the impressive COSC-certified self-winding movement. It's accurate to -4 to +6 seconds a day and has an impressive 70 hour power reserve.
Price: £6,460 | Browse Breitling watches at Goldsmiths
8. Bremont Jaguar MKI
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 MKI 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.
Price: £3,500 | Browse Bremont watches at Goldsmiths
9. Cartier Tank Solo
There is noting more elegant than a Cartier Tank. It was created by Louis Cartier in 1917, and was first presented to General Pershing of the American army during World War I. This model is powered by reliable quartz movement and enclosed in a 31mm 18ct rose gold and stainless steel case.
Price: £3,900 | Browse Cartier watches at Goldsmiths
10. Casio Classic Leisure Alarm Chronograph
Okay, so this isn't the last word in elegance, but sometimes occasion calls for a cheap, durable digital watch. You could buy a classic Casio in black like a normal person, but where’s the fun in that? This watch is compact and unobtrusive on the wrist, featuring a digital display with time, day and date always on show.
Price: £39 | Browse Casio watches at Watch Shop
11. Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic 80
As a true Swiss made diver's watch the Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic 80 fulfils all the requirements of the ISO 6425 standard. It's waterproof up to 300 metres and has a massive power reserve of up to 80 hours. That's a very desirable package considering the watch costs under £700.
12. Christopher Ward C65 Trident Diver
Christopher Ward has gone retro with its latest range of watches, and we think they've hit the nail on the head with their designs. The brand just keeps getting better and better. The durable 41mm case houses a mechanical movement, and for £695 it's quite a bargain.
Price: £695 | Browse the watches at Christopher Ward's website
13. 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.
Price: £995 | Browse Citizen watches at Watch Shop
14. Chopard Mille Miglia
Chopard's Mille Miglia collection celebrates the world's most beautiful race. With its resolutely vintage style, this watch is crafted from DLC-treated blackened stainless steel and is finished with a rubber strap which resembles 60s Dunlop tire treads. Inside is a chronometer-certified self-winding in-house movement.
Price: £5970 | Browse Chopard watches at Ernest Jones
15. Corum Bubble Watch
Fifteen years after the dazzling success of its emblematic Bubble watch, Corum continues to celebrate its iconic design with a number of limited edition models. They're really fun pieces. The Bubble Gaming watches revive the signature themes of the original Bubble, while the Bubble Tourbillon watches showcase versions incorporating grand complications.
Price: £11,200 | Browse Corum watches at Jura Watches
16. Fossil Commuter
We really like the clean aesthetic of this chronograph from Fossil. The 42mm case houses a blue satin dial with stick indices, chronograph movement and a brown leather strap.
Price: £109 | Browse Fossil watches at Watch Shop
17. Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch
If you like the idea of fitness tracking, but don't like the cheap rubber straps of Fitbit et al, the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch Worldtimer is for you. Quite simply, this is the most elegant fitness tracker you can buy, sporting a 42mm rose gold plated steel case, paired with a deep navy blue alligator leather strap.
Price: £1016 | Browse Frederique Constant watches at Watch Shop
18. 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 | Browse Glashütte watches at Joma Shop
19. G-Shock Mudmaster
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.
Price: £650 | Browse G-Shock watches at Watch Shop
20. 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.
Price: £1,140 | Browse Hamilton watches at Watch Shop
21. Hermés Carré H
This watch is much more than a watch, the Carré H is a designer object from the luxury fashion house. Based on Marc Berthier's design from 2010, it plays with geometric shapes and finishes, and is now a bit larger, at 38mm.
Price: £5,800 | Browse Hermés watches at Neiman Marcus
22. Hublot Classic Fusion
While Hublot is more famous for its popular Big Bang model, we also love the Classic Fusion range. We've had the pleasure of reviewing the Classic Fusion Ultra-thin Skeleton All Black and let us tell you - it's something special. With a 90-hour power reserve, this manually wound piece lets you see the inner workings of the HUB1300.4 movement, while the alligator leather and black rubber strap keep the watch secure in place. It's thin (by Hublot standards) at 2.9mm, and features the classic Hublot design traits - such as the H screws.
Price: £12,600 | Browse Hublot watches at Goldsmiths
23. IWC Portofino Chronograph
The IWC Portofino Chronograph combines precision engineering and elegant design into one breathtakingly beautiful timepiece. Finding the perfect balance between function and form, the watch features a 42mm 18ct rose gold case, sapphire crystal, and brown alligator strap.
Price: £12,750 | Browse IWC watches at Goldsmiths
24. Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso
The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso was born at the beginning of the 1930s from a challenge to design a watch that could withstand British Army polo matches in India. An innovative mechanism means the dial is smoothly concealed by the reversing case, switching to a metal back that fully protects the crystal and dial from possible mallet strokes. It's been an icon since its inception, and was even worn by Christian Bale when playing Batman.
Price: £5,400 | Browse Jaeger LeCoultre watches at Jura Watches
25. Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope
We're a bit obsessed with the Junghans brand at the moment. It's the largest German watch manufacturer and was founded in 1861. It now creates clean, simple, and very attractive timepieces. The Max Bill Chronoscope is our favourite model, commemorating one of the most extraordinary designers of the last century.
Price: £1,500 | Browse Junghans watches at Watch Shop
26. Longines Heritage Chronograph
Founded by Auguste Agassiz in the Swiss town of Saint Imier in 1832, Longines has propelled itself to one of the world’s leading watch brands with it's 185 year proud history. Fully automatic making full use of the heritage and engineering prowess that Longines have perfected over the last 180 years this Heritage Gents watch is as striking and bold as it is well made.
Price: £2,180 | |Browse Longines watches at Goldsmiths
27. Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Manufacture Squelette
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, while a limited run of just 250 adds exclusivity.
Price: £6,146 | Browse Maurice Lacroix watches at Jura Watches
28. 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.
Price: £280 | Browse Mondaine watches at Watch Shop
29. Montblanc Timewalker
Montblanc's beautiful new Timewalker features all the hallmarks you'd expect from a collection over a decade old. Narrow bezel and Arabic numerals give the face its signature clean look, whilst the rigorous tests set by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 means this watch is as reliable as it is stylish.
Price: £3,680 | Browse Montblanc watches at Beaverbrooks
30. Nixon A1091-3095
Nixon has a long history of collaborating with icons (we've seen Star Wars and Metallica in the past) and was excited at the chance to do something special for Mickey Mouse. The Disney range of watches are filled with small details, look closely at the band of the Arrow Leather, the eyelet holes have mouse ears and the custom locking looper holes on the Time Teller P are actually shaped like Mickey Mouse’s buttons.
Price: £150 | Browse Nixon watches at Watch Shop
31. Nomos Glashütte Tangente
Ideal for those who value straightforwardness as much as precision, the Nomos Glashütte Tangente neomatik 39 is a stylish accompaniment to the working day. The tempered blue hands on the white silver-plated dial look great whether with a suit or smart casual attire, while the large dial is easy to read. The watch is kept slender thanks to the automatic in-house movement DUW 3001.
Price: £2,880 | Browse Nomos Glashütte watches at Goldsmiths
32. Omega Seamaster 300
James Bond wore a Omega Seamaster 300 in the 24th Bond film, Spectre. Daniel Craig's model featured a bi-directional rotating bezel, 5-stripe NATO strap, and lollipop second hands. It was limited to just 7,007 pieces (see what they did there).
If you can't find the Spectre limited edition, there's still the regular version (pictured above), which is slightly easier to find and equally as stunning.
Price: £4,320 | Browse Omega watches at Beaverbrooks
33. Oris Divers Sixty-Five
Oris made its first diver’s watch in the 1960s and has since had a close relationship with the oceans which has contributed to its commitment to conservation. This is encapsulated by the ongoing #ChangeForTheBetter campaign. The most recent version of the Divers Sixty-Five features a new strap made entirely of recycled plastic.
Price: £1,450 | Browse Oris watches at Goldsmiths
34. Panerai Luminor 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 watches from Panerai are the Luminor 1950 collection, with their clean watch face and automatic movement, designed entirely in-house.
Price: around £9,600 | Browse Panerai watches at Mr Porter
35. Patek Philippe Calatrava 6000G
If you're looking for one of the best watches available, you can't go wrong with Patek Philippe.
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 | Browse Patek Philippe watches on the brand's website
36. Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph
The newest edition of Raymond Weil's best-seller combines sophistication with a powerful look. Its 42mm steel case (water-resistant to 100 meters) is geared up for intense practises thanks to its robust construction which incorporates years of carefully handed down watchmaking know-how. It's powered by a mechanical self-winding movement providing a 46-hour power reserve.
Price: £2,495 | Browse Raymond Weil watches at Beaverbrooks
37. 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 icon of the jet age, embraced by airline pilots as their onboard chronometer of choice. T3's favourite reference is the steel case with a "Pepsi" bezel, introduced at Baselworld in 2018.
Price: £7,150 | Browse Rolex watches at Goldsmiths
38. Rotary Sherlock
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 | Browse Rotary watches at Watch Shop
39. Seiko Prospex
We love this glorious re-creation of Seiko's 1970 diver's watch (named the Prospex 1970 Diver's Recreation). It's slightly larger than the original but is faithful in every other respect to its design. Of course, it's been completely updated inside, incorporating the caliber 8L35 which was specially designed for use in diver’s watches.
If you looking for something a little more modern, you should check out the new Prospex LX line, which has been developed in collaboration with Ken Okuyama Design.
Price: €4,350 | Browse Seiko watches at Goldsmiths
40. Swatch Sistem51
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 | Browse Swatch watches on the brand's website
41. 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.
Price: £4,000 | Browse TAG Heuer watches at Goldsmiths
42. Heuer Autavia
If you're after something a little more traditional, try the Heuer Autavia. Part of TAG's Heritage range, the Autavia was favoured by racing drivers in the 1960s and revived in 2017. The vintage silver dial features a retro Heuer logo, and is encircled by a black aluminium notched bezel. It's now larger, and features a brand new movement.
Price: £4,250 | Browse Heuer Heritage watches at Goldsmiths
43. 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.
Price: £795 | Browse Tissot watches at Watch Shop
44. Tudor Heritage Black Bay
The Tudor Black Bay might be the ideal piece to start a "proper" watch collection. It's premium but not too expensive, it's got history, and it's a very attractive, wearable, everyday watch. Our favourite is the Black Bay Black Heritage with the black face and bezel (pictured above), but Tudor offers a number of variants, including a striking bronze model, made from a high-performance aluminium bronze alloy. The Black Bay features an in-house movement and numerous classic design cues.
Price: £2,630 | Browse Tudor watches at Goldsmiths
45. Uniform Wares M40
Uniform Wares pieces are made in Switzerland but designed in London, and we think they're a great brand if you're looking for something clean and simple. The M40 features UW's signature lug-less M-Line case, and, as the name suggests, measures 40mm in diameter. It's paired with an Italian nitrile rubber strap. There's an incredible attention to detail here.
Price: £325 | Browse Uniform Wares watches on the brand's website
46. 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 outdoorsy 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.
Price: £380 | Browse Victorinox watches at Watch Shop
47. Zenith Chronomaster Heritage 146
Founded in 1865 by Georges Favre-Jacot, Zenith has a rich history in the manufacture of Swiss timepieces. The most notable achievement was the creation of the first integrated automatic chronograph movement, the Zenith El Primero, as well as the Zenith Defy Lab, the most accurate mechanical watch ever made.
The Zenith Chronomaster Heritage 146 features a El Primero 4069 movement and a 50 hour power reserve.
Price: £5,500 | Browse Zenith watches at Goldsmiths
Best watch buying tips
We've consulted style guru Daniel Johnson to get the best tip when it comes to picking a watch. If you want to buy a watch but don't know where to begin, then read on.
- It pays to go vintage: Older watches were made by hand, before machines replaced craftsmen, so everyone is guaranteed to be one of a kind. That's better than limited edition, any day.
- Bigger is very rarely better: There's nothing more uncouth than a chunky chronograph worn with a good suit. A watch should complement your look, not shout about your pay packet.
- Don't buy into fads: 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.
- Money really does buy quality: Spend big and you'll see the difference in the quality of the movement, complications and timekeeping. Ignore the number of diamonds and concentrate on details.
- Know your metals: Rose gold, yellow gold, or white gold? Rose gold's had a brief resurgence recently, while yellow gold is considered “too much” by some. White gold is less likely to go out of fashion.
- Be occasion appropriate: 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.
T3's Watch Jargon Buster
Buying a watch can be a confusing business, especially if you don't know your crowns from your complications. If you'd like to sound like an expert horologist T3 are here to help:
Mechanical movements: These come in two varieties: self-winding and automatic. Auto ones sport a weighted rotor that spins when you move, keeping the watch permanently wound. A good auto watch will continue ticking for up to 48 hours if left off the wrist. The downside is that mechanical watches are not 100% accurate – and even less so if exposed to magnetism. They also require servicing after three to five years. You can spot a high-end mechanical watch by the sweeping second hand.
Quartz movements: These have very few moving parts. Instead, an electric pulse is passed through a small quartz crystal inside to drive the hands or digital display.
Escapement: This is what creates the ticking sound. Unique to mechanical watches, it comprises a toothed “escape” wheel and an anchor or lever that permits the gradual release of stored energy.
Jewel bearings: Smooth jewels, such as rubies, garnets and diamonds, provide ideal non-friction surfaces for a watch's many moving parts. Since 1902 it's more usual to find synthetic jewels used.
Tourbillon: This attempts to counter the effects of gravity by placing the escapement and balance wheel inside a rotating cage. With today's watch accuracy it's no longer necessary, but does look fancy.
Complication: Refers to any watch movement beyond the simple tracking of hours, minutes and seconds. The more complications, the more parts. It takes up to 250 parts to display the date and time.
Chronograph: Defines any watch, mechanical or quartz, that serves as a stopwatch. Simple chronographs have an independent sweeping hand that can be started and stopped by pressing a pair of buttons on either side of the winder.
Tachymeter: These markers around the edge of some chronographs can be used to measure speed or distance. For speed, start the stopwatch and where the second hand is pointing after a mile indicates your pace.
Monobloc: This is a watch case made from one piece of ceramic or stainless steel. Hint: they're more resistant to knocks and drops.
How to spot a fake watch
There are counterfeit watches on every street corner, here's how to spot a dodgy copy from the genuine article:
- Inspect the strap: Give the leather a little sniff – it should smell like the inside of a luxury sports car. Metallic strap? Have a play with it and if there's any give between the links then it's time to get suspicious.
- Watch the second hand very closely: If there's even a slightly jerky motion you can stake money on it being a fake. The best watch brand's mechanics are engineered to remove all hints of judder.
- Check your text: Turn it over and examine the text detail on the dial with a magnifying glass. A quality watch will have pin-sharp text with no smudgy edges and, of course, no spelling mistakes.
- Gen up on the market rate: Reasonably priced Rolex? That should set off alarm bells. Rolex is the most faked watch brand in the world, too, with its Submariner the most copied.
- Research details: Rolex movements have many different coloured parts, whereas fakes generally don't. The letters ETA (makers of internal watch parts) stamped on the rear is a sure sign of a dud, too.
- Know your materials: Omega is another popular brand for counterfeiters, so check how well the face and hands glow in the dark. Omega uses a substance called LumiNova that easily outshines any fake.