Best Watches for Men 2021: Best Affordable Luxury Watch Brands Online - Rolling Stone
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RS Recommends: The Best Watches for Men

From smartwatches to dress watches, affordable time-keepers to heirloom-worthy icons, these are the best watches to buy right now

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A great watch can be one of the most rewarding purchases you’ll ever make. Sure, it can also take a lot of shopping around, but that work pays off. The right watch is something you (and maybe even your kids) can enjoy every day — not to mention it’s also a fashion statement. In an effort to reduce the work of shopping, we’ve rounded up some of the best watches for men to pick up right now.

Related: The Best Watches Under $200

We should note that determining the best watches for men is highly subjective. Watch buying is an intimate experience — that’s part of the reason why it’s so fun. However, compare favorite watch lists from enthusiasts and you’re bound to see overlap: some brands and models just do it better.

What to Know Before Buying a Men’s Watch Online

Whether you’re spending $100 or $100,000 on your new time-keeper, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with some key specifications. Below are a few things to think about while shopping for the best watches for men online.

Style: You should want to wear your watch — accuracy and prestige don’t matter if you think it’s ugly. Before making a purchase, assess your personal look to see if you want something dressy or casual, classic or modern. If possible, try on any friends’ or coworkers’ watches to get a better sense of size, materials and different watch styles (I.e. diver, chronograph, sport, dress, etc).

Brand: Brand names carry real weight when it comes to watches (similar to the auto industry). With many of the best timepieces, that little badge on the dial indicates decades of quality. However, not all great brands are as famous as Rolex, for example, which is why we’ve found a few under-the-radar watchmakers with stellar reputations in the enthusiast community.

Movement: A watch’s time-keeping functionality, referred to as the movement, comes in one of three forms: mechanical, automatic or quartz. Mechanical watches are old-school, requiring hand-winding from the owner every day or every second day. With automatic watches, that winding happens, well, automatically by harnessing the kinetic energy of the wearer’s wrist motion. Considered the gold standard by enthusiasts, automatic watches will need to be reset if they’re left sitting for a couple of days.

Quartz movements, typically found in cheaper watches, use a battery to keep the watch running (quartz batteries last around two years). Although sometimes less desirable, quartz is actually the most accurate type of movement.

Water-resistance: Almost all watches are labeled as water-resistant, but that can be misleading. Thiry meters water resistance means the watch shouldn’t get wet at all. If you want to swim or shower with your watch, make sure it’s rated at 50 meters water resistance or more. For any kind of diving (or just serious moisture protection), opt for a watch with at least 100 meters water-resistance.

The Best Watches for Men

From divers to dress watches, affordable time-keepers to heirloom-worthy icons, here are some of the best watches for men (in no particular order).

1. Rolex Submariner

rolex submariner black dial


The Rolex Submariner’s inclusion in this roundup shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s the most recognizable, sought-after watch ever, and its introduction in 1954 permanently changed watch culture. Bolstered by multiple features on James Bond’s wrist in later years, the Submariner proved that utility timepieces can be stylish as well as rugged. Today, the Submariner is as suave and capable as it was 60 years ago, featuring a Rolex Calibre 3235 movement and 300-meter water resistance.

Buy: Rolex Submariner 126610LN at $16,950

2. Tudor Black Bay Automatic 36mm Blue Dial

best rolex alternative watch


Originally established in 1926 as an affordable sibling company to Rolex, Tudor now has a personality of its own. The premium Swiss brand has supplied U.S. Navy Seals and French Marine Nationale soldiers with reliable timepieces while experimenting with more playful designs than its older, more famous brother. Still owned by Rolex, Tudor flourishes with more attainable, less flashy offerings such as this handsome Heritage Black Bay.

Buy: Tudor Black Bay Automatic 36mm Blue Dial at $2,475

3. Seiko 5 SNXS73K

silver watch rolex alternative


That’s right: one of the best watches for men can be had for around $100. Beloved for robust automatic movements and classic good looks, Seiko 5 watches deliver a lot more than their price tag might suggest. Although affordable, Seiko is known to produce dependable watches that will likely last for decades.

Buy: Seiko 5 SNXS73K at $131.00

4. Casio G-Shock DW6900-1V

g shock watch black


When celebrity watch enthusiasts like John Mayer and Tyler, the Creator aren’t rocking God-level Rolexes or Audemars Piguets, they wear Casio. The ultra-affordable brand has a cult following, even among experts with far more flashy watches in their closet, who appreciate the Japanese brand’s retro aesthetic, reliable functionality and casual wearability. The G-Shock here is one of Casio’s best models, and it’s seeing a comeback lately with the return of 2000s fashion.

Buy: Casio G-Shock DW6900-1V at $52.50

5. Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope Automatic 027

dress watch mens white face


Junghans, a German brand founded in 1861, is one of the best places to get a sleek, modern dress watch without spending too much. The brand’s automatic watches, such as this Max Bill variant, are among Jurghans’ best. With a case thickness of 14.4 millimeters, the self-winding watch boasts a sleek profile, a minimal face and a black leather strap.

Buy: Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope at $1,399

6. Orient 2nd Gen Bambino

best dress watch affordable


Another one of the best watches for men shopping on a budget is this 2nd generation Bambino from Orient. The watch delivers an automatic Japanese movement housed in a classically-styled stainless steel case. Thirty meters water resistance protects against splashes or rain, and the movement’s 40-hour power reserve keeps it properly ticking while stationary.

Buy: Orient 2nd Gen Bambino at $124.99

7. Timex M79

diver watch mens affordable


By digging into its design archives, Timex has given itself a new life. The brand’s throwback watches, such as this M79 diver, capture the vintage look that most of us are eyeing right now. With a reliable automatic movement, this M79 also has the insides of a vintage timepiece. Plus, with 50 meters water resistance, the watch can easily handle swims and showers.

Buy: Timex M79 at $150.00

8. Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

best omega watch moon


Omega’s Speedmaster Moonwatch gained widespread fame by accompanying the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. But, moon landing backstory aside, the watch is still a stylish addition to any collection. Relatively accessible for a timepiece with such esteem, the Speedmaster Moonwatch features a hand-wound movement, a recognizable chronograph face and 50 meters water resistance.

Buy: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch at $4,675

9. Breitling Navitimer GMT Chronograph Automatic

best breitling watch mens


Like many great watches, the Breitling Navimiter was designed to help pilots better navigate the skies. The watch performed with aplomb — and looked great doing it too — so Breitling has continued producing the iconic timepiece for civilians. Marked by its “slide rule” bezel, which helped pilots calculate things like fuel consumption and climbing times, the watch has a unique, vintage look that’s surprisingly stylish with modern everyday clothing.

Buy: Breitling Navitimer GMT Chronograph… at $4,829.55

10. IWC Portugieser

best dress watch luxury iwc


Although best known for their excellent pilot’s watches (specifically, the Big Pilot), we think IWC’s dress watches are just as good. This Portugieser, for example, takes the classic dress watch and adds touches of utility style for a timepiece that looks right at home in 21st century offices. As expected from an ultra-premium brand, materials are all top-notch with a stainless steel case and an alligator leather strap. The automatic watch’s power reserve, which is indicated on a sub dial, is also very impressive: it can go on keeping time for seven days while stationary.

Buy: IWC Portugieser at $10,650

11. Cartier Tank Louis

cartier tank gold brown


Introduced in 1917, the Cartier Tank was one of the first wristwatches with mainstream success. The timeless watch is now arguably the best thing you can wear with a suit, instantly recognizable thanks to its square shape and Roman numeral dial. This model, featuring an 18-karat yellow gold case and a brown alligator strap, is the most iconic iteration. It uses a long-lasting, extremely accurate quartz movement, although Cartier offers automatic and hand-wound mechanical Tanks as well.

Buy: Cartier Tank Louis at $9,794.78

12. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

gold audemars piguet watch


A favorite among rappers and celebrity watch enthusiasts, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is one of the most desirable watches around. And it has been a grail since the seventies — a testament to the Royal Oak’s lasting appeal. With its crisp octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, the watch is as elegant as they come (especially in gold).

Buy: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak at $78,166

13. Patek Philippe Nautilus Automatic 5712

patek philippe steel watch nautilus


Patek Philippe supplies the lucky few with some of the best watches in the world. The Nautilus — designed by Gerald Genta, the mind behind the AP Royal Oak above — is one of the brand’s most popular lines. Nautilus watches have some utility features, like 60-meter water resistance, scratch resistance and sub dials, which means they’re actually useful on adventures. But, because they usually sell far above retail price, the Nautilus is better suited for a life of luxury.

Buy: Patek Philippe Nautilus Automatic 5712 at $167,000

14. Panerai Luminor

best large watch mens panerai


Other watches just don’t look like the Panerai Luminor. It’s tastefully bulky and masculine yet streamlined enough to upgrade any dressy outfit. The namesake feature is a bright luminescence on the hands and markers — a feature designed for the watch’s first life on the wrists of Italian and Egyptian navy men.

Buy: Panerai Luminor at $4,655

15. Apple Watch Series 7

apple watch 7 blue band


Watch purists might scoff at an Apple Watch in the above company, but the smartwatch’s excellence and influence on the watch world make it a worthy contender. The top-selling watch in the world, the Apple Watch brings connectivity, health insights and entertainment to your wrist. It can make calls, display texts, stream music or podcasts, read blood oxygen levels or heart rate and much, much more. Plus, in our opinion, the watch looks good doing it.

Buy: Apple Watch Series 7 GPS at $619.00

In This Article: Fashion, RS Recommends, watches


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