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Few things are more fun to shop for than watches, hence the whole culture of watch enthusiasts. But watch shopping is changing. It used to be the case that in-the-know watch lovers would have their go-to watch shops around town (or around the world) that carried the best timepieces. But now, not only are watch shops online, but you can buy some of the best watches on Amazon. Even better: with Amazon Prime, that means top-notch watches are just two days away (get a free 30-day trial to Amazon Prime here).
What to Know Before Buying a Watch
There’s a lot to know about watches. But, luckily, you only really need to know a few things to score a great timepiece. Below are a few key considerations that all watch-owners-to-be look at before making a purchase.
Movement: A watch’s movement is typically categorized as either automatic, mechanical or quartz, indicating how the watch actually functions. Automatic movements utilize the kinetic movement of the wearer’s wrist to generate energy and is often considered to be the most desirable movement. Mechanical movements must be hand-wound every couple days and are more old school (yet oddly satisfying). Finally, there’s quartz, which is a battery-powered movement found in most affordable watches.
Crystal: Watchmakers use different materials to construct the dial cover (a.k.a the crystal), with some scratching more easily than others. Sapphire crystal (synthetic-sapphire) is the best of these materials as it’s nearly scratch-proof and effectively reduces glare. Other materials include mineral crystal, which is specially-treated glass, and acrylic crystal, which is similar to plastic.
Style: Before buying any watch, consider your personal style and your current collection of watches, if you have any. The best watches get worn as often as possible, so always go with something that fits your look and fills a gap in your watch quiver.
Brand: Watchmaking is a fine art, making the artist very important. The brand really does matter when shopping for the best watches, as some brands are well-known for keeping time year after year.
Size: We’re in an interesting phase of watch trends right now where big and masculine watches are just as cool as smaller throwback watches. This means that any size will look good, but be sure to check a watch’s case diameter and maybe measure your wrist. For reference, a “regular” sized watch is about 36-40mm.
Water-resistance: Not all watches are safe for swimming or wearing in the shower – even if they’re rated at 30 meters water-resistant. Generally, watches with less than 50 meters water-resistance are only safe in rain or occasional splashes. Over 50-meter water-resistance means you can take a watch swimming, and watches with more than 100 meters water-resistance are prepared for serious diving.
The Best Watches on Amazon
Of course, watch shopping on Amazon comes with one major hurdle: volume. There are tens of thousands of watches on Amazon, and many are not worth buying. To help navigate all these options, we did some sifting to find the 10 best watches on Amazon right now. We found great options from well-known brands, including some best-sellers that we didn’t expect to find on the e-commerce giant.
1. Q Timex Reissue
Timex has kept the attention of watch lovers over the past couple years by releasing some incredible throwback watches. Their latest hit is the Q Timex Reissue, a line which recreates Timex’s 1979 diver watch.
One of the best-sellers from this collection is this navy and red “Pepsi” colorway that’s even more wearable today than it was more than 40 years ago. The build and movement are fairly basic (acrylic crystal, quartz movement) but the classically cool style more than makes up for that.
2. Seiko 5 Green Canvas
The Seiko 5 is something of a unicorn in the watch world thanks to a reliable automatic movement and a price tag around $100 to $150. It’s a great first watch for aspiring watch enthusiasts, but it’ll get approving nods from veteran collectors too. The crystal is decent as well, using Seiko’s Hardlex material that’s somewhere between mineral and sapphire in terms of scratch-resistance. The beloved watch comes in many styles, but this rugged military-inspired option is one of our favorites.
3. Citizen Promaster
Citizen is widely respected throughout the watch world, largely due to their special solar-powered Eco-Drive movement. It’ll keep time for up to 10 years, according to Citizen, using both natural and artificial light. Add 200 meters water-resistance and you’ve got an incredibly reliable timepiece. Plus, the polyurethane band and classic diver looks make the watch wearable almost everywhere from the office to the ocean.
4. Timex Marlin
Another best-selling watch from Timex’s throwback lineup is the Marlin. It’s mid-century elegance through-and-through with a slim, minimal look and a 33-millimeter width. And it’s not just posing as old school either, as the Marlin boasts a rare mechanical movement that requires hand-winding every day or two. I’ve personally worn this watch for over two years, and this winding ritual has become something I look forward to each day.
5. Braun Watch
Braun originally gained traction in the Fifties with the help of famed interior designer Dieter Rams. The unique timepieces that came out of this partnership ooze mid-century modern appeal, which, as you might know, has made a huge comeback over the past decade. Braun’s latest pieces, such as this black mesh band watch, stick to the mid-century look but keep it fresh enough to rock with just about everything in your closet. The watch is also built for daily use with a mineral crystal and 50-meter water-resistance.
6. Bulova Men’s Moonwatch
Diving watches might be the most recognizable watch style, but we think everyone should consider a racing watch as well. The best racing watches, such as this Moonwatch from Bulova, strike a balance between casual and classic that makes them great for daily wear. Technically this is actually an astronaut’s watch, as it replaces the Bulova that NASA used for moon landings. The Moonwatch is very attainable, but throws in some high-end features such as sapphire crystal. It is slightly on the large side at 45 millimeters, but we think the size works well.
7. Bulova Ambassador
Gold watches have become mainstream over the past couple decades as streetstyle influencers work the flashy timepieces into their looks. Perhaps thanks to this trend, it’s now easier than ever to score a good looking gold-tone watch without dropping $30k. Bulova’s Ambassador watch is a great example, sporting a unique tonneau-shaped case, a white dial and a gold-tone bracelet. It’s certainly a statement, but it’s easier to pull off than you might think.
8. Seiko SARB035
Seiko’s SARB line is essentially an upgraded version of the Seiko 5. Almost every aspect is better with the SARB, including a synthetic-sapphire crystal face, a better, more reliable automatic movement and 100-meter water-resistance. The materials on the SARB are upgraded as well, and it might not show in pictures, but the SARB just looks more expensive in person. Throw in timeless styling and you’ve got a watch that’s ready for any adventure.
9. Movado Bold
The Swiss-made, American-designed brand Movado has made a name for itself with minimal, elegant watches with an instantly-recognizable museum dial. This Bold model is a great choice for wearing to the office or on nights out with a look that’s understated yet eye-catching. Although it looks quite elegant, the watch can actually take some tumbles with a special K1 mineral crystal face. This is a great Rolex alternative too, matching the more expensive brand’s two-tone design with a similarly-styled link bracelet. The Movado delivers a ton of value too at 1/10th the price of a Rolex.
10. Casio Sport Watch
Not so long ago, Casio watches were reserved for geeks. Now, you can catch everyone from George Clooney to Tyler, the Creator to Ryan Gosling sporting the sub-$20 Eighties icon. This black resin strap model is one of our favorites, nailing the norm-core look. The resin strap, small design and light weight make the watch super comfortable – which is probably why the aforementioned celebs opted for a Casio over their Rolexes.