There are plenty of great reasons to wear a watch, and we’re going to go ahead and insist that the best reason of all is this: they just look great. A watch makes a big impact, which is almost counterintuitive because, a) watches are small, compared to all the other fashionable parts of an ensemble, and, b) watches are worn on the wrist… which, let’s face it… is almost an afterthought of a body part. But we’re not here to talk about the merits of wristwatch wearing. Our mission is to spotlight ten of the best, cool watches for men. First, a couple of ground rules.
Cool Watches: Our Criteria
Who, indeed, defines cool? Cool is in the eye of the beholder. While our quiet, lifelong desperation to be cool has not always been…cool, it is a place to start: we are all about the cool watch and we’ve scoured around to bring you 10 great pieces to start or finish with. And we are going to focus on a few elements in putting this list together. For this list, we’re not focusing on luxury watches. Yes, some of the pieces in the list are expensive watches. Those high-end luxury brands like old school Rolex or new school Hublot? Not in this list. We’re not venturing to the edges of fashion, with something wild like this fanciful multi-dial one on Amazon. The watches in this list are, generally, within what we’re calling a “totally normal range of appearance.” Lastly, we’re not focusing on smart watches. If you want to count steps or know your pulse rate, we applaud you. And, yes, some of the pieces in our list include a digital component. But, generally, we’re after a piece that is good looking and has a big hand and a little hand: classic and cool and, importantly, a piece that is a quality watch.
By the way, we do think that there’s another, entirely separate sub-set of cool watches: water resistant watches. If you’re interested in something you can dive or swim or shower in, take a look at our Top 10 Best Waterproof Watches for Men. In addition to a great lineup of time pieces, you’ll learn precisely why “waterproof” is not a word that should be used when describing a wrist watch. (Fun fact: the United Nations actually plays a part in this.)
So, yeah, we know you don’t need a list of reasons to wear a watch. We know you already know that they’re a great fashion touch and that it means you don’t have to check your phone to tell the time. And after checking out this list of the Top 10 Best Cool Watches for Men, we know that you’ll know what to buy.
1. Stuhrling Original Men’s Sport Aviator
This piece has got just the right amount of classic appeal mixed with unique, modern touches. Stuhrling, based in Brooklyn, is named for Max Stuhrling, a Swiss watchmaker in the 1800s. The Stainless Steel Sport Aviator features a leather aviator band, which gets a great, masculine look with the rivets. The day-date function is unlike any other watch in the list, and it’s easy to get the info with a quick glance. The discount on this watch is stunning: an 80 percent reduction. If you’d like something other than the brown band, for ten bucks more you can get the black, or check out this green band on Amazon. This cool men’s watch also features luminescent numbers, so your slick new timepiece will still be noticed at night.
Price: $99.95 (80 percent off MSRP)
2. Fortis ‘Official Cosmonauts’ Automatic
The only reason we didn’t put this piece at the top of the list was price. You know, didn’t want to scare anybody off. It’s touched down in this second spot for a logical reason: we’re following an aviator’s watch with a cosmonaut’s watch. No kidding. Fortis has been producing this piece for Russia’s space program since 1994. If that doesn’t qualify this as a cool men’s watch, we don’t know what does. Besides the out-of-this-world pedigree, it’s simply great looking and it comes with some very high-end features. It’s an automatic wind; it’s extraordinarily shock-resistant (take off and landing can be rough for a cosmonaut); it’s a chronograph; the band is black calfskin. There is another watch on Amazon — the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch — that was made for astronauts, but there’s a significant jump in price from the Fortis.
3. Timex Unisex Weekender Fairfield
Bringing things back to earth a bit, this great looking cool men’s watch is the most affordable on the list. And our position is that the Timex Unisex Weekender Fairfield is easily as attractive as any of its nine cousins. This beauty is on the bigger side — in fact, a few of the reviews from women say it’s a bit large for a feminine wrist. The styling on this piece is very simple, no day or date with the black face and gold numberless hash marks. Completely classic and traditional from Timex, this unit is a great example of the company’s emphasis on contemporary style.
Price: $56 (10 percent off MSRP)
4. Citizen Eco-Drive Navihawk
Talk about an amazing piece of equipment. Yeah, we’re calling it equipment because this watch does just about everything but the laundry. If you’re not already a watch geek, the 118-page user manual might easily turn you into one. The list of features alone qualifies the Citizen Navihawk as a definitely cool watch for men. This chronograph is an atomic timepiece, meaning it’s extraordinarily accurate because it receives Universal Coordinated Time radio signals anywhere in the world. There’s a small digital feature that lets you see the time in 43 cities across the globe. Like all Citizen Eco-Drive pieces, this one is powered by the sun, so no need to wind, charge or replace batteries. For almost a hundred bucks less, check this page on Amazon, where you can get the piece in a more rugged style that rocks a black polyurethane band. But the rose gold version gives it that elegance, while still being a very masculine time piece.
Price: $562.50 (25 percent off MSRP)
5. Casio GA-110TS-1A4 G-Shock Analog-Digital
Whether or not you’ll classify the Casio G-Shock as cool is almost immaterial, because it most definitely is legendary. Casio invented the G-Shock in 1983 (a company engineer dropped a graduation gift watch, so he came up with one that wouldn’t break) and has been selling them VERY WELL ever since. Casio just shipped its 100 millionth G-Shock, in fact. This quartz model features orange detailing set in the matte black piece. Its a big one, with a 55mm case. It’s water resistant to 660 feet, but as with any water resistant watch, you’ll want to take care around the H2O. (For the lowdown on what “water resistant” means, take a look at this list of the Top 10 Best Waterproof Watches for Men. Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a waterproof watch, but you’ll get the facts when you read the intro.) Something super cool about this Casio: it features 29 time zones with 48 cities and coordinated universal time. Also cool: five alarms, an hourly time signal and a full auto-calendar. Resin band. Classic. As for the video, it’s a great video look at the watch, but we recommend turning the volume down. The music is nasty. And not nasty good.
Price: $78.09 (35 percent off MSRP)
6. Claude Bernard Men’s 80095 Classic Automatic
And swinging our Top 10 pendulum in the opposite direction, this very traditional Claude Bernard piece is Swiss made with elegant, thin black Roman numerals on a white face. We think it’s the classic look of the watch that qualifies it as a definitively cool men’s watch with a long history dating back to the 16th century. Like every Claude Bernard watch, this one is hand made. It’s an automatic wind, meaning your hand movement will keep it going indefinitely. If the watch sits for a bit, you can rely on the 38-to-42 hour power reserve (and, of course, you can easily manually wind it). If you’re looking for that Swiss quality, simple-yet-sleek look, this stainless steel specimen is the cool watch you want.
7. Nixon Patriot
This piece from the Nixon family (no relation to the prez, in case you were wondering) comes from, possibly, the coolest brand of the bunch. It seems that Nixon, which is based in Southern California, set about building a reputation based on sangfroid. If you take a look at their website’s “about” page, you’ll note the presence of skaters, surfers and boarders that Nixon calls its “team.” But the Nixon Men’s A9382223-00 Patriot Leather Analog Display Japanese Quartz Brown Watch wouldn’t be in this list if it didn’t also come with the basics in quality watch making. In this case, it’s solid stainless steel with three hand Swiss quartz movement. The green watch face is contemporary and striking and will certainly get the notices. The 60-second sub dial is a great touch that, along with the Horween leather strap, makes this tough watch a thing of beauty. And, yes, we know that we said in our intro that smart watches weren’t part of this list. But we can’t resist at least asking you to take a peek on Amazon at the uber-cool — and fantastically functional — Nixon Mission Smart Watch. Whatever you choose, Nixon gets our vote.
8. Men’s Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel
No offense to any of the other great watches on this list, but we’re putting this one in a bit of a different category (along with the Casio and the Citizen) because it’s from an extremely reputable, long standing watchmaker. The Seiko SNK809 is a very simple watch, and that’s part of its cool appeal. The price is fantastic, especially for a Seiko. It’s not one of those jumbo watches, its case is a very “traditional” size of 37mm. The stainless steel case features a unique analog display that puts the hours on an inner ring and the minutes (in five minute, or seconds, intervals) on the outside. The day and date are in the traditional three o’clock position, whereas the winder is right about the four o’clock position. The hands of the watch are luminous, including the second hand’s tail (while the point of the second hand is an eye-catching red). A fun feature is the display (see through) back, so you can see some of the mechanical operation of this 21 jewel watch. This is an automatic mechanical watch so it doesn’t use a battery. It is powered by the motion of your arm (or you can manually wind). The fact is, Seiko by itself is cool. At this price — and with these good looks — it’s double cool.
9. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s ‘COOL SPORT’
Hilfiger’s got a long line of watches and this one could be the coolest. We love the somewhat nautical feel of this oversized piece, which is highlighted by Tommy Hilfiger’s signature red, white and blue, as well as the embossed company name. This cool men’s watch features what Hilfiger calls two round sunray sub-eyes: a small 24-hour hand at 9 o’clock and a date hand at 6. The strap is a very strong blue, which juxtaposes really well with the white watch face. If you’re looking for a stainless steel piece that is definitely masculine with some very elegant dynamics, the Cool Sport is your watch.
10. Nautica Men’s N16553G
If the Hilfiger teased you with a nautical look, our final entry will scratch the itch perfectly. The Nautica Men’s N16553G Stainless Steel Watch with Black Band is a terrific example of a nautical theme. Each hour on the dial features a different international maritime signal flag in place of numbers. The watch is water resistant to 330 feet and is suitable for swimming and snorkeling (not suitable for scuba diving, per the manufacturer). The dial is luminous and features a date window at 4 o’clock and the chronograph’s three sub-dials feature 24 hours, 60 minutes and 60 seconds. This piece gets really good reviews on Amazon, but a few reviewers did mention that they had issues with the durability of the black textured polyurethane band.
Price: $120 (27 percent off MSRP)
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