How to Buy a Men's Wristwatch

Kate Miller-Wilson
Man shopping for a wristwatch

Like any investment, buying a men's wristwatch takes a little thought and research. If you give some thought to the type of watch your need and the features you want, you can feel confident that you are purchasing a timepiece you'll love. Whether you need a basic model that won't break the bank or a luxury statement watch that will turn heads, there are lots of options out there.

Buying a Men's Wristwatch

Consider How You'll Use This Watch

How you use your watch will determine the type of timepiece you need to buy. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you be wearing the watch while you work with your hands or participate in sports?
  • Are you planning to use this timepiece to accessorize your suits?
  • Do you need a watch that's waterproof or water resistant?
  • Do you want the watch to make a statement or blend into your overall look?
  • Does the watch need any special features?

Set a Budget for Your Purchase

There's a big price difference between a basic watch and a luxury timepiece, and setting a budget can help you keep from falling in love with a watch that's out of your range. Take some time to think about what you can comfortably afford. Limit yourself to reviewing watches in this price range as you consider features and shop for your new timepiece.

Decide on a Display

You'll find both digital and analog watches in all styles and price points. Whether you prefer a watch with hands or a simple digital read-out is entirely up to you. However, it's important to decide on your preference before you start shopping.

Learn About Features

These days, watches do a lot more than simply tell the time or act as an alarm. Today's men's watches are technologically sophisticated and offer some very useful features:

  • Water resistance - Water resistant watches can withstand an occasional downpour or accidental dousing in the shower. Some can even handle being submerged in water to a specific depth.
  • Chronograph display - Chronograph watches typically tell more than just the time of day. They may display the date, moon phase, and other helpful information.
  • Pedometer functionality - Some watches include an integrated pedometer to help you reach your fitness goals. You'll find this feature on some sports watches.
  • Compass - If you spend time hiking or skiing in the wilderness or your simply like to know which way is north, you can purchase a watch that also includes a handy compass.
  • Interchangeable bands - Your watch band is part of your overall look, and it's important to make sure it matches the rest of your wardrobe. Luckily, there are many watches with interchangeable bands that can take your look from preppy to polished to totally casual.
  • GPS - If you need a watch that will tell you where you are at all times, there are several different types of GPS-enabled timepieces on the market.

Decide on a Power Mechanism

Your watch has interior elements that are constantly moving, and you have a choice about how those elements are powered. Many watches run on batteries, which are convenient and worry-free. Others require winding, which can be charming and very accurate. Deciding between a battery-powered or wind-up watch is a personal choice, but it will make a big difference in the type of watches you consider as you shop.

Settle on a Style

Men's watches come in a number of different styles, and it helps to choose the one that best fits your needs and budget:

  • Luxury watches - There are many luxury watch options, ranging from affordable designer options like Burberry Large Check Steel Bracelet Watch (pictured), available for $495 from Nordstrom, to the truly stunning diamond-studded Cartier Tank Americaine, which retails for almost $40,000. Either way, these are beautiful works of art that you will treasure for a lifetime.
  • Casual watches - Designed to look great with your everyday wardrobe, casual watches are functional and fashionable at the same time. You'll find lots of affordable options like the stylish Fossil Grant Chronograph, which has a handsome blue leather band and retails for about $100. There are also high-end choices like the Gucci Coupe Automatic Stainless Steel Watch, which has a striking square dial and retails for under $1,000.
  • Sport watches - More functional than a typical casual watch, sport watches are packed with features you'll use during your adventures. The Suunto Traverse GPS watch, available for about $450 from Backcountry.com, is great for hikers and runners, while the Swiss Army Original watch, available for about $190 from REI, is ideal for water sports.

Look for Top-Rated Watches

Some watches stand out for their quality, and consumer product reviews can help you choose a top-rated model. No matter what budget or style you're considering, it pays to do your research. Watches with excellent ratings include:

  • Casio Men's G-Shock DW5600E (pictured)- The top-rated men's watch on Amazon.com, this affordable and feature-packed casual sport watch is hard to beat. It includes an alarm, stopwatch, calendar and more. It's even water resistant to a depth of 660 feet. It retails for about $45.
  • Calibre de Cartier Diver - This luxury watch, which received an outstanding review in Men's Health, marries brand name cache with superior functionality. As a diving watch, it's safe to a depth of 300 meters or 984 feet. It starts at about $8,200.
  • Timex Weekender Slip Thru - This watch, according to Amazon customers, is an affordable casual option that doesn't skimp on style. You can choose from several different band colors to complement your wardrobe. It retails for $45.

If Possible, Try It On

If you can, it's a good idea to try your new watch on your wrist before you finalize your purchase. You'll be wearing this timepiece every day, so comfort is essential. If you order the watch online, confirm that the retailer accepts returns without a re-stocking fee if you're not satisfied with the way the watch feels.

Shopping for Someone Else

A wristwatch is a personal item of jewelry, but that doesn't mean you can't buy one as a gift. If you're buying a watch for one of the men in your life, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider his personal style. You'll want to choose a watch that will match the type of clothing he wears most of the time.
  • Think about his typical day. Mentally run through his day from morning until night. Are there activities that would damage a delicate watch? Which features will he use most often?
  • Set your budget before you shop. There are so many handsome options out there, and it's natural to want to buy the best watch you can find. However, you'll feel more comfortable about your gift if you know it's within your price range.
  • If in doubt, check the return policy. If you aren't sure he'll like the watch you pick, make sure he can return or exchange it for one he'll love.

Ensure You're Satisfied With Your Choice

There are lots of amazing watches on the market, from simple, affordable pieces to high-end designer options. No matter what style of wristwatch you purchase, doing your homework and taking your time in the shopping process will help ensure you'll be satisfied with your choice.

How to Buy a Men's Wristwatch