For women it might be earrings, a bag, or jewelry. For men, it’s a wrist watch or timepiece. Apart from convenient time telling, watches are an accessory that can add flair, style, and elegance to almost any look. However, not all watches are created equally. A nice carefully chosen watch sends a message about its wearer, while after thoughts when it comes to wrist watches send a wholly different message.
If money is no object, there are numerous timepieces that speak to status, elegance, discerning fashion sense, class, and wealth. Unfortunately, the cost of some of these timepieces is simply out of reach for the vast majority of men–millennials that comprise much our reader base especially.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to an expensive timepiece that get the job done. Here are our top picks, chosen by our resident watch fanatic who’s been intently following the industry for over a decade.
A perfect blend of elegance and complication, the Tissot Tradition Chronograph is our favorite fashion watch on the market. We like it so much that we featured it in our style spotlight several months ago. This impressive piece, despite being a fashion watch, comes from a well regarded Swiss manufacturer credited, among other things, with creating the first mass produced pocket watch–Tissot isn’t a cheap manufacturer of knock off designs–they are a legitimate Swiss watchmaker with a well regarded history.
In terms of aesthetic, with a 42mm x 11mm case, it’s size is inline with the trend over the last decade towards larger faces, but it isn’t too large–even if you have smaller wrists a the Tissot Tradition Chronograph can still look great.
Other specs include sapphire dial window–limiting scratches, and sufficient water resistance to not have to worry about heavy rains. Functionally, it’s a Chronograph, meaning you get the time and timer functionality, plus the date display.
This watch truly looks like a luxury timepiece and provides the same functionality, minus the hit to your bank account. A must add to any fashion watch collection.
Since its release in the Mid 1950’s the Rolex Submariner has become perhaps the dominant luxury watch on the market. It’s hallmark band and face, with magnifying date feature is instantly recognizable. Of course, with demand comes price, and at nearly $9,000 for a new Submariner two-tone, it’s simply not realistic for most men to own.
Fortunately, when it comes to the timeless look of the Rolex Submariner, you can achieve it for a fraction of the cost. Many manufacturers have tried to imitate the submariner look for a low price, but the best balance we’ve found is the Invicta Men’s 8928OB Pro Diver Gold Stainless Two-Tone Automatic Watch.
With similar dimensions (40mm with 20mm band width) to the “real thing”, a quality quartz movement, magnified date display, and real gold plating on for the central tone, the Invicta Pro Diver Two-Tone will make even savvy timepiece aficionados do a double take. And the price? Almost always available for well under one hundred dollars, there’s hardly anything to lose by adding the Pro Diver to your collection.
In terms of functionality, the quartz movement tells time just as well if not better than an automatic watch and the water resistance is rated to 200 meters–though we still wouldn’t recommend scuba diving with it (or any fashionable watch for that matter).
It’s not a substitute for a real Rolex, but for the price it definitely gets the job done and then some. A highly recommended inexpensive addition to your wardrobe.
Straddling the fashion watch and high end luxury timepiece market, the Oris Men’s Williams F1 Stainless Steel Watch w/Rubber Strap, unlike the other watches here, a true timepiece with a Swiss made automatic movement (no Quartz/battery here!). It’s more expensive than the other options on this page–but if you’re on the cusp of going “next level”, this could be the watch for you.
In terms of look, it’s big (44mm, with a 24mm band width), bold (rubber strap) but not too conspicuous and still elegant–black + stainless steel + black rubber is a sporty look that still works in more formal settings. Furthermore, the craftsmanship is clear–the Oris Williams F1 is a very noticeable step up from a typical fashion watch.
Water resistance is rated at 100m which means you can swim with it should you want to, but diving is not recommended.
Overall, the Oris Men’s WIlliams F1 Stainless Steel Watch is a great way to segue from the fashion watch world to the luxury timepiece market. At 44mm, it’s a big watch, so might not be suitable for those with very thin wrists.
If you prefer bracelet to band (metal vs rubber or leather) and like your watch faces on the busy side, the Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph Stainless Steel Watch is a classic fashion watch that fits the bill.
At 42mm it’s in the range we consider perfect size (39-42) and the dial features 4 complications in addition to your regular minute and hour hands–3 subdials and a date window. It’s water resistance up to 100m which means everything but scuba diving.
However, perhaps the best feature about the Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Chronograph is in the name itself–“Eco-Drive”. This watch is charged by light–not just sunlight, any light. No worrying about dead batteries or replacing hard to find Quartz watch batteries, at a cost that is a tiny fraction of a luxury automatic or manual movement.
Bottom Line, an excellent choice you can’t go wrong with.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best case size?
In the past, luxury watchmakers highlighted their prowess by packing complications into smaller cases, making smaller cases (and faces) en vogue. In 2020 however, with modern manufacturing technology, the emphasis when it comes to case dimensions of even from the best manufacturers in the world, has been aesthetics over feats of engineering. The best case size for you depends on your wrist size, but for almost all individuals, anything in the range of 39mm-42mm is the sweet spot.
What bracelets/bands can be worn where?
Traditionally, metal bracelets were less suited for formal attire than leather or croc straps. However, times have changed. While we still like leather or croc for Black Tie events, most bracelet or band types can be worn on any occasion. The rise of smart watches has also thrown a wrench into the traditional fashion norms when it comes to watch bands and bracelets. Bottom line, you can where a watch with whatever band you like to almost any occasion–though we’d probably avoid “crimped” rubber for formal events.
What’s the typical price range for Fashion Watches?
Fashion watches are available for as low as $20 to well over $1,000. Good options are available for under $100, but the best options usually go for between $200-$300, with higher end options that tow the line between fashion watches and true timepieces coming in around $1,000.