Best Watches in 2021 (December Reviews)

Written by:Gadget Review Last Updated: 03 Nov 2020

When putting together our list of the best watches for men, we did our best to provide a wide range of timepieces – including smartwatches, dress watches and casual watches. We also made sure all the watches were water resistant, and we took affordability into account; watches can cost in the 10s of thousands of dollars, but this list keeps things down to earth, showcasing the best watches that could be purchased by an “average Joe.”

We used durability, functionality and style as our three main evaluators, and the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch emerged at the top of the pack because it has all three qualities in spades. It also has the appeal of looking like an analog watch while providing smartwatch functionality in a way that doesn’t scream: “I’m a geek!” Read on to find out more about why we gave this watch top honors and see which other timepieces made our list.

Top 7 Best Watches

 #1  Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch With Bluetooth


WHY WE LIKE IT: When looking for cool watches for men, it’s hard to beat this feature-packed model. It’s durable, has customizable faces that can make it look like a high-end watch, and thanks to a rotatable bezel, it’s super easy to use.

  • Best smartwatch
  • Extremely durable
  • Built-in speaker and mic
  • Voice activation not reliable
  • Battery can drain fast based on use

Some smartwatches are black rectangles that look a bit bland on your wrist. While they definitely can have a techy allure, if you’d rather have a watch that really looks like one, this should do the trick. It’s got dozens of faces you can program in that make the gizmo look like a real watch. But just because it can look like an ordinary (if high-end) watch, doesn’t mean it can’t perform. Simply by twisting the bezel, you can access hundreds of apps including access to Samsung Pay (so that you can buy things with the tap of your wrist), navigation, and fitness functions such as heart rate and step counting.

The watch is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones and communicates with either thanks to its built-in Bluetooth module as well as a mic and speaker that lets you take calls through the watch. And, while many high-tech watches tend to be a little delicate, this one is tough. According to Samsung: “This device passed military specification (MIL-STD-810G) testing against a subset of 10 specific conditions, including drops from 4.9 feet, extreme temperatures, dust, shock/vibration, and low pressure/high altitude. Water- and dust-resistance based on IP68 rating (water-resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes).” You can also try the best smartwatch for a more modern take on the timepiece.

 #2  Fossil Men’s Grant Stainless Steel & Leather Chronograph Quartz Watch


WHY WE LIKE IT: For the price, this is one of the most stylish watches for men available. Not only does it look good, but it performs well thanks to its high-quality stainless steel case, mineral crystal face, and water resistance down to 50 meters.

Read Full Review: Fossil FS5241 Review

  • Best for men
  • Water resistant
  • Stopwatch function
  • No backlight

Fossil watches for men have long been leaders of the pack when it comes to creating attractive timepieces that range from inexpensive quirky pieces to pricier, more elegant watches. The design of the watch to which we’ve awarded the second spot on our list falls more in the elegant range, even though it comes in at under $100.

With a 44mm-wide case, this watch feels and looks substantial. It also has the added bonus of including a stopwatch function that’s activated by buttons on the bezel. As with many Swatch watches, this one also features an easy-to-change watch strap (which should be welcome news to anyone who’s ever tried to change their own watch band before), which allows you to change the look of the watch quickly and easily. This one is for men, but ladies can try out the best smartwatch for women.

 #3  Timex Men’s Easy Reader Date Leather Strap Watch


WHY WE LIKE IT: Sometimes simple is best, as illustrated by this classic watch from one of the best watch brands in history. Big numbers let you see the time at a glance, and Timex’s Indiglo functionality provides easy viewing at night.

Read Full Review: Timex Easy Reader Review

  • Easy to read, large numbers
  • Indiglo feature for great backlight
  • Water resistant
  • Very basic styling
  • No extra features

Sometimes you don’t need your watch yelling at you to keep moving, interrupting you with text notifications, or needing to be recharged every night. Nor do you need one with so much decoration on the face that it’s hard to see the hands. Sometimes you just need a watch to tell the time cleanly and efficiently. That’s exactly what this Timex model does.

And if you’ve ever experienced Timex’s Indiglo function, you know that it’s simply the best way to see your watch at night, thanks to the blue glow that lights up the whole face. Plus, even though it looks pretty simple, this watch is tough, with a 35 x 8mm brass case with a mineral glass crystal face and water resistance to 30 meters. Your little ones will like the best smartwatch for kids.

 #4  Citizen Chandler Watch for Men


WHY WE LIKE IT: Citizen has long set itself apart from the pack with its Eco-Drive technology, which converts artificial or natural light into power to operate its watches. This watch adds a rugged military look to that tech that makes it a very appealing sporty option.

Read Full Review: Citizen Chandler Watch Review

  • No batteries or winding needed
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged look & performance
  • No light

Citizen could rely on its Eco-Drive tech to support sales of its watches. After all, who isn’t in favor of solar power and never needing to take your watch to a jewelry store for a battery change? But the company has gone beyond that bit of tech, having built a reputation for solid, reliable watches that can take a few knocks and keep right on working. And this watch is no exception.

Its military-style strap and bold black face gives it an instant rugged appeal. The generous 47.2 x 9.5 mm stainless steel case gives it substance, yet it only weighs 7.2 ounces. Throw in water resistance down to 100 meters, and luminescent hands, and it’s easy to see how this watch could become your regular go-to. Check out the best online watch store to see more options.

 #5  Michael Kors Men’s Lexington Chronograph Stainless Steel Watch


WHY WE LIKE IT: Fashion icon Michael Kors applies his distinctive style to watches, and the result is a timepiece that looks extremely luxe without breaking the bank. A dazzling array of color options lets you choose exactly the style that works best for your look.

Read Full Review: Michael Kors Men’s Lexington Chronograph Stainless Steel Watch

  • Great for dressy occasions
  • 19 Different color options
  • 100 meter water resistance
  • No backlight

If you want to own a piece of wrist jewelry that draws lots of compliments, you really can’t do much better for the money than one of these handsomely designed watches from Michael Kors. All the usual quality watch features are here including a stainless case, quartz movement, water resistance to 100 meters and a chronograph, which is a fancy watch-person’s word for stopwatch.

But what really sets this watch appart is the fact that you can get it in a wild array of colors. Looking for a red metal watch with a red metal band? You got it. Solid green or navy? That too. There’s also a nice combination of gold and silver styles if you want something more traditional.

 #6  Casio Men’s Classic Quartz Watch with Resin Strap


WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re in the market for an inexpensive watch from a company with a reputation for making durable timepieces, you can’t do much better than this simple watch. While it might not be the most trendy watch, it has a classic look that will never go out of style.

Read Full Review: Casio Men’s Classic Quartz Watch with Resin Strap Review

  • Great unisex styling
  • Affordable name-brand
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Only basic water resistance
  • No backlight

In the 50 years it’s been in operation, Casio has built a reputation for making inexpensive watches that keep running for decades. So if you’re looking for a well-functioning decent-looking watch for under $20 from a name brand, you can’t go wrong with our pick for the best bargain watch out there.

You won’t get a crystal glass face (it’s plastic), a metal body (also plastic), or any fancy features with this one, but you do get a nice, simple, lightweight watch that makes it easy to tell the time at a glance. There is some water resistance here, so it can take some splashes – just don’t go swimming with it since it’s not a dive watch. Also, the minimalist styling makes it one of the best unisex watches you can buy.

 #7  Letsfit Smartwatch & Fitness Tracker


WHY WE LIKE IT: The affordable smartwatch that also delivers solid performance is a bit of a unicorn in the world of watches – except for this one. You get impressive features, a waterproof level that’s fine for bathing or swimming laps, and compatibility with both Android and iOS.

Read Full ReviewLetsfit Fitness Tracker Smartwatch Review

  • 10-Day+ Battery life
  • Lightweight/Comfortable
  • Very affordable
  • Some accuracy issues reported

There’s a conundrum in the world of smartwatches. Either you pay a lot to get a quality one, or you pay less and risk getting something that either doesn’t last, or doesn’t have enough functionality. This watch from relatively unknown brand Letsfit, seems to defy this rule, delivering impressive smartwatch functions for less than $50.

In terms of being a health tracker, the watch, which features a 1.3-inch screen, includes a heart monitor, step counter, calories-burned monitor, mileage-traveled counter and relaxation programs. On the smartwatch side it has built-in Bluetooth; the ability to deliver SMS messages as well as notifications from apps including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and LinkedIn, plus the ability to control your music, hang up a phone call and, of course, tell time. The watch also has an IP68 water standard rating, which means it can be submerged in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes, making it fine for swimming laps. But what’s truly impressive with this watch is its ability to run for days on a single charge. While the company says it’ll last for up to 10 days, many users report nearly two weeks of use on a single charge.

How We Decided

Because this is such a broad category, putting together a list like this was a bit tricky.

Early on, we decided that we would search for a wide variety of affordable watch types to satisfy nearly every shopper. So we spent hours researching the best watches in categories including: luxury watches, casual watches, sporty watches, smartwatches and budget/simple watches. To ensure some uniformity, we made sure that all the watches we chose have at least some degree of water resistance and that the watches were durable, attractive and long-lasting.

For traditional watches, we made sure that they could stand up to daily use and had a battery life that would keep it running for at least five years – which is the typical lifespan of the lithium metal batteries found in the watches on our list. For our two smartwatches, we made sure that they were able to take a few knocks without damage to their electronics and that they wouldn’t break the bank. We also took comfort into account, eliminating any watch that grew uncomfortable after a full-day’s wear.

Best Watch Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Quartz Or Mechanical?
    In our opinion, quartz watches are the way to go. They work thanks to a small piece of quartz crystal inside the watch casing through which an electrical current is passed. When that happens, the crystal vibrates back and forth and sends a pulse exactly every second to a motor that turns the hands. Because there are no gears inside the watch, quartz movements are extremely accurate and more durable than mechanical watches. Quartz watches also never need winding, are not affected by temperature changes like mechanical watches, and are cheaper than mechanical watches.
  2. Watch Face
    The faces of affordable watches are generally made of mineral crystal – which is glass that’s been treated with heat or chemicals to resist scratches. It’s a good solid option for watch faces and stands up better than plastic or acrylic watch faces. But the Cadillac of watch faces is sapphire glass that’s usually made from synthetic sapphire crystal. This crystal has a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, which means it really can only be scratched by diamonds or materials made with silicon carbide materials.
  3. Water Resistance
    Nearly all watches made today have some degree of water resistance. But there is a big difference between a watch that can be splashed while washing your hands in the sink versus one you can swim or dive with. In general, a watch’s specs will tell you exactly what kind of water resistance they have in terms of depth in meters. So a watch that’s water resistant to 30 meters, means it’s basically splash proof and maybe OK to wear for a casual dip in the pool. One that’s good to 50 meters means you can swim in it. 200 meters indicates it’s a good watch in which to snorkel. And 300 meters or more indicates the watch can handle diving expeditions. No watches are ever waterproof because they will all break at some pressure below sea level, so don’t believe the advertising if a watch makes this claim.
  4. Warranty
    As with all purchases, those that come backed by a warranty are generally safer bets than those without. Some watches have lifetime warranties against defects in workmanship, while others stand behind their products for 1-10 years. Either way, if you’re trying to choose between two brands and one doesn’t have a warranty – go with the one that does.

Watch FAQs

What brand watches are the best?

This is largely a subjective question, but we'd certainly stand behind the brands on our list, particularly Fossil, Citizen, Timex, Casio and Timex. To that list, it's generally agreed that for mid-range brands, you can't go wrong with Tissot, Seiko, Invicta, Skagen, Alpina and Orient.

What are the top five watch brands?

There are many ways to evaluate this, but to make our list, we went with the top five iconic high-end watch makers: Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Omega and Patek Philippe.

What's the best luxury watch for the money?

Some top watch brands can cost $50,000 or more. Assuming you're not looking to spend more than the price of a car on your watch, but that you still want to have a bit of bling on your wrist, we'd have to go with Citizen as our pick. Their watches have the heft and styling of timepieces ten times their price – plus you get the added benefit of never having to replace a battery thanks to their proprietary Eco-Drive technology. If you want to step up a bit from that and have some high-end brand recognition, Gucci makes some stunning watches under $1000.

What's the most reliable watch brand?

There are tons of reliable watch brands out there today, from the low-cost Casio in our list to Breitlings that cost thousands and thousands of dollars. For this one, we'd have to go with Alpina, a Swiss company that's been in business since 1883 and has built a reputation for solid, long-lasting, reliable timepieces.

What is a dive watch?

Dive watches also known as a diver's or dive watch, is a watch designed for underwater diving that at a minimum features a water resistance greater than 1.0 MPa, the equivalent of 100 m. For an extensive collection of dive watches, check out Tag Heuer – a manufacturer of Swiss luxury watches that deliver in both performance and style. If you have expensive taste, check out the Tag Heuer Carrera. The Carrera is an Automatic Chronograph powered by the robust and reliable Calibre 16 Automatic movement. This automatic watch is also available in several different styles. Our favorite the blue dialed model that features brightened silver touches on the sub-dials and a red central hand

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A leather watch usually refers to a simple watch with a leather strap. Skeleton dial watches mean that the watch movements and other moving parts are exposed for you to see. Believe it or not, a wood watch is a watch that is made of wood. When it comes to leather watch bands, brown leather, and black leather are most common, but they do come in other colors.

Features To Consider When Buying A Watch

The features that you need in a watch will be determined by how you will be using it. If you plan to wear your wrist watch in inclement weather, you will want to consider water resistance so that rain and brief contacts with water won't hurt your watch. Most sport watches feature a timer and stopwatch, some even have GPS, various alarms or a speed calculator. Other features you can get include night vision, antireflective sapphire, time zones and more.
The dial size should match your wrist. You want a smaller dial for a small wrist and a large dial for a big wrist. You also want to be able to see what time it is at night, so pay attention to the luminosity rating.

Watch Band and Case Materials

These days watch bands and cases are made of many materials like, gold, silver, titanium, canvas, plastic and even wood as well as leather for some bands.

Popular Watch Brands

There are many watchmakers today that offer quality analog, digital and GPS watches. These are just a few well known and trusted names like Citizen, Timex, Casio, Rolex, Omega, and Seiko. Each is a master in the field.

Watch Power Sources

Like anything else, your watch needs energy to run. Watches use 4 types of power sources:
Mechanical watches operate by being wound every day or so, while Automatic watches have automatic movements and wind themselves using the movement of your wrist. Quartz watches with a quartz movement have a battery that can last for a few years. And lastly, solar powered watches are powered by the sun. As long as your watch is functioning perfectly it will have a great power reserve.

What Should I Pay For A Watch?

You can buy a decent watch for almost any price. However prices for a quality watch range from $50 to several thousand, It all depends on features, brand name and what kind of style you want.Looking for cool watches for men or someone special on your list (or yourself)? Then bookmark Gadget Review and use us as your buyers guide as we search the web and world for the coolest watches that come to market each month.

When buying a new watch, make sure that you know what you want. Do you want a digital display or analog, with moving hands? What you choose will largely depend on your style. If you want style, but don't mind winding your watch daily, choose a mechanical watch. If you don't want to worry about winding or replaing batteries, a solar watch is for you. The happy medium are quart watches which have batteries that can last years.

Whether you want stainless steel watches, a luxurious watch in rose gold or cool brands like Invicta, Rolex, Timex or Ulysse Nardin, we review everything under the sun. It's time to buy one today and add it to your watch collection. These watches also make great gift ideas.