What is it that distinguishes classic watches from their modern counterparts? Start with style. The timeless timepieces have masterful designs to make your wrist the center of everybody's attention and compliment your dressing habits, regardless of what they might be.
Then comes longevity. Most modern watches that are in fashion these days would see their value tick out of favor in the coming years. That isn't the case with the below-mentioned classic men's watches whose fan following has remained steady for generations.
Equally impressive is their ruggedness. Despite all the bells and whistles that they offer, these watches are sturdy enough for daily usage. That means you won't have to keep them locked away in a drawer for their protection. They are robust enough to be worn daily.
What is so special about the Rolex Submariner? It is one of those classic watches whose value continues to increase with each passing day. And not only because it has been worn by sports legends, icons of the silver screen, world luminaries and any other noteworthy person you can name.
Before its release almost 70 years ago, Rolex was known for watches we'd today describe as all-purpose or dress watches. Two-register chronographs, Bubblebacks, and Datejusts were the Swiss brand's core offerings. All that changed with the release of the first Submariner in 1953.
The very idea of luminous hands, a comfortable bracelet and a dark-dialed stainless steel watch with a rotating bezel was planted into the minds of millions by the Submariner. Hence the reason why when you say 'men's wristwatch', it's the image of the Submariner that most people picture in their minds.
However, while there are hundreds of Submariner versions out there, our favorites are those sporting acrylic crystals and four-digit reference numbers. Examples include the Submariner 6204 (released in 1953) and many other models all the way up to the 5513 Submariner.
Tag Heuer has been revolutionizing the market of luxury watches since 1985. It offers an unrivaled history of cutting-edge innovation, strong connections with automobile racing and sports timing, and of late, multiple groundbreaking developments in terms of ultra-fast mechanical chronographs.
Twenty-three years before Tag acquired Heuer, a Heuer watch earned the distinction of being the first to be worn in space. John Glen, who was flying 'Mercury' on February 6, 1962, was sporting the Heuer 2915A on his wrist as he orbited the earth thrice on the 'Friendship 7' mission.
Carrera is another of the most iconic Tag Heuer watches around. The idea behind the watch was that of one that could withstand vibrations during automobile racing while still being perfectly legible. Its ability to achieve both objectives has earned Carrera a well-deserved cult status.
The popularity enjoyed by Carrera, together with the ultra-fast chronographs that can measure up to 1/200th of a second, has convinced Tag Heuer to brand themselves as the go-to-option for racing enthusiasts with series such as the Monaco, the F1, Panamerica, and Senna.
Luminox is one of those watchmakers that have proven they care for the environment. The American watchmaker meets 80% of the electricity requirements of its California-based factory with solar energy and achieved the CO2-neutral status in 2020. And it makes excellent watches too.
Anyone who has ever worn Luminox watches would have been impressed with their always-visible tritium lime that keeps their display bright 24*7. This separates Luminox watches from their counterparts which require constant charging by a light source for their dials to stay visible at night.
Yet another feature that separates Luminox watches is their military-style design. Members of the US Coast Guard, Navy SEALs, US Air Force, and a plethora of EMS teams and other special forces wear these watches on their wrists as they complete missions worldwide.
However, not all Luminox models are rugged. Those with mineral crystals (available in the $150 to $200 range) are made of cheap plastic and doesn’t enjoy a good reputation when it comes to longevity. It is only the high-end models that have a sapphire crystal (and are heavier) that are built to last.
Most watch brands you see in this review were founded decades ago. Lum-Tec is different. The US-based watchmaker came into being in 2008 after its founder, Chris Weingand, decided to put his passion for designing with detailing into practice.
The company got almost instant fame, with publications around the world recognizing Lum-Tec for introducing the finest quality watches to the market. Over the last thirteen years, the watchmaker has grown three times in magnitude and currently has service centers all around the globe.
It's its proprietary MDV technology that distinguishes Lum-Tec watches from their competitors. This technology taps the potential of incredibly bright 'Super Luminova' photo-luminescent material to make Lum-Tec watches' dials remarkably legible, even in poor light conditions.
Yet another notable feature of Lum-Tec watches is their ruggedness. Which is why they're the preferred choice of sports enthusiasts, travelers, and mountain hikers. Anyone who wants to invest in a wristwatch that could withstand massive abuse over many years would do well to give Lum-Tec a go.
Every Tuesday some corners of the internet go ahead with the weekly celebration of a wristwatch that got outrageously famous half a century ago. (The #SpeedyTuesday phenomenon should give you a clue of how popular the Omega Speedmaster really is).
Most of you might know that it was the Speedmaster Professional, better known as 'Moonwatch', which accompanied NASA's first astronauts to the moon during the Gemini 4 mission after its sturdiness saw the chronograph beat the likes of Rolex Daytona and Longines Wittaneur in trials.
However, the Speedmaster's relationship with NASA didn't end after July 20, 1969. It was worn on every single Apollo mission afterward, including the final flight, Apollo 17, which marked the sixth (and still the last) time humans landed on the surface of the moon in December 1972.
Its obsession with travels to outer space continues to this day, with Omega confirming earlier this year that the Speedmaster will be their pick for humanity's proposed mission to Mars sometime in the next decade. But not before it once again returns to the moon, possibly as early as 2024.
Hamilton is one of the few luxury watchmakers that have switched countries over the years. Founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1893, the brand remained there for the next 70 years. Before one day (in 1969) it closed its 13-acre complex in America and moved the business to Switzerland.
One of Hamilton's first clients were the American railroads. An estimate claims that all of Hamilton's production in the first two decades of the 20th century was bought by the railroads in the US, which allowed the then Lancaster-based brand to maintain a 56% share over that market.
Over the years, Hamilton has produced everything from fine-pocket watches (that met the tough requirements of the U.S. railroads) to marine chronometers (that were equally popular with the military) as well as "canteen watches" for the first batches of American navy divers.
The brand also enjoys an excellent relationship with Hollywood since two of its watches – the Flintridge and the Pipping Rock – appeared in 'Shanghai Express' in 1932. That appearance kick-started Hollywood's obsession with the brand, with Hamilton watches appearing in more than 500 movies since.
Two lifelong friends, Bruno Belamic (Bell) and Carlos Rosillo (Ross), founded Bell & Ross in 1992 as part of a university project. Both of them reportedly wanted to make a watch that combined functionality with durability, with the idea of 'function shapes form' their guiding principle.
The ampersand-logoed French watchmaker draws inspiration from the history of aviation as well as the military know-how and technological advances that come with it, which is why each product that its assembly line comes up with has the highest performing and visual qualities.
One of the reasons why it's the go-to brand for enthusiasts is the unique purposes the French brand's first watches served. One of them, the Space 1, retains the honor of the first space-borne automatic chronometer. Another, the Bomb Disposal Type, does precisely what its name implies.
The company wants its products to look good and be viewed as a constant ally for those constantly working in extreme temperatures. That's why it enlists the help of bomb disposal experts, astronauts, divers, and pilots while producing its timepieces.
Tudor was once the side-kick of its big brother Rolex but has come out of the shadow of its fellow Swiss brand over the past few decades. It was founded by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, and its relationship to Rolex provided it with serious brand credibility, before it went off the US market in 1996.
Starting in 2012, Tudor made its presence felt by thrilling tool watches' fans with the release of the Black Bay, a modern version of the classic Tudor Submariner. The Black Bay was a huge hit and allowed Tudor to market its products more confidently.
That doesn't mean that Tudor has completely forgotten its roots. Many of its latest models draw their inspiration from their Rolex counterparts. Examples of such models include Tudor's Glamor line (a substitute for Rolex Datejust) and its Black Bay GMT (a derivative of Rolex's GMT Master).
Lastly, while there are multiple differences within the Tudor catalog, many overarching features unite them all. For instance, every Tudor is a mechanical, tough watch, uses no precious metals (apart from its Two-Tone models), and uses stylish bracelets and straps.
Most people who attach Seiko's brand name with cheap quartz watches aren't aware that the Japanese watchmaker has churned out several timepiece-world firsts too. Most notable among them is the Seiko Quartz Astron, the 1969 watch with the distinction of being the world's first quartz watch.
One area where Seiko hasn't allowed other brands to come close is combining quartz timekeeping with self-winding movement. This has allowed the Japanese brand to accomplish something other watchmakers have tried and failed to achieve: combining the simplicity of quartz with a wrist-motion-induced winding of the mainspring.
Seiko's Spring Drive Technology, introduced in 1999, earned it another world-first. Any watch with this technology can be accurate up to a second a day, an exceptional achievement as far as the men's mechanical wristwear is concerned.
Why, then, you may ask, isn't regarded as high-end as Rolex? One theory blames World War II. With its roots in Japan, Seiko was battling sanctions at a time when Rolex was producing some of its most famous watches such as the GMT Master, Submariner and Explorer.
The Bulova watch brand was launched by a Czech immigrant of the same last name who had trained as a watchmaker in Europe before coming to the States. However, it was not until 1911, thirty-six years after the company's birth, that it transformed from a jewelry shot to a watchmaker.
Over the years, the US-based watchmaker has produced many stunning models. One of which, the diver-friendly Bulova 96A187, features an exquisite crystal dial window, skeletonized caseback and dial, and Japanese automatic movement. Oh, and it's water-resistant to up to 100m too.
However, as far as fame is concerned, no Bulova watch comes close to the uber-famous Accutron.
Here was a watch that guarantees a 99.9977% accuracy and uses only 12 moving parts to make its maintenance and repair a cinch for its users. Little wonder, then, that within one year of its release in 1975, more than five million pieces of the Accutron were sold.
Timeless watches stay true to their name in that they never go out of fashion. Whether it be the Omega Speedmaster, the Rolex Submariner, or the Space 1, their value (and their admiration in the heart of watch enthusiasts) continues to increase with each passing year. That's why we suggest that you must cherish if you already (or are trying to) own one