If you are considering buying a watch but don’t know where to start, or are shopping for a gift for someone else, we have listed a number of the most sought out features in the different types of timepieces below and brands that accommodate them.
The Every Day Watch
Most people just need a watch they can wear everyday to tell the time, maybe the date and perhaps with a chronograph function for timing purposes. Below we go over all the major “basic” watch categories and which brands fit them best.
- Basic Watch – Any standard watch will do, it tells the time and that’s all you need! If you are around a little more water such as swimming we recommend a water resistance of 100m. However you shouldn’t need any additional features, functions or shock resistance. Features you may enjoy are a day/date display, solar power, atomic timekeeping, and chronograph (stopwatch) but are not generally necessary. The brands we recommend for this are Seiko, Bulova, Citizen, Pulsar, Mondaine and Skagen.
- Sport Watch – A basic watch with a little more water resistance (100m), chronograph for timing runs or laps and may have a rotating bezel or rubber/silicon strap. Most watch brands have a sport watch selection including Seiko, Citizen and Bulova. Some brands like Wenger, Reactor and Casio are designed with active individuals in mind.
- Dress Watch – Dress watches are great for those who are fashion forward or have to adhere to a certain dress code. Typically designed for more formal attire, they can include genuine diamonds as well as crystals and detailed accents. Generally they don’t offer any extra durability or water resistance beyond 30m (for water splashes and rain). Dress watch brands include Movado, ESQ by Movado, Citizen, Bulova, Seiko, Jorg Gray, Kenneth Cole, Reflection Beads (their watches can be used with Pandora, Chamilia, Troll and other bead brands), Skagen and Szanto (for a more vintage look).
- Watches for Kids & Teens – Time Teacher offers a variety of watches for little ones just learning how to tell time. They feature fun, friendly characters and labeled hour and minute hands to help them learn to tell time. The Casio Baby-G collection offers their signature shock resistant watches in a smaller size – although marketed for women, they are also a better choice for those with smaller wrists. Some teens prefer the Casio G-Shock collection as their larger size (regardless of how well they fit) is more of a statement or fashion watch, plus they are EXTREMELY durable. However, if your child or teen is old enough, or has a wrist large enough to wear them, any watch brand will do.
- Pocket and Necklace Watches – Pocket watches are still very popular as gifts. Charles Hubert features a variety of pocket watches as well as necklace watches. Bulova, Pulsar and ArmourLite also feature some pocket watch options. Necklace watches are perfect for those who have difficulty wearing a watch on their wrist, or are not permitted to wear one on their wrist as part of their dress code in the case of some hospitals; however many nurses still need a watch with a second hand especially if a wall clock is not within sight.
- Fashion Watch – Fashion watches generally reflect current style trends. Brands like Kenneth Cole, Movado, ESQ by Movado, Tommy Bahama, ToyWatch and the Citizen DRIVE collection are typically more trendy timepieces. Seiko, Bulova and Citizen also produce several new styles a year for men and women that follow the latest trends. Casio (and yes, we realize we have mentioned them quite a bit) are also considered a fashion brand worn by celebrities with many watches that were created with collaborations by popular designers and artists.
Tactical & Extremely Durable Watches
We have filled many orders for law enforcement, the military and even extreme sports enthusiasts. What do they want? They want durability and reliability. What does this mean? The watch can take a beating – it can survive just about anything within reason. Key features of tactical watches are listed below, along with our recommended brands:
- Shock Resistance – The watch movement is built to withstand shock – or a harsh blow. In most cases you will find these are Japanese movements which are highly accurate and durable.
- Water Resistance – This is usually a must have in any durable timepiece – Water resistance of 100m (330ft or 10ATM) is enough to keep your watch safe from swimming or occasional submersion. However, if you surf or expect to do some recreational diving we would recommend you get a 200m (660ft or 20ATM) watch.
- Illumination – Requested by military, special ops, nighttime security guards – The best illumination for these situations is generally something that is easy to read that won’t kill the battery or won’t illuminate so much to give away a position. Tritium applications on watches are generally the most sought out. Brands like Luminox, ArmourLite and Reactor carry this feature. However, Casio, being another popular tactical brand also has great illumination – it is just brighter and may wear a battery down unless the watch is solar powered in which you don’t need to worry about a dying battery.
- Overall Durability – No watch is completely indestructible, however not all watches can take a beating, get covered in mud, grime, dust or even extreme cold. Our favorite watch brand for this is of course the Casio G-Shock collection. However Reactor builds a really tough watch if you prefer a more traditional looking watch. Armourlite and Luminox both have great construction, however lack additional features you may find in a Reactor or G-Shock watch.
Watch Brands we Recommend and their Key Features:
- Casio G-Shock – Durable, Shock Resistant, Water Resistant to at least 100 meters, Push Button Illumination; also offer Mud Resistance, Magnetic Resistance, Solar Power, Atomic Timekeeping and a variety of electronic functions from chronographs, countdown timers and more.
- Casio Pro Trek – Durable, Shock Resistant, Field Ready, Water Resistant to at least 100 meters and generally include a compass, thermometer, barometer and altimeter
- Reactor – Shock Resistant, Durable Construction, Water Resistant to at least 100 meters, NeverDark illumination (combination of Tritium and high-grade luminescent paint)
- Luminox – Made for military use, Tritium Illumination, Durable, Water Resistant to 100 meters or more; have a traditional tactical look
- ArmourLite – Feature Tritium Illumination, Durability, Offer a variety of tactical and every day styles
- Benchmade Knives – In case you are looking for a tactical knife to go with your tactical watch
Watches for the Great Outdoors
Whether you are a weekend adventurer or live on the outskirts of society the proper wristwatch can alert you to an oncoming storm, track your whereabouts and even guide your way. Outdoor watches are typically durable, with functions that help you on your journey. Perfect for campers, hikers, climbers and even hunters and fishermen, outdoor watches feature things like a compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, renewable solar power and even GPS tracking. Some also feature tide graphs, sunrise and sunset times as well as fitness tracking capabilities for the more athletic.
- Durability – Generally an outdoor watch should be fairly durable with good shock resistance
- Water Resistance – Water resistance of 100 meters or more is recommended in case you are in the water whether it be swimming, fishing or kayaking. 200 meters or more is recommended if you are doing some recreational diving or white water rafting on your trip.
- Weather/Temperature – If you are spending an extended amount of time away from society, it is good to have a timepiece that indicates the current temperature and barometric pressure. A sudden drop in pressure can alert you of an upcoming storm. Some outdoor watches may also be equipped with a storm alarm to indicate possible incoming adverse weather conditions.
- Sunset/Sundown – Being in a hard to navigate area of the wilderness, sunset and sundown times can help you plan your hike so you know when to start heading back.
- Moon Phase/Tide Graph – Handy for those out on water, fishing or even hunting. Some studies indicate that there are better times to hunt and fish based on these conditions combined with the time of day.
- Altimeter – Whether you are climbing, cave exploring or even diving an altimeter will let you know your elevation from your start point.
- Compass – A must have for most adventurers! If you ever lose your way a compass can help you get back to base. You can also plan your route before you head out. Many outdoor watches feature an electronic compass, although some may have an analog compass as well.
Watch Brands we Recommend and their Key Features:
- Casio Pro-Trek – An outdoor watch through and through – you can’t go wrong with this selection. Look for added features like atomic timekeeping and solar power to get the most out of an outdoor watch.
- Suunto – Featuring watches both for outdoor enthusiasts as well as the fitness and health minded. Although we feel they are not as durable as some other options, Suunto is a favorite of many with GPS, heart rate monitoring and much more depending on the watch. Hunting, Fishing and Tracking modes are available on the new Traverse which is even compatible with night vision gear. Suunto also carries an extremely popular line of Compasses for both on land or at sea.
- Highgear – Built for the great outdoors these watches feature a variety of functions. Highgear also makes some other great accessories such as a solar device charger, compasses, safety tools, weather pods and more. Highgear has recently closed its doors, although we have a limited number of their items still available.
- Victorinox Swiss Army – Although not offering a lot of technical features, Victorinox Swiss Army brand is synonymous with the great outdoors. Specific watch models may feature added durability and resistance to heat or cold such as their INOX line, or even a compass, however not all of their watches are suited for exposure. They are also well known as the official “Swiss Army Knife” and their selection of Knives and Tools are lifetime guaranteed, and extremely durable.
- Wenger – Certain watch models are equipped with added features such as water resistance, compass, altimeter and/or barometer.
- Benchmade Knives – Benchmade offers tactical as well as hunting and diving knives.
We could say a lot about dive watches, but for many it is going to come down to water resistance, functions, legibility and strap preference. Dive watches are considered to be any watch with a water resistance of 200 meters or more, generally with a rotating bezel for timing purposes. Below we have broken down some of the basic Dive Watch terms. Generally, recreational scuba divers only need a 200 meter dive watch. Popular brands for dive watches include Seiko, Citizen, Wenger, Reactor and Luminox. Szanto also features a line of 500 meter dive watches.
200 Meter Water Resistance – 20 ATM – 660 Feet – Recreational Diving
300 Meter Water Resistance – 30 ATM – 990 Feet – Professional Diving
500 Meter Water Resistance – 50 ATM – 1650 Feet – Professional Diving
1,000 Meter Water Resistance – 100 ATM – 3,000 Feet – Professional Diving
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 6425 – This label indicates that the dive watch went through a more rigorous test process (ISO 6425) to ensure they will not take on water during your diving excursion. However, it is recommended that you should have regular pressure testing done to maintain its resistance
Unidirectional Rotating Bezel – The Bezel Only Rotates One Direction
Bidirectional Rotating Bezel – The Bezel Rotates Both Ways
Screw Down Crown – Most Dive Watches have this, the Crown (knob you use to change the time) will unscrew to set the time, and you need to re-screw it down to secure the watch from water damage.
Diver’s Extension – An extension that is part of the watch band for fitting the watch over a dive suit.
Helium Release Valve – A feature on a professional dive watch for prolonged deep sea diving that helps with decompression.