Find a timepiece to suit your style with our roundup of the best watches
Watches can cost anything from a few quid up to tens of thousands of pounds. Our roundup has something for everyone, taking into consideration the latest styles and trends.
Ranging from smartwatches to running watches, everyday unisex watches to glamorous diamond-encrusted evening watches, we have it sussed. And whether you want it to come from a company with a long history of watchmaking or an upcoming new brand that’s all the rage on Instagram, be sure to check our buyer’s guide. We’ve got all the info to help you factor in the right features before you make your purchase.
How to buy the best watch for you
What features should I look for?
With so many brands, styles, materials and colours to choose from, it makes sense to use the following factors to narrow your selection down:
Size – The size of your watch is essential. On average, men’s watches have a case width or diameter of 35mm, which is just under 1.4 inches. Women’s watches typically have a case width or diameter of less than 34mm but watches are trending towards larger case sizes for both men and women.
Movement – This is the mechanism or technology used to keep time and, on an analogue watch, move the hands around. An automatic movement winds itself while worn and does not need a battery. But it will stop ticking if you don’t wear it for a period of time and watches with this mechanism cost more. A quartz movement uses a battery to power it and is generally considered to be the most accurate type, as well as being lower maintenance and cheaper. Swiss- and Japanese-made quartz movements are considered the best.
Style – This ranges from understated, minimal-looking wristwear (currently all the rage) to something bling or bold, solid or statement. Look for a watch that will still look good in a year or even five to ten years (depending on how long you want it to last) yet will still make an impact now.
Brand – Some companies such as Rotary and Patek Phillippe have been making watches for centuries, whereas Nordgreen is brand spanking new, but already making quite an impact. Just because you haven’t heard of the brand doesn’t mean they’re not worth spending on, but you may need to do more research first. If you’re choosing a watch made by a fashion brand, remember that they are not necessarily any better made than cheaper watches just because of their higher price point. That’s not to say they’re rubbish – but you may be paying more for the name than for a superior movement or materials.
Country of origin – Some countries are at the forefront of both watch fashion and the engineering behind them. The most notable examples are Switzerland and Japan.
How much should I spend?
If you wear a watch every day or want something special for top occasions, it’s worth splashing out on something you really love. But it doesn’t mean you have to get into thousands of pounds. There is so much choice for any budget nowadays and you can get a very decent watch that’s made to last for under £200.
The best watches you can buy from £25
1. Lilienthal Berlin L1: An award-winning unisex watch
This Berlin-based watch manufacturer produces some attractive unisex watches that offer premium quality for a good price. This award-winning contemporary design is great for work or a more casual look and you get to pretty much tailor-make your own watch, with choices of large or small face size and different colours for the case, dial and strap.
Straps come in different types too. Sleek and elegant, minimalistic and classy, you get the two halves of Berlin in the L1 typography, based on the street signs from east and west parts of the city – a nice touch. It feels nice and light on your wrist and the craftsmanship is made to last.
Key specs – Case size: 37.5mm or 42.5mm diameter; Movement: Quartz; Strap: Plant-tanned leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 3ATM; Weight: 50g/63g
2. Nordgreen Infinity: A customisable and contemporary women’s watch
Nordgreen is a designer watch brand based in Copenhagen which launched after one of the most successful European Kickstarter fashion projects ever. After it raised $250k to get the brand going, Jakob Wagner was appointed chief designer – he has previously worked with brands including Bang & Olufsen, Alessi, Cappellini, Hay and Moroso.
We love their pared-back, simple watches in a range of modern looks, including the slimline Infinity, with no numbers on the dial and interchangeable straps. Social responsibility is a big deal for this company – they have an impressive Giving Back programme that empowers the customer to give back to one of three charitable causes.
Key specs – Case size: 36mm and 40mm diameter; Movement: Japanese Quartz; Strap: Leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 3ATM; Weight: 49.9g
3. Cluse La Roche: Minimalist women’s statement watch
Amsterdam-based Cluse has only been making watches for a few years, but they’ve proved a huge hit, constantly recommended by bloggers and on social media. It’s no surprise as to why. Their mantra – ‘simple is not about being plain’ – means they take minimalist designs and turn them into eye-catching statements like this one with its large 38mm marble dial, each of which is slightly different due to the use of natural stone.
The rose gold edging and watch hands keep it on-trend and the 2cm wide thin grey leather strap finishes it off perfectly. If the case feels too big for you, there’s a ‘petite’ 33mm marble dial available too (and you’ll save twenty quid).
Key specs – Case size: 35mm diameter; Movement: Quartz; Strap: Leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 3ATM; Weight: 36.3g
4. Fossil Men’s Grant Chronograph Leather Strap Watch: A dazzling men’s watch that’s cheaper than it looks
Fossil is a big name in the world of affordable watches, and many of its offerings look a lot more expensive than they are. The watchmaker is part of a bigger American designer fashion company, founded in the eighties, which caters for both genders with equal style.
Our current favourite is this classic Grant style watch, which has antique styling, a 44mm dial with Roman numerals, and a split-second accurate chronograph movement. The quality leather strap finishes it off beautifully. The result is a timeless design that won’t look out of fashion any time soon. The watch is stylish and durable, and you can count on the Fossil brand to provide excellent customer service.
Key specs – Case size: 44mm diameter; Movement: Quartz chronograph; Strap: Leather; Waterproofing: Water-resistant to 5ATM; Weight: 77g
5. Olivia Burton Wishing Watch Midi Dial Watch: Gorgeous and vegan-friendly
Oliva Burton’s decorative, striking floral watches make a real statement among the sea of minimalist designs that are currently in vogue. This one has a dandelion clocks theme, with wildflower print and moving crystals. The result is both pretty and delicate, and the three-hand Japanese quartz movement means it should last a long time, too.
Burton has been making watches since 2012 and built up a huge fan base among those who prefer more feminine timepieces. This one is designed with vegans in mind, ensuring no animals were harmed in its production. Naturally, there’s no leather on the strap.
Key specs – Case size: 30mm diameter; Movement: Japanese Quartz; Strap: Rose and vegan material; Waterproofing: water resistant to 1 ATM; Weight: not specified
Buy now from Selfridges
6. Superdry Urban Watch: Stylish women’s watch for urban wear
This uber-cool option costs only £25, which is hard to believe. It looks great and is both on-trend and practical. Superdry has a wide range of casual watches for both sexes, so check out some of the others if this one isn’t right for you.
We think it stands out with its simple, clean looks, three-hand quartz movement, silicone strap and metal buckle that’s easy to work even when you’re in a hurry. You’ll need to be a big fan of the Superdry brand as it shouts it from the rooftops, but if you’re comfortable with that, so are we. It’s comfy and robust.
Key specs – Case size: 38mm diameter; Movement: PC21; Strap: Black silicone; Waterproofing: Water resistant to 5 ATM; Weight: not specified
7. Tommy Hilfiger 1791228 Stainless Steel Watch: Classy American-look watch for men
If you want American-style cool – or New York cool, to be precise – this watch is ideal. Hilfiger has long been a go-to brand for the US sports look and, as far as watches are concerned, that means large, chunky, robust, and with a great chronograph.
There’s no mistaking the brand, with its deep blue colouring and iconic flag. It smacks of class without costing the Earth. It’s a keeper too, with a timeless classic feel and good fit thanks to the strap’s fold-over clasp fastening. It’s a statement watch that will stay in fashion for years to come.
Key specs – Case size: 46mm diameter; Movement: Quartz; Strap: Stainless steel; Waterproofing: water-resistant to 50m; Weight: not specified