What's the right style of watch for you?
Let's be real - we don't really wear watches to tell the time. Especially not when we have tiny computers in our pockets that are connected to satellites 24/7 to rely on for that purpose. The right watch is more than a simple time-telling device. It's an extension of one's style, personality, and even history. From the robust and rugged to the elegant and minimalistic, a plethora of watch styles cater to various tastes and requirements. The variety is so staggering that it might make it hard for you to figure out what the right watch is for you. In this article, we'll delve into some of the most prominent styles of watches, including Diver, Field and Military, GMT, Dress, and Pilot style watches.
Diver Style Watches
First on our list is the much beloved Diver style watch, a robust and durable category designed to endure the high pressures and adverse conditions of underwater exploration. Named after the adventurers who use them, these watches have been a popular choice since the early 20th century when scuba diving became more mainstream.
Key features of Diver watches include a sturdy, waterproof case (usually water-resistant to at least 100 meters, but 200m in most cases), a rotating bezel to monitor diving time, and high legibility with luminous hands and markers for easy readability in low light underwater conditions. They are traditionally larger in size, often boasting a stainless steel construction and rubber or metal bracelets. Iconic dive watches include the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster.
If you're into the Submariner style of dive watches, you might be interested in our NMK05 Vintage Submariner watch. Our NMK05 represents a modern interpretation of the classic Vintage Sub. We've infused it with delicate details as a tribute to the esteemed diver watches of the past. You'll find a crimson triangle adorning the black Sub insert, complemented by a creamy patina luminous finish on the retro-inspired Sub dial. Adding to the nostalgic charm are the Sword-style hands, reminiscent of a bygone era.
Field and Military Style Watches
The terms "field" and "military" style watches are quite often used interchangeably, and instead of diving deep into the differences between the two, let's focus on the similarities for the purposes of this article. These watches were initially designed for military servicemen who needed accurate, reliable timepieces that could withstand the rigours of battle conditions. Their design emphasises durability, legibility, and functionality.
As with most well-designed products, form follows function. As such, Field/Military watches are typically characterized by a modest size, straightforward design, and a dark dial with large, easy-to-read numbers. The bands are often made of rugged materials like canvas or leather, suitable for rough and tumble usage. Some well-known examples include the Hamilton Khaki Field Watch and the Timex Expedition.
Field and Military style watches are built for reliability and readability, which makes them great for outdoor activities and scenarios where durability is key. Whether you're going camping, hiking, or just working with your hands, a field watch like the Hamilton Khaki Field Watch can take it all without missing a beat.
In more casual scenarios, their rugged, utilitarian look can add a touch of masculinity and adventure to your outfit. The simple and straightforward design also makes them a good choice for people who prefer minimalism.
If this style of watch sounds like it might be up your alley, and you're also the kind of person who likes a bit of DIY action, you might want to check out our NMKW-WK01 Khaki Field Watch DIY Kit. Our DIY Watchmaking kits provide a comprehensive collection of all the parts, tools and instructions necessary for creating your very own mechanical watch.
Standing for Greenwich Mean Time, GMT watches were originally developed for pilots in the age of transatlantic flights to keep track of time in two different time zones simultaneously. These watches have a fourth hand and a 24-hour time scale on the bezel.
The distinguishing feature of a GMT watch is the rotating 24-hour bezel, which can be set to the time zone of choice. GMT watches are excellent companions for frequent travelers, pilots, or anyone who often deals with different time zones. With their ability to track multiple time zones at once, a GMT watch like the Rolex GMT Master II will ensure you're never disoriented, whether you're in a business meeting in New York or on vacation in Tokyo.
Their distinctive style, often featuring a two-tone bezel, also makes GMT watches stand out on your wrist, showing off your love for travel and adventure... At least that's what we'd like to think when we wear them.
The Rolex GMT Master is truly an icon in the world of horology - but the cost is also prohibitively high. Not everybody has $20k to throw around on something like a wristwatch. If you want to build your own, check out our GMT Watchmaking Kit, where you can build your very own GMT Watch from scratch.
Dress Style Watches
Next up, we have Dress watches, the epitome of elegance and sophistication in the watch world. They are designed to complement formal attire and are characterized by their simplicity and elegance. Dress watches tend to be slim, fitting comfortably under a shirt cuff, and are typically devoid of complications, apart from perhaps a simple date function.
A minimalist dial, a sleek profile, and a leather strap are the hallmarks of a dress watch. Gold or silver casing is standard, and the dial is usually white or black, with simple hour markers. Renowned examples of dress watches include the Patek Philippe Calatrava and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin. Shop our Dress style watch modification parts for some inspiration, or build your own 36mm Oyster Perpetual inspired dress watch.
Pilot Style Watches
Pilot watches, as the name suggests, were initially designed for aviators. They're characterized by their large dials, high-contrast numerals, and often contain chronograph functions or slide rule bezels for airborne calculations. While initially utilitarian, these watches have evolved into sought-after accessories for their bold style and historical significance.
Modern pilot watches still hold on to the classic elements that made them functional for aviation. They usually have oversized crowns, making it easy for pilots to adjust while wearing gloves. The large, clear, luminescent numerals and hands against a usually black dial ensure excellent readability, a feature that holds appeal beyond the cockpit.
Pilot watches are a perfect choice for those who love a blend of history, functionality, and style in their timepieces. They are a great casual watch, suitable for everyday wear. Their robust design and unique features like chronographs also make them an excellent choice for anyone interested in aviation or mechanical complexities.
A notable example of a pilot watch is the IWC Big Pilot, known for its large case size and legibility. The Breitling Navitimer, with its slide rule bezel for airborne calculations, is another iconic pilot watch that perfectly encapsulates the marriage of style and function.
If Pilot watches are your style, this Spork-style Pilot DIY Watchmaking Kit might be perfect for you. And no, "Spork" in this case doesn't refer to that mutant cutlery that tries to do 2 jobs but ends up being mediocre at both. The Seiko Spork is a discontinued watch model that die-hard Seiko collectors hanker after.
Just kidding, we don't talk about those here.
What's right for you? You decide.
Each style of watch offers its own unique characteristics, and there's a style out there for every watch enthusiast. Whether you're a globe-trotting traveler, a deep-sea diver, a soldier on the field, or a gentleman preparing for a black-tie event, there's a watch designed with your lifestyle in mind.
No matter what style you choose, remember that a watch is more than a time-telling device—it's a personal statement. So take your time and find the watch that tells your story. Or just get one of each, that's what most of us end up doing anyway.