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An Apple Watch may be your daily driver, but you need a second (better) watch, too

These are the watches to turn to when your Apple Watch just won't cut it for the look

Citizen watch on wrist
KC Stone / The Manual

While watch functions have slowly expanded since the advent of the wristwatch in the early 1900s, there have been serious advances since brands started developing the smartwatch. Gone are the days when all we want out of a watch is the right piece to tell the time and maybe the day of the week. Watches have gotten more and more complicated. Especially the Apple watch. These new technological advances in wristwear can tell your heart rate and blood pressure, and it can even track your sleep. They are the evolution of watches any Dick Tracy fan has hoped for our whole lives.

Sometimes, though, simplicity is in order. While smartwatches are a valuable tool to keep you healthy and in control, they are less about style and more about function. There are nice watches for men to wear when they need to elevate their outfits and accessories. Here are the best kinds of watches to replace your Apple smartwatch with for more stylish looks.

Pilot Watch on blueprints

Pilot watch

If you like wristwatches, you can thank pilots for their rise to fame and use. Before the pilot watch, wrist jewelry was a dainty thing for women. Men mostly carried pocket watches on chains in their vests. As the aviation industry developed, pilots realized that it became more and more challenging to check the time while flying, so manufacturers created a wristwatch to simplify matters.

Two features standard with the pilot watch are matte black hands on the face to avoid reflections and a large dial on the side that can easily be wound, even when wearing pilot gloves. As pilot watches have continued to develop, more features helpful to pilots have been added, including dual time functions, wind correction, and fuel burn tools.

Why is this style a must for your collection? The faces of these pieces are striking, luxurious, and almost always a conversation starter, whether you navigate the friendly skies or not.

Our choice – Citizen Promaster Nighthawk Blue Angels

Citizen is one of the premier watch brands on the market. While much of the luxury world focuses on the luxury market made up of Swiss brands like Rolex, IWC, or Tissot, they miss out on the Japanese market that offers much more accessible options at the same quality. Citizen’s Promaster series is one of the top watch lines in the world, and the blue and yellow colorway of the Blue Angles screams aviation obsession.

Man diving with watch
David Boca / Unsplash

Dive watch

The marine world is another industry where the inability to use both hands could be disastrous. Sailors and divers need water-resistant timepieces they can read without stopping to fumble with another device. While Cartier was the first to come up with exactly that, another company, Omega, was the first to create a watch specifically made for divers. They were pioneers of the dive watch.

We know what you’re thinking: “I’m not a diver. Why the heck do I need a dive watch?” While you’re sure you may not need 100m water resistance on a daily basis, that feature shows a durable robustness that will keep your investment safe for decades. Also, if you want something with proven staying power and class, remember that the Omega is the choice of none other than James Bond. It should be good enough for you if it’s good enough for the super spy-iest of all super spies.

Our choice – Omega Seamaster 300M

We mentioned James Bond and how much he loves Omega. But this is the specific line he wears often, and there is a reason for it. While the Rolex Submariner is the original dive watch and others built on it, Omega perfected it with the Seamaster. Just like Sean Connery (who wore the Rolex Submariner) is the original James Bond, Daniel Craig (who wore the Omega Seamaster 300M) perfected the role. You can find many special editions and styles in this line that suit your diving lifestyle.

Field Gear on a table with watch and knife
Andrew Neel / Unsplash

Field watch

When you’re in the trenches in the middle of battle, every moment counts. Every movement you make and every second you take can be the difference between life and death. The field watch was initially created for soldiers in WWI to allow them to keep their hands on their weapons and coordinate their movements.

Since then, this versatile timepiece has become the number-one timepiece for adventure. While some field watches are simplistic, with dark-colored faces and light-colored hands and digits for easy reading, many have other features. Specific features like date and day displays, moon phases, and compasses allow the wearer to accomplish far more than a watch that simply gives the time.

Many of these watches are made to withstand the harshest environments in the world, from the wilderness of the Sahara to the snowcaps of the mountains and even under the canopies of the jungles.

Our choice – Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition

At the center of our subconscious, we are explorers. We don’t turn with the path. We stride beyond the paved roads to discover what the world has to offer us. Hamilton is a company at the heart of this ethos and encourages it with the legendary Khaki Field line. The newest iteration, the Expedition, boasts a larger case and a larger thirst for adventure.

Man in suit, cufflinks, watch, and gloves
Joshua Reddekopp / Unsplash

Dress watch

Every watch has its place. The Apple Watch and the field watch are about function and working toward a goal. Dive and pilot watches are made for specific industries to be used by the best of the best. But when you dress for success, you need a watch that matches the elevation. The number one thing to remember with a dress watch is that it needs to be subtle and understated, never taking away from the more formal looks.

The best dress watches will be simple faces with no bells and whistles, and they’ll sport a leather band. An essential tip to keep in mind is that you need to ensure the leather band on the watch matches the leather of your belt and shoes. When you wear a suit and tie, the right dress watch will let them speak.

Our choice – Slow Watches Round 06

When selecting a dress watch, you need something subtle. But you also need to send a message. Slow Watches finds that balance by offering a simple design with an impactful message. With a dial of 24 numbers and a single rotation throughout the day, the message is simple but life-changing: slow down. Instead of worrying about the time, worry about the moment. It doesn’t matter if it is 2:15 or 2:30, it only matters what you do within that 15 minutes.

Man working a fire
Saleh Bakshiev / Pexels

Tactical watch

Speaking of watches that have a specific design intent in mind, the best tactical watches are made for the most demanding jobs and the toughest environments imaginable. Envisioned to accompany the bravest soldiers, the most daring firefighters, and the most committed police officers, tactical watches spent the last two decades evolving into the go-to work watch for many outdoor industries.

What makes a tactical watch different from other watches is the commitment to function. Large and durable casings with waterproof seals, big faces with easy-to-read dials, and luminescent digits or dashes make them perfect for hard work no matter the time of day. The best tactical watches can do many things that an Apple watch just won’t stand up to.

Our choice – MTM Black Ops Black Cobra 47

When it comes to tactical watches, it is best to go with the people who have been there before. Made by former operators for today’s operators, the minds behind these pieces know what it takes to be the tip of the spear. So, in picking a watch that can handle whatever you throw at it, you might as well go with the one that can handle the best of the best in operators and the worst of the worst in environments.

We don’t hate our Apple watches, we believe that almost every watch has a purpose on your shelf. However, your life is ever-changing, and every day gives you something different. Today is the day to begin selecting the watches for men who can handle them.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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