Watch 101: Watch Styles

Posted on August 11 2018

Watch 101: Watch Styles
Watches come in a plethora of styles to match the various occasions and tasks its wearer attends to. Though wristwatches nowadays can range from tactical sports watches to digital smartwatches, here, we focus on the classics. Often referred to as the watch styles every man should know, these five styles are: Dress, Field, Diver, Aviator, and Racing. 


Dress Watch

Characterized by simplicity and class, dress watches act to compliment a business suit or formal wear (you may be able to pair this with a business casual outfit, but this is not the watch to reach for when wearing jeans).

Key Features

  • Thin case - as to slip in and out of a dress shirt cuff
  • Simple dial display
  • Leather band
  • Little to none complications

Field Watch

Characterized by ruggedness and versatile functionality, field watches originate from the trench watches that allowed officers to coordinate attacks during the first world war. Field watches are a great accessory outfits ranging from casual (Jeans? Yes) to business casual.

Key Features

  • Small to medium in size
  • High contrast dial display - typically black and white with numbering; hands often illuminate to allow nighttime usage
  • Stainless steel or titanium case - did we say rugged?
  • Leather or canvas band
  • Typically no complications
  • Hacking seconds hand - the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out, hacking allows the watch to be more easily set to a reference signal or synchronized to a another watch.

Dive Watch

Forever associated with James Bond, they are among the most popular of watch styles. Though originally designed for underwater usage, and thus always water resistant, dive watches are a versatile companion that can be donned with anything from casual wear to business formal.

Key features

  • Medium in size
  • Counter-clockwise bezel in casing - allows diver to keep track of how long they've been underwater
  • Metal band
  • Date complication
  • Water resistant (minimum 100 meters)


Pilot (Aviation) Watch 

The least strictly defined among the five watch styles, pilot watches have evolved with the needs of the aviation field over time. The style and features of watches referred to as pilot watches can vary widely. However, their more casual design is typically paired with more casual outfits for the everyday wearer.

Key features

  • Medium to large in size
  • Black oversized dial with easy to read numbers and luminous hands - to allow easy reads in dark cockpits
  • Leather band - though not always
  • Date complication; Sometimes chronograph (stopwatch)

Racing (Driving) Watch

Characterized by flashier designs, racing watches are great options when looking for bold color choices. These watches are so named due to their orgins on the wrists of racecar drivers to keep track of speed and distance. The flashier design of racing watches pair best with more casual outfits.

Key features

  • Medium to large in size
  • Large, high contrast dial
  • Stainless steel casing
  • Leather or rubber band; Sometimes metal
  • Chronograph complication; Sometimes date
  • Tachymeter around bezel - used to calculate speed and distance

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