The 20 Best Mechanical Watches For Men

Dec 30, 2019

Category: Gear

In the world of wristwatches, there are two overarching watch styles that cleave the category in two. And they’re separated by their movement type — the mechanism by which these watches keep time. The first and most popular is quartz, which works by feeding an electrical current through a quartz crystal via a watch battery and uses the vibrations of that crystal to keep time.

The second, and the one we’re concerned with today, is mechanical. Widely considered the better of the two for their craftsmanship and non-reliance on battery power, mechanical watches utilize a clockwork mechanism hinging on a mainspring — most often either manually-wound or automatic self-winding — to keep time. While quartz watches are relatively inexpensive and readily available, any watch collector or horological fanatic worth his salt should own, at the very least, one mechanical watch. Lucky for you we’ve put together a collection of the 20 best that are available now.

Mechanical Movements

Manual vs. Automatic

As previously mentioned, the larger mechanical watch category can actually be separated again into two smaller parts: manual and automatic. Manual watches, as the name suggests, require periodic winding by-hand — usually meaning the crown must be turned to wind the internal springs of the timepiece so that it will keep ticking. Alternatively, automatic watches skip this step entirely — most often by using the kinetic energy produced by the wearer to wind their internal springs. This means, so long as the user wears their watches regularly or uses a kinetic storage device (a watch winder), these watches will keep right on ticking forever. Automatic mechanical watches are more widely available and often preferred for their convenience, but manual watches offer a level of craftsmanship and boast a historical significance that many watch aficionados prefer.

MWC Submariner 300M Military Dive Watch

A true, tough-as-nails diver, the MWC Submariner 300m Military watch was built to survive some of the harshest environments in the world and keep right on ticking. That’s aided by an ultra-durable PVD-coated steel case with a dive timer bezel, a reliable 24-jewel automatic movement, a screw-down crown, and a NATO nylon strap. If black is your color and you want a watch that can take tons of punishment, this is the mechanical watch for you.

Size: 40mm
Case: PVD-Coated Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $300

Junghans Max Bill Automatic Watch

The Junghans Max Bill series of watches are some of the most lauded Bauhaus-inspired minimalist timepieces around. And this version, the automatic mechanical, is amongst the best therein. Interestingly, though its dial is abundant in its markings — including both 12-hour markers, as well as 60-minute indices — it still manages to have a clean and uncluttered design. It’s also powered by a 38-hour automatic movement, has a stainless steel case, and comes with a gorgeous and simple leather strap.

Size: 38mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $658

Seiko Prospex 1968 SBDC061 Dive Watch

Though not technically a ‘Sumo’ Seiko, the Prospex 1968 SBDC061 shares quite a bit with its highly sought-after brethren — including its turtle-shaped stainless steel case and offset crown. It also features a reliable automatic movement, a steel link band, built-in magnetic resistance, and a 200m water-resistance rating. Unlike its cousins, however, this one is a bit more toned-down and, therefore, better for dress wear — yet it’s still an eye-catching piece that’s sure to strike up a conversation with discerning parties.

Size: 44mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $785

Hamilton Khaki Murph Field Watch

While Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar gave us one of the most impressive sci-fi epics ever to appear onscreen, the film also resulted in the release of one of the most iconic movie watches ever — the Hamilton Khaki Murph Field Watch. Made specifically by Hamilton for the film, this unique version of the brand’s (arguably) most popular watch features a stainless steel case, an automatic movement, an alligator-style leather strap, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It’s not going to allow you to wormhole through the universe, but it’s still an exceedingly special timekeeper.

Size: 42mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $792

Victorinox Airboss Mechanical Watch

Pilot watches, a historically-significant watch style, are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. But they’re not all created equal. In fact, some stand head and shoulders above the rest — like the Victorinox Airboss Mechanical. This beautifully-designed timepiece boasts a Swiss-made automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve, a fully-featured slide rule bezel for easy on-the-spot calculations, SuperLuminova markings for low-light visibility, and a stainless steel case with a matching link band. For frequent fliers, few other watches will do.

Size: 42mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $995

Longines Heritage Military Field Watch

Many of the best watches around are either ripped right from the pages of history or they pay homage to timepieces of old. The Longines Heritage Military Field Watch is a little of both, boasting styling from the 1940s and borrowed directly from timepieces designed for the British Royal Air Force. Despite its military leanings, however, this is still very much a dress watch with its stainless steel case, minimalist numerical dial, trio of hands, and a duo of straps — one green leather and one NATO nylon. If history and handsomeness are on your watch docket, go no further.

Size: 38mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $2,150

Weiss Titanium American Issue Ultralight Field Watch

Weiss has been making its watches on American soil for some time now and is one of the few brands to do so. But the brand’s craftsmen may have outdone themselves with this limited edition watch — an ultra-slim titanium field watch housing a similarly-slim aluminum movement. On top of its unmistakable styling, markings, and minimalist simplicity, it’s also a manually-wound timepiece, adding even more desirability to it for those who can appreciate the horological intricacies of an old-school movement. However, if you want one you’d better act quickly; only 100 will ever be made.

Size: 42mm
Case: Titanium
Movement: Manual

Purchase: $2,800

Tissot Excellence Automatic Watch

Tissot has a long history of watchmaking that touches on every end of the spectrum. But one of their best watches is this dressed-up Excellence Automatic. Powered by a Swiss automatic movement, this watch will keep ticking ad infinitum and it will stay right on time. Plus, it features a gorgeous 19K rose gold case with matching indices on the dial, hands, and even the crown. And that gold pairs beautifully with its dark chocolate dial and matching leather strap. For a dressed-up timepiece that does it’s one expected job beautifully, go no further.

Size: 39.8mm
Case: 18K Rose Gold
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $3,200

Tudor Black Bay Dive Watch

One of the most iconic dive watches anywhere, Tudor’s Black Bay distills a whopping sixty years of diving experience into a single, stunning timepiece. This particular example features a 41mm stainless steel case complete with a striking red dive timer bezel, black dial with luminous markings, a steel link band, a domed sapphire crystal, and more. It also boasts 200m water-resistance and a screw-down crown to keep it safe both during normal usage and in actual dives. Of course, if you’re just looking for a handsome timekeeper to add to your wardrobe, it still fits the bill in spades.

Size: 41mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $3,725

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph Watch

The very first dive watch Oris ever produced came out back in 1965. And the aptly-named Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph takes all 5+ decades of experience building ocean-going timepieces and distills them into a single, gorgeous, reliable timepiece that would look superb on any wrist or added to any collection. Furthermore, while this mechanical watch features a stainless steel case, the bezel is marked by a bronze-finished edge for a bit of stylish contrast. Furthermore, it also contains an automatic movement, a sapphire crystal, and a Swiss-made automatic movement.

Size: 43mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $4,000

Panerai Luminor Watch

If big, bold timepieces are more your speed, you might find an interest in Panerai’s Luminor. And that goes double if your interests also lie in horological traditions, as this hefty wristwatch is powered by an in-house hand-wound mechanical movement. But don’t worry — you won’t have to be constantly winding this one, as it features a 3-day power reserve to make things a bit simpler. It also features an anti-shock housing, a shielded crown, a hefty stainless steel case, and a handsome leather strap. Of course, you can also select

Size: 44mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Manual

Purchase: $4,900

Bell & Ross BR-05 Watch

A completely new offering and possibly the best new watch of 2019, the Bell & Ross BR-05 capitalizes on the brand’s iconic square case shape but pares it into a much more toned-down, dressed-up, sleek timepiece. On top of its bold dial markers, it also features a subtle date window, luminous indices, a 40mm stainless steel case with a matching band, an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and — most importantly — an automatic movement powering it all. If this is a sign of things to come from Bell & Ross, we can’t wait to see more.

Size: 40mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $4,900

Omega Seamaster Professional Diver Watch

As the favored brand of both James Bond and NASA, Omega has quite a few mechanical watch offerings worth their weight in gold. But we’re fairly partial to one of their most iconic offerings, the Seamaster Professional dive watch. This particular one, dressed-up in beautiful deep blue and silver, boasts an automatic movement with an anti-magnetic housing, a screw-down crown with a helium escape valve, an exhibition caseback, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and 30 bar water-resistance. You can’t really go wrong with an Omega, but this mechanical one is all the more special.

Size: 42mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,200

Breitling Avenger Chronograph 45 Night Mission Watch

Likely because of its relative inexpensiveness and durability, most watches are crafted from stainless steel. But if you look hard enough, you can find alternatives made from rarer substances — like this Breitling Avenger Chronograph with its black-finished titanium case. Measuring up at 45mm, you might expect this hefty watch to weigh quite a bit. However, its lightweight case makes it far more manageable than you might expect. Mate that with a 300m water-resistance rating, a double-glare-proofed cambered sapphire crystal, and a self-winding movement and it’s easy to see why this watch is trusted by aviation professionals and horological fanatics alike.

Size: 45mm
Case: Black Titanium
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,835

TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Watch

You might recognize the TAG Heuer Monaco as the watch favored by the likes of the ‘King of Cool,’ Steve McQueen — or at least you recognize it as the watch he wore in his Le Mans automotive movie. That paired with this watches rich racing history makes it a favorite in the automotive world by young and old alike. And with the recent revealing of a number of celebratory editions, it’s never been easier to get the Monaco that suits your style best. Of course, we’re partial to this one with its automatic movement, iconic squared case, blue dial, white and red markings, and its contrasting sub-dials. For car lovers, there’s probably not a better historically-significant watch around.

Size: 39mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $5,900

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Watch

Not to be confused with the television manufacturer of the same name, Zenith is actually a pretty historically-important watchmaker out of Switzerland. However, despite their long history, they’ve only been available in the States for a relatively short period. That being said, their Chronomaster El Primero watch is a pretty good example as to why they should be on every horological fan’s radar. This strikingly unique chronograph features a lauded El Primero automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve, a stainless steel case with a matching bracelet, and a handy tachymeter bezel.

Size: 42mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $7,100

Rolex GMT-Master II Watch

As is the case with most “best of” watch guides, this list is not complete without the appearance of an appropriate Rolex timepiece. And when it comes to mechanical watches, their automatic GMT-Master II is nothing shy of legendary. This particular edition is new for 2019 and includes a construction of Oystersteel — both the case and bracelet — a brand-spanking-new 3285 calibre in-house movement (with a 70-hour power reserve), the ability to tell the time in dual timezones at once, an iconic rotating two-tone bezel, and a signature magnified date window at the 3 o’clock position. If you’re going to get a Rolex (and you should), you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Size: 40mm
Case: Oystersteel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $9,250

IWC Portugieser Chronograph Watch

An exceptional dress watch with just the right amount of sinister styling, this 18K gold and black Portugieser Chronograph from IWC is an absolute stunner. And while it’s looks are spot-on, it’s the mechanical bits inside that really steal the show — that includes a self-winding automatic movement that’s good for 44 hours between “charges.” Along with that, it also comes with a black alligator leather strap, an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and it’s water-resistant to 3 bar — not that you’d go swimming with this handsome, dressed-up timepiece.

Size: 40.9mm
Case: 18K 5N Gold
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $16,600

Grand Seiko SBGK006 Watch

Possibly the last word in elegance when it comes to Japanese watchmaking, the Grand Seiko SBGK006 is an absolutely spectacular manual-wound mechanical watch. Its case is crafted from striking 18K yellow gold (including the crown, indices, and hands), it features a simple and easy-to-read power indicator, it has an understated seconds sub-dial, and it’s paired with a spectacular crocodile leather band. For those with an appreciation for Japanese precision and a hefty bank account to match, this is one of the most exceptional watches currently available — mechanical or otherwise.

Size: 39mm
Case: 18K Yellow Gold
Movement: Manual

Purchase: $19,000

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch

Though clearly an extremely opulent timepiece affordable only to those with a tremendous amount of disposable income, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch is no less worth its seemingly exorbitant price both for its overall quality of construction and craftsmanship, as well as its iconic nature and timekeeping precision. This angular, self-winding, stainless steel watch also comes with a unique integrated link bracelet, a crystal-clear sapphire window, and — if this basic version doesn’t quite fit your needs — it has a full suite of siblings to choose from ranging from complex chronographs, to moonphase watches, to skeletonized dials, and more.

Size: 41mm
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Automatic

Purchase: $25,995

What's The Difference: Quartz vs. Mechanical Watch Movements

To understand the inherent value of a mechanical watch, you must first understand how they differ from their quartz brethren. We’ve outlined exactly what separates them on our quartz vs. mechanical watch guide.

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