5 Different Types of Watches

The watch world is one where people can break products down in a hundred different ways. That being said, one of the most popular methods is different types of watches. The 5 most common of them are dress, field, pilot, dive, and racing, each with their own set of characteristics. If you’re in the market for purchasing a watch, understanding these categories is an excellent way to narrow your search. I’ll help you do so in the following passages.


Types of Watches: Dress

The primary reason why people buy dress watches is to look great in formal clothing. These products are generally small, elegant, and aesthetically simple. It is common for a dress piece to just be a leather strap, silver case, and design-free dial.

front view of Rolex Day Date black dial watch

They are also frequently very light and thin, given that they must fit under a long sleeve shirt. They rarely have complications, like chronographs, and are subtle in just about every way. This style is great for anyone that frequently wears formal clothing or just likes super simple watch designs.

Where to Look: Two affordable options are Seiko and Orient. There are scores of more expensive brands to choose from like Rolex, too.

Types of Watches: Field

The origin of the field watch is exactly what you’d expect. These products started to rise in popularity after the crucial role they played in both World Wars. Unlike in the past, where coordinating attacks was difficult, soldiers in these wars were all outfitted with wristwatches.

side view of Hamilton Khaki black dial watch

This development made maneuvering throughout the battlefield much easier. As far as features, field watches are built with resiliency and utility in mind. They have easy to read dials, are made from sturdy materials, and often have useful complications.

Where to Look: The Khaki King is an iconic field watch from Hamilton that feels more expensive than it is.

Types of Watches: Pilot

Pilot watches were born from the field style. What happened is that air-based attacks became much more common between WWI and WWII. As a result, manufacturers created a spinoff product with functions that help pilots make their way through the skies.

Zenith pilot watch on the wrist

A typical example is chronographs, which work like tiny stopwatches on the inside of your watch. Aesthetically, they look very similar to field watches but are often a bit more complex.

Where to look: One of the most famous producers of them in the modern day is IWC and Zenith, so you might want to check them out if you like this style.

Types of Watches: Dive

This style is likely the most popular of all. Manufacturers build them with a specific type of adventurer in mind: Divers. The result of this mindset is a product that can withstand a substantial amount of water pressure, the corroding forces of moisture, and significant impact.

Rolex Submariner Ref. 116613lb-DIA watch on the wrist

The design of them is quite pleasing too, as almost all dive watches have an eye-catching bezel and a distinctly sporty look. Strengthening this type’s case even more, the Rolex Submariner is a dive watch, and one that many say is the most iconic timepiece of all time.

Where to look: Honestly, most brands sell a variety of divers. The most famous of them are likely Rolex and Omega.

Types of Watches: Racing

Lastly, we come to racing watches. These products tend to be flashy and packed with information. One of the most common features is a tachymeter, which helps convert speed into time and vice versa. They also almost always have a chronograph too, which adds to their function and appeal. These timepieces are perfect for people that love racing culture or want a watch that really grabs people’s attention.

front view of Tag Heuer Formula 1 Ref.  WAZ2113.BA0875 watch

Where to look: Tag Heuer is a brand that sell excellent racing watches.

Now that you know these 5 different types of watches, you can decide which you want for your next purchase. To help you make a decision, let’s go through 3 example customers.

  • My buddy Brad is all about the luxury life. He wears suits to work every day, goes to formal dinners on the weekends, and even wears collared shirts when lounging around the house. His best bet is a dress watch because it matches his life and style.
  • I love knowing that my watch is masterfully built and can withstand just about anything. As a result, dive watches dominate my collection. I enjoy the fact that they can function hundreds of meters below the surface of the ocean and are incredibly resistant to corrosion.
  • Another friend of mine is a massive racing fan. He absolutely loves the culture surrounding it, so when he came to me looking for a recommendation, I sent him a few racing watches.

In the end, your choice will depend on who you are and how you live your life. Take a look at those factors, and you will quickly find out which type of watch is right for you.

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