19 Different Types of Watches to Know About Before Buying

When choosing a watch, the first thing to consider is the different types of watches to select from.

This might not have been an issue some decades ago. The wristwatch market has expanded so much these days, we still have new kinds coming out every day. If you do not believe us, you might want to check the timeline on smartwatches for some conviction.

We are letting the cat out of the bag already. Before settling on any watch at all, here are the different kinds we believed you should have considered. For a well-rounded decision, at least.

Analog Watch

Analog Watch

A pretty common watch type today are analog watches – maybe only rivaled by their digital counterparts.

Analog watches are characterized by their hour markers for easier reading of hours and minutes. Some of them also have a second hand to tell watch movements to a more detailed level of accuracy. However, some users prefer analog watches that do not have the second hand since they could be distracting sometimes.

That said, analog watches could have numbers in the form of Roman or Arabic numerals. Some of them do not even use any numbers at all, opting for markers instead. This is the kind of watch face that features on the Rolex Explorer series.

In some cases, watchmakers could choose to build their analog watches without any markers on its face. That would take an adept time teller to know what hour and minute they were looking at. That, or they just wear the watch for its aesthetic appeal and depend on other sources (such as their smartphones) for time-telling.

No matter the mannerisms of the watch face, though, the watch face will work just the same

Triathlon Watch

Triathlon Watches

The name gives it off already.

These watches are specifically designed to meet the needs of athletes who are competing in three different kinds of competitions. The nature of that competition informs the way that the watches are made, bettering their suitability to the intended purpose.

A standard triathlon would see an athlete compete in swimming, cycling, and running events.

What that tells us is that the watch does not only need to be durable but be water-resistant also. This watch should also be equipped with sensors that can monitor stroke counts, steps, lap times, and such other relevant data.

These days, we don’t see much of triathlon watches around. That is not for the lack of triathlons, but the growth of smartwatches.

We discuss more on smartwatches below.

Digital Watch

Digital Watch

They are not to be confused with smartwatches.

These watches have the time told by digits instead of dials.

Digital watches are sometimes referred to as using military time. That alone does not make them military watches either.

A brand that has excelled in the manufacturing of digital watches over time is Casio – and they do not look to be slowing down in churning them out either.

Hybrid Watch

Hybrid Watches

We have discussed the analog watch. We also know what a digital watch is.

Why have one of both when we can have them in the same shell, right? That is what a hybrid watch brings to the table.

The same watch face offers watch hands/ dials and a digital readout for time. Most hybrid watches will feature a backlight technology for the easy telling of time in low light situations.

We believe that hybrid watches are great for kids just learning how to tell time. As long as both faces are properly set and calibrated, such kids can test their knowledge of analog time telling against the readouts on the digital screen.

Besides that, it is equally just fun to have a hybrid watch in the collection.

Automatic Watch

Automatic Watch

Rather than use a battery, an automatic watch relies on the energy that it gets from the wearer’s hand movements to keep running.

As long as the wearer moves their hands, a rotating disc in the watch can take that energy and store it. This energy is used to keep the watch working even at night when it is not being worn. Of course, the energy can last the watch for a while, but it can only go as far. That is why we recommend wearing your automatic watch frequently if you do not want it to lose time.

A common misconception with automatic watches is that they will stress out the wearer too much. Quite the contrary.

The simple raising of your hands to check the time, attempts at gesticulating/ waving, hand swaying when walking, flicking something off, etc., is enough to keep the watch charged, so to speak.

Tactile Watch

Tactile Watches

Tactile watches are usually discussed in the same breath as braille watches. That is not totally out of place since both are great for the visually impaired. However, they used to be completely different types of watches.

The idea behind tactile watches is to be able to tell the time without the wearer having to look at the watch face. The first set of tactile watches to hit the streets – in the 19th century – were designed for wearers who wanted to tell time as discreetly as possible.

That single use case made it to a broader populace. Hence, these watches were adopted for use by the visually impaired too.

Chronograph Watch

Chronograph Watch

Truth be told, this one took us a while to figure out too.

When you hear that a watch comes with a chronograph, that simply means it has a stopwatch inside of it too.

This might be confusing. Why not just call it a stopwatch, then? That is mainly because stopwatches are associated with digital watches. Analog wrist watches, on the other hand, come with chronographs.

When buying a chronograph watch, check to see that it works. Most knockoffs and low budget wristwatches usually have a static chronograph built onto the watch face for aesthetics alone.

A typical chronograph watch will have buttons on the side that can be pressed to get the chronograph working, stopped, and reset.

Casual Watch

Casual Watches

Often the most affordable kinds of watches, casual watches are designed for everyday use and wear.

They are not with any fanfare and are just there to be a watch. They could also serve as an accessory to simple, everyday dressing. A casual watch is a kind that you would wear for a relaxed evening at a friend’s place, slap on with a pair of jeans, etc.

Most of the time, the aim of a causal watch is not to make a fashion statement. We can also go out on a limb to say that they are usually not meant to tell time either. They are just there to complete the outfit/ keep the wrists occupied.

After all, wearing an expensive watch just to go watch a game at your favorite bar sounds like too much of a stretch.

Diving Watch

Diving Watch

These are watches that will allow you to go underwater without suffering damage.

While there are watches protected against water damage, not all of them can go in-depth and not suffer damage. Thus, a wristwatch does not qualify as a diver’s watch if it cannot withstand the water pressure up to 200 – 300 meters underwater.

There are great divers’ watches that can do beyond that. This is, however, a reasonable average range for us to start including a watch in the category.

Solar-Powered Watch

Solar-Powered Watches

Yet another one that pretty much explains itself.

Rather than relying on a conventional battery, solar-powered watches are equipped with photovoltaic cells on the watch face. These cells capture the UV rays from the sun and convert it into energy for the watch to work on.

You will be surprised to know that many solar-powered watches can keep on working for multiple days without getting a recharge from the sun, so to speak.

They, also, do not require that you linger in the sun or leave your watch out in the sun either. Simply going about your daily business, while exposed to the outdoors, is enough time for the watch to get its reserves juiced up.

Dress Watch

Dress Watch

Need we say more?

These are those watches that go with your dress outfits.

Dress outfits are usually associated with dinners, outings, and such other elaborate events. They could also mean the picks you choose for work. Thus, dress watches could go with your work attire, depending on your kind of profession.

A dress watch has to be classy yet as simple as can be. The typical dress watch does not have all the bells and whistles on it. It is designed to do the basic function of telling time while also elegantly complementing the wearer’s outfit.

At no point in time should the watch be so loud that it commands unnecessary attention.

PS The dress watch is not what you wear to the gym or to see a baseball game. They go into work with you, accompany you to dinners/ award shows, walk into a business meeting on your wrists, and get to enjoy such other settings.

GMT Watch

GMT Watches

GMT, or the Greenwich Mean Time in full, is a metric on which the world’s time zones are distributed.

A GMT watch allows the wearer to track the time over a 24-hour timeframe. The conventional watch only allows for time tracking in 12-hour splits. Another advantage of the GMT watch is that it allows the wearer to keep knowledge of time in two different time zones at the same time.

These features make GMT watches desirable to businessmen, traders, and avid travelers.

A common way to determining a GMT watch is in the presence of a fourth hand beside the minute, hour, and second dials. This fourth hand revolves around the clock face only once every 24 hours – signaling the passing of a day.

Quartz Watch


Growing up, I used to think that Quartz was just another one of the many wristwatch manufacturers in the world. How wrong that assumption would turn out to be.

Today, we know that quartz watches are so named because of how they are powered, and their resultant movement.

A basic watch designated with this title has a quartz crystal synchronizing an eclectic oscillator which powers the watch itself. They are very commonplace today, and will usually require battery changes to keep them going.

Moon Phase Watch

Moon Phase Watch

A moon phase watch does two distinct things, besides telling the time.

On the one hand, it indicates the phase of the moon, based on the inbuilt calendar on the watch. On the other hand, it also helps the wearer to track sunrise and sunset by indicating with a sun or moon on the face of the watch.

Moon phase watches are great for those that work/ stay indoors a lot. It is also great for people staying in areas where weather conditions might make it impossible to effectively discern between the day and night.

Mechanical Watch

Mechanical Watch

All watches tick, but you tend to hear the ticking more on mechanical watches.

This ticking can sometimes be disturbing, and it can be strangely pleasant some other times. What the ticking does to you will determine if you would go for this kind of watch at all.

So, what are they?

As the name implies, they work on mechanical principles. Instead of using a battery, they require to be wound frequently. The winding stores power in a mainspring within the watch system. This spring gently unwinds, powering the time-telling mechanism within the watch till it loses all the energy stored.

Field Watch

Field Watches

We will not like to be the ones to say you can also call these military watches. What you can call them, though, is military-grade.

Field watches are designed to be good looking, quite alright, but that is not the selling point. It is not a good field watch if it is not durable, highly rugged, and well insulated against the elements. These watches should be able to take on abuse and come out nearly unscathed on the other end.

This durability makes them a no-brainer for military personnel, cops, firefighters, rangers, etc.

Pilot Watch

Pilot Watches

Pilots seem to have a fashion line of their own. From their perfectly tailored uniforms and beautiful hats to the aptly named aviator sunglasses, there is almost no shortage of amazing wardrobe for these professionals.

Fortunately, they also have their line of watches. Named for them, at least.

Pilot watches are characterized by their toughness and reliability. This durability is matched by the stylishness of the watches which makes them suitable as everyday watches also. The good news is that you do not have to be a pilot to rock a nice pilot watch too.



Smartwatches are the new age watches that came to redefine what a basic watch could do.

Of course, they handle telling time just right. They do so much more than that too though.

For starters, they connect to our mobile devices to bring us notifications (calls and messages) faster. The good ones even allow you to reply to these notifications without having to touch your smartphones.

Smartwatches also bring a load of useful sensors on them. They can help users stay in shape, monitor their heart rates, optimize for stress levels, and more.

In short, they can be said to be mini smartphones worn on the hands to handle a wide variety of tasks, making our lives much easier.

Luxury Watches

Rolex Explorer vs Rolex Explorer II

Have you ever seen a Rolex Oyster Perpetual? No one would have to tell you that this multi-thousand-dollar watch is a luxury selection before you believed it.

Luxury watches are often the jewels of any collectors’ eye, costing a pretty penny to own. They are usually created by veteran watchmakers who handcraft their watches to the highest level of precision.

While is not always the case, luxury watches are often lined in precious materials – from metals to stones. That explains why they have so much value, and will be the crown of almost any watch collection.

And There’s More

If you ever thought that we had explored all the different types of watches that exist, that would be wrong.

There are a ton more watches out there which we have not even mentioned. From carabiners and clip-on watches to pocket watches, the list still stretches far. Watchmakers have also started factoring different professions into their craft. That has seen the spawning of unique timepieces created for a specific class of professionals.

In the list above, though, you should be able to learn quite a lot about the diverse categories of watches out there. With that knowledge, we hope it would be easier for you to choose a desired watch for yourself or others when you are faced with seemingly endless options.