The crème de la crème of timepieces, the mechanical watch is the hallmark of luxury wristwear. Using a clockwork mechanism to measure time, the best mechanical watches are powered by manually winding a mainspring that transmits force through various gears to kickstart the balance wheel—setting off that sweet ticking sound of working hands.
Long-lasting and a must-have for every watch fan, the mechanical watch is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. It won’t only be enjoyed by you, but generations after. So if you’re ready to take the plunge (and leave your kids with something special), keep reading for my round-up of the best mechanical watches for men.
Whether you’re an enthusiast or first-time buyer, you should be giving some serious thought to the type of watch you’re buying. Sure, it can be a costly purchase, but choose the wrong one, and you’ll never get to wear it. And that, my friend, is so much worse.
To help you make the right decision, I’ve handpicked the best mechanical watches worthy of your consideration. There’s NOMOS Glashütte’s Tangente, plus Nixon’s Spectra. You’ll also find plenty of options for every budget and occasion.
When it comes to finding the best mechanical watches, NOMOS Glashütte is a name that simply can’t be ignored. Based in Glashütte, Saxony, the owner-operated company specializes in artisan manual-winding and automatic mechanical watches.
Amongst an ever-impressive portfolio sits the Tangente. Beautifully classic and refined, the simple but seriously slick ticker offers high precision and fuss-free style that can complement pretty much any outfit choice. The 35mm case houses a handcrafted and manually wound Alpha caliber that only needs winding once every two days. Wear it to the office with your favorite suit, or show it off at the weekend with jeans and a crew neck tee.
Case Size: 35mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 6.2mm | Water Resistant: Yes
The best mechanical watches aren’t cheap. But let’s be clear: you aren’t just paying for a name. Before reaching your wrist, they’ll have passed through the skilled hands (and a few machines) of many experienced craftsmen to ensure the intricate inner workings are ready to tell you the time.
However, while nothing worth having comes easy, there are more affordable options with automatic movements. Unlike mechanical watches that are manually wound, automatic timepieces, like this one from Nixon, are automatically powered by the movement of your wrist. The Spectra features a twenty-one jewel automatic movement that’s fully displayed through the transparent skeleton face. It’s perfect for day-to-day use, but you can dress it up for formal occasions too.
Case Size: 40mm | Movement Type: Automatic | Thickness: Not Specified | Water Resistant: Yes
If you want a vintage-looking watch with the reliability of a modern masterpiece, Baltic is a great place to start. Born in 2016, the new kid on the block produces a range of the best mechanical watches that will instantly improve any ensemble.
My favorite is the Tricompax Panda. Equipped with a hand-wound chronograph movement developed by Swiss manufacturer Sellita. It offers a slim profile with a slightly sporty feel that can be dressed up or down. The 60-hour power reserve means you only have to wind it every few days.
Case Size: 39.5mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 13.5mm | Water Resistant: Yes
Generally speaking, I’m quite a reserved guy. My style is simple, and my choice of timepiece usually echoes this way of dressing. However, every now and again, something slightly more cheerful catches my eye. Throwing my mind into a frenzy as I watch my monochrome palette given an almighty shake-up.
NOMOS Glashütte’s Lux Zikade watch was the latest shiny new toy to grab me by the horns. Featuring a lemon yellow face in a golden frame, it’s one of the label’s most eye-grabbing pieces. Yet it somehow feels extremely modern and classic at the same time. You can use it to add a pop of color to tailoring or to finish off your favorite smart-casual fit.
Case Size: 38.5mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 9mm | Water Resistant: Yes
The best mechanical watches for men require regular winding because they use the power of an unwinding spring. However, there’s another type of mechanical movement that does the winding for you. This is called automatic.
An automatic watch, like Nixon’s, is often a more affordable option and is particularly convenient because it’s powered as you move your wrist. Here’s the Supremacy—featuring an all-black appearance and 100-meter water resistance. The yellow accents make it a must-have for weekends, whether you’re partying with friends or lunching with the in-laws.
Case Size: 40mm | Movement Type: Automatic | Thickness: Not Specified | Water Resistant: Yes
Though Amazon might not be the first place you’d go to satisfy your need for luxury timepieces, it actually has a plethora of options ready to wrap around your wrist. Admittedly, it can be a little more difficult to find the best mechanical watches—but that’s where I step in.
Tissot’s offering is part of the label’s Heritage collection, which revisits iconic models from the brand’s past. Featuring a 42mm stainless steel case, it surrounds a sleek silver dial finished with black Arabic numeral hour markers. Once wound, you’ll benefit from a 48-hour power reserve and water resistance up to 30 meters. The brown leather strap makes it a great option for teaming with tailoring or smart-casual separates.
Case Size: 41mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 11.35mm | Water Resistant: Yes
A stainless steel watch is no joke. Not just easy on the eye, it’s extremely tough—which is perfect for anyone looking for longevity. Better yet, it’ll look the part for pretty much any occasion, whether you’re dressing for an awards evening or jetting off on vacation.
On top of my list is Timex’s Expedition North Field. Built to withstand outdoor adventures yet slick enough for the city, it’s water resistant up to 100 meters and features a streamlined dial with luminous hands and markers. Wear it with a shirt and slacks or keep it casual with jeans and a polo.
Case Size: 35.5mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: Not Specified | Water Resistant: Yes
If there’s one word best associated with a mechanical watch, it’s ‘luxury.’ So picking out a singular style for special praise was a tricky task. But I never shy away from a challenge. Step forward Breitling’s AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition.
It boasts an all-black dial which is protected by a domed Hesalite crystal and 41mm stainless steel case. The Arabic numerals match the label’s original Co-Pilot from 1953, which is complemented by 12-hour chronograph counters. You can take it into water up to 30 meters deep, and you’ll be required to hand-wind the COSC-certified caliber.
Case Size: 41mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 14.05mm | Water Resistant: Yes
The perfect everyday watch can lend itself to any outfit. The kind you can put on in the morning and go from the gym to the office and then out for after-work drinks. And unless you’re working with an unlimited budget, it’ll help if it’s semi-affordable too.
This one from Omega ticks all the right boxes. It has a 42mm stainless steel case with a black step dial that feels dressy but slightly sporty too. It’ll cost you just over $6k (hence the semi-affordable), but for something that’ll last you a lifetime, I think that’s a pretty shrewd investment. You’ll also be getting one of the world’s most iconic timepieces; the Speedmaster Moonwatch has been a part of all six moon landings.
Case Size: 42mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 13.2mm | Water Resistant: Yes
Who do you turn to when looking for the best mechanical watches for men? The Swiss, of course. Not just makers of seriously good chocolate, they’re the guys to thank for some of the finest timepieces on earth.
Case in point is this dress watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Housed in a stainless steel case, it’s equipped with a hand-wound Calibre 822, with each component beautifully decorated (although you’ll only see them if you open up the back). Its classy Art Deco inspired aesthetic makes it a match made in heaven for your smartest attire.
Case Size: 27.4mm | Movement Type: Manual | Thickness: 8.51mm | Water Resistant: Yes
What To Look For In The Best Mechanical Watches
The size of your watch plays a big part in not only its appearance but its versatility. It can also affect how comfortable it is to wear. To get a good understanding of the size you require, it can be a good idea to measure your wrist. Small wrists will require a smaller face, while thicker wrists can accommodate larger styles.
Choosing the right watch strap will be largely influenced by personal preference. However, it will also depend on when/where you’re going to show off your new timepiece. For example, leather straps typically come across more formal and look great with a suit. Stainless steel bracelets, on the other hand (or wrist), offer the most versatility and can be dressed up or down. Pick a color that you like and one that’ll complement the majority of your wardrobe.
Mechanical watches are some of the most expensive on the market, so the styles available are somewhat limited. That being said, you still have enough choice to find a design you like that fits your lifestyle. Dive watches are great for regular water immersion, whereas dress watches make a wise investment for formal events and day-to-day wear. You may also want to consider the current watch trends.
So, you’ve made up your mind. You’re fully committed to investing in one of the best mechanical watches. Congratulations, sir. Now all you need to do is decide which one is worthy of your hard-earned cash. If it were up to me? NOMOS Glashütte’s Tangente is an excellent all-rounder that’s reasonably affordable and versatile enough to wear formally or with casual attire. Add it to your watch wardrobe and reap the benefits for many years to come.
From Patek Philippe to NOMOS Glashütte, there are a variety of luxury brands responsible for the best mechanical watches for men. For ultimate reliability, I suggest sticking to the names in this guide. Otherwise, you’d be wise to choose watches that are Swiss-made—the hub of luxury watchmaking.
Mechanical watches are considered highly luxurious. They’re often made using the finest materials, craftsmanship, and inner workings. Also, unlike quartz watches or digital watches, mechanical watches do not require any batteries. Once they are manually wound, you can expect a power reserve of around two days.
Theoretically, mechanical watches can last a lifetime. And in some instances, multiple lifetimes. However, to ensure this kind of longevity, you must carry out regular services by visiting a professional.