4 Watches Every Man Should Own: The Essential Minimalist Watch Collection

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Watches are one of the few pieces of jewelry men feel comfortable wearing, so if you’re strapping on a timepiece, might as well make a statement, right?

A lot of guys wear one watch every day, but just like the rest of your wardrobe, it’s important to have a few options so you can swap depending on what you’re doing. 

Technically you could wear your beat up old field watch on a fancy date night, but we’re here to help you elevate your style. 

Today I’m outlining a basic four-piece watch collection that will have you covered with the appropriate timepiece whether you’re headed to work, Broadway, or on a beach vacation. 

4 Essential Watches Men Need to Know About

1. Dress Watch

Vincero Kairos blue dial close up angle

The dress watch makes the top of our list because it’s the most versatile. Dress watches aren’t limited to fancy dinners and the opera. 

Instead, they class up whatever you’re wearing, so if you pair a dressy timepiece with a casual outfit, you’ll still look casual—just a little more refined. 

But when you give that big presentation at work or you sit down at that restaurant with the $60 plates, you don’t want to flash your beater wrist-candy. You want a watch that matches the formality of your surroundings. 

So what exactly is a dress watch?

Here are a few hallmarks of the style:

  • Thin case that doesn’t raise too far off your wrist
  • Stainless steel or precious metal case
  • Diameter is typically smaller, from 34mm to 40mm max
  • Simple dial, often without numerals, and with just an hour, minute, and second hand
  • Most often has a leather bracelet, though a metal link bracelet works too

A good example of a dress watch is the Vincero Kairos. With a thin case, it lies close to your wrist, and the date box is one of the few embellishments on the dial. 

Vincero Kairos gold brown and black straps in a row on white background

My favorite color combo for dressy situations is the blue and silver, as it matches with just about anything, including navy and charcoal suits, or a crisp indigo jeans and sweater ensemble. 

You’re looking for an elegant timepiece that doesn’t call too much attention to itself, but looks classy when those around you inevitably spot it. 

If you have a budget set aside to build a small watch collection, I recommend prioritizing a nice dress watch before you pick anything else up. The reason is simple: if you wear a dress watch with jeans and a tee, all you need is a sleek pair of loafers and your outfit is suddenly upscale casual.

But if you pair a scratched calculator watch with a slim navy suit, your outfit is disjointed. 

Put another way: you can dress down an elegant watch, but you’ll have a much harder time dressing up a casual watch. 

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While we’d like to see a greater selection of leather bands from Vincero, the simple, masculine design of the Kairos collection works equally well in the office, at a wedding, or out for drinks.

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2. Field Watch

Vincero Outrider next to tools

The second most important watch in your collection is a field watch, because that’s the one you’re wearing most often on the weekend.

Whether you’re out in the garage working on your car, cooking up a big meal in the kitchen, or heading out for the weekend on a camping adventure, the field watch is a durable, no-frills piece that’s easy to read and can take a beating. 

The great thing about field watches is that the best aren’t always the most expensive. You can get a timepiece that serves you well and doesn’t break the bank. 

Here are a few things to look for when searching for the perfect field watch:

  • Stainless steel or PVD coated case
  • Diameter is small to medium, anywhere from 36 to 42mm
  • Watch glass is sapphire or sapphire coated for scratch resistance
  • Watch glass has a glare-proof coating for easy reading
  • High contrast dial (most often white numerals on a darker dial) 
  • Lume painted hands for easier reading at night
  • At least 100m water resistance
  • Leather or nylon strap

The Vincero Outrider is a good example of a classic field watch: it’s rugged, durable, and ready for adventures. 

With an added chronograph feature and rotating bezel, the Outrider has a few bells and whistles not always found on traditional field watches. 

The Jacket Maker 11

But whatever model you get, make it one you’re not afraid to get dirty. And though I typically love steel link bracelets, leather or nylon are the better choices for a field watch because they’re easier to replace if you damage them. 

I’m not saying you should do anything that’s going to damage your watch, but as a man, sometimes you have to get in there with your hands, and you don’t want to worry about coddling your timepiece when you’re in the nitty-gritty. 

If you have a budget set aside for a small watch collection, allocate the least amount of money to your field watch. That’s not to say you should cheap out—far from it. You need something that has durability, because you’re going to put this watch through the wringer. 

But you can often get a high quality durable timepiece for a relatively low rate. 

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Vincero's homage to field watches: the Outrider is a tough timepiece that looks classy and is built as solid as a rock.

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3. Dive Watch

vincero vessel product shot against white background

Dive watches may be the most popular style for men’s watches, and the reason why is simple: they’re rugged, masculine, and have a ton of utility. 

If you’re actually wearing your dive watch diving, I think a nylon NATO strap or silicone band is the way to go, but few dudes actually use dive watches in the water (guilty as charged over here). 

I like my dive watches with a steel link bracelet because they thread the needle between classy (like your dress watch), and super casual (like your field watch).

Most dive watches have a large diameter (between 40-46mm), and the large indices make them a casual watch for sure, but if you pick yours up in a spiffy stainless silver color, they’re a nice match for more relaxed office dress codes. 

With a steel link diver, save your dress watch for when you really want to turn the classy dial up a notch, and wear the diver as a sort of upscale everyday piece

The perfect dive watch will feature the following:

  • Stainless steel or titanium case
  • Diameter is large, from 40-46mm
  • Watch glass is sapphire or sapphire coated for scratch resistance
  • Glare-proof glass for easy reading
  • 150m or more of water resistance
  • Strong lume for easy reading under water
  • Nylon, silicone, or stainless link bracelet (preferably easy to change straps, too)
  • Rotating dive bezel
  • Pronounced hands and chapter ring markers for easy and obvious time readings under water

The Vessel from Vincero is a unique take on the classic dive watch. The two-crown construction is rare and distinctive, and makes for an excellent style piece

And with 200m of water resistance and a glare-proof sapphire crystal, it’s a good companion for the sea. I have my Vessel on a silicone band for maximum corrosion resistance (salt-water can even be rough on stainless steel). 

Vincero also offers a stainless link version, which is my recommendation for a diver if your primary objective is style. 

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If you’re planning on actually slipping into a wetsuit and getting scuba ready, another piece like the Citizen Promaster Diver has a more solid rotating bezel, and a screwdown protected crown, both of which can be incredibly important when timing out your descent and ascent. 

When budgeting for a dive watch, plan on spending more than you would on your field watch and chronograph. Because your diver is more versatile than a field watch, you’ll be wearing it on more upscale occasions (but it’s pretty easy to get more upscale than being a grease monkey under the hood of your car).

Above, I mentioned that the largest portion of your collection budget should go to your dress watch. But your diver may be an exception if your workplace has a relaxed dress code and a casual watch is more appropriate. 

For instance, spending a bit more to get a refined steel link diver may benefit you more in the long run as it becomes your everyday watch for the office. If your diver has a sapphire crystal, it’ll stay scratch-free and look fantastic years after buying it. So in that scenario, it may make sense to spend a bit more on getting your ideal diver, and reserve a bit less cash for your dress watch.  

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The Vessel puts a unique Vincero spin on classic dive watches. Rated at 200m water resistance and outfitted with a sapphire crystal, the Vessel marks a big leap in Vincero’s overall build quality.

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4. Chronograph (Aviator or Racing Watch)

Vincero Apex hanging on black packaging

If you’ve got a dress watch, a field piece, and a diver, you’ve already got the big three. If I’m honest, you can stop there and have a fantastic watch collection that serves you in just about any situation I can think of. 

So why add a fourth? 

Well, think of a chronograph as a target strike. While the dress, diver, and field watches all cover wide ranges, a more bold, adventurous chronograph can act as the exclamation point in your outfit. 

There are a few different paths to follow for your chronograph: aviators are complicated, often cover multiple time-zones, and are a complement for the jet-setter. 

Or if you’re a motor-fiend, a racing watch with a tachymeter might be more your speed. Whatever revs your engine. 

The chronograph is the place to show off a bit more of your personality. Don’t worry so much about finding a piece that’s super versatile here—pick something bold and striking that catches your eye. 

An ideal chronograph will have:

  • Stainless steel, titanium, or PVD coated case
  • Chronograph movement, with multiple subdials
  • A crown and two-pushers
  • Diameter is large, from 40-46mm
  • Watch glass is sapphire or sapphire coated for scratch resistance
  • Glare-proof glass for easy reading
  • 100m or more of water resistance
  • Specialized bezel (tachymeter, telemeter, slide-rule, etc.)
  • A third or fourth hand that doesn’t count seconds, but acts as an independent timer

The world is your oyster when it comes to chronographs. Most options will have a complicated dial by necessity, but some are over the top—is that something you like? 

Check out the Vincero Apex and Altitude. Both are chronographs, but with different vibes. Take some time exploring the different variations. As you can see, just between these two Vincero pieces, you can have your subdials ordered vertically or horizontally. 

Vincero Altitude Hand in Pocket Closeup

But there are chronographs out there with three subdials, and plenty more overcomplicated designs to fit any aesthetic. 

Because your chronograph will act as a specialty player in your wardrobe, spend whatever you have left in your budget. Again, if I’m building my collection from scratch, I’d likely spend a bit more here than I did on my field watch, but probably not as much as on my dress and diver. 

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The Vincero Apex is a unique take on the racing watch genre. With solid water resistance, sapphire coated crystal, and a Seiko mecha-quartz movement, Vincero has stepped up their quality again.

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Think of your chronograph like the 6th man on a basketball team—sure, he’s not part of the starting lineup, but they can’t win the championship without him. 

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Vincero Altitude
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Vincero’s Altitude line offers a cool design with versatile color schemes. While they’ve made some concessions to keep the price down, Vincero has delivered another great fashion-forward watch.

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What Does Your Collection Look Like?

If you’re looking to build up your watch collection, I’m excited for you. But remember, you’re running a marathon, and not a sprint. 

It’s better to start with a collection featuring one lone beautiful timepiece. Of the four watches I mentioned, which will suit your needs the most? Get the best version of that timepiece—one that you’ll be happy with for years to come. 

Then add another when your budget allows. Would you rather have two incredible watches you absolutely love wearing, or would you rather have six or seven watches that are so-so? 

Yeah, I thought so. 

FAQs

How many watches should a man own?

A man should own one watch at the absolute minimum. Four watches make for an inclusive and impressive collection. But a man can own upwards of twenty watches if they’re his passion and he has specific occasions for each.

Can you wear the same watch every day?

Yes, you can wear the same watch every day, though it’s better to have a rotation of timepieces so you can match the style of your watch to the appropriate occasion. A dress watch is the most versatile, but they’re not always the best choice for when you’re relaxing on the weekends and need a more durable timepiece.

What kind of watch goes with everything?

A slim silver case watch between 38-40mm with a white or black minimal dial is a versatile choice. Choose a brown or black leather band, depending on what color palette you most often wear. While this won’t work in every scenario you encounter in your life, it’s a fantastic place to start.

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