The Best Sports Watches for Men in 2018
To call a sports watch just something to keep track of the time is like calling a smartphone just a phone. That only scratches the surface of the functionality of these devices.
There is some confusion about what exactly constitutes a sports watch. A classic sports watch is an analog device that’s water and shock-proof. It provides time, date, and usually a numerical bezel to help track smaller chunks of time. Plus it looks great on your wrist.
But today’s sports watches can do a whole lot more. Many have alarms, timers, compasses, and barometers. You’ll find watches that can track runs or allow you to receive texts and messages on the go. When looking for the best sports watches for men, consider what additional functions will be useful to you.
Because men’s sports watches fall into such a broad range of styles and functions, we’ve broken the best down into four main categories: analog watches, digital sports watches, GPS watches, and smartwatches.
Let’s dive into the best men’s sports watches available today….
Classic Analog Sports Watch
The original sports watch, these analog watches feature a classic, rugged design that looks just as good outdoors as it does in the office. This style emerged from early diving watches. They are waterproof and durable. Most have a rotating bezel that helps track short periods of time. Many also track the day, month, and year. They lack features found in more current sport watches, but have such a classic style they can be worn in any setting.
1. Fossil Machine Chronograph Black Silicone Watch
The Fossil Machine Chronograph Watch is an affordable product with some decent functionality for the cost. The chronograph bit means that it acts as a stopwatch. It has three sub-dials for measuring hours, minutes and seconds.
It’s a stylish piece with a waterproof silicone strap. The watch itself is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a good option for recreational swimmers. Its depth rating is only 5 ATM, so you shouldn’t wear it while scuba diving. It has an old-school analog display with a textured bezel.
The watch is a great addition to the Fossil line. The technology is its most outstanding feature. It’s not the cheapest of comparable products, but it will last for the long haul. It comes with a two-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- You can swap out the silicone band for any 24mm strap
- It’s well-made without feeling heavy despite its larger size
- It’s an attractive timepiece that you’ll want to wear all the time
- Some may find the 45mm watch face too large for their wrist
- Some may have trouble reading the time in certain lighting situations because of the lack of a sharper contrast between the hands and the face
2. Luminox Original Navy SEAL
The Luminox Original Navy SEAL Watch is worth a look if you need a timepiece while diving. It’s water-resistant to 660 feet. It’s slightly smaller than the previous model at 43mm. The face is easy to read and includes the current date on the right side.
The polyurethane strap is comfortable and slick-looking. The hands are luminescent so that you can tell the time in the dark. It’s lightweight and stays in place on your wrist. Bear in mind that the watch doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other ones at this price point.
The value comes from its usability underwater and the superior components rather than the other things that it does. After all, there’s a reason that SEAL is in the product’s name. It’s one example of getting the right device for your intended use.
- The color scheme on the face provides excellent contrast
- The display includes both 12 and 24-hour formats which is fitting for what it is
- The strap includes a safety mechanism to prevent losing it
- Some might not like the different shape of the watch face
- The watch is barebones for the price in terms of extra features
- A professional must replace the battery because it will need special handling due to its depth limit
3. Seiko Divers Automatic
The Seiko Diver’s Automatic is just what the name implies. It doesn’t require a battery but rather “charges” itself with your arm motion due to its Japanese-Automatic movement. You can also hand wind it too. Our advice is to be careful about overdoing it if you go that route.
The band is rubber with a bucket clasp. Like the Luminox, it is water-resistant to 660 feet. The watch hands are luminescent for night-time viewing. The bezel is unidirectional which divers will appreciate. The case is stainless steel for durability. It has both date and day functions.
The watch also has a Hardlex dial window which is one of the more durable materials available. That means it can take some punishment without getting scratched in the process. The band’s width is a tad narrower than comparable models which emphasizes the watch’s face.
- It has a Hardlex dial face to resist scratches and dings
- The contrast between the silver hands and the black dial is excellent even in low light conditions
- The watch is affordable for what you get
- The lack of a safety catch is unfortunate, especially for a watch that you can use while diving
- We weren’t a fan of the larger hour markings especially at 12 o’clock
- Some wearers found the band uncomfortable
Digital Chrono Sports Watch
Emerging in the seventies, digital watches allowed for precise timing down to the hundredths of a second. Today’s digital sports watches feature a rugged, water-proof design, along with timers, lap counters, and a variety of alarms. Higher-end digital watches sometimes have a compass for navigation and a barometer to measure elevation and track changing weather conditions.
4. Timex Ironman Classic
The Timex Ironman packs a lot of functionality in a watch, yet the case is only 38mm. It’s the type of product that the serious athlete will appreciate with a 30-lap memory, 100-hour chronograph and a 24-hour countdown timer. You can even set in in three time zones.
The watch is water-resistant to 330 feet. It features both a night mode and a night light. The case is made of resin with a stationary bezel. It has a quartz movement and runs on a single lithium battery.
The selling point for this watch is evident in its name. It’s a product that is meant for the serious athlete who needs real-time activity tracking for running, bicycling and swimming.
- The face includes descriptions of the different buttons
- You can set up to 15 reminders with the watch
- The display is easy to read
- The overall look of the watch is a bit over-the-top for some users
5. Casio G-Shock
The Casio G-Shock has developed a cult-like following throughout the years. It’s large with a case at 48.5mm. It features a stopwatch, 12/24-hour modes, calendar and an hourly chime. You can also set alarms with it, too. It can take some punishment with its shock resistance. It has a mineral dial face that resists scratching.
The case is made of resin with a stationary bezel. It has a quartz movement that uses one lithium battery. The timekeeping is great with a longer battery life. It has a buckle clasp without a safety catch.
It’s budget-friendly with some extra features that make it worth a look. However, you will find some trade-offs in other components.
- It’s value-priced for a watch that is water-resistant to 660 feet
- It includes day, date and month functionality
- The battery life is excellent
- Some may find the display too small to read especially in low light
- Some may find it too bulky
6. Casio Pathfinder
The Casio Pathfinder stands out as a solar-powered watch. It is also a large device at 51mm. It comes with a lot of extra functionality including a barometer, altimeter, temperature sensor, and compass. Some are over-the-top such as the 31 world time zones and city code display.
However, it has some other handy functions like its daylight savings time on/off switch, battery power indicator and hourly chimes. For the athlete, there is a countdown timer and stopwatch. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet.
Surprisingly, this watch is affordable for all it includes. The solar power charging is a unique touch with it lasting six months. However, buyers in northern latitudes might have issues recharging it during the winter months where the sun angle is lower.
- It includes sunrise/sunset time, useful for hunting and other light-dependent activities
- Its light sensor allows it to switch on illumination automatically
- It has a titanium band with a much-appreciated safety catch
- The band seems cheap for the price
- This watch is more expensive than others of this type
- Electronics can interfere with the operation of the watch’s sensors
GPS Sports Watch
A GPS sports watch builds off digital sports watches by adding GPS to accurately track speed and distance for a variety of activities. These watches usually need to be recharged after several uses. They can often be used as a fitness tracker to count steps and monitor sleep. Current GPS watches also sync to your phone to upload activities and provide phone notifications directly on the watch.
The best GPS sports watches are stylish enough to be worn in the office as well as during a variety of activities. Cost rises steeply in this category. The number of features can sometimes feel endless – and the more features a watch has, the more it costs.
7. Garmin fenix 5X
The Garmin fenix 5X is the ultimate sports watch, made for the individual who wants the most GPS functionality. It features a full-color topographical map display with excellent contrast. It also has altimeter and barometer sensors for real-time monitoring.
It has additional options geared toward the athlete. It offers a suite of features to help with running including cadence, stride length, and Vo2 Max estimates. You can even get smart notifications. It comes with several fitness modes including swimming, golf and skiing.
The fenix 5X features plenty of navigation help. In addition to a digital compass and barometer, it is the only watch that has real topo and street maps on the watch face.
It’s an excellent option if you are outdoors a lot. The topo maps alone are worth the price of admission. Its value comes from using it for these types of activities rather than indoor use. While the fenix 5X excels as an outdoor watch, it comes with a variety of bands that make it appropriate for casual wear.
- The watch strikes a nice balance between ruggedness and style
- You can customize it with free apps from the Garmin IQ Connect store
- This watch is a serious investment that doesn’t come cheap
8. Suunto Spartan Sport
The Suunto Spartan offers a lot of functionality for the serious athlete. It has a heart rate monitor to help you get in your target zones real-time. It has a good battery life at 10 hours in GPS mode.
It has a digital compass and tracking feature. A bread crumb map will help you find your way,. It is water-resistant up to 300 feet. For the athlete, it will show your steps and daily activity level. It supports up to 80 sports so you’ll be covered no matter what you are doing.
Like Garmin, Suunto has a rich library of apps that can be added to the watch. It also sports a large, easy-to-read display.
- It features both multi-sport and triathlon training modes
- It has a sapphire glass face for superior scratch resistance
- You can sync your data with its Android app
- Some may find it too big for their wrists
- Lots of functions, some you may not use
- Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a stopwatch or countdown timer
9. Garmin vivoactive 3
The Garmin vivoactive 3 is a watch that is waterproof and durable, featuring a Corning Gorilla Glass face. It has both smartwatch and GPS modes to optimize battery usage. Versatility is one of its outstanding features whether it’s the activity you want to monitor or using Garmin Pay.
It has some welcome fitness features such as VO2 max estimates and stress level management. It also includes downloadable workouts, rep counting and social media sharing. Garmin Pay allows you to make wireless payments on the go, just like Apple Pay.
The fitness options are what make this watch stand out as one of the best sports watches for men. Knowing your VO2 max, for example, is important for maximizing your fitness. It makes this product more of a training tool in addition to a timekeeping device.
- The display is attractive and easy to read
- You can customize it with apps, widgets and different faces
- It automatically updates to Garmin Connect for tracking your workouts
- It comes preloaded with 15 apps which reminds us of all the bloatware on smartphones
- The included band is on the small side
- The interface isn’t the most intuitive considering its functionality
10. TomTom Spark 3
The TomTom Spark 3 is more than a GPS watch. It is also an activity tracker with a lot of functions that you’ll see in these kinds of devices. You can monitor your steps, distance and calories burned for all of your workouts. You can tap into 50 different ones with the watch.
The interface is black and white with excellent contrast and readability. It features smart notifications, advanced training modes and route exploration. It has a companion app that is compatible with both iOS and Android.
The value in this sports watch comes from its GPS functionality for which it succeeds admirably once it has a fix. The fitness features are basic with some listed as “coming soon.” Our advice is to consider it for what it offers at the time of purchase rather than what it may get down the road.
- The support for GPX files is a welcome feature for runners to geocachers
- It is water-resistant for less than 200 feet, making it ideal for recreational swimming
- Heart rate monitor works well for aerobic activities
- The compatibility with smartphones is limited
- Training support is generic and not very helpful
- GPS functionality is laggy when it comes to getting its initial fix
The latest iteration of a sports watch is a smartwatch – a watch that seamlessly integrates your phone functions on the watch. This includes specialized apps, answering messages by voice without taking your phone out of your pocket, and fitness tracking often with GPS for accurate activity tracking.
The newest Apple Watch can even function independently without a phone – other watches require that your phone be nearby. And like the classic sports watch, smartwatches are durable and they look sharp. Watch faces can be changed for a variety of styles and looks.
11. Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch has a sleek design with an analog display that looks great out of the box. It comes in both a 38 and 42mm sizes. It has the features we like to see in a sports watch such as a heart rate sensor and altimeter.
The watch is all about connectivity. That includes WiFi compatibility and Siri integration too. The fitness features include monitors for sitting, active calories and exercise minutes. It includes Apple Pay compatibility for purchases and a nightstand mode as a bedside clock.
The overall profile of the watch is its most outstanding feature. It’s a device that you’ll want to wear all the time because it looks great. The fitness monitors are an excellent addition for a product that will truly make a difference in your activity level.
- It’s quite affordable for what it is and the amount of functionality that you get
- It can connect to both WiFi and Bluetooth
- The watch provides a lot of motivation to stay active with real-time monitoring
- It is only water-resistant and won’t survive a swim in the pool
- Battery life could be better than 18 hours at a stretch
- There are some compatibility issues with other Apple products
12. Samsung Gear Sport
The Samsung Gear Sport takes compatibility to the next level with a watch that works with both iOS and Android. It features GPS tracking and activity monitoring including heart rate and performance. You can use it while swimming too.
However, it goes well beyond a sports watch. You can connect to other smart devices like door locks and lights. It even has Samsung Pay NFC compatibility for purchases on the go. You can receive smart notifications with a connected smartphone too.
This watch is seriously good-looking. It has a smaller profile that doesn’t scream that it’s a smartwatch. Even the wristband is attractive and secure. It’s well-made and something you’ll definitely want to wear. Don’t let all of the health cautions scare you off from a good buy.
- You can enjoy music through your watch when connected with Bluetooth wireless headphones
- It lasts long on a single charge up to seven days
- You can get real-time coaching feedback during your workouts
- It requires iOS 9.0 to work with your Apple smartphone
- Smart device connectivity is limited to the Samsung Connect Home Wi-Fi Router or Smart Things Hub
13. LG Sport
The LG Sport has a gorgeous display with clear, crisp numbers and markings on its face. Like other products we reviewed, this device is changing the landscape on the things you can do with a smartwatch. You can use “Ok, Google” commands to increase its functionality even more.
Its fitness features include a 24/7 heart rate monitor and activity level display. It has a round face with its P-OLED display. It is both water and dust-resistant. The design is attractive. Unlike some products, you can wear this one all day which puts it in the best sports watches for men rank.
This watch is an excellent value given all its features and functionality. It has style in its favor too. It does a great job with fitness tracking but also brings a lot of other uses to the table.
- You can get real-time weather and traffic alerts
- It has a decent battery life despite the fact that the display is on all the time
- This watch is one of the more attractive ones we reviewed
- It is only compatible with Android 4.3 or later
- Some may have trouble detecting the smart notifications
- The wristband that comes with the product may be too small for some users