11 Different Types Of Watches You Need To Know About - Chrono Hunter
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11 Different Types Of Watches You Need To Know About - Chrono Hunter

11 Different Types Of Watches You Need To Know About - Chrono Hunter



As horology has expanded over time, the different types of watches have similarly grown exponentially. Timepieces used to be limited to pocket editions until Breguet blessed us with the first ever wrist worn watch in 1810 as made for the Queen of Naples. 

Still, these watch types were still limited to the pocket pieces and continued to be the norm amongst men, as wearing timepieces on the wrist were seen as infinitely more feminine, considered as a fashion accessory than a functional tool. 

In 1906, Cartier released the Cartier Santos Dumont, specifically made for his pilot friend, Alberto Santos Dumont. This was created with the express intention of allowing Alberto to check the time without having to rummage in his garments for a pocket piece. 

It would be the dawn of World War One, wherein wrist worn models were properly adopted. Used by officers in order to time artillery strikes and the advancement of soldiers, they returned home from the battlefield, still choosing to wear something on their wrist. 

Since then, timepieces have rather expanded in popularity, relating to dress models, dive pieces and the various mechanisms within them, including mechanical and automatic. More avant-garde is the skeletonised pieces which are becoming adopted more often due to the incredibly stylish aesthetic. 

Organised from automatic and mechanical models, to the dominant quartz pieces of the 1970s when, we have a feeling that at least one of the following 11 different watch types will pique your interest. 

Our friends over at Suits Expert have similarly gone into depth on the different types of watches for men. From measuring the correct watch types for your hand size to matching the right timepiece to enhance your flex game, they’ve run through the do’s and don’t of what makes your style tick.

We aim to answer all of the questions including what different watch types there are, examples of such timepieces and all the miniscule details to show off your flexing skills on your horological buddies. 

After all, this is the fabric of all horology, devoted Timelords.


Pilot Watches

Pilot timepieces have long since surpassed their ties to just the profession, instead growing into stunning pieces for everyday wear.


Cartier Santos - Source - Brand’s Site

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The history started in 1906 between Louis Cartier and Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont. The latter complained of the pocket watch being far too cumbersome to reach when he needed to quickly check the time. As a result, enter stage left Louis Cartier. He created a squared bezel, Roman numeral imbued wrist novelty that could quickly tell the user the time. 

Is it time for a fact already? Suffice to say, not only was this the start of aviation pieces, it was the first ever wrist worn timepiece that was used on the first engine-powered flight! In essence, the watch types in question had major influential wrist-worn capability that was later adopted in World War I. 

As soldiers returned with technically advanced aviation models, they soon became classified as functional pieces, and not just dress watches for ladies. 

Noted for large, easy to read dials and high contrast hands, they are typically made of durable materials like steel and in some cases, titanium. 

During the 30s and 40s, the complexity of the pieces increased, resulting in chronographs, tachymeters and legendary slide rules being released as additional features. Allowing for quick calculations like fuel consumption, these functions became integral to pilots on board.

Nowadays, the timepieces maintain their durability, and have a slew of highly functional features like astronomical navigation and decorative adaptations such as the use of precious metals and premium materials like carbon fibre. 


Best Pilot Watch Types


Dress Watches

Dress watches are a relatively new watch type for gentlemen. Sorry guys, the ladies are still ahead in the style stakes!


Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso - Source - Brand’s Site

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Men did have a focus for fashion when it came to timepieces housed within the pockets. however. Dress pieces are watch types for men that were arguably notable during the Victorian era as layers of clothing were replaced with more tailored fitting. 

They were typically quite bulky, but new movements (no pun intended!) within technology allowed for them to be slimmer and worn in jackets without being too prominent. As we’ve mentioned, soldiers during World War I simply couldn't deal with looking around in their pockets due to accessibility, allowing wrist worn timepieces to take centre stage.

In the 1920s, the Art Deco period was upon us, bringing in revolutionary new designs like the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, utilising lacquer on dials and steel case constructions. Nowadays, the dress timepiece world is split into two camps. 

The classical, with evergreen circular dials like The Patek Philippe Calatrava Self-Winding, and the avant-garde, such as The Genta inspired, Omega Constellation “Pie-Pan” with raised dial face and stylish hour markers. 

Almost all of these wondrous watch types base their designs on clean lines, slimness and a fairly neutral colouring, including black, beige and white. 


Best Dress Watch Types


Dive Watches

Dive editions were kick-started by none other than Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf. 


Rolex Deepsea - Source - Brand’s Site

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He sought to increase the water resistance of timepieces, resulting in the Oyster case which had a screw down crown and solid caseback. This patented case has since become a staple of the casings of modern Rolex variations. 

Omega would be the first to release an out and out nautical based model, thanks to The Omega Marine. Negating the classic features we associate with the norm today, there was no rotating timing bezel, nor screw down crown or screw down caseback. 

Through utilising a rectangular case, that was secured within an outer case, the timepieces created a hermetic seal. As one of the first novelties to feature a sapphire crystal, it was the first to reach 73 metres in Lake Geneva and 135 metres under specific lab conditions. 

WWII saw many hermetically sealed timepieces in boxy cases released for various frogmen units and water based teams globally. However, the most lauded was the Panerai Radiomir…but for a reason you may not suspect. 

Released in 1938, it was designed using Panerai’s patened Radiomir luminescence, the models could be illuminated, ensuring Italian soldiers benefitted from clarity underwater, whether day or night. 

After the misery of the war, scuba diving became very popular, resulting in timepieces like the Rolex Deepsea being attached to the Trieste submarine to reach the deepest point of 3,150 metres in 1953, and smashing that when it submerged 10,916 metres in 1960.

One year later, following the success of the first deep plunge in 1953, The Rolex Submariner was released at The Basel Fair. 

The Submariner represented the pinnacle, the trendsetter of this specific category of watch types. Boasting high contrast hands, uni-directional bezel and fliplock bracelet, it could be competently modified to suit the average wrist and a wetsuit.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was similarly released in 1954, becoming the first dive edition to be commercially available. Used in Silent World by Jacques Cousteau, The Fifty Fathoms was used by military teams globally. 

Diving timepieces are now universally adopted by a multitude of brands. Noted for their highly legible hands, hour markers dosed with luminescence, rotatable bezel, stainless steel casing, screw down crown and (in some instances,) helium valves, dive models are as durable and tough as ever. 


Best Dive Watch Types 


Field Watches

Field models are closely associated with the military lifestyle. That means water, mud and plenty of scratches!


IWC Mark XI - Source - Christie’s

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Field variations were firstly created in World War I in order to accommodate soldiers who needed reliable timepieces on the wrist, without having to scramble in their jackets for a pocket piece. 

They were initially based on a few core principles. Water resistance, durability and be eligible for visibility in all circumstances. Of course, like with other collections, field models have since evolved, resulting in an array of highly innovative pieces. 

Reserved for those in military employment, a key example is IWC’s Mark XI. Issued for the Royal Air Force in 1948, it was the product of both Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. Built for easy navigation, it is an icon of field models. Soon, these issued models became adapted for public use as war subsided. 

Nowadays, modern military models follow the same principles as the past. This includes being durable in predominantly steel or titanium casing, high legibility with big hour markers and hands full of luminescence. 


Best Field Watch Types


Racing Watches

What’s nicer than cruising down the highway in your convertible…having a wondrous beauty on your wrist! The next of our watch types has plenty of vigour in the horological bonnet. Talk about 0-60. You’ll be heading on the highway in no time at all.


TAG Heuer Monaco - Source - Brand’s Site

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If you’ve had the pleasure of viewing F1 live, we are sure you’ll have noticed the branding from the likes of Rolex, Girard Perregaux and even Richard Mille. But, just how intertwined are the two worlds. 

From utilising chronograph pocket worn timepieces that originally measured horse racing to timing the early days of speedy cars, the 20th century represented the turn of the timing systems. This was essential because it wasn’t just the models that sped up.

For example, in 1898, the speed record for wheel driven cars was 39.24 mph. In 1931, this blew up to 246 mph and in 1947 surpassed 394 mph. How’s that for keeping pace!

TAG Heuer though became the main players in the energetic racing world ever since their presence in the 1930s. Creating dash mounted timers for racers and eventually the beautiful wrist worn models that are linked with the 50s and 60s, F1 teams used these as the main timing devices. 

Need we mention the beautiful TAG Heuer Monaco that was released and eventually worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans?

Similarly, Rolex have also had their nuts and bolts in engines. A Rolex Oyster was worn by Sir Malcom Campbell when he drove the Bluebird at 300+ mph in 1935.

Furthermore, Rolex is accredited with sponsoring The Daytona Speedway from the 1950s and eventually being the inspiration behind their instantly recognisable timepiece, The Rolex Daytona

That’s right, the very same watch type worn by Paul Newman in his racing film “Winning”, sold for a stonking £15 million when it sold at auction in 2017! New boys Richard Mille are hot on the heels of the godfathers of racing timepieces, choosing to sponsor and release models for speedfreaks, McLaren and Ferrari. 

Of course, it’s not just motorsports which is the key focus for racing pieces. 


Best Racing Watch Types


Skeleton Watches

Now these next watch types are truly from something out the closet. 

Skeleton timepieces are simply defined as models that feature see through or openworked aesthetics, reflecting the true inner workings of the model.


Richard Mille RM 17-01 - Source - Brand’s Site

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The first version was found in 1760 after a gentleman named André-Charles Caron crafted a pocket watch that featured a balance bridge that was visible through the dial's face. This is yet another invention that had to take its sweet time to gain notoriety.

Becoming increasingly more popular during the 1960s and 70s, it came as a solution to the very morbid Quartz crisis that threatened the rest of the industry. 

Between 1970 and 1983, the number of Swiss horological brands plummeted down from 1,600 to 600 and employment fell from 90,000 to 28,000. Needless to say it was the best time to be in the sector.

Brand’s had to rely more on the artistry of the pieces instead of technical superiority in order to get the models sold. Enter, skeletonisation. It requires a great deal of technical craftsmanship as it relies on parts of the movement being removed as this watch type is able to accommodate a complete slim down version.

It reached the peak of its meteoric rise at the end of the 20th Century. 

One of the best brands that showcase skeletonisation is the incredible Richard Mille. Technically sublime, the majority of their pieces pride themselves on being skeletonised. Crafted using titanium and carbon, they are light and durable, enough to be almost entirely see through. 


Best Skeleton Watch Types

GMT Watches

The story of GMT timepieces starts in the early 20th Century with the dawn of transcontinental flights.


Rolex Root Beer - Source - Brand’s Site

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They were created with aviators in mind. This was done with the express intention of allowing them something that could competently keep track of multiple time zones, all within this particular watch type. 

Originally released by Rolex, the GMT Master was released in 1954 with the now defunct Pan-AM Airways. What would later be named the GMT-Master was made up of a rotating bezel, used in collaboration with an extra hand to track the second time zone.

Horological innovations don’t get much more influential than this, especially since it allowed aviators to instantaneously switch between time zones at a moment's glance. 

By the 1960’s, they were as hot as Loom bands. Remember those pesky things? Venturing outside of the aviation world, they soon became accessible for the debonair traveller who also wanted to alter time zones at the drop of a timekeeping hat. 

They are typically made up of an extra 24-hour hand and a bezel that rotates to show the different time zones. The bezel utilises 24 hour markings to allow the user to differentiate between AM and PM, as well as determine both “Home” and “Away” times. 

They have become more and more stylish due to the customised AM and PM bezel. Crafted out of Rolex’s proprietary alloy, Cerachrom, it allows for a two tone colour bezel insert. Rolex is a prime example of being figureheads of this trend, resulting in models like The Pepsi which has a blue and red bezel. 


Best GMT Watch Types 


Mechanical Watches

If craftsmanship is your bedtime reading, then you’ll certainly like this watch type which has been around the horological world since nearly the dawn of time itself. 


RM 27-04 - Source - Brand’s Site

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Constructed with a timeless clockwork mechanism and powered by a mainspring that’s wound through the crown, mechanical novelties have power stored within the mainspring. In essence, if this isn’t wound to its maximum potential, you may find these watch types won’t be running like clockwork anymore. 

But time as they say marches on, especially when giving you the lowdown on the various watch types you should know about.

Originally starting with “The Nuremberg Egg '' as created by Peter Henlein, this was allegedly the first pocket watch to have ever been created. It was also made with a mechanical movement!

Unfortunately, they haven't always been so accurate. Nowadays, we have Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer certification and Omega’s Master certification, ensuring precision, but in the past, they were generally quite inaccurate. 

The change started under the eyes of watchmaker John Harrison in 1760 who created what was noted as a “Marine Chronometer”. This watch was the first step into creating precise models and it was mass produced, spreading its influence to other top luxury brands

The manufacturing of the editions have dramatically changed over the years. From what started with the fusee which was the key force in regulating the mainspring, it was quite weak and would be prone to breaking and rendering them inaccurate. 

Lucky for us horophiles, escapements would be created, allowing for the fusee to be exchanged out and the pieces made more precise. For fans of technical engineering, you will know that escapements were further upgraded to a lever escapement in the 19th Century, enhancing the timepieces further. 

The 1970s could easily have been a death knell for these watch types. The so-called Quartz crisis resulted in mechanical models that were less precise than their counterparts, not to mention new automatic movements that could wind movements without the need for human intervention. 

They have since survived and are regarded as a classic movement style that hopefully won’t fall out of fashion as much as someone entering the Big Brother house. 


Best Mechanical Watch Types


Automatic Watches

As R.E.M.’s album proclaimed, we are now going to get all Automatic For The People. These watch types offer a very exciting alternative to the hand wound timepieces. 

TAG Heuer Skipper - Source - Brand’s Site

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Rolex is typically credited with the first of these watch types, The Oyster Perpetual from 1945, due to their sizable presence. But, there is a whole timeline behind them that actually paints a better horological picture.

In 1773, a gentleman named Joseph Tlustos claimed to have produced a timepiece that didn’t need to be manually wound like its hand wound counterparts. This was put up to question, leaving us inconclusive as to whether or not this was actually the truth. 

The first automatic number of this nature was confirmed by Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a Swiss watchmaker who released a self-winding mechanism. This was composed of an oscillating weight that moved up and down without you lifting a finger. 

Following this innovation, various self-winding mechanisms were adopted, but the real change came on the heels of wrist worn models, prompting Rolex in 1931 to release a rotor system with unidirectional winding. 

In 1923, John Harwood released the “Harwood System” that utilises a pivoting weight that moved and powered the mainspring. Known as a “Hammer system” due to the weight moving 180 degrees between two bumpers, they were capable of running at 12 hours autonomously. 

Rolex took on Harwood’s design and developed it further, eventually resulting in the Oyster Perpetual being adopted with it in 1949. Their variation allowed the weight to turn 360 degrees instead of just 180, allowing more energy to be maintained within the mainspring, jumping up to a total of 35 hours. 

Nowadays, we have power reserves heading up to 10 days. Don’t believe us? Check out the Panerai Luminor GMT 10 Days with its P.2003 automatic movement. 


Best Automatic Watch Types 


Quartz Watches

Quartz timepieces may initiate a nauseous feeling among you traditional watch lovers. However, we implore you to keep on reading!


Omega Skywalker - Source - Brand’s Site

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re brought to the table by Seiko (Not Grand Seiko) under the name, Astron, in 1969. This was the world’s first quartz watch type and came in a sumptuous yellow gold case. Talk about painting the town red…or yellow gold for that matter.

They did a number of things to the industry. It allowed for timepieces which are just as precise as their counterparts, but at a much more affordable pricing. This led to a surge in interest, pushing their counterparts into the background. 

Seiko jumped up the leaderboards to become one of the biggest brands in the world in terms of revenue. Swatch was also a huge presence in the quartz industry.

Featuring a lot of pieces that featured this alternative power source, the new CEO, Nicolas Hayek in 1983 made the executive decision to change the cases from plastic to more stylish, synthetic materials. 

Swatch joined Seiko as the biggest companies during this period as they capably hit 60 million units sold, managing to deal with the unprecedented demand which is still adopted today. It may not have the selling power as it did during its peak, but it is utilised by numerous brands like Breitling, Audemars Piguet and Grand Seiko

So, don’t go hating the pieces just yet. They have their place in horological history as much as anyone else!


Best Quartz Watch Types 


Chronometer Watches

Chronometer timepieces are the crème de la crème of models from high quality brands.

Breitling Navitimer - Source - Brand’s Site

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They are generally found to be timepieces that are extremely accurate. Typically associated with the maritime industry,  these timepieces receive this high status if they competently pass the official Chronometer tests from The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC)

The marine chronometer was first created by John Harrison in 1730 and was solely linked to any kind of navigation oriented timepiece. Over time, marine pieces are no longer needed to be the primary source of navigation while out at sea, but that doesn't stop brands gloating that they have this prime status. 

Soon, places like Kew Observatory became places to judge the status of said timepieces. The tests take around 30 to 50 days to ensure that the models are fully competent and capable of holding the great title. 

These chronometer timepieces were so advanced that they were rarely released for public consumption until Girard-Perregaux broke the mould with the awesome Calibre 32A movement as released in the late 1960s. 

Capped at around 2 million COSC certificates annually, COSC models test movements over a few days, judging the resilience and precision of the timepieces while all being under stress due to temperature fluctuations and physical impacts. 


Best Chronometer Watch Types 

  • Rolex Daytona
  • Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
  • Chopard Alpine Eagle
  • Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41
  • Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial Chronometer 



Wow, what a horological hit list! 

Showcasing all variations ranging from the mechanical to skeleton and automatic, Chrono Hunter has explored the backgrounds and current status of models, examining time travelling GMT pieces, hot rod racing pieces and quartz models. Stuck on trying to decide between different watch types? 

Want to purchase or sell a chronograph or chronometer at the best possible price? We can always guide you through the process and provide guidance whether you intend to buy a watch or sell a watch.

So we’ve covered every facet of the timekeeping world, and given a few sterling examples along the way. Each of the categories have influenced the world in one way or another.

Be it the Rolex Submariner showcasing the blueprint for dive watches or the racing influenced Steve McQueen TAG Heuer Monaco, we only hope that we’ve covered every single base!

So, we hope you’ve learnt a few things on how the horological world ticks and the incredible history behind every single type. If you feel inspired enough to get your hands on one of these types, may we point you in the direction of Chrono Hunter?


Can't wait to buy a Rolex Daytona to improve your timing to the train station? Want to experience the feeling of a high quality Chronometer on your wrist? Gain back a few precious seconds with Chrono Hunter here. Still in doubt? Check out our phenomenal reviews on Trustpilot and find out why we are the number one place to buy a watch or sell a watch

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Further Reading: 

The Top 12 Most Expensive Watch Brands And Their Net Worth

A Definitive Guide To The Best Dress Watches For Any Swanky Event


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