The lowly sports watch doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. After all, these are the work horses of the watch world, designed for function and ruggedness first and foremost with style often being left on the sideline.
Or at least they used to be.
These days, we don’t have to sacrifice dapperness for a fully functioning sports watch because the 2 qualities are no longer exclusive of each other.
After all, we modern guys deserve to have our cake and eat it too- and when it comes to sports watches, it’s more doable now than ever.
There are plenty of great looking, sophisticated sports watches out there- you just have to know where to look.
And that’s where we come in.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best sports watches for men that 2020 has to offer. And in order for a watch to make this list, it has to function exceptionally well under pressure, as well as look elegant on our wrist.
A Quick Word On Sports Watches
Sports watches come in a lot of varieties these days, so I want to narrow what we’re talking about here down a little for the sake of simplicity.
Technically speaking, a lot of different watches can count as a “sports” watch.
There’s nothing wrong with counting a diver’s watch or a racing watch as a sports watch because, well, those activities are athletic events.
Personally, I like to separate those watches into their own categories because the criteria they must meet are very specific to each’s style.
Even if we take diving and racing watches out of the mix, we’re still left with a lot of different styles of watch that can fall into the sports watch category.
A sports watch can be as simple and affordable as the classic Timex Ironman (which I’m wearing as a write this) or as advanced as any smartwatch that can sync your workout stats with your phone.
Although I wanted to keep smartwatches out of it for this list, I found it impossible to do so because so many of the best looking sports watches happen to be smart as well.
You’ll see what I mean once we get to the list.
Anyway, with so many sports watches to choose from, I wanted to let ya know how I came up with the handful or so that made this list.
I chose them based on their appearance and their function, with an attempt to weight each equally- although I must admit, style probably played a bigger factor.
After all, we’re looking for the best sports watches here, so elegance has to be taken into account.
For the sake of this article, in order to be counted as a sports watch, these timepieces had to meet the following criteria:
- Equipped with a chronograph
- Equipped with a timer function
- Equipped with a calendar
- Durable case/band
You’ll notice the watches on this list can do a whole lot more than this, but I think that baseline criteria sets a pretty good standard for what we’re looking for.
Sports watches used to be fairly generic, but these days there are sports watches designed specifically for certain sports or activities.
There are watches that are designed specifically for running, hiking, cycling, golfing… you name it and there’s probably a watch for it.
The watches I chose here are more of the generic type, but if you are looking for a watch to assist with a certain task, I encourage you to find one that best suits your needs.
Ok, time to get to the good stuff. If you’d like to learn more about these watches in general, check out my sports watch guide for more info.
The 5 Best Sports Watches For Men 2021
#1 Breitling Exospace B55 Titanium
The Breitling name is a prestigious one, well-known as one of the premiere watchmaking companies in the world. The Swiss brand is famous for their chronographs, which they’ve been providing to the world since the 1880’s.
With the Exospace B55, they decided to bring their chronographs into the 21st century by making it connected.
But unlike many smartwatches these days, the Exospace B55 doesn’t trade the classic chronograph look for a modern, digital display.
Nope, this watch could easily pass for one of their luxury chronographs at first glance. It isn’t until you stop and take a close look at the dial that you notice that it’s equipped with digital functions.
Style aside, the B55 is packed full of function. Although this watch was designed with yachtsman and pilots in mind, the timer functions could work just as well for other sports and activities.
Functions of this watch include a digital chronograph, an electronic tachymeter, count up/down timers, perpetual calendar, 7 daily alarms, and more.
This watch uses bluetooth to pair with a smartphone for data transfer and storage.
Not only is this watch smart, but it’s sporting some high-end specs as well. The B55 comes with a 46 mm titanium case and a scratch resistant sapphire crystal. It’s powered by a quartz movement.
The black dial pairs nicely with the seamless steel look of the band and case, giving the B55 a sophisticated look that few sports watches can compete with.
If you’re looking for a technologically advanced sports watch that looks great with any occasion, Breitling’s Exospace B55 is a perfect choice.
#2 Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
Tag Heuer is another world renowned watch making company known for providing luxury watches that are a little more affordable than many of the other big brands.
They’ve gained a lot of popularity over the years for their classic chronographs and it’s easy to see why- their elegant watches look great and are priced fairly, allowing many men an entry into the world of luxury watches.
Tag’s Connected collection is their introduction into the world of smartwatches and it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’ve got a winner here.
The Connected Modular 45 is very different from the Exospace B55 in terms of style. Instead of combining analog and digital displays, Tag opted for a purely HD touchscreen design for the dial (OLED).
This gives this watch a more modern look, while retaining the traditional size and shape of other Tag watches.
The touchscreen, along with the crown and push buttons, makes it easy to navigate through all the functions this watch has to offer. Although this is definitely a sports watch, it falls under the category of fitness tracker as well.
The Modular 45 comes with a ton of sport specific functions like analysis of speeds, distances, and paces. It can also act as a heart rate monitor and connect with an app for tracking of all workout metrics.
This watch also has all the standard sports watch features like digital chronographs, timers, and calendars.
You can also add different tiles, allowing you to instantly check things like the weather with the swipe of a finger.
As a sports watch, the Modular 45 is very advanced, but the specs are equally as impressive. The 45 mm steel case comes with a fixed ceramic bezel and a sapphire crystal.
A rubber band is included, but you can easily swap out the bands to go with any look you’re after (hence the “modular” part of the name).
Overall, Tag’s Connected Modular 45 combines sports function and style to provide one of the highest-end sports watches on the market (and it’s officially on my wish list).
#3 Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar
Tissot has become a top choice for folks looking for affordable Swiss-made timepieces. With the majority of their watches costing under $1000, Tissot brings high-end craftsmanship to the masses.
And even though their watches are more budget friendly, they still offer quality products with automatic movements, sapphire crystals, and dapper looking designs.
And in the case of their T-Touch series, we’re talking spiffy looking sports watches that are more advanced then you might think at first glance.
Taking a page out of Breitling’s design book, the T-Touch also combines analog with digital displays on the dial.
But, unlike Breitling’s, Tissot’s T-Touch is solar powered (it was actually the first solar powered touch screen watch, first appearing in 1999).
All this watch needs to run is exposure to direct sunlight or a strong artificial light.
Through a combination of touching the screen and using the push buttons, you can easily access all of the T-Touch’s functions, which include alarms, a chronograph, timers, and a compass.
The 45 mm case on the Expert Solar is made out of titanium, which is stronger and lighter than traditional solid steel (this is one of the most affordable titanium watches around).
This watch also comes with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, making it rugged enough to handle any conditions you find yourself in.
The silver stainless steel band works nicely with the titanium case and I’m always a fan of a nice blue dial.
With an asking price well under $1000, Tissot’s T-Touch Expert Solar makes a great choice for folks looking for Swiss craftsmanship without completely destroying their budget.
#4 Alpina Alpinerx Black
Yes, another Swiss brand on the list. These Swiss watchmakers must know what they’re doing, huh? Jokes aside, Alpina in another esteemed watch making company that’s been at it since the 1880’s.
The company has had their fair share of ups and downs over the decades, but one of their claims to fame is providing the world with the first sports watch in 1933 (the Block Uhr).
Later in the same decade, they became even more well known with their popular Alpina 4 sports watch (with the 4 corresponding to the qualities a sports watch should have: anti-magnetic, anti-shock, waterproof, and stainless).
Their Alpinerx Black holds true to the company’s tradition of creating durable sports watches that look great.
The Alpinerx is another watch that uses the dual analog/digital display design. And I can see why this is a popular choice- the analog adds to the style, while the digital makes it easy to use.
This is another smartwatch, although it’s designed with sports and fitness tracking as the priority. Functions of this sports watch include: activity tracking, sleep tracking, chronograph, calendar, temperature, altitude, compass, and even a UV indicator.
The Alpinerx isn’t solar, but the battery life is around 2 years, so you won’t find yourself swapping batteries that often.
The case is 45 mm and made out of fiberglass and stainless steel. The crystal is sapphire and there are plenty of options when it comes to the band (I like the black rubber band myself).
The Alpinerx would make a great choice for hikers and the outdoorsy crowd, with all of the altitude and navigating features included.
#5 Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire
We’re taking a turn away from the Swiss watchmakers and going to one of the premiere brands when it comes to outdoor wearables.
Garmin is well-known for their vehicle related GPS units, but their sports watches deserve just as much attention.
The Fenix 6 collection includes their new lineup of multi-sports watches and they come in many different varieties, based on which features you prefer.
I’m a sucker for a sapphire crystal, so it’s their Sapphire edition that made its way onto this list.
Even though this watch could work for pretty much any sport you’d want to participate in, I think it would work exceptionally well for hiking or skiing.
The Fenix 6 actually comes preloaded with different sports to choose from, allowing you to target which fitness metrics you want to concentrate on.
Oh, I should back up a little- this is another smart watch, allowing you to connect to your phone for tracking and storing data.
The Fenix 6 is a boss when it comes to fitness tracking- I would need an entire page of space to mention every metric it can measure, but we’re talking stuff like heart rate, oxygen saturation, and sleep tracking on the health side.
It also works as a pedometer, can track altitude, and comes with all the timers, calendars, and stop watch feature you’d expect.
You can also listen to music and watch workouts on the watch screen, allowing you to get a workout in no matter where you are.
The case on the Felix 6 comes in 3 different sizes (47 mm is middle size) and is made out of metal and fiber-reinforced polymer. The crystal is sapphire on this model.
All of the selections are made using the push buttons- this is not a touchscreen device (which supposedly allows it to function better underwater).
Overall, if you’re looking for an advanced health tracker out of your sports watch, Garmin’s Felix 6 Sapphire is a smart choice.
Sports watches these days come in many varieties and as you can see, there’s a fine line between sports watches and smart watches. In fact, as this list shows, all of the top sports watches are connected to a certain degree.
That’s technology for ya.
Again, I want to point out that I purposefully left diver’s and racing watches off this list. Although I agree these watches can qualify as sports watches, I think these watches deserve their own designation.
One could make the same argument for fitness trackers, saying that those devices shouldn’t be considered along the same lines as sports watches.
I get that, but if you ask me, the best sports watches usually have some fitness tracking capabilities. And that doesn’t mean that any fitness tracker would make a great sports watch.
When it comes down to it, I chose the watches on this list because I think they have the most to offer in terms of style and performance.
We didn’t see any Timex’s or G-Shocks on this list, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also great sports watches.
They’re just lacking a little in the dapperness department.