The Best Summer Watches for Men – Our Summer Timepiece Style Guide


Summer is a time when we can shed the dull layers of winter, put on bright colours and light clothes, and enjoy ourselves. It’s also a chance to think about our accessories and break out the summer watches to give that relaxed outfit a final flourish. But what exactly are men’s summer watches?

In this article, we’ll take you on a guided tour of sizzling timepieces for the summer, looking at cool summer watches and how to maximise your look by pairing a fabulous watch with both casual and more formal wear.

We’ll also examine the practicalities of caring for your watch at home and abroad, on land and in the water, and insuring that special watch.

Look out for our Top Tips along the way, including great ideas on making the most of your timepiece.

What exactly are summer watches?

Let’s start by looking at what exactly a summer watch is. You may be wondering if there is such a thing as a summer watch or if it’s just another clever marketing ploy by manufacturers. Think about the kind of watch you wear during the rest of the year. It’s usually a stylish (and probably quite expensive) timepiece by one of the big names such as Rolex, Omega, TAG Hauer or even a classic Timex. It’s not just something you use to tell the time. It’s an essential addition to your look and an intrinsic part of your personality.

A summer watch, on the other hand (if you’ll pardon that terrible pun!), can be something much more colourful and more frivolous. Summer lets us break loose of the usual charcoal greys, navy blues and blacks and experiment with brighter colours (Hawaiian shirts, anyone?).

Colour-wise, men’s watches follow the same trends and lean heavily towards masculine tones, such as steel grey, brushed chrome, and, of course, black.

Summer lets us throw off those conventions and play around with different styles. From uber-chic diver’s watches that can take a dunking in the pool without worrying to cheerful men’s summer watches with coloured faces, you can dress up your accessories how you want.

Our Top Tip: Rather than heavy metal links that will start to feel hot and sweaty in the sun, go for light fabric straps that feel more comfortable to wear in hot weather.

What styles are popular every summer?

For a while, watches went through a little bit of a decline. After all, who needs something to tell you the time when your phone has everything you need right in front of your eyes? However, watches as jewellery and accessories rather than purely as a functional item have returned to favour. Now, watch sales are on the rise and we’re sporting a huge range of styles, designs, and looks on our wrists. In 2024, watches have become relevant once again.

But which type? Well, there are thousands of watches out there to choose from, falling into different categories. Let’s narrow down the various groups of summer watches and then look at our top picks for 2024.

Tough and rugged – watches for the great outdoors

The summer months mean more time spent outdoors. Whether you’re hiking, mountain biking, heading to the beach or going on that big camping adventure in the wilds, your watch needs to be able to cope with the terrain. Rugged watches with tough carbon fibre straps and waterproof casings are a must. Not only are they light and comfortable to wear, but they’ll come out of the wilderness looking as good as when they went in.

Look for a scratch-resistant face. Straps can be easily replaced if they get scuffed or marked by some heavy-duty thorns, but a scratched face will need to be polished professionally to get it back to pristine condition, which could cost you.

Our Top Tip: Look for faces that can be easily read in bright sunlight. If you’re out and about and there’s no shade, checking your watch shouldn’t involve squinting and trying to shade the dial. Look for strong contrasts between the face colour and the numbers so you can see them easily.

Special events – looking sharp at that gala event or wedding

Summer is the time for balls, galas and big weddings. You’ve got the tux, the dress shoes and those diamond cufflinks, but what about your watch? Picking the wrong watch could ruin your look in an instant. Big, chunky diver’s watches may look fantastic on the beach, but they won’t look so stylish when arriving at that red carpet event.

You don’t have to go back to heavy articulated bracelets and lots of bling. For maximum style, keep it simple and comfortable with a classic leather strap in a snakeskin or hide pattern and a beautifully brushed steel or gold face.

Diver’s watches – the perfect summer watch 

It’s a perennial favourite for the summer, even if the closest you get to the ocean is a quick snorkel with the kids. However, diver’s watches are one of the most popular cool summer watches for men. They’re chunky and rugged (so they tick the box for our outdoor lifestyle section, too), and, most importantly, if you’re heading to the beach or pool, they’re genuinely waterproof.

Most diver’s watches are also pressure-resistant to depths that are far beyond the average scuba diver’s range. And because it’s essential to know how long you’ve been under the water when you’re diving, the faces are incredibly clear and easy to read.

Our Top Tip: Buy the best. Cheap diver’s watches are guaranteed to leak at some point, so always buy the best you can afford. If your watch has a battery, don’t try to change it yourself, as taking the back off may damage the water-tight seal (usually a black or red rubber O-ring). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and let the experts take care of repairs so you don’t shorten the watch’s lifespan.

Go Retro with military and aviator-style watches

Military and aviator-style watches are a big trend for 2024 with their distinctive analogue dials, glow-in-the-dark hands and numerals, and sleek, lightweight construction. The really popular ones hark back to the past with a vintage feel, webbing straps, and simple, no-fuss designs.

Not only are they comfortable to wear, thanks to their lightweight construction and fabric straps, but they’re super trendy and tough enough to cope with life in the great outdoors. Summer watches don’t come much better than this. 

Watches styles that don’t work as well in summer

Are there any styles that should be tucked away until the summer is over? That’s down to your personal choice. But chunky, heavy watches or those with thick leather straps or steel bracelets may not feel as comfortable, especially when the temperature soars.

You may be in and out of the pool or sea a lot more during the summer, so a genuinely water-resistant watch is a must.

Faces with no numerals, totally matt black colour combinations, or those with ultra-thin hands may be difficult to see in bright sunlight, so you need clear, easy-to-read dials and contrasting colours, or even a flash of lime green or neon orange here and there.

Finally, if you’re travelling, leave your heirloom Rolex or Omega watch at home. Watches are not only easy to lose, but a seriously expensive watch can also make you a target for thieves.

Our Top Tip: Have a ‘holiday watch’ in your timepiece collection. Rather than risk damaging, losing or having your expensive watch stolen, buy a more affordable one to use while you’re away. Make sure it’s waterproof and won’t be tarnished by salt water, sun cream, or chlorine, and has a fabric strap that can easily be cleaned or replaced if necessary.

What men’s watches are trending this summer – our top five picks

Men’s summer watches for 2024 are all about that retro vibe. Absolute classics like Timex are back in vogue, with a wonderfully simple yet stylish vintage look and the quintessential Timex ‘dot’ face proudly on show. The Timex Q 36mm Blue epitomises that look, and thanks to its slightly smaller size, it looks perfectly proportioned if you have slimmer wrists.

Next up are military-style watches, with khaki-green or the traditional “Drab Olive Green” webbing straps, matching green faces, and that all-important glow-in-the-dark feature. Using modern materials such as titanium for the casing, these watches might be ultra-slim and incredibly lightweight, but they are also seriously tough, scratch resistant and waterproof.

Our Top Tip: Look for Desert Sand variations. With the same design as their green cousins, military watches in a sand colour are perfect as a summer timepiece. They also look great against tanned skin. Top of the picks is the Boldr Expedition in Dune, a sand-tinted adventure watch that would look perfectly at home on your wrist as you cross the finishing line of the Dakar rally. It may be sand coloured, but it’s also water-resistant to an ambitious 200m, so it should be able to cope with the occasional dunk in a villa pool.

Sports watches are still big news, and Garmin is at the forefront. If you’re serious about your marathon running, are participating in an Iron Man competition this summer, or push yourself that little bit harder when hiking, the Garmin MARQ Adventurer Gen 2 continues to feature in lists of the best summer watches for men. When it comes to Smartwatches, Garmin has always led the field, and the Adventurer Gen 2 is packed with technology and is much more rugged than other options. A titanium case and a high-resolution AMOLED screen make it super-tough and ideal for bright, sunny days.

The big trend for men’s summer watches in 2024, though, is colour. And they don’t get much more vibrant than the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Ceramic. This bright orange and white diver certainly has plenty of style points, but it’s also incredibly comfortable to wear, too.

The ceramic case feels soft against the skin, and a rubber strap won’t absorb moisture, no matter how hot and sweaty you get. Bold, bright, and depth-tested to 200m, this is a genuine diver’s watch with a splash of pizzazz for wearing all summer long.

Could we put together a list of the best men’s summer watches without including a luxury watch for those special occasions? If a Rolex or Tag is out of your price range, don’t worry; there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives with that super-stylish look. The Collins Sonar comes in various colours, including a trendy orange face for the summer to add a little zing to your evening ensemble. Traditional bracelet straps and an authentic diver look make them smart enough for an evening do and relaxed enough for a BBQ by the pool with friends.

Looking after your watch – keep it looking amazing

While summer watches are designed to withstand almost everything the outdoors can throw at them, there are ways to keep your watch looking amazing. Selecting watches that have scratch-resistant glass is important. Nothing will ruin the look of your watch (or devalue it) as an ugly scratch across the front. While stainless steel bracelets can be polished relatively easily, scratched glass may have to be replaced, which can be expensive.

Choose tough metals such as titanium and materials like ceramic, as these won’t scratch as easily as steel.

Brightly coloured faces look amazing when they are new, but leave them in the sun for too long (especially red or orange), and they will fade surprisingly quickly. Avoid leaving your watch in direct sunlight to prevent that vibrancy from being lost too soon.

Insuring your watch with TH March

If you’re heading off on holiday this year, reassure yourself by insuring your watch with TH March. We have been offering specialist insurance for jewellery and watches for years. We can give you the cover you need and advise you on how to take care of your watch while you’re away from home.

TH March has affordable, easy insurance options to suit every budget, From high-end dress and diver’s watches to totally cool summer watches with that retro feel. Contact us today using our online form for an instant, no-obligation quote. Or call one of our impartial advisors and find out how much peace of mind costs with TH March.