For travellers, time is an inevitable part of the journey. We’re always at the mercy of schedules. Buses, planes, tours, opening times all step in to keep us on our toes.
If you’ve ever missed an international flight or the day’s only bus to a far-flung destination, you’ll know what it’s like to let time slip through your fingers. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be out of our control.
Even with all the travel gear we carry around the world, none serves the traveller more than a simple travel watch. Take back your time on your next journey with one of these best travel watches for men:
Table of Contents
- The top 10 best men’s travel watches of 2018
- In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the top 10 travel watches:
- Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GPS GPW-1000
- Tissot Seastar 1000
- Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1
- Garmin vivofit 3
- Shinola Detroit The Runwell
- Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007
- Bulova Precisionist 98B257
- Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
- Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E
- Suunto Traverse
- How to choose an awesome travel watch: A buyer’s guide
- Summary: The best travel watches for men of 2018
The top 10 best men’s travel watches of 2018
I know it sounds easy enough, but choosing just ten of the best travel watches is a surprisingly Herculean task.
Watchmakers are both prolific and notoriously fickle with their designs. New models roll out like clockwork (no pun intended) year upon year. Older models are routinely discontinued, updated or patched into other product lines.
This list is a mix of both tried-and-tested favourites and funkier new-fangled tech. There’s a reason why manufacturers like Casio, Seiko, Citizen, Bulova and Tissot appear on so many best-of lists. These travel watches have stood the test of time. And it’s unlikely that will change any time soon.
I’ve written this men’s travel watch buyers’ guide with the needs of the casual traveller rather than hardcore watch enthusiast in mind. There’s little technical discussion here. These watch reviews aren’t meant to be exhaustive but to provide a brief overview that helps you push along finding a travel watch that best meets your needs.
What you’ll also notice is that I’ve chosen a selection of watches that are, for the most part, affordable. I’ve avoided listing expensive luxury brands like Rolex, Breitling, and Omega. No doubt these brands would top the list.
But I know few people, let alone travellers, who would be willing to drop $3-5K+ on a travelling timepiece. (And besides, saving money on your travel watch leaves more money to spend on travel. Good trade-off, no?)
Not sure where to get started? Check out some of these best travel watches for men of 2018:
In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the top 10 travel watches:
Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GPS GPW-1000
Best Uses: Active adventure travel
For serious globetrotting adventurers, it’s hard to find a better men’s travel watch than the Casio G-Shock Gravity Master Hybrid GPS GPW-1000.
The technology in the Casio GPW-1000 is truly one-of-a-kind. Whenever you arrive in a new destination, the Gravity Master GPW-1000 can synchronize your time and date settings, with a click of a button, using information from both GPS satellites and Multiband 6 radio waves from one of six transmitters around the world. The hybrid system ensures that the time displayed on the Casio GPW-1000 is always correct, even correcting for Daylight Savings Time, wherever you find yourself.
The advanced technology in the GPW-1000 is protected by Casio’s famous G-Shock body. The Triple G Resist construction withstands two gravitational forces (dropping and centrifugal) and vibration to ensure awesome shock-resistance. The black fine resin frame is not only tough, but stylish.
Water resistance on the unit is rated up to 200 metres. Activities like swimming and snorkeling are no problem for the rugged GPW-1000.
Who should buy the Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GPS GPW-1000
If you move between time zones frequently, the Casio GPW-1000 will save you hassle of setting the time manually in each location. Both the GPS and radio-wave signals automatically update the time daily, even when local changes like Daylight Savings Time take place.
The awesome shock-resistance of the GPW-1000 is perfect for active travellers who are always in the thick of the action. Falls, bumps and drops aren’t any match for this well-engineered travel watch.
Who should NOT buy Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GPS GPW-1000
Scuba divers will need to look elsewhere for a travel watch. The depth rating on the GPW-1000 simply isn’t high enough for serious underwater endeavours.
As one of the higher priced men’s travel watches on this list, those on a tight budget might want to explore other options. Although there are cheaper alternatives, finding a watch that combines immense durability and GPS features for this price is tough.
Tissot Seastar 1000
Best Uses: Adventure travel, diving
As its name implies the Tissot Seastar 1000 is a travel watch designed with the needs of the marine adventurer in mind. With over 160 years of Swiss watchmaking experience behind it, this entry-level diver watch features a classic design that moves seamlessly between land and sea.
A beautifully crafted unidirectional dive-style bezel, available in a variety of colours, adds depth to the 42mm watch face. The larger face and silicone band pushes the Tissot Seastar 1000 towards the sportier end of the spectrum. Other than in the most formal of situations though (not a common occurrence for most travellers in any case), this timepiece will rarely feel out of place.
Luminous hands and markers make the Tissot Seastar 1000 easy-to-read in low-light situations whether its on a poorly-lit bus or well below the surface on a dive. With a water resistance up to 300 metres (984 feet) and a helium release valve to depressurize the watch, the watch is great for underwater adventures.
Who should buy the Tissot Seastar 1000
The most obvious wearers of the Tissot Seastar 1000 are divers or other marine enthusiasts looking for a watch that can fulfill functions on land and in water. The 300-metre depth rating and helium release valve are substantial features for this price range.
Who should NOT buy the Tissot Seastar 1000
As beautifully crafted as the Tissot Seastar 1000 is, travellers needing a formal timepiece won’t find their travel watch needs completely fulfilled. It’s neither the sportiest nor the classiest of watches listed here, but functions well in most common situations faced while travelling.
The design, while robust, will also not withstand punishment as well as a travel watch like the Casio G-Shock GPW-1000. If you’re undertaking rough activities like rock climbing or rafting, you’d be better served elsewhere.
A lack of GPS functionality makes the Tissot Seastar 1000 less useful for frequent time-zone hoppers or those looking to track their activity.
Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1
Best Uses: Adventure & active travel
It’s hard not to recommend the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1 for travellers. Although it’s not likely to win any fashion awards, the GW7900B-1 is a feature-filled watch that could provide the best overall value among these travel watches for men.
This sporty solar-powered watch features radio-controlled atomic time-keeping in cities throughout the world. World times, dates and even tide charts are accessible on the easy-to-read interface.
The sleek black resin case and bezel provide the Casio GW7900B-1 with the sturdiness that G-Shock is famous for. Like other G-Shock watches like the much more expensive GPW-1000, you could hand this watch quite a beating before it’ll stop ticking. A water resistance of up to 200 metres (660 feet) on the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1 is fine for most travellers, if not serious scuba divers.
Who should buy the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1
If you’re looking for a travel watch that won’t break the bank, the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1 is about the best of the bunch. The atomic time-keeping is super convenient for travellers crossing time zones frequently. The watch’s tough design is perfect if you teeter towards hardcore adventurer (or, like me, just a massive klutz who’s always bumping into door frames or other miscellaneous objects).
Who should NOT buy the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1
The design of the GW7900B-1 isn’t suitable for divers who will need better water resistance and perhaps even features like the helium valve in the Tissot Seastar 1000. Fashion-conscious travellers may find the overly sporty design doesn’t suit them. You might find other sporty models like the Casio GPW-1000 or Bulova Precisionist 98B257 more eye-appealing than the GW7900B-1.
Garmin vivofit 3
Best Uses: Active travel with a low-profile
Although it’s not technically a watch, I’d have a hard time not recommending the Garmin vivofit 3 as a travelling timepiece. For travellers, the Garmin vivofit 3 is for more than just keeping time. It’s an activity tracker that counts your steps, tracks your sleep, and estimates how many calories you’ve burnt throughout the day.
The Garmin vivofit 3 synchronizes with your smartphone, either automatically or manually. With the automatic timezone setting on your phone, the time on your Garmin vivofit 3 will always be accurate to the current timezone after you’ve synced up.
Much like other travel watches, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about your Garmin vivofit 3 running out of juice. The unit has a very low power draw. The small lithium battery in the unit lasts for about a year of continuous use.
Who should buy the Garmin vivofit 3
For those that want something with more functionality than a simple watch, the Garmin vivofit 3 is a super budget-friendly alternative. Although the information from the vivofit 3 can’t compete with fully-featured GPS watches, the ability to track your steps on your journey is an enlightening feature.
One of the best features is that the Garmin vivofit 3 boasts a simple, no-frills design. Unlike other travel watches, the vivofit 3 isn’t flashy enough to attract attention. The low-profile design is a huge bonus in places like Central America, South America or Africa.
Who should NOT buy the Garmin vivofit 3
Although the Garmin vivofit 3 is billed as being water-resistant, I’d hesitate to wear it during any serious waterborne activities. The simple design, while not flimsy, couldn’t compete with rugged watches in the same price range like the Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1.
Shinola Detroit The Runwell
Best Uses: Casual travel with style
There’s hardly a more elegant travel watch than the Shinola Detroit The Runwell. Perfect for urban travellers on the move, The Runwell is a simple classic design featuring a large easy-to-read face and an adjustable leather strap set to a variety of colour combinations.
The three-hand display is illuminated by a Super-LumiNova pigment, far brighter than most other travel watches. An Argonite 5021 quartz provides extremely accurate movement.
Water resistance, however, is held to a mere 50 metres. While the Shinola Detroit The Runwell will hold up under rainy conditions and for a quick dip, any extensive underwater activities would be better served with a different model.
Who should buy the Shinola Detroit The Runwell
Any travellers who need an all around stylish travel watch that fits in on most occasions should give the Shinola Detroit The Runwell a go. A wide variety of colour combinations suit all manners of taste and style. The quality of build on this All-American watch is second-to-none.
Who should NOT buy the Shinola Detroit The Runwell
Serious adventurers might find the Shinola Detroit The Runwell too casual for their tastes. Although the quality is excellent, I would never place its durability against a shock-resistant model like one of the Casio G-Shock watches. The mid-range price point might also push the watch outside of the budget of some travellers.
Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007
Best Uses: Luxury world travel
You’d be hard pressed to find a men’s travel watch sleeker than the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007. No, this watch’s model number isn’t inspired by James Bond. But that’s not to say you won’t feel like a globetrotting spy when the Seiko SSE007 wraps around your wrist!
Seiko offers at least 7 current models in the Astron GPS series, with (more expensive) limited editions popping into their catalog from time to time. The Astron GPS SSE007 is special in its design. With 28 city shortcodes imprinted on its ceramic bezel, the watch is a beautiful addition to any traveller’s wardrobe. The titanium super-hard coating and three-fold clasp is elegant enough for formal occasions yet perfect for everyday urban outings. The sapphire crystal is incredibly clear with little reflection.
The best feature for travellers on the Seiko Astron GPS SSE007 is the GPS-controlled time and time zone adjustments. Simply hold a button down and the watch will automatically adjust to the time of your current location.
Who should buy the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007
Anyone looking to spend a little more on a top-notch travel watch that you can wear year-round, should consider the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007. The style is sleek and bound to turn some heads. The GPS functionality is perfect for travellers needing accurate time over frequent time zone changes.
Who should NOT buy the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007
As one of the most expensive travel watches on this list, the Seiko Astron GPS SSE007 isn’t for those on a budget or travelling to places where expensive accessories could attract the wrong kind of attention. The water resistance rating of 10 bars also leaves something to be desired for scuba divers and other aquatic daredevils.
Bulova Precisionist 98B257
Best Uses: General travel with a classy & sporty look
Bulova’s been making watches for so long, it would be a crime to leave them out of the running as one of the best travel watches for men. With their popular Marine Star 98C112 undergoing a design shift, the Bulova Precisionist 98B257 swoops in as one of the company’s next best offerings for wanderers.
The Bulova Precisionist 98B257 flaunts a sporty façade. The carbon fibre dial and ion-plated stainless steel case/bracelet sports a black matte finish, bestowing a mysterious yet sophisticated look. The high-frequency quartz, vibrating at an astounding 262 kHz, keeps the Precisionist 98B257 true to its name with insanely precise timing accuracy. Both a tachymeter and precision chronograph (down to 1/1000 of a second) round out this highly functional travel watch.
Water resistance is rated to 300 metres (984 feet). The lack of a pressure relief value, however, makes the Bulova Precisionist 98B257 more suited towards recreational rather than serious diving.
Who should buy the Bulova Precisionist 98B257
Travellers looking for a stylish and accurate travel watch for a reasonable price should consider the Bulova Precisionist 98B257. The black carbon fibre and stainless steel construction flips seamlessly between sporty and sophisticated. Whether you want to wear it at the beach or to a fine dining restaurant, the Precisionist 98B257 fits the bill.
Who should NOT buy the Bulova Precisionist 98B257
Divers will find the Bulova Precisionist 98B257 lacks the features they need in a dive watch. The Tissot Seastar 1000 would better suit marine enthusiasts. Hardcore adventurers likewise would be better served with the more intense shock-resistance of one of the Casio G-Shock models.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
Best Uses: Active urban travel
I’d hardly belong in the twenty-first century if I didn’t suggest at least one smartwatch among the top men’s travel watches. Of all of the best smartwatches for travel, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier sits near the top of the list. Not only is the Gear S3 Frontier packed with features, the simple classic round face and bezel design makes you forget you’re wearing a powerful electronic gadget on your wrist.
Travellers will love the built-in GPS feature. Finding attractions or restaurants on your journey is a breeze, simply requiring a quick glimpse at your wrist rather than fiddling with maps. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier also tracks your activity and, with the built-in heart rate monitor, your fitness levels.
Both iOS and Android devices are supported for syncing via Bluetooth. Rather than reaching into your pocket with every buzz, notifications from your phone appear directly on your wrist. You can even use the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier as a payment method via Samsung Pay.
In terms of durability, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is marketed as military-grade. The testing includes small drops, dust, shock, vibration, low pressure/high altitude, and extreme temperatures. While I certainly wouldn’t put a Gear S3 up against a Casio G-Shock, it will hold up to the typical bumps and bruises that a regular traveller would throw at it. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier withstands water, but is not meant for continuous exposures or depths below 5 feet or so.
The biggest drawback of the Gear S3 Frontier is the battery life. Although 2-3 days isn’t horrible for a device of its kind, the need to constantly recharge the watch can become a bit cumbersome for travellers, especially those frequently on the move.
Who should buy the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
If tech gets your blood pumping, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier might be one of the best choices on the list. An ever-growing selection of apps extends the functionality of Gear S3 Frontier beyond anything than many men’s travel watches could dream of.
Who should NOT buy the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
The constant need to recharge the battery makes the Gear S3 Frontier inconvenient for travellers always on the move. Apple iPhone users may also find that this watch doesn’t play as nicely with their devices as with Android phones. For steadfast adventures, the Gear S3 Frontier won’t hold up as well as the super shock-resistant G-Shocks. Needless to say, water sports are almost entirely out of the question with the Gear S3 Frontier.
Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E
Best Uses: Time-zone hopping in style
Among atomic timekeeping travel watches, the Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E offers travellers some of the best value. The classy stainless steel construction and radio-controlled time synchronization in 26 world time zones is perfect for the ever-on-the-move traveller looking for a stylish, contemporary timepiece.
The Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E features an scratch-resistant and anti-reflective sapphire crystal that keeps the orange-accented dial easy-to-read in bright light. The watch combines both solar-power and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Even in complete darkness, the AT9010-52E will hold a charge for months.
Who should buy the Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E
The Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E suits any traveller hopping across time zones who wants a travel watch that’s both striking and functional. The radio-controlled atomic timekeeping works both automatically and manually in many cities around the world. (For all others where radio signals are not received, you can easily set the time manually as you would any other watch).
Who should NOT buy the Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E
Anyone looking for a casual travel watch might find the AT9010-52E too flashy for their tastes. With a water resistance of 200 metres (660 feet) on no pressure-relief valve, serious scuba divers are better served elsewhere.
Best Uses: Adventure travel, hiking
No one would claim Suunto is one of the world’s most popular watch manufacturers. This Finnish company sprouted its wings with its liquid-filled compasses. Their navigation engineering expertise has come in handy in their foray into adventure technology including GPS watches like the Suunto Traverse.
What makes the Suunto Traverse so great for travellers is precisely that it does what no other travel watch on this list can. The Suunto Traverse features a built-in compass, altimeter, barometer and sunset/sunrise times. Outdoor adventurers can monitor conditions in real-time and even monitor weather trends and get alerts when storms are approaching.
Using the Suunto Movescount site, outfitted with topographic maps, hikers can plan out their route and stay on track using the Suunto Traverse‘s GPS. There’s even a heatmap feature on Movescount to help you discover new hiking routes.
Like most GPS watches and fitness, the Suunto Traverse records your daily activity and estimates your calorie burning. The Suunto Traverse even synchronizes with your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth to enable push notifications on your watch.
Who should buy the Suunto Traverse
Adventurers with a penchant for exploring the backwoods should seriously consider the Suunto Traverse. The ability to estimate your altitude and detect barometric pressure changes is a truly remarkable feature for a watch at this price point. The mapping and GPS navigation features are also awesome for getting off-the-beaten-path.
Who should NOT buy the Suunto Traverse
For travellers more interested in urban adventures, the features on the Suunto Traverse might be overkill. A classic travel watch like the Citizen Eco-Drive World Time or Bulova Precisionist would be better choices. The depth rating of 100 metres (330 feet) on the Suunto Traverse eliminates it for most marine enthusiasts. Although the Suunto Traverse is designed for adventure, it’s hardly the most robust timepiece on this list. If you foresee banging the watch around, the Casio G-Shock could be a more suitable choice.
How to choose an awesome travel watch: A buyer’s guide
In our digital era, travel watches rarely rank among top travel accessories. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, DSLR cameras, and all sorts of other fancy gadgets, fill carry-on bags without a second thought. But sometimes the simplest accessory can be the most important.
Years ago, when I was on an extremely tight budget, I travelled to Norway and Germany. I saved a ton of money on my flights by combining regular airlines with separate tickets from low-cost European airlines.
My cost savings measures, of course, entailed more travel planning. And more possibility for disaster. I mitigated the risk—or so I thought—by ditching my usual paper-based record-keeping for tech. I programmed every flight, every important movement into what was the advanced handheld tech at the time: a Palm Pilot.
When I arrived at Dresden airport to catch my flight home, I was told I was 6 hours late. I pulled out my tablet, which confirmed I was right on time. I pleaded. Surely, there was a mistake?
The mistake was none but my own. When I arrived in Europe and synchronized the time, the flights stored in the calendar also adjusted to the new time zone, throwing everything off by exactly 6 hours. This is hardly a case of dated technology. Smartphones today still do the same thing if you don’t pay attention!
This was the first of many encounters where a simple travel watch and “manual” travel planning could have saved me a ton of frustration!
Why buy a travel watch?
With all the travel tech out there, you might question the need for a travel watch. If you’re always carrying a phone, you’ll always know the time, right?
Technically, it’s true. But let’s not forget of the drawbacks of relying only on advanced technology for keeping you on schedule:
- Battery life: The biggest drawback is short battery life. Whereas with a little use, smartphones will die in hours, travel watches will hold a charge for years—or even forever.
- Technical issues: With the complexity of software these days, the reliability of technology is not guaranteed. Besides the possibility of user error, a complete device failure could be just an update away. I certainly appreciated my travel watch when my iPhone 4S died in Morocco after a forced iOS update.
- Convenience: It’s far easier to cock your wrist to check the time than to fish a phone out of your pocket.
- Safety: Depending on the travel watch you choose, you become less of a target for thieves. Simple watches attract far less attention than expensive digital devices.
The features of men’s travel watches can be as simple or as advanced as your budget allows. In this guide, you’ll notice that I’ve focused on the lower-end of the spectrum, mainly in the under $1000 market. Many of the advanced features that get watch enthusiasts revved up, won’t be the same ones that excite the average traveller.
If you’re looking for a good travel watch for men, here are a few things to look out for:
World Time Zones
When you’re constantly on the move, a travel watch that supports multiple time zones is a must. Many of the mid-range models reviewed here are able to manually (or automatically) adjust to the atomic time upon arrival in a new city via satellite or radio signals.
Even without atomic timekeeping, true world time watches allow you to check the current time in different locations at a glance using world city names etched in the bezel.
A fancy name for a stopwatch, a chronometer is a feature that many of the best travel watches for men share. The best chronometers among these watches offer accurate timing as precise as 1/1000 of a second.
For travel watches, a tachymeter isn’t a hugely important feature. Reading the tachymeter, usually imprinted on the bezel, let you estimate speed over short distances and small time frames.
While judging the average speed of your chicken bus puttering over the mountains is entertaining, it’s nothing you couldn’t figure out without a tachymeter on your watch.
GPS & Activity Tracking
Some of the sportier models of men’s travel watches include an ability to track your location using satellites. GPS watches often include activity tracking and are a must if planning to hike into remote locations. Even without GPS features, some models can track your movement using a simple pedometer.
Most travel watches come with some water resistance, at least enough to alleviate any worry about seriously damaging your watch in a downpour. If you’re planning to wear your watch swimming or scuba diving, make sure the watch supports your activity.
For most water-resistant watches, swimming isn’t a problem, but scuba diving will often require higher-end models at steeper price tag.
The best travel watches for men are not just practical and functional, but stylish. Much of the choice of style comes down to preference. The watches I’ve listed above cover just about any style whether classy, casual or sporty.
One consideration for the chosen style should be the destinations where you are planning to wear the watch. In European cities, for example, a classier style won’t attract too much negative attention; in places like Central America, South America, Africa, or even parts of South Asia, you might want to opt for something less flashy.
Summary: The best travel watches for men of 2018
Still can’t decide which model works best for you? Here are my suggestions:
- Need a reliable world time watch? It’s hard to find anything better than the Casio G-Shock Gravity Master Hybrid GPS GPW-1000. The dual GPS- and radio-controlled atomic timekeeping is truly one-of-a-kind.
- Planning to hit the great outdoors? The weather and navigation features of the Suunto Traverse are perfect for hikers and other outdoorsmen.
- Got underwater adventures on the brain? No travel watch in the under $1000 category serves marine adventurers better than the Tissot Seastar 1000 thanks to its 300m depth rating and helium-relief valve.
- City-hopping urban traveller? The classy Citizen Eco-Drive World Time AT9010-52E or the mysterious Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE007 are awesome timepieces for city travel.