If the smart phone made the wristwatch optional, it also gave men the opportunity to make a statement with less practical timepieces. The latest crop of high-end watches runs the gamut from Samsung's touchscreen Pebble, which relays emails to your wrist, to the Weiss Company's Field Watch, which is constructed by a century-old process, but each piece is fundamentally about revealing its owner's identity as a man of action. Navy and dive watches have risen in popularity along with timepieces inspired by automotive racing. In short, watches have gotten a bit burlier and a hell of a lot more fun.
Here are the best of the new breed.
Tissot Le Locle Small Second Automatic
With so many watchmakers marrying the chunkiness of expedition timepieces and dive watches with the titanium sheen of traditional statement pieces, it can be hard to find a watch you can wear every day without developing oddly prominent forearm muscles. Tissot's new addition to its perpetually popular Le Locle line, the Small Second Men's Automatic, is neither garish nor retiring. This timepiece offers wearers the chance to wear something noticeable - the thick hands stand out against the black dial inland with bright roman numerals - without making the wrist the center of attention. The Swiss-made analog is more of an exercise in restrained subtlety than subdued lavishness.
Outfitted with the new 2825-2 movement, the 160-year-old company created to allow users to switch the dials' duties, the Second Men's Automatique has wave detailing and a small, fast-moving subdial for seconds that makes the face dynamic. The 11.55mm-thick watch, sits low against the wrist and the ribbed winding mechanism barely protrudes from the size so it doesn't catch on dress shirts or suit jackets. But if this timepiece is all business in front, it is all party in the back. The see-through, sapphire-glass case back displays the whirring movements, and the back of the case is garnished with etched flowers, a prominent Tissot logo, and the words mécanique automatique. The whole thing is very art deco, giving the watch a delightful 'Midnight in Paris'-style duality.
Though Tissot's other Le Locle styles, including the ones with thicker stainless steel bracelets, are all extremely attractive, we recommend going with the black leather strap. The strap look not only works better with the earth-toned suits popular this year, but it keeps weight low in the manner of a field watch. The whole point of this timepiece is that it is slim and handsome, so there is little sense in bulking up. [$795; tissotshop.com]