Men's Stainless Steel Watches for Anytime and Anywhere
Whether you’re on the hunt for a hardworking tool watch or one that will look right at home at a business meeting, here are the men's stainless steel watches that will fit the bill.
Yes, You Should Consider a Stainless Steel Watch
If you’re in the market for an elegant and reliable go-anywhere, do-everything watch, a stainless steel watch is your best bet. Hefty enough to be put to the test but not so precious that you’ll worry about getting it nicked or scratched, it’s for the guy who thinks nothing of wearing something fancy to a normal occasion, or pairing something casual with a luxe suit. A stainless steel watch shows you’re practical yet nonchalant, effortless, but not lazy.
1| Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Let’s start with the one that made people rethink everything they thought they knew about stainless steel watches. Created by legendary Swiss designer Gérald Genta and unveiled in 1972, the Royal Oak was conceptualized to be the gentleman’s steel sports watch, with the case and bracelet flowing so seamlessly that it sits oh-so-sexily on the wrist.
The wristband owes its DNA to another legend, bracelet manufacturer Gay Frères, and consists of 250 edges rounded off by hand. And then there are the other trademarks that make a Royal Oak so distinct: the octagonal bezel whose shape is complemented with eight hexagonal screws, and the “Grande Tapisserie” dial, a textured grid design that serves as the backdrop for the hour markers and hands. The model is such a brand signature that it’s now available in a variety of finishes, from diamond-studded to frosted gold, but if you want the true, inimitable classic, stainless steel is the way to go. audemarspiguet.com
2| Patek Philippe Nautilus
Another watch that has the Gérald Genta-Gay Frères tandem in common is the Nautilus, which also explains the gracefully integrated strap lugs and wristband. This one debuted just a few years later, in 1976, and at 42mm, the diameter was slightly bigger than the Royal Oak’s introductory size. Maybe that was the reason for justifying the higher price tag as one of the selling points in the marketing campaign’s original tagline: “One of the world’s costliest watches is made of steel.”
Another ad featured the Nautilus worn with both a wetsuit and an evening suit, the idea being that it toed the line between rugged and formal. Named after Captain Nemo’s submarine in the Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the curved case’s porthole-like design and water resistance of up to 120 meters reinforced its position as a seafarer’s watch. And if you want to take that association even further, get it with the dial in the classic shade of inky black-blue. patek.com
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3| IWC Ingenieur
Now we have come to the last watch in the Gérald Genta steel watches trifecta. Part of the brand’s classic collection (available since 1954), the Ingenieur was initially offered as the scientists’ watch with its water-resistant, antimagnetic, and ultra-precise properties. But after taking note of the success of the Royal Oak, Genta was tapped to breathe new life into it in the 1970s, and so he introduced what he does best: the integrated bracelet, textured guilloché dial, and large 40mm case, while retaining the legibility and precision that made the classic model so in-demand.
It’s received a few more updates over the years, including a thinner version in the ’80s and mecha-quartz movements in ’91. But Genta has left his indelible mark on the men's stainless steel watch, and it’s still one of the best steel watches around. iwc.com
4| Rolex Submariner
This one falls more squarely under the tool watch category, and as far as tool watches go, it doesn’t get any better than this. The Submariner is the classic divers’ watch, launched in 1953 and the first one to achieve waterproofing to a depth of 100m. Current models can withstand depths of up to 300m, plus a rotating ceramic bezel and luminescent hour markers ensure maximum visibility in dark underwater environments.
It’s cemented a place in pop culture as the Bond Submariner, the watch worn by Sean Connery when the James Bond franchise was officially launched with Dr. No. A green bezel version was released to mark the watch’s 50th anniversary, and apart from looking really good in steel, it’s definitely going to remain highly visible in the deep. rolex.com
5| Omega Speedmaster Professional
If a watch is good enough to go on the moon, you know it will withstand whatever you can throw at it. After surviving a battery of tests under the most punishing of conditions, this was the stainless steel watch deemed worthy of the wrists of the Apollo 11 astronauts when they embarked on their landmark moon mission.
Though Neil Armstrong took those famous first steps, it’s actually because of Buzz Aldrin, who had his watch strapped onto his suit, that the Speedmaster Professional earned its Moonwatch nickname. Of course, the watch already existed well before the 1969 lunar mission took place—it was introduced in 1957 alongside the Seamaster (for divers) and the Railmaster (for engineers), and was originally intended to be a racing and sports chronograph. But “first watch worn on the moon” is a far more memorable and unique marketing handle, so you can’t blame Omega for sticking with it. omegawatches.com