When it comes to watch faces, everyone has their own opinion about whether Roman numerals, regular numbers or plain batons are the most attractive option. Personally? We love the look of Arabic numerals on our wrist. Here is a guide to our favorite men’s watches with numbers.
This post was last updated on November 3, 2018.
The Great Debate: Comparing Arabic Numbers vs. Roman Numerals vs. Batons on Watches
Watches have featured both Arabic numbers and Roman numerals from at least the 17th Century.
Experts suggest that Arabic numbers are less formal than Roman numerals, which take a watch from “easy-to-read fun to classical sophistication.” Plain batons impart an even cleaner, minimalist look, though are more difficult to read at a quick glance.
Our advice? Don’t pay any attention to received wisdom. Choose the type of watch that you like to look at and that makes you feel confident while wearing it.
Menswear startups like New York-based Martenero are working alongside long-established brands like Skagen from Denmark to give men unprecedented options for watches featuring numbers or Arabic numerals.
Photo credit: Martinero
Martenero’s Edgemere watch has a unique look that still somehow manages to remain classic, and a 40 mm diameter face that doesn’t overwhelm a wrist. It relies on a Miyota 8245 automatic movement and costs $550. John Tarantino founded the brand as a side project in 2014 while working as a real estate professional in New York to design versatile watches that pays homage to heritage brands. This is a tremendously interesting watch at an affordable price-point.
Photo credit: Christopher Ward
We’ve recommended British watchmaker Christopher Ward for years (and own a C9), having fallen in love with the brand’s clean lines, simplicity and mission to be the “cheapest most expensive watch in the world.” Christopher Ward launched the C3 Grand Tourer as an update to its C3 Malvern Chronograph, which was one of the brand’s original models when it launched in 2005. The updated version, whose styling is inspired by the dash of the Aston Martin, is versatile, with 2 face and three strap options, and features a 39mm feace and Quartz movement. This is a seriously gorgeous watch.
Photo taken by Modern Fellows with permission
Bespoke Watch Projects
Founded in 2013 by designer and brand builder John Beck McConnico, Bespoke Watch Projects focuses on unique, limited production mechanical watches. John assembles his watches one-at-time at the company’s Oakland, California studio. The timepieces range in price from $475 to more than $1,000 depending on the movements. As of this writing, the company offered several models featuring Arabic numerals, including the Midsize Automatic and Oakland Officers Watch. John’s watches are gorgeous — and don’t hang around for long. Modern Fellows caught up with John at Worn and Wound’s Windup Watch Fair at Chelsea Market in New York City, and snapped a picture of the unique timepiece pictured above, which isn’t on the company’s website.
Photo taken by Modern Fellows with permission
One of several microbrands on this list, Dan Henry Watches is a Hong Kong-based company founded by its namesake in 2016. Dan is a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil and has been collecting watches since he was 10 years old. The brand pays homage to vintage designs. Each name — always a year — reflects characteristics of that era. Dan incorporates Miyota and Seiko quartz movements into its watches, which helps keep the price point much more accessible than other brands which rely on automatic or pricer quartz movements. The 1939 chronograph, pictured, is water resistant available in black or silver, features a 41mm stainless steel case and Miyota 6S21 quartz movement, and is listed at a very-accessible $220 as of this writing.
Photo credit: Shinola
The Shinola Runwell 47 mm is a substantial watch, though the company also makes 41 mm counterparts. The stainless steel watch features a Argonite 1069 Quartz made from Swiss and other imported parts. The strap is hand sewn in the United States from American leather. Shinola, which revived a classic American brand in a classic American city (Detroit), has been expanding its network of stores around the United States along with its stable of classic American watches. This particular model costs $550.
Photo credit: Instrmnt
Graphic designers Ross Baynham and Pete Sunderland founded Instrmnt in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014 with one product — the Instrmnt 1 — via a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign whose sales more than quadrupled their initial target. Recently, the pair opened a physical store in their hometown and embarked on new watch designs, including limited edition models. Their minimalist original creation continues to stand out, though you’ll have to look closely to see the Arabic numerals around the dial. The watch features a Swiss Ronda 585 3H movement, 40mm watch face and Made-in-Germany leather strap.
Photo credit: Vortic Watch Company
Vortic Watch Company
Twenty-something entrepreneurs CEO R.T. Custer, Tyler Wolfe and Frank Barber founded Vortic Watch Company, an American manufacturer of high quality watches inspired by U.S. railroad stations and other bits of Americana at the turn of the 19th Century, while they were still students at Penn State. Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado, the brand celebrates the heritage of American watchmaking and marries tradition with innovation, using 3D printing to create stunning, one-of-a-kind and limited run wristwatches in the United States. Use their website to create your own or browse for ready-made options – many of which feature Arabic numerals.
Photo credit: Alberta Watches
Founder Leo Josephy began this minimalist line and sells many of his watches locally in Alberta, Canada. He sources some of his saddle straps from a local leather purveyor. Ok, so not all of the Arabic numerals are present, but Alberta’s Standard Watch in slate gray looks clean and professional and, at about $100, won’t break the bank.
Named for Denmark’s northern beach town, Skagen was founded in 1989 in NY by husband and wife Henrik and Charlotte Jorst, by New York-based transplanted Danes who wanted to create Swiss-inspired watches at a lower price-point for the masses. Fossil purchased Skagen in 2012, but the Denmark-inspired company continues to operate as a wholly-owned independent subsidiary, and continues to crank out watches like this Mens Nordstrands, which features a 40mm circumfrance case and quartz movement, and is available at Amazon.
What brands are missing from this collection of timepieces? List them in the comments section.