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Every watch has a story to tell, and that’s what makes this accessory so special. In the 1980s, people were discovering new ways to style their accessories, and innovative ways to highlight every detail of each outfit.

The world of 1980s men’s watches opens a window into the variety of subcultures which grew and developed in that decade. Most importantly, it tells a lot about how today’s fashion finds its inspiration, and how you can enhance your style with one single, yet essential, detail.

From high-end watches to vintage items, in this guide, you will learn everything you need to find your perfect watch, and embrace the perfect 1980s-inspired style!


The History of Men’s Watches

Wristwatches have been around since the 18th century, but initially, they were a feminine accessory. Men usually wore pocket watches, which were secured to their waistcoats.

Things officially changed in 1893 when a London company launched the first watch wristlet. However, the trend only kicked off in the early 20th century, when men’s fashion became more popular and mainstream.

The idea of having a useful tool such as a timekeeper on one’s wrist was almost revolutionary. Watches were finally viewed as a practical accessory, and soon they became an addition to any outfit.

Decade after decade, men’s watches technology improved, becoming more fashionable, functional, and expanding its potential. New shapes of watches were introduced, as well as different styles, materials and colours of wristbands. Soon, digital watches were developed, making this accessory a must even for the younger people.

Today, watches can do almost anything, including notifying us whenever we get a call on our phone. Nevertheless, a good, old, 1980s-inspired leather watch will always be an iconic and timeless piece.

How to Match a Watch with Your Outfit

Accessories should always match your outfit, and the same applies to your watch. Although some people think that watches should only be worn on formal occasions, you are free to wear them whenever you want to. In fact, the right watch can immediately improve any outfit. On the other hand, you should never wear a watch so eccentric or big that may end up dominating your look instead of enhancing it.

The Watchband

The watchband is one of the most important elements of your watch, and you can often customize it. For example, if you are wearing other leather details, you should go for a leather watchband, preferably in the same colours.


Ideally, the metal elements of your outfit, such as your rings or the buckles on your belt, should match the ones with your watch.


Light-coloured outfits should match your watch. When in doubt, opt for natural colours, such as black, brown, or khaki.

Types of Watches

Not all watches were made the same. The best way to find your new 80s-inspired watch is to understand all the different types of watches you can find on the market. When in doubt… just buy more than one watch and create your perfect collection of accessories!

  • Luxury Watches. These are the most glamorous pieces, just like those worn by Magnum P.I. in the 1980s, with a narrow leather strap and a minimalistic display. Despite its elegance, a dress watch is versatile and can be also styled with a pair of jeans and a casual shirt.
Photo by Rado Coupole (Classic 38mm Men's Watch)

Photo by Rado Coupole (Classic 38mm Men’s Watch)

  • Field Watches. These watches are designed to bear even the most extreme conditions. They have a clear display which is readable at night, with several features. Usually, these items are oversized, inspired by the military men’s fashion.
Photo by Trendhim (Fawler Franscis Fraser Aviator Watch)

Photo by Trendhim (Fawler Franscis Fraser Aviator Watch)

  • Sports Watches. In the 1980s, James Bond made dive and sports watches iconic, because of their versatility and waterproof materials. Looking for a statement look? Choose a sports watch with plenty of features, such as barometer, GPS tracking, and heart rate monitor.
Photo by Watch Nation (Seiko 5 Sports Black Dial Silver Steel Mesh Bracelet Automatic Watch)

Photo by Watch Nation (Seiko 5 Sports Black Dial Silver Steel Mesh Bracelet Automatic Watch)

  • Aviator Watches. Tom Cruise was just one of the many celebrities who fell in love with these watches, inspired by those worn by the Royal Air Force pilots. Go for a watch with a built-in glow-in-the-dark feature and your all-purpose watch will become your best accessory.
Photo by Francis Gaye (Rotary Men's Henley Chronograph Strap Watch)

Photo by Francis Gaye (Rotary Men’s Henley Chronograph Strap Watch)

  • Digital Watches. Casio introduced digital watches and made them a fashion accessory. Their LED screen shows time in numerals, giving you all the “2001: A Space Odyssey”-inspired vibes to embrace the perfect futuristic look.
Photo by D. C. Leake (Casio G-Shock Metal Limited Edition Silver Watch)

Photo by D. C. Leake (Casio G-Shock Metal Limited Edition Silver Watch)

The Ultimate Collection of 1980s Men’s Watches

Magnum P.I Inspired Watches

Detective Magnum never left home without one of his luxury watches. This iconic piece of accessories soon became a must for all those following a preppy lifestyle. Once you invest in a high-end watch, you will rely on a valuable, timeless item.

Photo by WatchFinder & Co. (Omega Seamaster Vintage)

Photo by WatchFinder & Co. (Omega Seamaster Vintage)

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8 Best Men’s Cardigans Looks for Winter: Outfit Inspirations

How to Style Men’s Doc Martens

Gold Watches

Along with gold chains and other eccentric accessories, gold watches were a must for all hip-hop stars. If you are looking for a more minimalist look, you will find several watches with just a few golden details, but still plenty of style.

Photo by Shop On Time (Armani Exchange AX2145 Men's Watch)

Photo by Shop On Time (Armani Exchange AX2145 Men’s Watch)

Enter the Casio World

In the 80s, young people were discovering the joy (and the pain) of technology and smart gadgets. This was when Casio watches found their way to become a fashion icon. Their iconic display makes these watches perfect with any outfit.

Photo by Watch Nation (Casio Classic Collection Retro)

Photo by Watch Nation (Casio Classic Collection Retro)

Swatch, Your Favourite Watch

Swatch watches were some of the most popular pieces of accessories back in the 1980s. Today, the original and eclectic style of this brand is still appreciated by many fashionistas. With your Swatch, you will be able to feel the 80s vibes, but without renouncing a more contemporary touch.

Photo by Etsy (Vintage 1985 Dotted Swiss Swatch Watch)

Photo by Etsy (Vintage 1985 Dotted Swiss Swatch Watch)

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About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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