The 20 best watches for designers

11. LG G Watch Urbane

The smarter, all-metal LG G Watch Urbane was released at 2015's Mobile World Congress

LG's G Watch R has been a great success for the South Korean giant, fusing a traditional round face and contemporary looks with the extremely functional Android Wear OS. The Urbane is its more formal offering, featuring an all-metal design, stitched leather strap and a price tag that competes squarely with the Apple Watch.

Being based on the G Watch R, it's really no surprise that the specs are the same – 320x320 pixels at 245ppi, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MG RAM and 4GB of internal storage. There's also a heart rate sensor onboard.

12. Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph

It may cost a fortune, but the Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph is a stunning and robust military watch

Okay, now we're getting serious. This is the kind of watch Jason Statham would wear – but at the same time manages to look cool enough to go with a checked short and a pair of slacks. Yes, you'll need a huge wallet to cough up for it, but you get all manner of features – including luminous hands that are more visible when wearing night-vision goggles, water resistance to 990 feet, domed and anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and of course a highly accurate chronograph.

You may never be a Navy SEAL, but with this you might just feel like one (and a very stylish one at that). Paul Hutchinson, founder of Hype Type Studio has a particular love of the model.

13. Pebble Steel

The Pebble Steel is a great looking smart watch that pairs with both iOS and Android

The Pebble Steel may not be the flashiest of smart watches, but it's undeniably one of the best. Stylish looks and great build quality are paired with loads of faces (many by designers which look ace) and apps to download – and it'll pair with both iOS and Android devices, giving you notifications (email, text messages and other stuff) and the ability to control music.

It also has a stellar battery life – expect it to last up to seven days on a single charge. The e-ink display makes it very readable in all conditions and it's available in both black matte and brushed stainless finishes. It's this author's current smart watch of choice.

14. Nixon - The Supertide

The Supertide is a surfer's dream – and is available in 11 different colours

One for the surfer dudes amongst you, the Nixon Supertide is pre-programmed withy tide information for over 270 beaches until 2023 (along with 48 hour future tide, heat timer, alarm and light functions).

The Supertide isn't exactly slimline, but its steel case combined with injection moulded polyurethane and silicone casing make it a real looker – as does the high-res display. Basically, according to Nixon, this "syncs you up with the motion of the ocean". And that sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?

15. Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator Auto

The long hand points to minutes; the left dial is hours; and the right dial is seconds. A simple, stunning watch

Partner and creative director ay DMSQD Kyle Wilkinson has a a few watches he loves to wear – including the Tag Heuer Carrera and F1. But it's Wilkinson's Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator that really captures your attention – its unique face feeling both classic and contemporary at the same time. A simple, classic timepiece that will go with anything and look great for many years to come.

16. Casio A164WA-1VES

Remember these? Well, they're still available and will only cost you £25. Just head to your nearest Argos…

We haven't featured any other retro watches in this list, but this Casio just has to be mentioned. First released in the '80s and pretty much unchanged since (yes, the design is 30 years old!) this small digital watch is still warn by many designers looking for a simple, retro watch that doesn't cost the earth and take up too much wrist real estate. And of course, it has a stopwatch, alarm, light that illuminates from the side, and will beep on the hour!

17. Miansai M24

One hand, one vision – to make it easy to tell the time in a stylish and contemporary way

The Miansai M24 is an intriguing timepiece. On the one hand it looks like a simple, Quartz movement watch. Look closer, past the slimline crown and uncluttered face, past the lovely leather strap and you'll see one solitary hand.

How do you tell the time? Well, the visual aid between the 12 and 01 shows you – you simply break down the hour into 15, 30 and 45 minute increments. It's not the most accurate but it's a little bit genius nonetheless.

18. IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph

At over 9k the Pilot's Watch Chronograph Top Gun won't be for everyone, but those with a big budget and penchant for quality will love it

The most expensive watch in this list, the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph is one of designer Mike Sullivan's (aka Studio Mister) favourites. A military design with a stunning ceramic case, the Top Gun, pictured here, is one of the beauties of the range.

The watch is inspired by the pilots' school of the US Marines in Miramar, California (think Maverick and Goose!). The division of the dial into an external chapter ring and an inner hour circle is particularly lovely. Yes, you'll need a big budget to buy one, but the detailing is majestic.

19. MVMT watches

MVMT combines classic, understated design with incredible value – brilliant for those on a budget

From the stylish and expensive to the stylish and inexpensive, MVMT watches are perfect for those who don't want to spend a fortune but want a classic timepiece on their wrist.

Understated in design but still fashioned from high-quality materials, the MVMT range is impressive – we particularly like the Black/Black model, which accents the all-black design with a red second hand and logo. A fantastic buy for $100.

20. Aark Collective Iconic Graphite

Rugged, yet with lovely design subtleties (note the crown), the Iconic Graphite is a perfectly proportioned timepiece

Aark Collective's Iconic Graphite watch is a beauty. We particularly love the face details – the chronograph functions being housed in an acid-etched circle (60 seconds), diamond (60 minutes) and hexagon (24 hours). A rotating bezel is complemented with a 3mm Italian calfskin band.

What's more, the 316L Aircraft-grade stainless steel has been PVD ion plated – meaning it's tough and durable as well as stylish and precise. The Iconic is also available in 'Monochrome' and 'Inox', but it's the Graphite we love (as does Empire magazine designer Olly Gibbs. The Timless Karat by the same company is another of Gibbs' favourites.

Words: Rob Carney

Rob Carney is editor of the world's best gadget magazine, T3.