The Best Watches for Kids

Durable, legible and fun, 11 timepieces that will set your kid on a path to haute horology in no time

May 23, 2023 7:00 am
collage of kids watches
Timex/G-SHOCK/FitBit/Swatch Flik-Flak

Sometime between kindergarten and first grade (ages 6-8), most kids learn to read an analog clock. Or, rather, they used to — who knows what kind of shenanigans go on in schools in the 2020s.

But if you’re reading this, you’re not raising normal children; rather, you’re raising future watch collectors. And these little troublemakers need to know how to tell the time, STAT. We need to get wristwatches on their diminutive little wrists so that they can dictate the future of the pre-owned Rolex market. We need them telling time so they can replace the dying pension system with extensive Patek Philippe collections. We need —

Sorry, sorry; I got carried away. The point is, even if you think the analog clock is going the way of the dodo — and we doubt you do, since you’re a watch guy/gal, right? — being able to tell the time on an analog display is akin to riding a bike, or learning to swim: It’s simply a skill that every human on Earth should have, even if they never believe they’ll need it. (You simply never know.

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Though, to be fair: we applaud and encourage a first watch being analog — out of nostalgia! — but digital watches are just as well, which is why we’ve included several on this list. We believe your mini-me should be able to read an analog dial, but once they can, a Baby-G is perfectly fine, if so desired. The point is: a watch on the wrist

There are (to our minds) several important categories of kids’ watches:

  • Analog models designed for children (Flik-Flak; Parchie; etc.)
  • Analog models with clean design that are optimal for children (Swatch OnceAgain; Mondaine Essence)
  • Relatively simple digital models that can used by children 

In putting this list together, we’ve included a few watches from each category. It’s all important to remember that as kids grow older and their abilities and tastes mature — and their wrists get larger — there’s a point at which you can ditch the idea of the “kids’ watch” altogether and simply spring for a “regular” watch. The age at which this occurs is, of course, subjective.

Characteristics of an Ideal Kids’ Watch:

Shock resistant: Duh. I used to throw my first Fossil up in the air and catch it — and often, miss it on the way down. Get something that can take the hit(s)!

Water resistant: You probably don’t need the 100m of water resistance called for by ISO-certified dive watches…but it wouldn’t hurt. The more, the merrier, as this watch is gonna get wet, guaranteed.

Legible: No moonphases or chronographs here, please — we’re trying to teach kids to read the time. Legibility, whether on an analog or digital dial, is the name of the game. 

Affordable: This thing is going to get beat to hell. Better not make it a Patek-level investment, don’t you think? Remember: you can get a solid watch for well under $100 if you know where to look.

Engaging: A kids’ watch should hold a kids’ interest, so pick one that’s colorful, has buttons on it, whatever — make it fun! 

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The Watches

silver watch band with black screen that has digital clock

Casio A158WA-1 Digital Watch

Want to introduce some retro swagger into your kid’s life? Try this digital watch from Casio. Packed with features — but not so many as to overwhelm — it’s got those classics 1980s looks and ships on a matching metal bracelet. (It’s even water resistant to 30m!) Plus, the price is right. Maybe this could be the start of an evolving collection…

  • Diameter: 33.2mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Digital
  • Cool Feature: Retro vibes!! Tons of alarms/timers. 
  • Price: $23
purple watch with band that has sharks on it and designated hour and minute hands on an analog clock

Timex Children’s Time Machines 29mm Blue Shark Elastic Fabric Kids Watch

This neat kids’ watch from Timex not only features an awesome fabric strap decorated with sharks, but the hour and minute hands are clearly labeled “HOUR” and “MINUTE” for easy identification and learning. (Plus, for adults, Timex offers a protection plan in which they’ll replace the watch if lost or broken. Clutch!) And, there are many more watches in the Time Machines line if you’d prefer different colors.

  • Diameter: 29mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Hour and minute hands clearly labeled.
  • Price: $27
dark blue watch with red numbers
Swatch Flik-Flak

Swatch Flik-Flak Your Color Blast Blue

There are so many cool SWATCH Flik-Flaks that it’s nigh impossible to pick one of ‘em as an example, but we finally settled on this Your Color Blast Blue. (Please don’t @ us.) Measuring 31.85mm, it’s highly legible, with different-colored hour and minute hands; made of hardy plastic; and water resistant to 30. Plus, you can personalize the strap with your name. (Peruse their website for loads of different models/colorways.) 

  • Diameter: 31.85mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Personalize the strap with your name.
  • Price: $45
watch with black band and white clock

Swatch Once Again

This cool-looking classic uses Bauhaus-inspired design to offer maximum utility in the most straightforward way — and it’s precisely because of this that it works so well as a kids’ watch. With its uncluttered dial and day-date display, it makes getting a sense of the time an absolute cinch. (Plus, it’s got mad “I founded a 6th-grade startup and just sold it for $1B” vibes.) Bonus points: an easy-to-access battery hatch on the back.

  • Diameter: 34mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Day-date display; cool, monochromatic looks. 
  • Price: $55
green watch band with blue and yellow watch face

Parchie School-Time 

Founded by former HODINKEE editor Cara Barrett, Parchie makes some of the hands-down coolest kids’ watches on Earth. Available in wildly fun colors and taking inspiration from tool watches — with 12-hour bezels and fabric straps — it’s the sort of watch that you’re gonna be tempted to steal from your kid. We like the School Time for its neat colorway, but each Parchie is a highly legible affair. 

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Looks just like an adult’s field watch — but in even cooler colors. 
  • Price: $65
black skinny thin watch

FitBit Ace 3

Designed for kids 6+, this simplified fitness tracker features lots of the stuff available in adults’ smartwatches, such as sleep tracking, alarms, activity tracking, and more. However, it’s also packed with fun clock faces, an easy-to-navigate touchscreen, and features up to eight days of battery life. (Plus, it allows parents to set up a family account and create childrens’ accounts.)

  • Diameter: 16.8mm
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Digital 
  • Cool Feature: Activity tracking; long power reserve. 
  • Price: $80
teal colored watch with white face

G-SHOCK Baby G BG169R-3 Series 

If you’re of a certain age, you no doubt remember your friends sporting these in the ‘90s/early 2000s. A slightly downsized version of the toughest watch on Earth, these colorful G-SHOCKS are just as robust and useful, with 200m of water resistance, comfy rubber bands, and tons of alarms and timers. Even with all this functionality, they’re still highly legible, however. (Don’t like this particular model? There are tons more.)

  • Diameter: 42.6mm
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Absolutely jam-packed with stopwatches, alarms, calendars, etc.
  • Price: $89
thin and skinny green watch band with wide touch screen

Garmin Bounce

If you’d like your child to have a means to keep in touch but aren’t quite ready to take the smartphone plunge, then may we suggest the Garmin Bounce. In addition to timekeeping duties, it provides LTE connectivity for phone-free texts and voice messages, plus tracking and safety features. It also has sports tracking, activities, and even on-board quizzes. Pretty hard to beat for $150!

  • Diameter: 42.4mm
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Digital 
  • Cool Feature: Optional LTE plan allows for phone-free communication with parents.
  • Price: $149
bright colored pink and blue watch

Timex Q Malibu

Not a kids’ watch, true — but with its eye-catching colors, perfect size, highly legible dial, easy-to-change battery, and fun expansion band, the Timex Q Malibu is truly a perfect timekeeper for the younger generation. It’s even got a rotating 12-hour bezel, so you can teach your little one how to track multiple time zones before he or she has even graduated middle school. Brilliant! 

  • Diameter: 36mm
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Quartz 
  • Cool Feature: 12-hour bezel; day-date display; expanding bracelet. 
  • Price: $199
black and white watches

Mondaine Essence 32mm

Another Bauhaus-inspired classic, the Mondaine Essence is available in more colors than you can shake a stick at — which is great, as you’ll probably want one for yourself! Legible, handsome, and made of multiple recycled materials, it’s a Swiss watch that one can grow with. (It comes in both 32mm and 41mm, making it perfect for kids and adults, and for women and men.) 

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Cool Feature: Easy to read; available in multiple sizes. 
  • Price: $220+
bright yellow watch with touch screen from apple

Apple Watch SE

As your kid gets a bit older, you may prefer to spring for a “light” version of an adults’ watch, such as the Apple Watch SE. Jam-packed with useful features such as activity tracking and swim-proof water resistance, the SE has emergency SOS — plus optional cellular. Available in multiples colors and with multiple band types, it’s the ultimate 21st-century timepiece for the 21st-century kid. (And, it comes in both 40mm and 44mm sizes.)

  • Diameter: 40mm; 44mm
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Digital 
  • Cool Feature: Activity tracking; emergency SOS; optional cellular. 
  • Price: $249

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