In these austere times, it seems the prevailing mood is one of circumspection when it comes to any show of personality or braggadocio, so it’s no surprise that, in the latest season of menswear, colour palettes have been muted. While women have had Fifty Shades of Grey in literary form to contend with, men have had to make do with 50 shades of grey in the wardrobe department. Of course, the dearth of colour is not to everyone’s taste and now more than ever a bit of colour, particularly with the right accessories, is enough to make a statement. Colourful watches are great casual-wear accessories and their variety and relatively low pricing will make them even more attractive to fashionistas refusing to buckle to the dominance of grey.

New York-based design house Nooka has built a cult following with innovative and futuristic watch designs. The brand, which was launched in 2004, began as a side project for Seiko watch designer Matthew Waldman and has since branched out into sunglasses and other accessories. However, watches are still Nooka’s strength and the company can still surprise and excite with watches such as the Zub Zoo 40 Blue Glow (top right). Priced at HK$1,000, the watch comes in a glossy case material that is white in normal light and glows blue in darkness, with the digital display glowing green. Don’t ask me about the science – the company isn’t doing much explaining – but it’s a handy gimmick, even more so at such an attractive price. The dial design is classic Nooka, with its disparate time indicators unifying in their idiosyncratic way. Other features include a chronograph, an alarm function and water resistance to 30 metres.

Swatch has a well-deserved reputation for standing out from the crowd and the brand’s history of making colourful, offbeat and highly collectible watches has inspired many a book and blog. For its latest left-field collaboration, Swatch has teamed up French tattoo artist Tin-Tin and Swiss visual artist Emmanuelle Antille to create a collection of watches inspired by tattoo art. As everyone on the planet knows, tattoos are in at the moment, so these watches are on trend, as the kids would say. A highlight is the Antilledesigned Blue Graft (left), which is priced at an eminently reasonable HK$640 and features a printed, stylised wave pattern that is popular with hipsters and yakuza gangsters alike. The pattern encompasses the plastic case as well as the silicone strap. Features-wise, it’s a Swatch, so nothing more than standard hours and minutes, but this watch should  raise a few eyebrows and would make a welcome addition to any Swatch collection.

Hong Kong watchmaker Boat (an acronym of Be Optimistic and Thankful), as the name suggests, is a committed purveyor of happy clappy vibes. Made of sealed wax stamps, the simplicity of Boat watches is a large part of their charm. There is now a numbered version (right) to go along with the numberless dial design, but the real attraction of Boat watches is the wide choice of colours. The various combinations of wax and strap are impressive in number, with the 39mm steel case being the only constant. With Boat, you can have safer colour choices to complement more formal wear or, if you want to keep up with the trend in menswear, you can always go for grey. The Boat watch is priced at HK$650.