Recent grads will be hooked to their mobiles, tablets, and laptops for the rest of their life. But a watch is a ticket to disconnect. You can go off on your own, but know when to be back. Dads could use some unplugged time as well. Meanwhile, Father Time is undefeated, and seeing those seconds physically tick by on your wrist might remind you to really appreciate every moment you’ve got with your kids. That… and watches just plain look good. Congrats to the grads, and kudos to the dads who didn’t just procreate, but are also working hard to be great fathers.
Casio Diver – $44.77 on an Aftermarket Strap (varies)
I think the key here is to get an aftermarket NATO with some old-school-cool and get that thing on there before you give it to the recipient. So if you don’t have a spring bar tool, you’ll need one. It’s a hell of a watch for hardly any cash, and while the rubber strap that it comes with is more than fine (especially considering the price), sticking it on a striped NATO will make people do double takes. Shown above is a heavy duty nato with black PVD rings from Clockwork Synergy.
Timex Weekender Chronograph Blue Dial – $50ish
Timex has had a full blown renaissance in the last half decade. What used to be a forgotten junk brand finally got some purposeful style. The prices have remained cheap, but the looks? A heck of a lot better. That dark blue dial with the tan strap? That’s the wristwatch equivalent of a blue suit and cognac shoes. That combination works. And then some.
Timex T49905 Black Brass Case Chrono – $53.30
This thing does NOT feel like a run of the mill Timex. No flimsiness. None. Brass case has a very, very solid feel to it. Dark shades of brown and cream, a black ion case, and a suede strap. 42mm case diameter so it’s not enormous, but it does have some heft to its overall weight.
Seiko 5 SNK805 Automatic – $60-$80
Impressive at this price point, the SNK805 features a reliable Japanese automatic movement, so there’s no need to ever change a battery. It also features both the day and the date, which is a very practical thing to have, and the watch allows you to use a quick-set feature so you don’t have to spin the crown a million times to set the date or day. It also has an exhibition caseback. A complete classic. Just 37mm wide, so, might be dwarfed by some wrists. Also, hardly any water resistance. So try not to get it wet.
Citizen Canvas Band Eco Drive Chronograph – $119.99
For the outdoorsy Dads or Grads.Vintage military looks. Even the strap has metal grommets instead of cheap, punched out holes. Simple and intuitive. 42mm case. Casual for sure, but the build quality, plus the fact that it’s powered by light means it can be a maintenance free go-to for years and years and years to come.
Timex x Todd Snyder “The Mod Watch” in Olive – $138
A little spendy for a Timex, but good for the guy who’s a little more style-minded. The more subtle (is that possible with this watch?) version of their “Mod” Timex. Bullseye dial. Nato strap. Easy to wear for most 40mm case diameter. Interesting for sure.
Orient Ray II Automatic – $166.32
There might not be a better bang-for-the-buck diver on the market. Automatic movement that hacks and hand winds (the previous incarnation did neither). 200m water resistance. 120 click bezel helps keep track of elapsed time. Classic dive-watch looks. Not everyone will like the shined up inserts on the bracelet, but it’s more subtle than many other competitors.
Seiko 007 Automatic – $197.99
42mm case, 200m water resistance, screw down crown, and a dependable Seiko automatic movement beating inside. Seiko’s own Hardlex crystal protects the dial. Good lume. Doesn’t hack or hand wind, but it’s really quite comfortable on the wrist and the 120 click bezel is good and solid. A great all around watch that’s more than a bit of a legend.
Orient Bambino Small Seconds – $199
One of, if not the classiest watch Orient has come out with in a good long while. Now under $200 at certain 3rd party sources. Everything you’d expect from a Bambino. Simple dial. Domed crystal. And now, that perfectly proportioned and placed small seconds sub dial. Full review of this thing can be found here.
Citizen Titanium Eco-Drive Chronograph – $207.98
One of Citizen’s flagships. Looks great. Feels good. Build quality feels nice too. And it can be an almost constant companion, easily worn with a t-shirt and shorts all the way up to a casual cotton blazer and pressed chinos.
Armogan Regalia Chronograph – $110 – $220
For the Dad or Grad who likes clean and simple things, that aren’t totally minimalist and boring. A master class in combining retro aesthetics without falling into goofy/costume territory. Full review here. Can go on sale and drop to as low as $110 via Huckberry, but, currently sold out over there. Fingers crossed they get new stock?
Citizen Nighthawk – $233.58
For under $300 you not only get the classic pilot watch styling, but you also get the added values of a GMT hand (so you can tell the time across separate time zones), and an E6B circular slide rule. Though confusing at first, the slide rule will enable you to quickly do multiplication and division, as well as convert metric to imperial and numerous other calculations. This watch also features their very popular, very accurate, solar powered quartz Eco-Drive movement. As it was clearly aimed at globe trotters, the watch has a jump-hour function, so that you can skip by hours to the next timezone without having to worry about messing up the minute hand or the date.
Orient Mako USA II – $262.50 w/ DAPPERED30
Sapphire Crystal, solid end links, Nemoto Luminova, and the in-house automatic movement hacks and hand winds. 41.5 mm case size is more like the divers Connery’s 007 wore, and less like the hulking beasts seen today. 120 click bezel is nice and snappy, the links are a perfectly proportioned size as well as have a brushed/matte finish, and the 200m water resistance means you don’t have to take it off when you head into the water. Full review here.
Seiko SRP777 “Turtle” – $275.60
Big fan of the not quite circular “turtle” case shape. Terrific weight and feel to it. Hacks and hand winds. 200m water resistance. Seiko’s own “Hardlex” crystal protects the face. Soft, silicone hardware with a beefy buckle and strap keeper. A dependable companion for those who like adventure.
Orient Polaris Dual Time – $368.98 ($575)
To me, this is one of the best bang-for-the-buck watches out there. It looks and feels like a 4-figure watch. It’s elegant but interesting to the point it can’t be called a minimalist watch. Cobalt blue hands, including the GMT hand. Subtle 24 hr time ring helps you keep track of the time in another time zone. Nicely balanced, but not tiny. Ships and sold direct through Amazon at post time.
Tissot Visodate Automatic – $379
Uncluttered with a nostalgic logo, the Visodate was originally created to celebrate Tissot’s 100th anniversary back in the 1950s. Case size is 40mm, which is as timeless as it comes (it’s the watch dial version of a 2.75″ or 3″ tie). Sapphire crystal with an exhibition case-back. Comes in a few different color schemes.
Seiko SARB033 – $390.00
A more than acceptable, and far less expensive alternative to the Rolex Explorer. Classically sized (so, small to most average to large humans) at 38mm. Simple, timeless, and equipped with a dependable Seiko automatic movement.
Seiko SRPB51 “Samurai” – $315 w/ FRIEND
As close as you’re gonna get to an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean without shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars. Hacks and hand winds. 200m of water resistance. Price fluctuates depending on the sale/promo/code that Macy’s is running. Usually goes for around $400 at other 3rd party retailers.
Hamilton Khaki Field 42mm Automatic – $368
If the guy on your list (or, if you are the guy giving someone else a list) prefers to dress casually most of the time, then this is a watch he could wear almost every day for the rest of his life. Rugged. Dependable. Brown leaning tan strap pops next to that black dial. Terrific feel to the construction and finish. Also available in a 38mm size.
Tissot Carson Automatic Chronograph – $399
An automatic Chronograph is almost unheard of at this price point. It’s just that much more complicated to make, so prices are usually pretty darn high if you want an automatic with a stopwatch. But somehow Tissot gets it done, all covered in a case and dial that’s dripping with class. Hands are a dark grey while the dial is more of a pale eggshell than stark white. Sure, some of us might have preferred the design elements of the previous Carson Chrono, but this new version is still a handsome as hell steal at $399.
Seiko BLACK Turtle – $400ish?
Wow. Take the already robust and dependable stainless steel turtle, black out the case, and make the minutes hand jump by lighting it up with bright orange paint. Mean looking. Real mean. Good luck finding one though. These don’t seem to have made it stateside just yet?
Glycine Combat Sub Automatic – $475
Swiss automatic movement. Hacks and hand winds. Great feel to the crown and stem. 200m water resistance. Surprisingly thin, which is a bit unusual for most divers. This one should slide relatively easy under a shirt cuff. DOES hit Massdrop every so often for significant savings (usually $399). But, since that’s Massdrop, you’ll have to wait for the drop to show back up, then since it’s a pre-order you’ll have to wait longer than normal for delivery, and once it shows it’ll be final sale. Still, nice watch.
Hamilton 40mm Jazzmaster Automatic – $430
Highly similar to the Tissot Visodate, only slimmer and with a more textured and intricate face. A classic that’s never gonna go out of style. 40mm case diameter is perfect for most wrist sizes. Swiss made. Just a 50m water resistance, but, this is a dress watch through and through.
Glycine Combat Moonphase – $449
40mm case that wears larger, but not enormous. An interesting and somehow effective blend of casual and dressed up style. True moon-phase movement (not just an AM/PM indicator) is a nice throwback feature, while the simple dial and hands feels more field watch than dress watch. A real do-anything timepiece. Would look great with a polo and chinos, as well as a suit and tie.
Massdrop Junghans Max Bill Automatic – $699 FINAL – $965
Hits Massdrop every so often (and thus the sale price above) and fingers are crossed that they bring em’ back again at the reduced price. For now? They’ll run you about a grand via their US distributor. 38mm case. Made in Germany. Movement hacks and hand winds.
Hamilton Railroad Small Seconds Automatic – $649
Complete class. Big fan of the just-different-enough seconds hand that’s been offset at 8 o’clock. Full retail is almost $1300 if you buy direct from Hamilton (price above reflects what it’ll run you through Jomashop). 42mm case diameter. Onion-style crown and date window at 3 o’clock. Razor sharp hands. Extremely versatile. An heirloom to pass on. One of those watches that’s gonna look just as impressive in 30 years as it does now.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident PRO 600 – $830
Just wish they hadn’t changed the logo. Here’s what it used to look like. Anyway, plenty seem to like the spade-style hand, the trident counter balance on the seconds hand, and the ability to pick from a 43mm or a 38mm diameter case is a welcome option. Stats? Oh it has stats. Swiss automatic movement that hacks and hand winds. 6oom (!) water resistance. Incredible feel and build quality. Plenty of bang for the buck.
Hamilton X-Wind Automatic Chronograph – $994
Dependable, Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. Big, tough case on a crazy comfy rubber strap. 100m water resistance. (Still wouldn’t swim with it though. You accidentally depress a chrono pusher in the water and… you’re sunk.) Comes with a set of dials and widgets that allow you to manually calculate cross winds if you’re flying an airplane and the instrumentation goes out. Right… not gonna be using that anytime soon. Anyway, it’s a beast. A splurge, but a good splurge for the Dad or Grad that wants/needs something tough and dependable (yet still likes mechanical watches). Also available on a tan strap.
Chistopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern Moonphase – $1595
Hot Damn that is one cool looking dress watch. What a beautiful way to display a moonphase complication. Plus, who doesn’t love that steel/white, navy, and brown leather combination? That’s wheelhouse menswear right there. 40.5mm case diameter is a perfect dress watch size for many.
And now the necessary reminder about the importance of knowing the seller when shopping for a wristwatch. Research them. Do your due diligence. Many of the links above point towards “grey market” dealers. Why? Because the savings are immense. Yet, there can be big time risks buying from a non-certified dealer. Buying direct from the brand, or, a certified dealer, means you get the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s good. What’s not good is the high price, compared to some grey market sellers. The bad news with those grey markets? You don’t get a factory warranty. So any potential issues and you might be on the hook for a big, big bill. So do your research.