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 – $50 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
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. Although this isn’t dressed up enough to wear with a suit. But it can pull tons of duty with casual gear.
Invicta Pro Automatic – $58.98
Good feel and solid, 200m water resistance too. Nice stainless steel band and case. Automatic movement. Exhibition case back. 40mm case dial. Also looks great on a rubber/silicone or leather strap. High end Swiss watch makers? They should subsidize Invicta’s production of this particular watch. This son-of-a-gun is a dangerous gateway drug if there ever was one.
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.
Timex Waterbury Chronograph Stainless – $79.97 ($169)
From their famed “Waterbury” line. Domed crystal, well designed dial, and this one comes with a stainless bracelet instead of a leather strap (some people would prefer the leather, some are happy to not have a stinky leather band on their wrist if they’re one to sweat). On big time sale via Nordstrom Rack.
Todd Snyder Gray Military Watch Set – $79.97 ($148)
A neutral but still interesting watch from the Timex x Todd Snyder watch collection. Extra camo NATO strap included. Also on sale via Nordy Rack.
Skagen Holst Multi Function – $145
A seemingly perpetual high-style for a low-price favorite. Modern and minimalist, without being too modern and minimalist. Big fan of how they ditched the traditional date window at 3 o’clock, and instead transmit the day and date via sub-dials at six and twelve. 40mm case size. Nice and slim. Full review here.
Citizen Canvas Band Eco Drive Chronograph – $123.98
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.
Todd Snyder Timex Mid Century – $158
A new addition to the Timex x Todd Snyder lineup. Yes it’s Quartz. But it’s a classic. Day and date window, mid century appropriate 37mm diameter, and the strap is from the Red Wing tannery in Minnesota. Note that the dial is more silver in person than the champagne shown above.
Orient Ray II Automatic – $135ish
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.
Orient Bambino Small Seconds – $170ish
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 Nighthawk – $187.98
For under $200 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.
Seiko SKX (007, 009) Automatics – $215 – $275
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 Kamasu Automatic Dive Watch – $280
Orient’s newest diver. A little spendy since it appears to only be available through Orient, direct (and 3rd party sites for some reason slash Orient’s prices when they finally get their hands on new models), but goodness it is something else. It is sleek, a little mean looking, and there’s some toothiness there. All put into a medium sized package and swimming at a price that’s nowhere near whale territory. Full review here.
Seiko SRP777 “Turtle” – $330
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. Would love it if the black pvd version would show up on our shores, but, at some point you gotta give up. Doesn’t seem like those are destined for us here in the states.
Seiko Samurai Blue or Black Dial – $350ish
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 can fluctuate between $300 and $400. Full review here.
Hamilton Khaki Field 42mm Automatic – $369
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.
Orient Polaris Dual Time – $370 ($575)
An absurdly affordable price for a hell of a timepiece. 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. On sale direct from Orient.
Tissot Visodate Automatic – $399
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.
Nodus Retrospect II Diver – $400 – $450 (restock coming in July)
Alright, so, sold out now which doesn’t help the Dads and Grads out there, but good gracious, that’s something. Designed and assembled in Los Angeles. Has a Miyota heart beating inside. More than a couple dial colors to pick from. Inward sloping bezel. This is a heck of a do-anything, all purpose, classic but not boring dive watch.
Seiko SARB033 – $425
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.
Christopher Ward C3 Grand Tourer Chronograph – $455
Yes it’s a quartz, and yes it’s spendy for a quartz, but man alive did they nail the retro-aesthetic look on this thing. Silver-white face, blue hands and tachymeter ring, black date dial at six… it’s a master class. 39mm in diameter. 20 mm strap width.
Hamilton 40mm Jazzmaster Automatic – $450
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.
Timex Made in the USA “American Documents” Collection – $495
I know, I know. These did not fly with most of you when they debuted. But what’s this post about? This post is about grads. And DADs. And some Dads are VERY pro made in the USA. And Timex does make a hell of a case for the project, as a whole (many thanks to Alan on twitter for passing along that video). It’s not a good fit for those of us who frequent this corner of the web. But for a flag wavin’ Daddy-o who likes simple style and wears a watch every day? He might really appreciate it. And get that gold calculator watch off his wrist.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer – $519.97 ($1045)
Easily a casual/sporty watch you could wear for decades to come. Inspired by Royal Air Force watches made by Hamilton in the 1970s, with a unique case shape and interior bezel. 41mm case diameter should be wearable by most. Eighty, yes eighty hours of power reserve so you can set it down for a day or two and it’ll tick right along just fine. Currently sold by Nordstrom Rack at a heavy discount, which is huge, being that Nordstrom has gotta be an authorized retailer, and thus, you should get the full warranty, cards, the works with your purchase. Can’t say that about gray market dealers.
Nodus Avalon Automatic – $625
This thing ticks a ton of boxes. Produced by the micro brand in LA using Miyota guts, the Nodus Avalon is a 300m water resistant, automatic diver, with a really good looking cushion case, and an attention to small details that you’d expect in 300m divers much, much pricier. Full review here. Five colors to pick from depending on their stock.
Hamilton Railroad Small Seconds Automatic – $649 ($1295)
Complete class. Big fan of the just-different-enough seconds hand that’s been offset at 8 o’clock. Half off at Nordstrom Rack, which is a heck of a deal, considering that Nordstrom is an authorized retailer. 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 Trident Pro 600 MK3 – $910
Recently redesigned. And while some of us really miss the wavy-pattern to the dial (that’s gone) and the spade style hour hand, plenty will love the new, more sport-styled Pro 600. And it’s still super versatile. A diver through and through and can be worn with everything from a t-shirt and jeans to a suit and tie. Available in 38, 40, and 42mm diameters.
Hamilton “Murph” Automatic – $995
For fans of the movie Interstellar. It’s “a faithful recreation of the watch that appeared in the movie on the wrist of main character Murph. With the word “Eureka” printed in Morse code in lacquer on the seconds hand.” Could be a really nice gift for the Dad or Grad who loves science, pondering the mysteries of the universe, and the fiction that often goes along with that territory. More info on this watch can be found here.
Hamilton Railroad Chronograph – $999.97 ($1995)
Another option from the slick, classic, Hamilton Railroad collection. Silver and blue accents here and powered by a Swiss automatic chronograph (which is no small feat in creating). 44m in diameter, so, NOT small. But it’s a chronograph, and that’ll happen. Tapered pushers, nice placement of the date window at 4 o’clock, and along with the chrono (stopwatch) function, that blue ring spiraling out from the center is a tachymeter. Very true to its railroad inspired design roots. On sale for half off via Nordstrom Rack.
Chistopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern Moonphase – $1595
More Chrstiopher Ward. 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.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chronograph – $2195
A new addition to the Hammy lineup. Spendy. Rare. Doesn’t seem like they’re cranking these out like they are with some of their other models. But it seems like Macy’s gets their hands on a few every now and then, and for whatever reason, they DO seem like they’re up for codes and promos at Macy’s? Maybe? Sometimes? Was just 25% off over there, but, now they’re sold out. Fingers crossed.
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.