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/his wrist might be a good reminder to really appreciate every moment. 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 200m Dive Watch in Blue or Black – $50ish
Now available in blue too! Review of the original black dial/bezel can be found here. Rolex looks on a top-ramen budget. For about $50 you get 200m of water resistance, a stainless steel case, and a rotating bezel which feels much more expensive than many other watches in the under $100 category. Even the stock rubber strap that it comes on is decent (soft-ish, not rigid plastic). Throw an aftermarket strap on it and you’ll get more style points. Beat it up. It can take it.
Timex Weekender Chronograph – $50ish
Easy to read, easy to wear, and cheap. Lots of color combos, but 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.
Timex Expedition Chronograph – $53.95
For the rugged Dads (or grads). This thing does NOT feel like a run of the mill sub $100 Timex. No flimsiness. None. It’s a beast, this one. 42mm case so it’s not enormous, but it does have some real heft to it’s overall weight thanks to a black brass case and tangible thickness. Sueded topside to the leather strap adds to the whole outdoorsy vibe. And it has indiglo!
Invicta Pro Automatic – $80ish
Has to be mentioned. 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 all sorts of straps. NATO especially. A gateway drug that many of us have worn the heck out of for years.
Orient Bambino V3 “Bauhaus” Automatic – $110 – $120
More simplicity. Automatic movement here, and a more traditional round case instead of barrel shape of the Timex Milano. Super simple stick hands and indices. Lots of clean space. Domed crystal. Full review here. Available in the silver dial shown above, as well as black, blue, and a sneaky handsome dark gray option.
MVMT The 40 in Rose Gold and Natural Tan – $118
MVMT might not be given much of a chance by a lot of style-conscious guys, and that’s probably unfair. This is our guy DeJuan’s daily watch. He loves it. Swears by it. Clean lines, that rose gold toned case is handsome, and it’s affordable. Hard not to like.
Orient Ray II Automatic – $125ish
There might not be a better bang-for-the-buck diver on the market. Automatic movement that hacks and hand winds. 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 Automatic – $160ish
One of, if not the classiest watch Orient has come out with. Everything you’d expect from a Bambino. Simple dial. Domed crystal. And here, that perfectly proportioned and placed small seconds sub dial. White dial variant is shown above, while a full review of the champagne dial can be found here.
Q Timex 1978 Reissue Day Date – $169
Outstanding. Maybe the best new Timex of the last 10 years, which is saying something considering the incredible run the brand has been on. 37mm case. Domed “period correct” acrylic crystal. Quick release strap. And it does NOT make a loud “tick” noise as the seconds hand moves around the dial. Many other Timex watches have a classic “tick” sound that drives some nuts. Not with the 1978 reissue. Full review here if you want it.
Timex MK1 Mechanical 36mm Archive Field Watch – $185
36mm diameter and 18mm lugs. Sticking true to it’s roots, this thing is powered by a hand-wound (mechanical) movement. It’s not quartz. And it’s not an automatic. This thing should go with all kinds of casual wear, and quickly become a daily partner for those who spend most of their time dressed down. Full review here.
Huckberry x Timex “Cola” Sport Watch exclusive – $189
Not just another Timex Q diver (although the Timex Q diver would also be a terrific Dad or Grad watch). Still Seiko Quartz. Still has those nifty 1970s angles to the 38mm case. Still has the generously domed crystal, day and date window, and a clickless bidirectional bezel. Still has the stainless steel mesh band. Where they nail it is on that bidirectional bezel, and the dial right under the glass it encircles. Slimmed down indices, a red cross-hairs, and a “cola” style red zero to twenty minutes sweep.
Seiko 5 Sports 5KX Automatic line – $200ish
What replaced the old (and well loved) SKX 007 and 009 watches. Not quite as robust as those old tanks, but for the vast majority of us, these’ll get the job done. And they certainly do look the part. Lots of different colors to pick from. Full review can be found here. Link above goes to Macy’s, where they seem to have the more popular models on hand, and often on sale. Also worth a shot is Amazon, since they have finally trickled down to gray market sellers there.
Armogan E.N.B. Chrono – $220
Used to be called the Le Mans, but has since been renamed the E.N.B. Lots of elements from the golden age of auto racing. Like… all the elements. Full review of this model (from when it was still called the Le Mans) can be found here.
Orient Kamasu – $225
One of Orient’s better looking watches. A toothy diver that looks great on its stock bracelet, and would do terrific on a NATO for the summer months. 200m water resistance. Sapphire crystal. In house Japanese movement hacks and hand winds. Sizing is a welcome by many medium diameter at 41.8mm Do note that some have reported crown issues. As in, with use, when adjusting the time they can pull the thing straight off. So that could be a very big, and quite unfortunate, situation.
Dan Henry 1937 Dress Chronograph – $270
Dan Henry is a brand that takes the good looks of watches from the past, then re-packages those styles in affordable timepieces for today. And they nailed this 1937 chrono. Art Deco inspired looks. 38mm case size. Tachymeter around the outer edge of the dial might just make you feel like you’re zooming around in a yellow Duesenberg. Quick change leather straps. Seiko VK61 mecha-quartz movement, so you get the snappy feel of a mechanical movement at the pushers, with the reliability an and affordability of a quartz chronograph. Available in a few different color combos, but the silver shown above with the sub dials at 12 and 6 really is something.
Timex M79 Automatic – $279
Released while riding high off the success of their Q Reissue, Timex took that design, slightly enlarged the case to 40mm, threw a blue and black “Batman” style color scheme on it, and chose to power the entire thing by a Japanese automatic movement instead of quartz. Full review here.
Orient Mako USA II Automatic – $315
Hacks, hand winds, has a sapphire crystal, a 120 click bezel, solid end links, and the best of both the Mako and Ray worlds when it comes to the looks on the dial. 41.5mm case size is wearable by most. Full review can be found here.
Shinola 42mm Bedrock Watch – $329.97 ($700)
Some watch snobs like to turn their noses up at Shinola because of their lack of history, relatively high cost for quartz, etc. But they are assembled here in the USA (from imported parts), and they’ve carved out a nice little niche for themselves. On a nice sized discount via Nordstrom Rack. Hard not to like that contrast small seconds dial. 42mm case size.
Hamilton Khaki Field 42mm Automatic – $368
If the recipient prefers to dress casually most of the time, then this is a watch he could wear almost every day. 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. Getting harder and harder to find. Links above go to gray market sellers. If you want to play it safe and buy direct from Hamilton, it’ll run you $575.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm – $400ish ($495)
More Hamilton field watches! Another one for the outdoorsy/leans casual/rugged fellas. A classic field watch like this certainly does say “take me outside… please.” 38mm in diameter. Manual wind mechanical movement. 80 hour, yes 80 hour power reserve when fully wound. Full review here. Often goes on sale at Macys. Not always on sale, but does go on sale.
Bulova Devil Diver Automatic – $400ish
A big, barely restrained, helicopter landing pad of a diver. A few different color schemes to pick from. In terms of unique, 1970s-style looks & heritage, it’s impressive. It is not just another sub-homage. It’s very much its own watch (whatever that means). Review here if you’d like to take a look.
Nodus Retrospect III – $475 (Coming Soon)
Oh man. Nodus took their popular Retrospect dive watch, made a few tweaks, and the third installment should be landing in the not too distant future. More than a couple color options, but the subtle gray dial really is something. As is the bigger crown. Available in a bunch of colors, and with either ceramic or stainless bezel inserts. 42mm diameter. Seiko automatic movement. Double-dome sapphire crystal. Assembled here in the states. Full review in the works. Standby for that.
Timex Made in the USA “American Documents” Collection – $495
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 American Documents project. For a flag wavin’ Daddy-o who likes simple style and wears a watch every day, he might really appreciate one of these. Made here in the USA with a Swiss movement, but everything else (case, glass, leather band, etc) has all been sourced from here in the States. It’s sure to get that gold calculator watch off his wrist.
Lorier Neptune III Automatic – $499
Miyota 90S5 automatic movement. 200m water resistance. Big ol’ crown, balanced out by a timeless 39mm case. Head here for a review of the previous Neptune II model. The Neptune is a masterclass in design. Man does it look good.
Lorier Gemini Mechanical Chronograph Watch – $499
Another pick from Lorier, this time a chronograph. Amazing panda looks at an affordable price. Hand-winding mechanical chronograph movement. 12-hour rotating bezel instead of a tachymeter, which is MUCH more useful to most. Full review here.
Tissot 39mm Ballade Powermatic 80 COSC Chronometer – $499.97 ($925)
COSC certified. A true chronometer. So it’s an automatic, and it’s super accurate. Getting that certification at this price point is awfully hard to do. If you’re looking to get a little spendy (relative to the rest of this list) but want to maximize bang for the buck, then this is the watch. On sale via Nordstrom Rack, so you should be getting a factory warranty.
Bulova Surfboard Chronograph – $450ish ($695)
Super fun. Tonneau shaped case, “surfboard” shape on the dial encompasses the two sub seconds dials, tropic style rubber strap, and enough water resistance to be good around (and under) the surf (just don’t use the chrono pushers! that breaks the seals). Full review here.
Seiko Presage “Style 60’s” SRPG line – $525
Brand new from Seiko, and an affordable alternative to the new Heritage (can new + heritage be a thing?) Omega Seamaster 300 line. Plenty of 60s dive-style. 50m water resistance. Seiko 4R35 automatic movement. Rotating bezel with an aluminum insert. Box-shaped Hardlex crystal. 40.8mm diameter hits that sweet spot for many. And holy smokes look at it. Available this month at select retailers. Not quite sure on pricing, but Hodinkee says it’s $525.
Hamilton Railroad Swiss Automatic 42mm Watch – $639.97 ($1295)
Still kicking around at Nordstrom Rack. Big fan of the just-different-enough seconds hand that’s been offset at 8 o’clock. 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.
Marathon 36mm MSAR Automatic – $734.98 ($1,050)
Hanging out in the Huckberry sale section. Still a lot of money. But if you (or he) want a sporty, tough, do anything and go anywhere watch without the bulk that usually comes with divers and other tool style watches, then this 36mm option is about as good as it gets. Swiss made. 300m water resistance. Sapphire crystal.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto – $895
One of Hamilton’s latest designs. A simple dress watch that can also look great dressed down a bit. It’s certainly one of those “Daily” dress watches that your Pops or Granddad could/would have worn with everything from a suit and tie to chinos and a polo. 40mm case diameter. 20mm lugs. Sapphire crystal. Swiss automatic movement with an 80 hour power reserve.
Hamilton Murph Automatic – $995
For those who appreciate science (and/or science fiction). 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.” Terrific. 42mm with 22mm lugs, and wears every bit of that size. Full review here. UPDATE: Heads up, Macy’s has these for 25% off with the code FRIEND through 6/14/21. Big thanks to Brandon Z. for the tip!
Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Automatic – $995
This thing is a tuxedo for your wrist. Only oddly enough, it’s a tux that looks just as good dressed down as it does dressed up. One of their new, refreshed and retro leaning designs. 80 hour power reserve. Sapphire Crystal. 20mm lugs and black leather band, but it could look great on a dark brown band if a black band isn’t your thing. Love that stylized “H” logo and italicized branding. Off white dial that can look white in some lights, but not stark either. Bravo to Hamilton on this one.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 – $1015
Christopher Ward’s flagship Trident diver checks all the right boxes, at a proper price (when compared to the big name luxury brands). Swiss-made Sellita SW2000-1 movement, ceramic bezel, 600m water resistance, C1 Super-LumiNova which is brighter than you might think. Designed in the UK and built in Switzerland, down the street from Omega. Smart, sharp British styling with Swiss mechanics. An excellent pairing.
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.