Every guy needs at least one nice watch.
Even those who eschew mechanical watches as outdated technology can appreciate having a watch for special occasions. And if they can’t, sometimes you just have to push the point. Which means taking matters into your own hands and buy a watch for him.
Certainly, that’s not always the case—there are plenty of reasons to buy a man a watch. So where do you start? If you’re buying for a watch guy, chances are your job is pretty easy. He either has a collection of his own already or has given some not-so-subtle hints about the watch he’s got his eye on (because he absolutely does, don’t let him tell you differently).
But if you’re not so lucky and need some help, it’s time to do some thinking.
What’s the occasion?
Often, the giving of a watch falls around a holiday. There’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day, but there’s also big life moments to celebrate: graduation, a wedding, a big promotion…you get the idea. And those special occasions and holidays might dictate the type of watch you choose.
For instance, if you’re getting your groom a watch, you might go with something a little dressier. But holidays are a little less prescriptive, and in that instance, you should think a little bit more about your gent’s tastes.
What’s the budget?
It’s always good to establish your working budget first. Higher end watches can run the pricing gamut of four figures to five figures to even six figures, and you have an abundance of options. Set a price range and stick to it. This will narrow the possibilities down to a manageable number.
Also, sticking to pre-owned over brand new means that you’re likely to get more bang for your buck. We know a nice watch doesn’t always come cheap, but if you shop smart, you’ll get to keep a little bit of that value for yourself (and chances are, he won’t be able to tell the difference).
What’s his style?
Think about his daily life. Is he active? Is he practical? What are his interests? What does he appreciate? An avid outdoorsman may appreciate a sport watch to knock around, while a suit-and-tie kind of guy may prefer a more conservative timepiece.
Believe it or not, there are watches that could be considered “aspirational”—an all-gold Datejust or Day-Date aren’t considered young man’s watches. Likewise, there are also watches the could look a little odd on an older gent’s wrist. Far be it from us to tell anyone what watch to wear, but a man’s age can be a factor in what watch you buy.
The routine of a man’s day can determine his watch of choice—his daily wear or “beater,” if you will. If he’s constantly on the move, a hardier watch in steel might be better than one in precious metal. If he’s a business professional, that calls for a more practical watch than something like an Hublot. Give some thought to what his life looks like day-to-day to help you determine the best watch for him.
Buying a watch for a man does not have to be a challenge. Know who you’re buying for. Set your budget. Have a strategy going in. Ask for help from someone who knows watches—trust us, they’ll be happy to share their knowledge. Then, start shopping.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 5, 2014. We have updated it for better readability and better advice.