Graduation day is the starting point of the rest of your life. It’s exciting (and a little terrifying). You’re leaving your comfortable school routine to enter a world of the unknown. It’s still a day to celebrate how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go.
Whether graduation day is still approaching or way in the past, picking the proper graduation gift is essential. Which is why a watch is the perfect choice. A watch can be practical timekeeper, fashion accessory, and sentimental memory all in one, making it a singularly unique gift for the recent graduate. In circumstances where appearance is everything, a “nice” watch can communicate professionalism and good taste. It’s also a good reminder of the gifter and the emotional attachments people place onto their objects.
So if you’re looking for a graduation watch, where do you start? A nice watch “starter” watch (for lack of a better word) doesn’t need to be expensive. What it does need is plenty of style. We’ve picked out some solid watch options for the recent graduate.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
Everyone agrees that when it comes to dive watches, Tudor is killing it. The Heritage Black Bay is case in point. Its vintage appeal with a modern twist makes it a perfect entry-level timepiece—just right for a graduation gift. And, it’s got Rolex backing and Rolex-quality finishing and movement inside. What could be better? (Read: 4 of the Best Dive Watch Re-Editions)
Breitling Super Avenger
If you’ve got a wrist that can handle it, the Breitling Avenger II line is worth a look. Solid construction, chronograph complications, professional-grade diving capability, all in what was originally designed as a pilot’s watch. (Read: The 7 Best Chronographs for the Money)
TAG Heuer Aquaracer
When it comes to entry-level watches, TAG Heuer dominates the market. The brand really pushes the edge with its sporty, bold watch designs that appeal to a younger watch buyer. That’s not a reason to shy away—the brand has a really rich history of sports watches and is well-respected in the industry. TAG Heuer’s diver, the Aquaracer, mixes that casual look with a useful tool watch. There’s a reason it’s a go-to graduation gift.
OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra
The OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra is literally a blast from the past, a dress watch disguised as a dive watch. The Aqua Terra takes design cues from the original Seamasters of the 1950s. What you get is a slick, sophisticated version of OMEGA’s diver line which is grown-up enough for the young or even those young at heart.
IWC Mark XV
The IWC Mark series has a long and storied history. It was one of the first pilot watches introduced for military use, and since then, IWC’s Mark series has been perfected to functional excellence. As one of the line’s base models, the IWC Mark XV features a simple black dial with an uncluttered design. The stainless steel case and black leather band complete the minimalist feel, making it an “under the radar” choice.
A no-brainer watch that makes for a great graduate gift is a Rolex Datejust. Rolex, as one of the most widely recognized luxury brands in the world, represents success and achievement to a lot of people. A Rolex says something. And a Datejust, understated and classic, is an excellent choice from its line-up.
The best graduation gifts have meaning. Something that a new graduate will use for many years to come. It’s why a watch makes a great graduation gift. When you gift a watch to someone, it will always represent one of the most important days of their life, given by someone special. That’s what makes it so valuable. Looking for other options? Take a look at some of the best-value watches on the market: The Best Watches Under $5,000.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 6, 2015. We have updated it to include more information.