Whether you're celebrating a birthday, a wedding, or the holidays, watches are the perfect gift to mark all sorts of occasions. Some manufacturers even release whole collections designed as gifts. Most importantly, there's something for every budget.
A high-quality watch can be a great way to mark a special occasion. Many people buy them as gifts to celebrate the holidays, weddings, birthdays, or college graduations. For something extra special, some companies even allow you to add a personal engraving on the back of the watch, as is the case with the Club Campus from German watch manufacturer NOMOS. The Club Campus also happens to be one of NOMOS's sportiest and most affordable models , selling for around 1,100 USD.
One of the most storied watch manufacturers, Patek Philippe, creates watches that make especially sentimental gifts, as they are often passed down from generation to generation. The company embraces this notion with their slogan: "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation." This sentiment permeates the Genevan luxury brand's entire catalog, and the stainless steel Nautilus is perhaps the best example, especially considering its extraordinary value retention.
Rolex needs no introduction. When buying a watch gift, you can't go wrong with something from this Swiss brand. Mirka Federer, the former tennis pro and wife of tennis great Roger Federer, also knows the value of these masterful timepieces. For his 30th birthday, she purchased her husband a Daytona ref. 6263 from 1981 – his year of birth. It's hard to imagine a better, more sentimental gift for a watch enthusiast.
That particular Daytona model has performed exceptionally well in recent years. The same chronograph that demanded less than 33,000 USD in 2011 was selling for roughly 125,000 USD by late 2021. In 2020, Rolex released several new models in their beloved Submariner, Oyster Perpetual, and Datejust collections. You can learn more about these watches below.
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Features|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus, 5711/1A||123,000 USD||Blue dial, stainless steel, coveted collector's item|
|Patek Philippe Aquanaut, 5167A-001||70,000 USD||Stainless steel, rubber strap|
|Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, 5327J||69,000 USD||18-karat yellow gold, perpetual calendar|
|Rolex Daytona, 116500LN||37,500 USD||Chronograph, ceramic bezel, white bezel|
|Rolex Datejust 36, 126283RBR||24,500 USD||Two-tone, diamonds, unisex watch|
|Rolex Submariner, 126610LN||16,000 USD||New 2020 model, date edition|
|Rolex Submariner, 116610LN||14,000 USD||Classic diving watch, date edition|
|Rolex Explorer II, 226570||13,500 USD||New 2021 model, GMT, white dial|
|Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41, 124300||9,700 USD||New 2020 model, stainless steel|
|Cartier Tank Solo, W5200026||7,900 USD||A Cartier icon, 18-karat rose gold|
|Breitling Navitimer B01, AB012012||7,600 USD||Chronograph with slide rule bezel|
|Chopard Happy Sport, 278602-3001||6,800 USD||Stainless steel, freely moving diamonds|
Rolex watches are extremely robust, popular, and tend to retain their value. Stainless steel models like the Submariner and Sea-Dweller perform particularly well and make sound investments. The 2016 Daytona ref. 116500LN with a ceramic bezel is yet another highly sought-after Rolex. It has a list price of 13,150 USD but is a rare sight at brick-and-mortar shops. As a result, it had an estimated market value of between 35,000 and 39,000 USD on Chrono24 in late 2021. Prices depend on whether you choose a version with a black or white dial. Pre-owned editions are only marginally more affordable.
The Submariner Date and Submariner No Date are perhaps the world's most famous diving watches. In September 2020, Rolex launched eight new versions of this design icon. These recent models have a slightly larger case and a new in-house caliber. As is so often the case with Rolex, these watches are nearly impossible to find at offline retailers, which has caused their prices to spike. For example, the ref. 126610LN with a date display has an official list price of 9,150 USD but sells for about 16,000 USD on Chrono24 due to limited supply. It's a similar story with the No Date ref. 124060, which Rolex lists for 8,100 USD but demands roughly 14,500 USD on Chrono24.
Retired Submariner models have also enjoyed significant appreciation in recent years. For example, you could purchase a mint-condition ref. 116610LN (Date) for about 7,100 USD in 2010. By November 2021, that price had risen to 15,500 USD. Used, this diving watch costs only about 1,600 USD less. If you can do without the date and Cyclops lens, you should take a closer look at the No-Date edition (ref. 114060LN) . This version sells for roughly 14,000 USD new and 12,500 USD pre-owned. That's well over its original retail price of 7,100 USD; however, you'll no longer find this model for sale at brick-and-mortar shops.
Recent years have seen the Explorer II emerge as a popular Rolex. It has stepped out from the shadows and become a worthy alternative to the GMT-Master II. In particular, the ref. 226570 from 2021 is on par with its more famous sister model in terms of technology. Both timepieces get their precise timekeeping from the caliber 3285. You can purchase a never-worn 226560 for roughly 13,000 USD on Chrono24. Rolex lists the same watch for 8,550 USD. However, the Explorer II is a steal compared to the GMT-Master II, which demands an additional 9,000 to 10,500 USD.
For something a bit more elegant, Rolex offers the Datejust and Oyster Perpetual. These classic watches pair well with nearly any outfit. What's more, the design options are virtually endless. You can choose from stainless steel, gold, platinum, or two-tone models in stainless steel and gold. Cases range from 28 to 41 mm in diameter, so there's something for every wrist size. As of 2020, Rolex produces these timepieces with a wide range of dial colors, with several Oyster Perpetual models boasting especially bold tones.
The classic 41-mm Datejust 41 (ref. 126334) pairs a stainless steel case with a fluted white gold bezel. Depending on the dial, this model will set you back between 14,000 and 15,000 USD. You can save about 2,300 USD by purchasing a used watch instead. A 28-mm gold Lady-Datejust like the ref. 279138RBR with diamonds on its dial and bezel costs a solid 36,500 USD new.
The ref. 124300 is an iconic example of the Oyster Perpetual. This stainless steel watch debuted in 2020 and features a black dial. While it has an official list price of 5,900 USD, this model demands around 9,600 USD on Chrono24. However, it is unlikely to see the astronomical market values of fellow Rolex models like the Submariner and Daytona.
A Patek Philippe is a watch for life – or many lives, as they often get passed down from generation to generation. There's no better way to celebrate life's major events than with a Patek Philippe. This storied Swiss watch manufacturer does it all. Their catalog contains everything from classic dress watches like the Calatrava and sports watches like the Nautilus to timepieces with several complications. The most impressive models feature perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, or split-seconds chronographs.
Watches with a perpetual calendar are the embodiment of haute horlogerie and are highly sought-after among enthusiasts. The yellow gold Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar ref. 5327J changes hands for around 70,000 USD in mint condition and 67,500 USD pre-owned. Models with an annual calendar are much more affordable. For example, a never-worn rose gold ref. 5205 sells for roughly 55,000 USD.
The Calatrava is the epitome of a classic dress watch. Its design is as simple as it is elegant. One example is the ref. 5196J in yellow gold. It boasts a simple dial with applied bar indices and a small seconds at 6 o'clock. You can call this timepiece your own for approximately 23,000 USD new and 19,500 USD pre-owned.
The stainless steel Nautilus is one of the world's most coveted luxury watches. However, since Patek Philippe produces so few stainless steel watches per year, demand for this model is exponentially higher than current production numbers can meet. Purchasing from offline retailers often comes with waiting times of several years. Luckily, Chrono24 is usually home to several thousand Nautilus watches available for immediate purchase. One of the most popular models is the ref. 5711/1A with a blue dial. Since the manufacturer announced this watch's retirement, its prices have gone through the roof. In November 2021, it had an estimated market value of around 147,000 USD on Chrono24. Back in 2013, the same watch cost only 23,000 USD.
If you're looking to gift a Patek Philippe to the special woman in your life, diamond-encrusted Nautilus models with the reference number 7118/1450 are a fantastic choice. These 35-mm timepieces come in rose or white gold and are covered with diamonds from dial to bracelet. More precisely, each watch glitters with 2,553 diamonds with a total weight of roughly 12.69 carats. Of course, all of this luxury comes at a price – namely around 435,000 USD.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is a sporty and modern alternative to the Nautilus. While its design clearly takes its inspiration from the Nautilus, the Aquanaut still exudes its own unique charm. One of the most popular models is the stainless steel ref. 5167A-001 on a rubber strap or steel bracelet. Aquanaut prices have also been on the rise recently. However, at about 69,000 USD new and 57,500 USD used, it is still a great deal compared to the Nautilus.
Swiss watch manufacturers IWC (International Watch Company), Omega, and Hamilton are famous for crafting high-quality pilot's, diving, and military watches. What's more, all three brands are highly respected and popular among collectors.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is an industry icon. This diving watch has all the essentials: a unidirectional rotatable bezel, optimal readability, and a high level of water resistance. One example is the stainless steel ref. 188.8.131.52.01.001. A white enamel diving scale contrasts beautifully against its black ceramic bezel inlay, so you'll never lose track of your dive time. The dial is also black and has a subtle wave pattern. Its white dot and bar indices glow in the dark, further enhancing the Seamaster's readability. Omega's Master Chronometer Caliber 8800 powers this three-hand timepiece. You can view the movement at work through the sapphire crystal case back. The watch measures 42 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 1000 ft). This model sells for around 4,900 USD in mint condition and 4,400 USD pre-owned.
For fans of military watches, Hamilton is a great option. One of their most popular collections is the Khaki Field, with the Khaki Field Mechanical topping many wish lists. The 38-mm ref. H69439931 is a beautiful and simple model. This three-hand watch has a black dial with a main 12-hour time display and an inner 24-hour scale. Line indices mark the minutes, with triangles indicating 5-minute intervals. The numerals and line indices are all stark white, while beige luminous material fills the triangles and hands. This particular model comes on a military green NATO strap and has a list price of 495 USD. On Chrono24, the same watch demands between 350 and 450 USD.
IWC Schaffhausen's Pilot's Watches collection more than does honor to its name. It is home to a comprehensive selection of three-hand timepieces with date displays, GMT watches, chronographs, and even some particularly complicated models with a perpetual calendar. One of the most iconic Pilot's Watches is the IWC Mark XVIII with three hands, an automatic movement, and a date display. Plan to spend around 5,200 USD on a new model and 3,900 USD on a pre-owned timepiece.
The Big Pilot's Watch is yet another IWC bestseller. In 2021, the Swiss manufacturer launched the highly acclaimed Big Pilot's Watch 43. IWC managed to shrink the case to a more manageable diameter of 43 mm without losing any of the collection's distinctive charm. Thus, this new edition still comes with the classic design and the extra-large onion crown found on the original from the 1940s. You can purchase the version with a black dial and leather strap for about 8,800 USD on Chrono24. The model with a blue sunburst dial and metal bracelet requires an additional 1,100 USD.
When searching for a women's watch, your first stop might be the Cartier Tank. This rectangular timepiece first debuted in 1917, making it one of the very first wristwatches. Initially designed for men, today, the Tank is one of the world's most popular women's watches. It's also perfectly suited as a gift for that special lady in your life.
You can purchase a new stainless steel Tank Solo with a quartz movement for as little as 2,700 USD. Pre-owned pieces commonly sell for about 2,500 USD. If you're on the market for a Tank in 18-karat gold, be prepared to spend anywhere from 4,500 to 5,500 USD.
As of 2021, Cartier also offers a solar-powered version of the Cartier Tank. While the model known as the Tank Must may resemble the Tank Solo, the Roman numerals on its dial are also solar cells that provide the movement with energy. A Tank Must on a leather strap changes hands for about 2,600 USD. The same watch on a stainless steel bracelet costs an additional 340 USD.
Of course, the Tank is also available as an automatic watch. Prices range from 4,100 USD for a stainless steel model to about 7,800 USD for a rose gold timepiece. You can save a few hundred dollars by purchasing a used watch instead.
Fans of vintage watches are sure to love models from the 1970s and 80s. These timepieces are available with quartz or automatic movements and sell for less than 1,100 USD.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is yet another beloved women's watch. It first emerged as a watch for polo players in the 1930s. The wearer can flip over the Reverso's rectangular case to protect the crystal against heavy impacts. Like the Tank, the Reverso has transitioned from a men's watch to a predominantly feminine collection with only a few options for men.
You can purchase a mint-condition stainless steel Reverso Classic Small with a manual caliber for around 4,600 USD. Its sister model in 18-karat rose gold demands roughly 13,000 USD. Pre-owned pieces offer a more affordable alternative. For example, well-maintained quartz watches in stainless steel cost less than 2,900 USD.
The Chopard Happy Diamonds is an iconic modern women's watch. A storied brand, Chopard knows how to incorporate details from high-end jewelry into their watches like no other manufacturer. The Happy Diamonds series exemplifies this with the diamonds on its case and freely moving diamonds atop its dial. No other watch company offers anything like it. A rose gold Happy Diamonds Icon with opulent diamonds will set you back around 14,500 USD on Chrono24. Those with simpler tastes may prefer the Happy Sport with an oval stainless steel case. This timepiece demands roughly 6,800 USD.
Most watch fans are interested in more than just the timepieces themselves. Luckily, there are plenty of other great gift options for the watch aficionado in your life. For example, bands and books are sure to bring a smile to any enthusiast's face without breaking the bank.
The latest edition of The Watch Book Rolex by Gisbert L. Brunner appeared in late 2020 and costs about 95 USD. It tells the entire Rolex story from 1905 to the present, shining an in-depth light on individual models.
If your loved one happens to be a fan of the luxury watch brand Cartier, they might enjoy The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire. Written by Francesca Cartier Brickell, the granddaughter of Cartier co-founder Jean-Jacques Cartier, this book takes a deep dive into the company's over 170-year history. The hardcover edition costs about 30 USD.
Anyone who owns an automatic watch will definitely appreciate the gift of a watch winder. These containers rotate the watches inside at regular intervals, thus winding the mainspring. This keeps the watch from stopping and allows the wearer to set it aside without having to worry about winding the movement every day. For storing larger collections, there are also watch winder cabinets.