Whether you're celebrating a birthday, graduation, or wedding, watches make perfect gifts for a number of occasions. Some manufacturers even release whole collections designed to be 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 Christmas, 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' sportiest and most affordable models, selling for around 1,100 USD.
Patek Philippe watches 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." These luxurious timepieces also perform extremely well from a financial perspective, especially the stainless steel Nautilus.
Genevan watch manufacturer Rolex needs no introduction. When it comes to buying a watch gift, you can't go wrong with a Rolex. Mirka Federer, former tennis pro and wife of tennis legend Roger Federer, also knows the value of these Swiss 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 emotional gift for a watch enthusiast. That particular Daytona model has performed extremely well in recent years. In 2011, the chronograph demanded less than 33,000 USD. In late 2019, the same timepiece cost roughly 99,000 USD.
|Patek Philippe Nautilus, ref. 5711/1A||75,000 USD||Highly coveted|
|Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, ref. 5327J||60,500 USD||18-karat yellow gold, perpetual calendar|
|Rolex Daytona, ref. 116500LN||26,000 USD||Highly coveted, ceramic bezel|
|Rolex Submariner Date, ref. 116610LN||11,000 USD||Classic diving watch with a Cyclops lens above the date|
|Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Small, ref. 2602540||11,000 USD||18-karat rose gold|
|Rolex Datejust 41, ref. 126300||8,000 USD||A sporty and elegant Rolex classic|
|Cartier Tank Solo, ref. W5200026||6,200 USD||18-karat rose gold|
|Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronometer, ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001||4,300 USD||Co-Axial caliber, helium escape valve|
|IWC Aquatimer Automatic, ref. IW329001||4,300 USD||Water-resistant to 300 m (984 ft)|
Rolex watches are robust, popular, and tend to retain their value. Rare stainless steel models perform particularly well and make sound investments. For example, the 2016 Daytona ref. 116500LN with a ceramic bezel has a list price of 12,400 USD. However, this timepiece is a rare sight at brick-and-mortar shops. As a result, prices for this model quickly increased by more than 11,000 USD after it was released. You can find mint-condition pieces on Chrono24 for around 26,000 USD. Pre-owned versions sell for about 25,000 USD.
The Submariner Date is yet another coveted Rolex sports watch. While the financial performance of the ref. 116610LN is less impressive than that of the Daytona, it's still noteworthy. The same watch that cost around 6,600 USD new in 2010 now sells for over 11,000 USD. You can save around 1,100 USD by purchasing this diving watch pre-owned. However, this is still more than its list price of 8,550 USD. If you can do without the date and Cyclops lens, you should take a closer look at the No-Date edition. This version costs roughly 9,600 USD new and 8,900 USD pre-owned. It officially retails for 7,100 USD; however, purchasing from a retail location often means you'll have to wait several years.
For something a bit more elegant, there's the Rolex Datejust. This classic watch pairs well with nearly any outfit, from jeans and a t-shirt to formal attire. What's more, the design options are nearly 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. Prices for the 41-mm Datejust 41 in stainless steel with a polished bezel range from 7,400 to 8,100 USD. On the other hand, the 28-mm gold Lady-Datejust with diamonds requires an investment of some 26,500 USD.
A Patek Philippe is a watch for life, or many lives as they are often 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 timepieces feature a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, or double chronograph. 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 67,000 USD new and 60,500 USD pre-owned. Models with an annual calendar are much more affordable. For example, the rose gold ref. 5205 sells for roughly 42,000 USD in mint condition.
The Calatrava is the epitome of a classic dress watch . Its design is as simple as it is elegant. You can purchase a never-worn ref. 5196J in yellow gold for about 18,500 USD. Pre-owned examples cost approximately 16,500 USD.
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 home to several thousand Nautilus watches available for purchase right now. One of the most popular models is the ref. 5711/1A. It currently sells for around 75,000 USD. Back in 2013, the same watch cost 23,000 USD. You can save a few thousand dollars by choosing a pre-owned timepiece.
Swiss watch manufacturers IWC (International Watch Company), Omega, and Hamilton are famous for crafting high-quality 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 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 beautiful 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, 984 ft). This model sells for around 4,300 USD in mint condition and 4,000 USD pre-owned.
IWC Schaffhausen also produces high-quality diving watches in their Aquatimer collection. Like the Seamaster, its 42-mm stainless steel case is also water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft). A sunken black dial offers a sense of depth to the Aquatimer Automatic ref. IW329001. The external stainless steel bezel operates the internal diving bezel. While most of the markers are filled with white SuperLuminova, the minute hand, tip of the second hand, and first 15 minutes of the diving scale glow in bright marine green. A date display at 3 o'clock rounds off this timepiece. Plan to spend between 3,400 and 4,500 USD on the Aquatimer Automatic. 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 particularly attractive 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 luminous 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 420 USD.
There are just as many watch gift options for women as there are for men. When searching for a women's watch, be sure to look at the Cartier Tank. This rectangular timepiece first debuted in 1917, making it one of the original wristwatches. Originally 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 woman in your life.
You can purchase a new stainless steel Tank Solo with a quartz movement for as little as 2,500 USD. Pre-owned pieces commonly sell for under 2,200 USD. If you're on the market for a Tank in 18-karat gold, be prepared to spend anywhere from 3,600 to 4,500 USD. Prices for automatic models fall between 3,100 for a never-worn stainless steel model and 7,000 USD for a rose gold timepiece. Both versions cost a few hundred dollars less pre-owned. Fans of vintage watches are sure to love models from the 1970s and 80s. These timepieces are available with a quartz or automatic movement 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 largely 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 5,000 USD. Its sister model in 18-karat rose gold demands roughly 11,000 USD. Pre-owned pieces offer a more affordable alternative. For example, well-maintained quartz watches in stainless steel cost less than 2,800 USD.
Most watch fans like 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 Rolex Vintage Field Guide by Morningtundra costs around 45 USD and is a must-have for any Rolex fan, from novice to expert. Another great book is Matt Hranek's bestselling A Man and His Watch: Iconic Watches and Stories from the Men Who Wore Them. This tome sells for around 20 USD and is full of watch stories supplemented by fantastic images.
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 a watch aside without having to worry about winding the movement every morning. For storing larger collections, there are also watch winder cabinets.