No man ever forgets his first appropriate, grown-up watch or, for that matter, the event it celebrated and the individual who gave it to him – which is the reason why watches create such excellent graduation gifts. With final exams just around the corner, a proper mechanical watch is a perfect gift that will last well beyond the summer holidays and any passing technological fads.
As with the purchase price of some men’s watches your first mission is to assess that watch will best suit his character. Can it be sporty or artsy? What is his build? Massive watches are able to appear clunky on small wrists, and elegant dress watches can seem diminutive on the arm of a rugby player. I would steer clear of very complex watches, which are not just more delicate and much more costly, but will spoil the enjoyment for when he is prepared to upgrade to something more special.
As you might expect, sports watches much outnumber classical models in this category and, although the majority of the major brand names are contained here, you will be pleasantly surprised by the friendly price tags.
Rolex watches aren’t just for well-to-do adults. An entry-price Rolex is certainly an option for young guys and a solid option of graduation gift that isn’t going to go out of style or fashion anytime in this century. The new Oyster Perpetual Explorer, a model that has been going strong since 1953, pays heed to the enduring popularity of the brand’s watches. As most of you will recall, the first Explorer view was the model that followed Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their conquest of Everest’s 8,848 metre summit in 1953. Conquering a new generation, the 39mm Rolex Explorer II comes with the strong qualities of an Oyster instance – water-resistance to 100 metres and a virtually scratchproof sapphire crystal protecting the dial – but has been enhanced with luminous blue numerals, hands and hour markers. The luminescent material (Chromalight) emits a long-lasting blue glow letting the owner to talk about the time in the darkest conditions.
Since chronographs and dive watches are the most sought-after models by young men, let’s take a look at some powerful candidates. I am a die-hard fan of the iconic Omega Moonwatch, and the background behind this chronograph will ignite plenty of conversation. Ever since that epic day in July 1969 when the Apollo 11 Lunar Module touched down on the surface of the Moon using a 1957 Speedmaster strapped to Buzz Aldrin’s wrist, the Speedmaster Professional earned the moniker”Moonwatch”. The rugged good looks of the 42mm Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional stay unchanged using its trademark black dial, tachymetric scale, white counters and green luminescence. What is even more extraordinary is the watch keeps time with the exact same manual-winding movement worn around the Moon and visible through the transparent sapphire caseback.
Tudor, a sibling manufacturer of Rolex, has made a niche for itself with its rugged, manly timepieces. The new Heritage Black Bay Bronze dive watch has been kitted out in a bronze diving suit and combines an appealing vintage soul with a state-of-the-art, automatic, in-house motion developed by Tudor for the bigger proportions of the 43mm case. Offering a hardy 70-hour power-reserve, these Tudor watches are water-resistant to 200 yards and come with a choice of straps.
In a similar classic disposition, Ralph Lauren’s Safari Chronometer using a khaki dial is targeted for adventure and travel, and its own 45mm blackened steel case gives it a rugged, nicely worn-in character. Unlike numerous fashion brands with cheap watch collections developed to accessorise their collections, Ralph Lauren watches are created to continue. Powered by top-quality, Swiss-made mechanical automatic motions, these timepieces reveal Ralph Lauren’s enthusiasm for all things mechanical, as anybody who has seen his remarkable selection of vintage cars can attest.
Young men will love the trendy Bauhaus aesthetics of this square Nomos Tetra Neomatik watch ($2,890). The minimalist designs of Nomos watches are quickly garnering cult status also, with excellent rates, this is most definitely a brand to consider for a graduation present. The square instance of this Tetra Neomatik Tiefblau is slim and flat thanks to the incorporation of an ultra-thin Nomos automatic motion, which provides life to the hours, minutes and small minutes on the deep blue dial with subtle orange and green accents.
Another classic from Rolex, and a real icon in the area of dive watches, is the Submariner. Launched back in 1953, the Rolex Submariner was created as a professional dive watch capable of fathoming depths of 100 metres. The resilient case of this watch opened the hatch to a new underwater world waiting to be researched. Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso team took to the abyss with an Aqua-Lung plus a Rolex Submariner and, a few decades later, the rugged, yet handsome, timepiece captured Ian Fleming’s eye since the perfect watch for his spy. Rolex watches were therefore crowned with the honour of becoming the first to decorate the wrist of James Bond.
Still the reference among dive watches and permanently connected to James Bond, 50-plus years later, the Rolex Submariner is still going strong and continues to be beefed up for much more intense action. Water-resistant to 300 metres, this strong diver houses a rotating 60-minute bezel using a green scratchproof ceramic insert, and also the timeless Oyster bracelet with a unique clasp to prevent accidental opening.