So you want to buy a watch? Be it for yourself or as a gift to someone else, the following guide will help you this holiday season with a number of good choices, brands, and suggestions for various types of people. This guide is designed to lead you in the right direction when making a purchase decision. For each of the listed brands you’ll find just a single model as an example. That isn’t to say that the pictured models are the only good buying options in that brand. Plus, if you find that a pictured timepiece is out of your budget, there is a good change you’ll find lower costs watches that share the style. I try to list the best examples of the selections below.
Don’t see your favorite brand below or think you have a better choice? No need to fret, just add it below as a comment to this article.
You’ll also find a number of links below. Due to the crowded nature of this article, such links will point you to other articles or websites where you can get more information about the choices in this gift guide. With this list you are bound to make a number of people feel special this holiday season. Don’t forget to get yourself something nice as well.
1. For The Happy Wallet (Under $1,000)
– Seiko Sportura Small Second Hand: Well-priced in Seiko’s popular auto racing themed watch collection. 43mm wide in steel with and easy to read with a look that will last. Japanese quartz movement. Ref. SRK025P1 and SRK023P1. Read more here. Priced at $495.
– Magrette Moana Pacific Diver: Affordable indy brand diver from New Zealand based Magrette. 44mm wide retro attractive 500 meter dive watch. Read more here. $485.
– Christopher Ward C9 Harrison GMT: Retro styled GMT watch with Swiss movement and conservative demeanor. 43mm wide in various styles. Read more here. Shown at $630.
– Jorg Gray JG9800-23: From the brand of watch on President Obama’s wrist comes this new sport model. Swiss quartz movement, 45mm wide steel case. Comes in various styles. Read more here. $795.
– LUM-TEC Automatic M39: Very popular brand with American made with Swiss mechanical movement. 44mm wide steel case, good looks, and proprietary luminant. Read more here. $795.
2. For The Sensible Dad
– A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph: Beautiful luxury German chronograph with in-house made movement and timeless classic looks. Watch making at its finest. Read more here. $43,000.
– Limes Pharo Vollkalender Chronograph: Classy German watch with a machine engraved dial and Valjoux 7751 automatic chronograph and annual calendar with moon phase movement. Sensible in a 40.5mm wide steel case case. Silver tone or black dial. Read More here. $2,850.
– Swiss Army Airboss Mach 6 Chrono: High-end Swiss Army watch with a mechanical chronograph movement. Very look looking with an adventure style – good for the suit of the outdoors. Read more here. $1,795
– Carl F. Bucherer Patravi EvoTec DayDate: Using a unique in-house made CFA A1000 automatic movement, this is a well-made and appealing alternative to more traditional watches that still has a sensible look to it. Read more here. $15,500
– Frederique Constant Clear Vision Automatic: Swiss made watch with automatic movement in a 43mm wide steel case. Uses tritium gas tubes for easy darkness viewing. Read more here. $1,350.
3. For The Action Hero
– Sinn 900 Pilot S: Ultra durable German mechanical watch with chronograph and GMT complications. 44mm wide black coated tegimented steel case. Read more here. About $3,800.
– Anonimo D-Date II: Action mixed with some luxury. Italian Anonimo updates the D-Date with a sophisticated finish on the 43mm wide case and a gold bezel with more gold in the crown. Swiss day-date movement and a great alternative to Panerai. Read more here. About $6,800.
– Blancpain 500 Fathoms GMT: Limited edition of 500 pieces uber-diver from luxury Swiss watch brand. Torpedo styles hands in 48mm titanium case with in-house automatic GMT movement. Read more here. $26,900.
– Bremont Supermarine Descent: This limited edition version of the Supermarine 500 from English watch maker Bremont is coated in diamond like carbon (DLC), and features a number of “super watch” durability qualities. A great looking watch for all activities. Read more here. $5,450.
– Snyper One: Designed in the theme of a sniper rifle, this boutique Swiss brand makes luxury style watches that make you feel like a hero. 44mm wide steel with PVD coated case in a few styles and awesome looking dial. Don’t miss the optional “attachments.” Read More here. Starting at 7,390 Swiss Francs on their website.
4. For The Gadget Guy
– Tissot T-Touch Expert Pilot: Swiss watch with touch screen activated multi-function, multi-sensor quartz movement. 44.4mm wide titanium case on leather or steel strap. Read more here. Seen here at $1,025.
– Louis Moinet Jules Verne Instrument: Coming in two versions, this high-end sci-fi steampunk watch features a creative design, and impressive craftsmanship in a large 46.5mm wide titanium and rose gold case. Read more here. Part of a limited edition and priced at about $18,900.
– Casio Pathfinder PAW-2000: An ultimate gadget watch. Tons of features and several sensors, light powered quartz movement with atomic clock synchronization and a duplex LCD. Read more here. Priced at $380.
– Luminox Evo Navy SEAL Colormark: Ultra light in a particularly tough polyurethane case that is about 44mm wide with a rotating diver’s bezel and available in several different dial colors. Swiss quartz movement. Tactical design and performance with always glowing tritium gas tubes on the dial for easy night viewing. Read more here. Priced at $295.
– Devon Tread 1: A watch with parts made by aviation suppliers. A complex ballet of motors and treads displays the time in a digital format on the skeletonized dial. The prize of a gadget guy’s collection. Read more here. Priced at $15,000.
5. For The Non-Conformist
-Artya Quadri-Rotor: From a collection of totally unique watches where only one of each type is made. Artya combines watch making with art, and this collection imbues a design with a intentionally defaced case and dial that uses electronic components in the design. Swiss mechanical movement inside. Read more here. About 6,900 Swiss Francs.
– RSW Outland 3H: Lots of versions and colors with RSW’s cool looking Outland case and a contemporary analog dial in the spirit of timepieces in the digital age. Different, fun, and simply to live with. Read more here. In steel from 1,695 – 1,945 Swiss Francs.
– Nubeo Acrtic Chrono: In mostly white or black Nubeo’s organic modern design is fully realized in this rare chronograph watch that is as much art as it is a tool. Not for everyone, but fans love the look. Read more here. Model ref. Nub0514 priced at $12,700.
– Temption Cameo: Simple rectangular case with heaps of subtle design cues makes for an infinitely unique and wearable automatic watch from a boutique German brand. Read more here. About $2,000.
– Xemex Concept One Chronograph: Designer avant garde Swiss chronograph watch with a combo of minimalism and sport. Yellow or black dial. 3-hand version also available. Read more here. Priced at $995.
6. For The Customizer
– Maurice de Mauriac Chronograph Modern: This Zurich based brand will assemble just about anything you like. The attractive and classic looking Chronograph Modern pilot style watch has three case sizes, and many options for dials, hands, straps, and even things like the crystal and elements of the movement. Fully custom creations are not out of the questions as well. Read more here. Priced from about $3,000 – $4,000.
– SARO-Gem BuonGusto 43 Jubile: With unique designs that are still traditional in demeanor, SARO-Gem offers fully customizable watches with not only tons of options, but with base parts that aren’t ordinary looking. The specialize in use of diamonds as well as special sapphire crystal coated metal bracelets. Read more here. Priced starting at about $5,000 – $6,000.
– RGM Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar: Made in America and highly traditional in in style, this represents one of the much higher-end hand-made pieces from Pennsylvania based RGM. Here in gold with a complex perpetual calendar. Watches like this are highly customizable and make to order. Read more here. Price at about $145,000.
[Update: July 8, 2014 – While we value the quality of their product, in light of recent events, aBlogtoWatch will no longer cover RGM products and cannot endorse RGM as a company. – Ed. ] What’s This?
– Pita Oceana: Fantastic customizable and highly unique timepiece from a boutique watch brand in Barcelona, Spain. Comes in many versions with a ton of options – water resistant to an incredible 5000 meters. Read more here. Prices start at around $4,400.
– MKII Stingray: This highly respected US based brand of military homage watches specializes in custom builds – but pre-made pieces are also available. Quality is very good for the price – a top pick among enthusiasts. Read more here. Seen at $599.
Inside the watch is a decorated based Swiss ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement while the stopwatch includes a modified Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. Logically speaking the separation of this time and chronograph works in favor of legibility – now each is even easier to read. See how well that works out? Layout of the dials and instance is based on the Timemaster collection – that is classic aviator full with all the hands, easy to read dials, and mimicked bezel. Chronoswiss is doing really well from the US marketplace with their layouts. Pieces like this show they know how to have fun and are prepared to experiment. One of those rare Chronoswiss Wristmaster watches is available on James List for just under $10,000. 1 fine Saturday afternoon in ’92, when cell phones were as big as size 8.5 wingtips, I was walking down the route window shopping at the many nice watch shops. This is, and is, one of my passions — a chance to gaze at all the wonderful offerings, swoon over all the grails and must-haves, and exercise my will power. After staring at many screens of everything from ho-hum to extraordinary timepieces, it happened. I found IT! An opinion unlike anything I’d ever seen. A watch so unique and magnificent that I understood my will power was quickly being left useless. Demolished. And that separated me from this sexy horological monster was a pane of grease-smeared glass. Evidently, others as hopelessly smitten had pushed their foreheads from this window, eyes bulging, mouths agape. (I believe you get the point: I sort of enjoyed the thing.)
7. For The Sporty Gal
– Chopard Happy Sport XL Blue Limited Edition: This really cool rendition of the Happy Sport shows why the collection is still highly relevant. Coming in a few wild versions (red, green, and blue), this large for ladies watch is 42mm wide in steel and sporty (with a Swiss quartz movement). Meaty, colorful hands, artful dials, and the signature “floating diamonds” in the dial. Read more here. Priced at 5,590 euros.
– Hublot Big Bang Tutti Frutti Green: Also known as the “Big Apple,” this 41mm wide large women’s watch is in 18k rose gold with a fresh ring of tsavorite stones around the bezel and a great green demeanor. Swiss automatic chronograph movement and the classic Big Bang look. Read more here. Priced at $32,300.
– Perrelet Diamond Flower Ceramic: In an all white or black 40mm wide ceramic case, the Diamond Flower is pretty and fun. The lotus flower on the dial spins in concert with automatic rotor in the mechanical movement. Mother-of-pearl dial and various levels of diamond decoration. Read more here. Priced between 4,650 – 8,400 euros.
– Chanel J12 38MM Black Ceramic Rose Gold: It is almost ubiquitous at this point, but there is a reason the J12 collection is so popular. Seen here in black ceramic with 18k rose gold in a 38mm wide case with a Swiss quartz movement. Elegant two-hand dial with diamond hour markers. Priced at $8,750.
– Tutima Grand Classic Ladies Line: Vintage aviator spirit with a welcome modern optimistic feel to it. In a few styles, this is the 36.4mm wide ladies pilot watch from German-based Tutima. Here with a mother of pearl dial, but also available in black or brown. Attractive, functional, and a decent value. Read more here. $1,300 – $1,400.
8. For The Classy Gal
– Cartier Captivate: Elegantly simple, this 18k white gold formal watch comes in a few sizes and styles, and acts like a palette for the presentation of beautiful diamonds. The dial for the time is small with blued steel hands, and the watch design resembles the look of a chain link. Read more here. Priced starting at $22,100.
– Raymond Weil Tango Bicolor: Conservative and attractive with a price that isn’t out of this world for most people – a statement that actually sums up most Raymond Weil women’s watches. This Tango model has a two-tone 39mm case in steel and gold played steel. Stately dial and contains a Swiss quartz movements and come in various styles. Read more here. Priced here at $895.
– Corum Romvlvs Lady: A rare women’s model in the Romulus line in 18k white gold and 31mm wide. Lovely deep blue mother of pearl dial with diamond hour markers and more diamonds on the bezel. Inside is a Swiss automatic movement. Read more here. Priced at $13,800.
– Piaget Possession: Delicate, timeless, feminine, and luxurious. This pretty much describes most Piaget women’s pieces that come from the brand known as much for beautiful jewelry as they are for high-end watches. Allow the good looks of this watch to grown on you. In an 18k white gold case dial a clean looking dial and a bezel lined with large diamonds – matched to a satin strap. Read more here. Ref. G0A35087 priced at $10,600.
– Montblanc Sport Lady Mini Diamonds: A feminine interpretation of the standard Sport collection in a more petite 34.5mm wide steel case and bracelet. Diamonds line the bezel and dial as hour markers. Various styles and colors are available. Swiss quartz movement. Read more here. Priced at $3,705.
9. For The Deserving Son
– Tag Heuer Formula 1 Grande Date: Newly update, this classic collection from back in the 80s has matured rather than aged. Now 44mm wide with a great sporty style. This Grande Date version has a subsecond dial and big date indicator as part of the Swiss quartz movement. Read more here. About $850.
– Breitling Superocean II: One of the most modern looking Breitling watches around, this updated Superocean comes in a variety of colors in a very durable 42mm wide case. Youthful, the new Superocean is great for men entering adulthood or those who refuse to let their youth run adrift. Read more here. Priced between $2,695 – $3,085.
– IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000: You have here an attractive classic diver for the modern man. Difficult to find an easy to read white dialed timepiece, but this is one of them. In steel, the case is 44mm wide with 2000 meters of water resistance – a watch that can grown with you. Read more here. Priced at $5,400.
– Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster: It also comes in a “brighter” X-Lume variant. This “little space explorer” is a great watch from an American brand that uses Swiss movements. 41.5mm wide steel care with great styling and use of glowing tritium gas tubes. Read more here. Priced at 2,699.
– Fortis Space Leader Limited Edition: Created by Volkswagen Design and made by Fortis, this watch was released as a limited edition of 2012 pieces of the Swiss sci-fi movie “Cargo.” Spacey goodloks with Fortis quality. Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement in a steel and rubber 43mm wide case. Read more here. Priced at $4,975.
10. For Those Who Live In The Past
– Breguet Type XX Aeronavale Limited Edition: Made in honor of the 50th anniversary of Breuget’s supply of Type XX to the French Naval Airforce and limited to 1,000 pieces. In steel and 39mm wide with a beautiful looking style straight out of the first half of the 20th century. Read more here. Priced at $9,200.
– Ernst Benz Chronosport 47mm: Coming in a few sizes, the Chronosport is the non chronograph version of the Chronoscope retro dialed timepiece. Easy to read, and reminiscent of vintage watch dials, Ernst Benz has a lot going for it with each piece coming in a number of styles. Swiss automatic movement. Read more here. Priced at $2,800.
– Eterna Heritage Super KonTiki 1973 Limited Edition: A remake of a watch from the 1970s, this kick-ass Swiss diver reminds us of a another time and place. 44mm wide in steel with a mesh metal bracelet and fantastic retro professional look. Read more here. Limited to 1,973 watches and priced at $3,300.
– Oris Big Crown Chronograph: Part of the traditional sport watch styled “Big Crown” collection, the Chronograph is simple and straight forward coming in a few desirable styles. Functionally minded, this action themed retro timepiece lacks the stuffiness of other vintage pieces. In a 42-43mm steel case. Read more here. Priced between about $1,800 – $2,600.
– Chronoswiss Timemaster GMT: A slightly more modern interpretation of the nicely maintained retro aviator looks of the Timemaster. Case is 44mm wide in DLC coated (or brushed) steel. Swiss automatic chronograph movement with a GMT complication added to it. Neat looking silvered (or black) dial with red accents. Read more here. Ref. CH 7537 G priced at $7,400.
11. For The Guy Who Has It All (Price Of No Concern)
– F.P. Journe Sonnerie Souveraine: Probably the most expensive steel watch around and from a highly respected watch maker. 42mm with complex minute repeater and sonnerie movement that uses steel for the best quality audio around. Read more here. Priced at $625,000.
– Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical Watch: Incredible craftsmanship with old-world watchmaking and a totally avant garde design. Time told on spinning drums with tiny hand-made chain. Read more here. Priced here at about 325,000 Swiss Francs.
– MB&F Horological Machine No. 4: Aka “Thunderbolt,” the HM4 is the fourth major watch from the avant garde boutique luxury brand that celebrates the joy of the machine. In titanium with highly sophisticated sapphire crystal elements, this watch is something you’ll love to love. Read more here. $158,000.
– Christophe Claret Dual Tow: Time told on dual rubber belts in an incredible display case with a tourbillon and chronograph complication. Highly customizable and from the workshop of a top watch maker. Read more here. Priced between about $400,000 – $500,000.
– Richard Mille RM 028 Diver: Ultra expensive cool RM 028 Diver is straight forward diver in Richard Mille skin. 47mm wide in a titanium case with a highly detailed skeletonized automatic movement. Read more here. Priced at $79,000.
12. For You
– Rolex Submariner Ref 116610 LN/V / 97200: You know you want one. Not a “green” guy? – go with good old black for the dial. New for 2010 the all steel Rolex Submariner has a series of excellent upgrades that made previous models better suited to a drawer. Ceramic bezel, new case style, and its secret weapon – the “Glidelock” bracelet deployment. Read more here. About $7,800 in green.
– Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001: It could be your only watch. Super high-tech, super cool Spring Drive movement with the time, date, power reserve indicator, and GMT hand, diver style case, sapphire bezel, amazing quality and high-value even at its price. An awesome underdog if you haven’t heard of Grand Seiko. Read more here. About $6,200.
– Porsche Design P’6310 Flat Six: Must be seen to be fully appreciated. Fantastic timeless look with the designer spirit that Porsche Design is known for. Here with metal bracelet, but a rubber strap is also available. Different dial styles also available as well as a chronograph version in a 44mm wide steel case with automatic Swiss movement. Read more here. $2,600.
– Bell & Ross Vintage BR Heritage 123: A new classic. Great lines and a simple style that anyone can appreciate. 41mm wide steel case in black, with a Swiss automatic movement and vintage aviation instrument style dial. Read more here. $2,900.
– Zenith Class Elite Moonphase Grand Date Classic: Straight forward classic watch from the brand that found its groove again. Reasonably prices with an in-house automatic movement. 40mm wide steel case with big date, subsidiary seconds, moon phase indicator, and machine engraved dial. Read more here. $6,600.