Best men's watch for $1,500?
July 13, 2008 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I have approx. $1500-2000 to get my fiance a nice watch for a wedding gift. Help me choose the best men's watch for this price range!

I have approx. $1500-2000 to get my fiance a meaningful wedding gift. I am thinking of getting him a nice watch, something dressy that he can wear on special occasions as he is not a 'daily' watch wearer.

What brand/model would give me the best bang for my buck? I know nothing about men's watches...

I am open to other gift ideas as well. he is a 26 yr old, Canadian male.
posted by 20something to Shopping (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I can't tell you anything about expensive watches, though I can tell you that people tend to be particular about the type of watch they buy. I absolutely wouldn't wear a big, heavy watch, while other people only like that style. I wouldn't want the hassle of having to wind a watch, while some guys consider it the mark of high quality workmanship.

I'm sure you'll get some great suggestions for watches, but I think you should talk to him about what he wants. He might want a watch, a nice camera, a high definition TV or a vacation somewhere. I'm sure he would very much appreciate a watch - the man usually is an afterthought as far as weddings and gifts go - but if it were me (when it was me) I'd like to pick what I wanted.
posted by cnc at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2008

IWC every time.
posted by fire&wings at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2008

Bell & Ross Vintage 123

He can wear it dressy and casual- because he will want to wear it all the time.
I know I would.

They're about $1600.
posted by Zambrano at 6:00 PM on July 13, 2008

If you have a Tourneau store nearby, that's the place to go. They have a very good range of brands on display & they have previously owned watches for purchase as well (which are sometimes more expensive than current models).

I'm not a fan of "fashion" brands such as Fendi, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana as you're paying for the brand name / fashion aspect of the watch more than it's mechanical quality.

You can look at chronographs (watches that allow you to use stopwatch functions, diving watches (bigger than simple faces, they have an outer ring (bezel) that marks diving time and usually bigger numerals for easier reading), or simple faces.
At the $1500-2000 range, you will get a very good watch. It boils down to what suits your fiance's tastes.

Some notes:
The watches are either battery powered (Citizen has an eco-drive where the watch is charged via sunlight) or mechanically powered where the springs are wound via kinetic movement of either your wrist, or manually winding the wheel.
It's not that much of a hassle to wind a watch before you wear it and set the time, some last longer between wearing than you would think.
Bands can always be changed out to add more versatility to the watch.
Sizings are a bit tricky. Many of the Breitling (aviation watches) & Bell & Ross watches are very large and don't look right on some wrists.

My favorites:
Baume & Mercier (simple & elegant)
Bell & Ross (very distinct aviation instrument style, they're very big but have introduced some smaller sizes recently)
Hamilton (they have varying styles)
Omega (in my opinion, the best bang for the buck)

Those 5 brands have watches available at your price range. You can shave some dollars off purchasing online sometimes, but for a watch that price, it would be comforting to know you'd have a jeweler, seller to take it back to for maintenance.
posted by Upal at 6:21 PM on July 13, 2008

If you'd like to get him something different, check out Glycine. The 24-hour models make it difficult for strangers to steal the time from your watch, which I as a selfish bastard really appreciate.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:35 PM on July 13, 2008

My Dad bought my husband an art deco style Stowa watch when we married. It's not as expensive as some but it is a handsome watch.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 8:45 PM on July 13, 2008

You really need to either ask him or get an idea of what he wants / would like. There are so many different types and styles of watches, and since you're talking about spending a significant chunk of change, you want it to be something he'll really like and that fits his personality and needs.

Not to mention, there are considerations like metal versus leather bands, complex chronograph styles versus easier-to-read ones, etc. And then there are features to look for in the movement itself -- not just power source (battery, mechnical, wind-up, solar) but also things like perpetual calendar (does it compute the number of days in the month correctly). If he travels a lot, be sure to see how easy it is to set and reset.

Also, especially if you're considering a watch or a brand that's likely to be recognizable as fairly expensive, make sure he's comfortable with that in general. And keep in mind that what you're paying for in a watch is sometimes the mechanism, but more often is the appearance and branding (e.g. a $1500 watch may use a $30 off-the-shelf quartz movement that's little different from any department-store watch; that doesn't mean it's bad or even a bad purchase overall, but know what you're buying).

I would consider quite seriously getting him a gift certificate or just a note saying that you'll take him to a good watch retailer and let him pick one out. Unless you already know what he wants in a watch, it's better to let him pick it out himself. Chances are he'll get something that's a better fit for him that way.

From a purely objective standpoint, I think there's a pretty good argument to be made that the best "bang for your buck" is in a relatively inexpensive Seiko, Citizen, or Timex (particularly if you want a perpetual calendar). It's not hard to find a combination of features there that would cost you $5-6k in Swiss timepiece. Whether or not the difference in price is worth it is totally subjective.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:15 PM on July 13, 2008

1. IWC are great...but for under $2k...umm no. Maybe $8K.
2. Omega's are great...but you will be hard pressed to find an AUTOMATIC under $2K.
3. Bell & Ross are awesome. Their cheaper 123 line is about $3k...

Rather than getting the CHEAPEST line of an expensive brand, why not get the most expensive line of a more reasonable brand.

Oris is plain and classic. Is that what he's into?

HAMILTON or Tissot would be great.

But to be honest, watches can be really personal. My partner won't go NEAR the watch store to shop for me. A minor detail on a watch that nobody else notices may send me one way or the other. Its kind of personal like "which hand do you use to hold your weiner when you pee". Its just something thats best left up to the person who's wearing it.

Why don't you let him pick it out (yeah, it ruins the surprise), but engrave it on the back (if possible). Sure that will mess up the resale value, but he's not really going to sell it, is he?

mefi mail me later on and tell me what you actually end up doing. I'm really curious!
posted by hal_c_on at 12:07 AM on July 14, 2008

Thirding Bell & Ross - the Vintage 120 has a very elegant chronograph if he likes a slightly more complex dial than the plain 123.
posted by jonathanbell at 1:04 AM on July 14, 2008

if you want an Omega for under 2K, pm me. 'nuff said
posted by dawdle at 5:20 AM on July 14, 2008

N-th vote for Omega. Classic brand without the ostentation of Rolex. Had my Omega for 10 years and it's a daily pleasure.
Stick with the good Swiss brands and not the fashion brands and you won't go far wrong. Love IWC, but not in your price range.

Automatics are probably out of your price range, but you can probably get a quartz one. Size is important, as I'm not a fan of the current massive watches. So check out which watches he likes, and take your cue from there.
posted by arcticseal at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2008

This may be considered risky but I had good luck with this retailer. They are located in Malaysia. I bought a TAG from them for approximately 1/2 price 5 or 6 years ago. I know it's the real thing because it was accepted for service under warranty by the TAG service center in the US. If you are in the US DO NOT purchase a Rolex (outside your price range but thought I'd mention it) from outside the country. If shipped in it will be seized by Customs.
posted by Carbolic at 9:05 AM on July 14, 2008

I also bought my SO a watch as a wedding gift; I let him choose what he wanted, but I insisted that it shouldn't be a casual type of watch, I wanted him to have something that would last a long time. He chose a Movado, and I can tell you that he gets tons - TONS - of compliments on it. His particular choice ended up being a bit under your price range. It could very well be for dressy events only, but he wears it daily.
posted by vignettist at 1:15 PM on July 14, 2008

Is your husband a watch person?

This is a very important question. I assume the answer is no since he doesn't sport a watch regularly. In a sense, if this is the case, you're sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't because a watch person is going to be far too particular about any attempt at a gift, and a non-watch person won't necessarily appreciate the expenditure on a decent mechanical watch.

The watch-nuts here are going to find this to be utter heresy, but if your man isn't a watch nut, I'd stick with a "fashion" brand. To a non-nut, having something blingy that says Gucci or Cartier on it may do more for his self-esteem and will probably get the attention of more folks in the general population than say a Patek, AP or a Jaeger unfortunately (though those in the know may secretly scoff). If he's unlikely to have ever heard of the latter (which by the way, are out of your price range anyway), then going for a non-"fashion" brand may end up underappreciated.

That said, if you can afford a low-end Bell & Ross, Omega, Tag Heuer Carrera, or Baume & Mercier, that's probably the best bet for a watch-nut.

If you're buying for me, get me this lovely Baume & Mercier piece -- simple and elegant as others have noted, and can be dressed up or down.
posted by drpynchon at 5:11 PM on July 14, 2008

This is funny because I have an Omega Speedmaster and an Oris Big Crown and I recommended the Bell & Ross in a previous post - the one I don't have.

I wear the Oris as my everyday watch, but I recommend all three brands.
posted by Zambrano at 3:01 PM on July 15, 2008

I'm not sure what scares me more....realizing how much I don't know about men's watches or the fact that he may not even like it after all this effort!

My theory is this: He takes risks with buying me jewellry he isn't sure that I will I can take a risk buying him a watch.

Thanks for all your replies. It appears that I have my research to do now. I will try to update soon. :)
posted by 20something at 7:45 PM on July 15, 2008

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