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How to give a watch as a gift

by Michael Weare
6 April, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Radiomir PaneraiPhoto: Martin TW

A watch can be a lasting and treasured possession to receive as well as a joy to give and is an appropriate gift for a variety of different occasions. Follow our Click Tempus guide to choosing the perfect watch whatever the occasion.

So you’ve decided upon a watch as a gift for someone special or to mark an auspicious occasion. Your own love of watches has probably influenced your decision, and perhaps your knowledge of what makes a good watch will influence you in the type of watch you buy – but just before you slap your money down you should consider these important points:

Tip 1
Really consider the recipient

The most obvious starting point for buying a watch is who are you buying the watch for? This also raises the question what do you want the watch to express? A bit of fun, a sign of friendship, love, hope, passion, or just a way of saying thanks?

Ask yourself what is the occasion and what type of person you are buying for.

The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention Richard Moss

To help your decision making, there tends to be three distinct price points in watches; the entry level at US$500 or under, the intermediate level of US$500 to US$5,500 and then the ‘luxury’ watch category which can be anything from US$5,500 to… well the sky’s the limit really.

You can buy good to excellent watches in all categories, but please do not fall into the trap of believing you can buy a genuine ‘luxury’ watch for US$500 or under.

True you can buy a quality replica watch online for just US$200 or less, but what does buying a replica say about you?

Tip 2
What do you want the gift to say?

The casual gift: Watches for US$500 or under

Casual watch gifts

At this price level you can buy genuine watches from well respected fashion brands such as Guess, Giorgio Armani, Lacoste, Fossil, DKNY and many more for under US$500. There is also a huge choice of watches from Seiko, Citizen and Casio or even from Swiss made Swatch Watches that cater extensively to this price level.

For under US$500 you can still expect a watch to look very stylish and keep accurate time with a quartz or automatic movement but don’t expect anything other than standard finishes and stainless steel, ceramic or electroplated gold covering on this budget. This price level is great for casual gift buying but is not a suitable price level to mark special occasions.

The special occasion gift: Watches from US$500 to US$5,500

Special occasion watch

Once you step up to the upper reaches of this price level or the lower levels of the luxury watch price bracket you are clearly buying a watch to mark a significant occasion; it could be a wedding anniversary, a graduation gift, a 21st birthday, a retirement gift.

Of course you have to carefully decide upon the type of watch that is appropriate for the occasion and the personality of the wearer. At this price point you have a vast choice of excellent quality watches open to you from entry level Rolexes, Omegas and even Patek Philippes, to your pick of well respected watch brands such as Longines, Panerai, Maurice Lacroix, Oris, Tag Heuer, Tissot, and many, many more.

Within this price range you can focus much more on the quality of finish of the watch, you could opt for gold, titanium, platinum as well as a quality Swiss mechanical movement.

The ultimate gift: Watches from US$5,500 and above

ultimate gift watch

At this spending level you most likely have the means to really indulge your passion, and have the burning desire to make a major ‘wow’ statement with your gift of a sensational watch. The more the price tag heads skywards the more you should expect from the timepiece. At the upper reaches of this level it’s all about the finish, the intricacy, the rarity and the prestige of the brand name. The movement is likely to be made in house, exquisitely hand finished with a variety of techniques, and possibly with several complications. It could be a simple conservative design but with exquisite finishing such as a Patek Philippe or a Vacheron Constantin. You can look to ultra rare and exotic limited editions such as a Ladoire Black Widow where only 12 of each style are made, or the beguiling sportiness of a Hublot King Power. And of course we must never forget the ever reliable solid gold Rolex with or without diamonds perfect for that special wedding anniversary or for a retirement gift.

At this level you will probably know what you expect from a watch and have an informed view on brands, finishes, and movements.

Tip 3
Don’t simply choose the watch you would like

Take your time before buying any timepiece.

The choice is vast and the styles are many. When buying a watch you have to ask yourself does the person you are buying the watch for really share your passion for watches? You may think a quality Swiss mechanical watch is the only way to go, but many women are not interested in the intricacies of mechanical watches and would be happier with a no nonsense top quality quartz.

Often the look of the watch is more important to women than the intricacies of how it functions.

On the other hand for a young guy who has just graduated, it’s quite possible that the watch functions or the watch brand are every bit as important as the style factor.

Tip 4
Check the wrist size of the recipient

The fashion is for large and chunky watches, but they look ridiculous on a tiny wrist. Match the watch size to the wrist.

There are even different watch diameters for the same watch model so be sure to enquire.

Tip 5
Buy from trusted dealers

The internet is a great way to research all kinds of watches and it can be a great way to buy them too if you know exactly what you are doing. However, holding a watch in your hands is always the best way to judge its quality. By all means do your research on the internet, and buy the watch online if you know the supplier to be reliable, but also take time to visit your local watch dealer.

If you are lucky you may be served by someone who knows what they are talking about, and more importantly, you will be able to hold the watch, feel the weight, inspect the quality. You are also much more assured of protection in case the watch goes wrong, especially if the watch dealer is an authorised dealer of the brand you choose.

Tip 6
To engrave or not to engrave the watch

Depending on the gift you are giving and the occasion it is meant for, it may be entirely appropriate to have the watch engraved, and several quality brands give you the option of a see through case on or a plain back case so that you can have it engraved. Decide carefully if the recipient would appreciate an engraving because like a tattoo it will last the lifetime of the watch.

Tip 7
Choosing the right watch strap

There are a huge variety of straps available and they add to the look and quality of the watch. If you like the watch but not the strap you always have the option to change it for a little extra money. Some watches suit a beautiful link metal bracelet, whereas many of the top Swiss brands prefer a quality leather strap which does not detract from the fine workmanship and design of the watch itself. And don’t forget, quality rubber straps can be the perfect choice for even a top end divers or scuba watch.

Also consider what the recipient will use the watch for. If it’s for evening wear, a silver or gold band can look very elegant.

Tip 8
Modern versus Vintage watches

Mint Vacheron Constantin

Depending on the type of person you are buying for you could consider buying a vintage watch rather than a modern one. A vintage watch could well appeal to someone who loves genuine antiques and all things retro. Also with a vintage watch you are buying a little slice of history. Many of the better, rarer vintage watches continue to rise in value and have a rarity appeal about them. There are several excellent finds to be had online as well as off from some of watchmaking’s most historic names, but always be certain to buy from a reputable dealer because there are a great many pretenders out there.

Tip 9
Be culturally aware of giving watches as a gift

Buying a watch as a gift in the West has mainly positive connotations, however in many parts of Asia giving the gift of a watch can be perceived quite differently. For example, most Chinese are wary of giving watches because the phonetic sound for ‘give clock’ in Cantonese is ‘Sung Chung’ which also sounds like funeral. Other Asian societies believe that when you give a watch you are symbolically saying time is running out, and this could refer either to one’s life or to a partnership. Usually however this can be overcome by not giving the watch as a gift outright, and demanding a token – perhaps one dollar, which means the watch has been purchased and is technically no longer a gift.

Tip 10
Enjoy the experience of giving a gift

The more thought and effort you put into the purchase of the watch, the more the recipient is likely to appreciate the gesture. One advantage of purchasing from a store is that you can usually return the watch in the event it does not suit the recipient and then he or she can choose a timepiece within the same price bracket.

However, with a little research on the lifestyle and tastes of the person to whom you plan to give the watch, you should be able to find exactly the right watch.

Do you have any tips for giving a watch as a gift?

Share your tips in the comments section below

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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