There’s a pretty simple criteria to define what makes a great watch for dads: would you pass it on to your kids? This simple question can easily reveal a fashionable new watch that you buy on impulse from a well thought out watch that you will keep, care for and wear forever. Zach Weiss, co-founder and editor of digital watch magazine Worn & Wound, agrees. “Considerations of what might make a new watch a future ‘classic’ are very similar to what makes a watch a good candidate as an heirloom for one’s children,” says Weiss.
Most classic watches meet the standards. There are colors, sizes and styles that won’t go out of fashion. Take it too far and you’ve got yourself a fashion splurge – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Take the recent Billionaire Boys Club (BBC) Rocket watch, for example. This playful watch bends the rules with its moon face, cartoon rocket needle and big BBC branding. Is it stylish? Just ask Pharrell or George Bamford (yes, clearly). Is this a watch your great-grandchildren will wear? Probably not.
That doesn’t mean you have to avoid all trends. Right now, for example, watches are shrinking (the Rolex Explorer went from 39mm to 36mm this year; Tudor unveiled a smaller Pelagos diver’s watch downsized to 39mm from 41mm.) a noticeable trend that doesn’t make the watch any less of a classic. Just think subtle, think long term.
So what were the best watches of 2022? These included new releases like Tudor’s Black Bay Pro, updates like the “Moonshine” Omega Speedmaster, and instant classics like an all-bronze Oris Big Crown. They ranged from Casio to Cartier, and while they followed certain trends, more than anything else, they have the presence to stand the test of time.
To compile this list, we spoke to some of the world’s top watch experts, from writers to executives to dealers, to find out which modern watches this year really impressed them enough to earn heirloom status. Here are their picks.
View image courtesy of Tudor/Fatherly
This recommendation comes from Zach Weiss, who bought this watch for himself. “As of this year’s releases, the Tudor Black Bay Pro stands out,” he says. “As part of the Hans Wilsdorf Group, alongside Rolex, it’s built to the highest standards by a company that’s about as close to the pedestal as a luxury brand can get. The watch itself has a timeless style touching on vintage cues, but is thoroughly modern in execution and has a fairly neutral palette that can be dressed up or down. Inside is a premium chronometer-grade movement with the added functionality of a GMT or dual time zone complication. Perhaps the most useful function apart from the three hands and the date, which it also has. —
View image courtesy of Cartier/Fatherly
Jeff Fowler, CEO of Hodinkee, the online watch magazine and e-commerce store that has become a nexus to the watch community, was blown away this year by this limited edition Cartier. “The new Cartier Santos Dumont in rose gold with the beige lacquer bezel and dial would be the watch for me,” says Fowler. “The Santos line captures the pioneering and adventurous spirit of its Brazilian aviator namesake, and I could imagine this watch on my sons’ wrists accompanying them through many of their own adventures in life. More than any other watch released in 2022 , this one just looks like an instant heirloom.
View image courtesy of Vacheron Constantin / Fatherly
The pick if money was no object for Fowler this year is the reissue of a 1970s icon from Vacheron Constantin, a sleek yet sporty gold watch with a timeless, unisex size of 37mm.
“I would feel like I was doing my duty as a father if I had the chance to one day give my son the new Vacheron Constantin 222 as an inheritance,” says Fowler. “It’s a piece of watch design history, bearing the hallmark of famed watch designer Jorg Hysek, and will easily stand the test of time for my sons…and I hope their sons too.” day !” And although this watch is in a particularly rare category in terms of cost, there is no denying that it is something very special. Signature details on this satin-finish 18k gold watch include a Maltese cross on the case front at five o’clock, 18k gold hour and minute hands on the gold dial (which elegantly omits a second hand ), and an open case back showing the redesigned ‘222’ oscillating weight of the self-winding movement. — $69,000
View image courtesy of Casio/Fatherly
This Casio is colloquially known as the CasiOak due to its resemblance to the famous Audemars Piquet Royal Oak, a watch released in 1972 with a signature octagonal bezel that many watch enthusiasts consider the most iconic sports watch of all. the times, and that comes in six-figure price tags from $30,000. The resemblance is stronger than ever since Casio released this all-metal version. Casio may not be a brand you think of when you think of iconic watches, but like Matt Hranek, founder of
The Wm. Brown Project and the author of A man and his watchpoints out: “Everything watches have the potential to become heirlooms because to me, an heirloom is about emotional value, not monetary value. Passing on your beloved Casio has the potential to be as valuable as your Patek [Philippe]emotionally speaking. — $600
View image courtesy of Oris/Fatherly
Bronze is an unusual case material for a watch, but one that is growing in popularity. Bronze has a very unique property that aligns perfectly with vintage watch aesthetics, namely that bronze quickly develops a stable oxidized patina that quickly makes it look like heirloom. Wristwatches became popular long after the heyday of bronze, and they saw little use by watchmakers because they are softer and heavier than stainless steel. Independent Swiss watchmaker Oris goes bronze with its new Big Crown, using a bronze case and a bronze bracelet – allowing it to quickly acquire the patina character of a classic. It’s also sized at a versatile and expandable 39mm. Bronze is a specific aesthetic, but it’s less sterile than steel and sturdier than gold, which is a nice sweet spot both visually and in terms of wrist presence. —
View image courtesy of Rolex/Fatherly
Eric Wind, founder of the vintage watch online store
Wind Vintage, has a unique perspective on which new watches will become classics because not only does it sell vintage watches, but it also chooses watches worn by actors from vintage movies and TV shows. He recommends any modern 36mm steel Rolex, like the Oyster Perpetual or the DateJust. “In the future, it will look good on anyone of either gender, so it’s a good watch to pass on. I have two daughters, so I’m thinking about it with my own collection of watches – the 36mm size you can pass down to anyone. Wind is happy to see the tide change in terms of case sizes “All these people think they need a 40mm watch, which seems too big for the majority of people.” — $5,800
View image courtesy of Jaeger/Fatherly
Wind’s other recommendation for new watches with timeless heirloom potential is the unique Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, an art deco watch originally created in 1931 to be worn by polo players, with a unique dial function reversible to protect crystal and dial during matches. When reversed, you then have a blank steel face perfect for engraving. “You can have your initials or family crest engraved on it and it automatically becomes an heirloom,” says Wind. —
View image courtesy of Omega/Fatherly
Robert-Jan Broer, founder of digital watch magazine Fratello Watches, takes a look at the new releases he examines through the lens of heirloom potential.
“I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, as my daughter showed an interest in watches from an early age. It made me wonder which watch to ‘pass on’ in the (hopefully) distant future,” says Broer. “This should be a watch she will remember the most I wore, and in my case, it’s probably my Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonshine’ in gold, featured a few months ago.” The Moonshine color of the solid gold dial is a more elegant and muted hue than typical gold. Like the dial, the hour and minute hands are also in solid gold, a particularly luxurious detail since they are coated in black PVD and did not have to be. The subdials have a subtle sunburst pattern and the hands of the subdials are diamond polished gold. Inside the watch is a Master Chronograph-certified hand-wound movement. — $28,700
View image courtesy of Grand Seiko/Fatherly
Broer says that for everyday wear, there’s another new watch that stands out as an instant classic for him – The Grand Seiko “White Birch” Spring Drive SLGA009. Grand Seiko is the pinnacle of Japanese watchmaking and was established in 1960 to go hand in hand with the finest Swiss watches, which it continues to do to this day. The “white birch” is inconspicuous from a distance, but reveals its craftsmanship when seen up close. The textured silver-white dial looks like flowing water, or perhaps Japanese woodblock prints, and the smooth lines of the dial contrast with the diamond-cut hands and applied hour markers. The mixture of brushed and polished steel also creates reflections with different qualities of light. The 40mm case makes it very readable, but the Spring Drive movement allows the watch to be very thin at 11.8 millimeters so it doesn’t wear large. The Spring Drive movement offers quartz-like precision with the endless power of an automatic watch, so you get the best of both worlds, including a five-day power reserve if it sits in a drawer. You can also visually appreciate the Spring Drive movement, through the sapphire crystal caseback.
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