Buying a timepiece for the man in your life needn’t be so daunting, says watch journalist Alex Doak. Here’s your guide to making his heart tick faster…
We all know the cliché – the man hesitantly entering the jewellery shop, wincing at the tinkling bell announcing his arrival, trying not to make eye contact with any of the staff, overwhelmed by the choice of near-identical baubles and bangles…Then making a hasty decision, choosing the wrong thing and spending too much money. I know, because I’ve been that man. Far too often.
But with the inexorable rise of the “proper watch” as the proper gent’s key accessory, not to mention an increasingly popular alternative to the groom’s wedding ring, this scenario is being reversed. Women nationwide are finding themselves obliged to timidly enter an alien world of bezels, chronographs and chronometers, where the sheer scope of seemingly unnecessary gadgetry does its level best to detract from the chief priority; namely not buying him something a Lego monster might have sicked up. Believe me, there’s a lot of it out there, and there are a lot of men voluntarily buying it. And wearing it with a suit.
So, ladies, take this as an opportunity to dress your man in something tasteful, timeless and versatile – something that marks you out as the considerate, doting horological connoisseur that you are. Just remember the three golden rules: research, research, research.
Whatever his style, make the following lines of enquiry, and you’ll enter the shop armed with all the information you’ll need… But that all said, feel free to throw all this advice out of the window should “that watch” jump out at you and shout “YES!”. After all, just like jewellery, a watch is an irrational, emotional purchase – buy what feels right.
The first thing to consider is what your man’s like, and what he’s into. “Ask yourself whether he’s into sports training, diving or action stuff,” says Sandy Madhvani, from the Canary Wharf branch of family jewellers David M Robinson, “or whether he’s smart a lot of the time, or smart-casual. And what about his other watches? There are probably clues as to the brands he favours, and what sort of functionality he likes, such as chronographs.” A good rule of thumb, should he already have a couple of watches, is not to replicate – think about what sort of watch he’s missing from his collection.
“Try and pick up clues in the magazines and newspapers that he reads or maybe sportsmen that he admires,” suggests DMR’s general manager Karl Irwin. “Men are often influenced by stylish actors or personalities who wear a particular brand of watch. For example Rory Mcllroy and Leo Messi both wear Audemars Piguet; Daniel Craig and George Clooney wear Omega; Jenson Button and Leonardo DiCaprio are TAG Heuer men.”
Put a lot of thought into when your man might be wearing his new timepiece. “A slim, gold dress watch would be little use for a man who only has one watch and wants to wear it all the time,” says Karl. In which case, a good all-purpose style is a bracelet watch similar to the Rolex Submariner – it’ll go with a suit as well as board shorts, and weather most conditions.
The final, most obvious, but often-overlooked consideration: is he a strap or bracelet man? You wouldn’t believe the difference an armband makes, so don’t get bogged down in the watch itself. Some men, especially hairy ones, will hate metal watch bracelets on their wrists whilst others, especially sweaty ones, won’t appreciate the odour of a leather strap on a sunny day. Increasingly popular are “NATO” or nylon military-style straps, for the Action Man in your life; or perhaps he’d prefer a rubber strap..? It’s not as kinky as it sounds – with a dash of red-gold, he’ll be bang on trend.
Match your man to the brand
The Adventurer: Victorinox, Rolex, Bremont, Breitling, Bulova, Oris
The Business Tycoon:Longines, Patek Philippe, Tissot, Raymond Weil, Rotary
The Sportsperson: TAG Heuer, Omega, Seiko, Luminox, Casio G-Shock
The Man About Town: Cartier, Hermès, Montblanc, Hamilton, Boss
The Tech-Head: Tissot T-Touch, Ball Watch, Hublot, Citizen, Pulsar
The Petrolhead: TAG Heuer, Baume & Mercier, Certina, Frédérique Constant, TW Steel
The Design Guru: Panerai, Mondaine, Bell & Ross, Thomas Sabo, Rado
The Connoisseur: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Breguet, A Lange & Söhne, Roger W Smith
By Alex Doak