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.

Portrait-photo-Leonardo DiCaprio-wears-TAG-Heuer-Carrera-Calibre-1887-Automatic-Chronograph

Leonardo DiCaprio wears TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Automatic Chronograph

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.

Men's-watches-Breitling-Transocean-chronograph-Hugo-Boss-Orange-Citizen-Eco-Drive-Proximity-Bluetooth-chronograph

Breitling Transocean Chronograph, Hugo Boss Orange & Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity Bluetooth Chronograph

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.

Who?

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.

Who else?

“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.”

When?

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.

Belt up!

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

  • Bulova Precisionist Chronograph Champlain
    RRP: £549
    Available from: The Watch Hut
  • Breitling-Transocean-Chrono-Bracelet - Ocean Steel-case-steel-water-resistance-100-metres-blue-dial-red-marker-detailing-date-and-calendar-functions
    Breitling Transocean Chronograph
    RRP: £8,460
    Available from: Mappin & Webb

The Business Tycoon:Longines, Patek Philippe, Tissot, Raymond Weil, Rotary

  • Longines-Dolce-vita-men's-white-roman-numeral-dial-with-sub-dial-and-a-rectangular-stainless-steel-case-with-matching-bracelet-Scratch-resistant-sapphire-crystal-glass-protects-the-dial-and-a-precision-quartz-movement
    Longines DolceVita
    RRP £760
    Available from: Mappin & Webb
  • Rotary-Men's-Windsor-Watch-big-date-feature-brown-leather-strap-gold-case-lugs-and-roman-numerals
    Rotary Men’s Windsor
    RRP: £159
    Available from: Watch Shop

The Sportsperson: TAG Heuer, Omega, Seiko, Luminox, Casio G-Shock

  • Omega-De-Ville-men's-black-leather-strap-watch-100m-water-resistant-co-axial-chronometer-blue dial-date-window-and-scratch-resistant-sapphire-crystal.
    Daniel Craig Wears the Omega De Ville Hour Vision Blue
    RRP £4,550
    Available from: Ernest Jones
  • Mens Luminox-Original-Navy-Seal-3000-Series-model-in-black-plastic-resin-and-rubber-Powered-by-Swiss-Quartz-movement-and-the-white-dial-date-function-and-numeral-hour-markers.
    Luminox Navy SEAL 3000 Series
    RRP: £255
    Available from: Watch Shop

The Man About Town: Cartier, Hermès, Montblanc, Hamilton, Boss

  • Boss-Orange-Men's-Watch-stainless-steel-day-date-function-sports
    Hugo Boss Orange
    RRP £125
    Available from: Watch Shop
  • Hamilton-railroad-chronograph-stainless-steel-casing-black-leather-strap-with-white-stitching-day-date-complications-water-resistancy-100-metres.
    Hamilton Railroad Auto Chronograph
    RRP: £1,535
    Available from: Hamilton

The Tech-Head: Tissot T-Touch, Ball Watch, Hublot, Citizen, Pulsar

  • Citizen-Eco-Drive-Proximity-bluetooth-function-automatic-date-and-time-updates-a-dial-power-reserve-indicator-chronographic-functions-dual-time-and-perpetual-calendar
    Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity Bluetooth Chronograph
    RRP: £399
    Available from: Watch Shop
  • Hublot-Big-Bang-Ferrari-Titanium-Black-Rubber-and-Black-Alcantara-Strap-with-Red-Stitching-and-Black-Rubber-Unico- Self-winding- Chronograph-Flyback-Movement-with-Column-Wheel.
    Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium
    RRP: £19,600
    Available from: Hublot

The Petrolhead: TAG Heuer, Baume & Mercier, Certina, Frédérique Constant, TW Steel

  • TW-Steel-Men's-CEO-Tech-chronograph-complications-grey-red-and-orange-marker-detailing
    TW Steel Men’s CEO Tech Mick Doohan Limited Edition Automatic
    RRP £995
    Available from: Watch Shop
  • Certina-DS-Eagle-stop-watch-functions-chronograph-complications-rubber-strap
    Certina DS Eagle GMT
    RRP £950
    Available from: Certina

The Design Guru: Panerai, Mondaine, Bell & Ross, Thomas Sabo, Rado

  • Rado-True-Thinline-black-ceramic-bracelet
    Rado True Thinline Ceramic Bracelet
    RRP £1,700
    Available from: Ernest Jones
  • Mondaine-stop-2-go-brushed-stainless-steel-case-and-lugs-black-leather-strap-quartz
    Mondaine stop2go
    RRP: £450
    Available from: Watch Shop

The Connoisseur: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Breguet, A Lange & Söhne, Roger W Smith

  • Breguet-Classique-Chronometrie-leather-strap-delicate-blue-hands-chronograph-functions-classic-design-rose-gold-casing-and-lugs
    Breguet Classique Chronometrie
    RRP £28,900
    Available from: Breguet
  • Roger-W-Smith-series-2-one-minute-tourbillon-a-spring-detent-escapement-and-a-four-year-perpetual-calendar-with-black-leather-strap
    Roger W Smith Series 2 in 18ct White Gold
    RRP: £99,000 approx
    Available from: Roger W Smith

By Alex Doak

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