“It seemed kind of unfair that he’d be spending all this money on a ring for me and wouldn’t be getting anything like that in return — it’s 2016.” This is what my recently engaged colleague told me when I asked why she bought her fiancé a watch — a NOMOS Ludwig — when they got engaged. Why the NOMOS in particular? “He’s an engineer and appreciates clean design — it seemed to match his personality.”
For as much as our ideas of what constitutes a marriage and what befits the ceremony have changed, the engagement present has remained surprisingly stagnant. Lest we forget, the diamond engagement ring is a relatively new tradition. Really, the counterpart or alternative could be anything that fits the man. But if you like the idea of something sophisticated and luxurious that can be worn for decades (which is why diamond rings are the norm), a luxury watch is perfect.
As for what the perfect one is, that’s up for you to decide. But think about the interests and personality of your groom-to-be, and consider something high-end, that can be serviced for decades, and would be fitting as a family heirloom for subsequent generations getting hitched. These six aren’t by any means the de-facto bests, but they’re exemplary of what to look for. They’re certainly what we’d want.
Junghans Meister Hand-Winding
For the Practical Guy: Not every heirloom-quality watch needs to cost thousands. Junghans, which has long made striking timepieces at great prices, is proof of that. Take the Meister Hand-Winding — it’s powered by a Mechanical ETA movement set inside a sleek 7.3mm-thick watch case.
NOMOS Metro Datum Gangreserve
For the Design Geek: He follows the Red Dot design awards every year and took the liberty of dressing the reception hall himself. His design tastes shouldn’t stop at his wrist. He’ll likely fawn after the NOMOS Metro (a 2015 Red Dot winner), with its slim case, minimalist dial and clever power reserve gauge, which uses a set of small rotating sea-foam-green and red disks to indicate how much longer it will keep ticking.
OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch
The Active Guy: He wants to get more out of his timepiece than just looks (but those matter, too). While lots of tool watches are too bold to work with both formal and casual attire, the OMEGA Speedmaster has a restrained dial, but keeps a useful chronograph movement for his track days, cycling trips or whatever else he’s into doing on his weekends. And, when paired with a black leather strap, it will fit perfectly with his wedding-day tux.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Large
The Traditional Guy: With classic, dressy looks that have endured for decades and a case back that can be flipped over (and easily engraved), the Reverso is a great gift watch and will work on just about anyone’s wrist. But if he’s particularly into following long-standing style rules, and appreciates the dress of decades gone by, few other watches would be as appropriate.
Rolex GMT-Master II
For the Globetrotter: He’s lined up stops on nearly every continent for your honeymoon, and he’s constantly on the go for his job. A GMT function is a great option for the avid traveler so he can keep tabs on his home time zone, and Rolex’s robust build will withstand the hard knocks of life on the road.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
For the Watch Fanatic: It’s the watch that saved Audemars Piguet during the ’70s, defined an entire segment of luxury sports watches and has an iconic case shape designed by Gérald Genta, one of the most revered designers in the industry. Anyhardcore watch fanatic can appreciate the Royal Oak.