Luxury watches don’t just tell time. They tell a story, a chronicle of how and why they came to be on your wrist. Was it a cherished gift from a loved one? An impulse buy before taking off on an adventure? A celebration of a realized ambition? Luxury watches, no matter the price, have the power to become a tangible symbol of a memory.
“As well as precisely tracking the minutes of the day, a watch is the perfect way to mark life’s important moments and achievements,” says Raynald Aeschlimann, president and CEO of Omega. “It’s like wearing your best memories. Every glance at the dial recalls an important milestone.”
Celebrating special occasions with luxury watches helps keep memories at the forefront of one’s mind. It’s similar to how scent can transport you back to a time or place.
“Every watch marks something and somewhere for someone,” says Damian Otwinowski, vice president of Watches of Switzerland USA. “Whether you make a choice for someone or yourself, there’s an emotional value attached.”
If you’re shopping for luxury watches for yourself, a friend, or loved one, heed our gifting guide below. We’ve matched a one-of-a-kind timepiece to a pivotal life milestone. Here’s how we’d mark 21 of life’s biggest moments on the wrist.
21 Luxury Watches to Celebrate Every Milestone in a Man’s Life
1. First Watch: Swatch SOBLEU
Watch collecting should be fun. When first-time buyers are ready to get their feet wet, it’s best to keep it light. That’s why we’re going with Swatch.
This SOBLEU version is colorfully eye-catching and easy to read. At 34mm, it looks great on smaller or still-growing wrists. It makes a great gift for a birthday, graduation, or religious rite of passage,
[$70; swatch.com]Get it
2. First Job: Nixon Base Tide Pro
You or someone in your life is gainfully employed for the first time. Nice work. Time to celebrate with something even cooler for clock-watching than your phone. Whether pushing grocery carts or manning a lifeguard stand, a durable watch that’s easy to read is a must.
Nixon’s Base Tide Pro is made from recycled ocean plastics and features a large digital display. It’s water resistant to 100 meters and offers tide info on 550 pre-programed beaches.
[$150; nixon.com]Get it
3. High School Graduation: Zodiac Super Sea Wolf
Those four years may have felt like an eternity, but (trust us) time is now officially speeding up—and graduation day’s a big deal. Hell, just surviving high school is an accomplishment worthy of dropping a wad of grad loot on a fine mechanical automatic watch.
The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf is a cool, colorful piece with rugged, modern construction and vintage style. It’ll serve anyone well, whether matriculating to the Big 10 or going the entrepreneurial route.
[$1,095; zodiacwatches.com]Get it
4. College Graduation: Weiss Field Watch
Don’t say we didn’t just warn you. Those four college years blurred by at break-neck speed. What’s next? Grad school? An internship? Straight to work? Don’t know yet? The first plan of attack should be lauding the degree with the Weiss Field Watch.
Hand-built in the U.S., it’s powered by a hand-wound mechanical movement. The piece is offered in four dial variations with a multitude of strap options so you can dial in your look regardless of post-grad plans.
[$1,450; weisswatchcompany.com]Get it
5. First Big Job: Tudor Black Bay 58
You’re hired! And on the way to building a career.
Mark the milestone with this steel-cased, satin-finished piece that’s both rock solid and newly polished—just like you.
[$3,700; tudorwatch.com]Get it
6. Promotion: Rolex Oyster Perpetual
We’re movin’ on up! The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is not just a classic, but it also goes with everything. Seriously, wear it everywhere. Sure, we love the Coral Red version like everyone else, but you’re diverging from the crowd, so go silver.
The yellow gold hands and indexes contrast with the silver sunray dial, giving this piece amazing visual texture to be admired with every glance.
[$5,900; watchesofswitzerland.com]Get it
7. 30th Birthday: Omega Speedmaster Professional
Congrats for acing your 20s. Now you’re totally legit. The Omega Speedmaster Professional is a legendary watch with a manually wound movement befitting your new age bracket.
As you take the time to wind it up to face the day, set an intention to tackle the day with the same sense of purpose with which you turn the crown.
[$7,150; watchesofswitzerland.com]Get it
8. Wedding: Cartier Tank Must
Whether the big day is formal black tie or barefoot on the beach, a Cartier Tank fits the bill. It’s a timeless classic and the only dress watch you’ll ever need.
If you’re getting hitched in Hawaiian shirts, may we suggest changing the strap into something a little more colorful?
[$3,700; cartier.com]Get it
9. First House: Seiko SPD23
Even if you just blew all your savings on the down payment, you can still celebrate one of life’s biggest purchases with the Seiko Prospex—a piece with substantial cachet for a modest sum.
The case design, commonly known as the “Samurai,” is one of the brand’s most popular—thanks to its brawny build and 200 meters of water resistance. Featuring a blue dial with a fun wave design, you can marvel upon this model every bit as much as the tax benefits of home ownership.
[$415; seikowatches.com]Get it
10. Platinum Airline Status: Omega Aqua Terra 150 Worldtimer
If you fly so much they automatically put you on the upgrade list, a World Time function on your wristwatch could be a good investment.
The Omega Aqua Terra 150 Worldtimer lets you track the time in 24 of the world’s time zones while you’re on the go.
[$8,900; watchesofswitzerland.com]Get it
11. First Child: Rolex Submariner
Entering parenthood yields profound joy and intense gravity. Yep, you’re suddenly responsible for this teeny human now—and for a very, very long time.
Take a deep breath. Now take on this huge life transition with the Rolex Submariner. The Sub is simply iconic and built to stand the test of time. Sure, you’ll be wearing the hell out of it for decades. Then, when the time is right, it’ll become an heirloom for you to pass on.
Caveat: If you give your first-born a Rolex, you’re gonna have to do something equally cool for his or her siblings.
[$8,100; rolex.com]Get it
12. 40th Birthday: Zenith Classic Defy Ceramic
This one can hit hard, but remember age ain’t nothing but a number, and there’s no need for a mid-life crisis quite yet. It might be time to inject a little youthful whimsy back into your watch collection.
Thanks to its white ceramic construction, contemporary style, and skeletonized dial, Zenith’s Defy Classic has a playful panache that can serve as a reminder that 40 is the new 30.
[$7,900; zenith-watches.com]Get it
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar
13. 10th Anniversary: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar
A decade of marital bliss earns our sincerest congratulations. Treat yourself to a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar.
This elegant-yet-complicated piece (there’s your working marriage metaphor) provides a triple calendar function, displaying the day of the week, month, and date, as well as a moon phase that sits below the piece’s small second register.
[$11,900; jaeger-lecoultre.com]Get it
14. 20th Anniversary: H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Center Seconds
After 20 years, here’s hoping the good times have far exceeded the bad. Even if it’s a coin flip, treat yourself to something far simpler than the intricacies of a two-decade relationship.
H. Moser’s Endeavour Center Seconds is a minimally pristine, time-only watch in white gold with a “Funky Blue fumé” dial that doesn’t beg for your attention but wordlessly captivates it…kind of like enduring love and commitment.
[~$24,000; h-moser.com]Get it
15. 50th Birthday: Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein II
At 50, you’re entitled to a bona fide mid-life crisis. If you’ve been eyeballing the Porsche but still want a bit of wrist candy that’ll leave some gas in the bank account, the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein II is easily one of our favorite releases of the year, thanks to its lighthearted design and whimsical use of color.
The watch’s ‘regulator’ layout uses three dials to tell time—for hours, minutes, and seconds, respectively. It roughly retails for your annual insurance premium on a high-performance sports car—after a speeding ticket or two.
[$3,800; louiserard.com]Get it
16. First Child’s College Graduation: Vacheron Constantin
You’ve raised a helpless infant into a functional adult, a feat worthy of celebration and relief. No more tuition payments, so now you can treat yourself to your first in the trinity of high horology.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time is a refined piece without pretension. As the name implies, it keeps impeccable local time while offering the wearer a reference time displayed on a sub-dial at six o’clock.
$27,100; vacheron-constantin.com]Get it
17. 60th Birthday: Patek Philippe 5905P
Congratulations, you’re officially old! This Patek Philippe annual calendar chronograph in platinum is a grail-level piece—perfect for celebrating six spectacular decades on Earth.
Graduated minute scale, applied hour markers, dauphine hands, and a concentric circle motif make the dial a work of art. Turn the watch around and it’s no less stunning. Through a display case back, you can view the beautiful circular dressage finishing on the automatic movement and its 21K gold rotor. There are luxury watches and then there are luxury watches.
18. Retirement: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra Thin
A gold watch at retirement has been a tradition in the U.S. since the 1940s. The convention of companies gifting them to workers is on the wane—so go ahead and pick out this Audemars Piguet for yourself.
The case and bracelet are made of dazzling 18K pink gold—a stunner whether you’re lounging at the club in Boca Raton or Rancho Mirage. In time, if you decide to go back to work, it’ll play equally well as a wonderful post-post-retirement reminder that you love what you do.
[$62,200; audemarspiguet.com]Get it
19. 70th Birthday: Apple Watch
Let’s not harp on the number. Let’s just say monitoring your body—specifically your ticker—isn’t a bad idea at this point. The Apple Watch tracks your vitals and can be set up to provide high and low heart rate warnings, as well as detect irregular rhythms. While it can’t actually detect a heart attack, it can help serve as a barometer for heart health.
Get yourself a silicone sport band for workouts, and something more elevated like the magnetic Leather Link or the pictured stainless steel Milanese Loop for dressier affairs.
[$400; apple.com]Get it
20. First Grandchild: Rolex Explorer II
So, the circle is complete: Your child now has a child of their own. You’ll once again be pushing a playground swing and pretending you’re a horse with a tiny tyke on your back. To mark this chapter, we’d pick an heirloom-quality piece that’s a bit rough and tumble.
The Rolex Explorer II is built for spelunking and Arctic expeditions, so it can handle whatever you, or a toddler, cares to throw at it. Plus, it has a 24-hour hand you can set to use as a reference time if your family doesn’t live nearby. Best of all, the caseback is engravable. When it’s time to pass it down, it’s something they’ll treasure—just like their memories of you.
21. 50th Anniversary: A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down
If you’ve been married 50 years, does time even have meaning to you anymore? Joking…we kid because we love! A golden anniversary deserves an equally glitzy commemoration.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down is one of the most desirable luxury watches any collector can hope to obtain. The in-house, manually wound chronograph has become a gold standard in haute horlogerie. The movement architecture and finishing are so deep and complicated, we can’t help but find their totality a perfect metaphor for being together for a half-century. If you pick one of these up, you should probably grab something for your spouse, too. Then again, after five decades of marriage, you don’t really need our relationship advice, do you?
[$82,100; alange-soehne.com]Get it
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