What Makes A Great Watch Gift? Personal Stories Are The Answer
by John Keil
There aren’t many gifts one can give that will endure the test of time as well as a watch will. A gift of a timepiece has the air of timelessness, of endurance, and of value.
This is precisely why companies like Patek Philippe have slogans like “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.” Baume & Mercier’s tagline “Life is about moments” also expresses this well.
Gifting a watch to someone goes far beyond simply celebrating an occasion. It is a reminder of the occasion and a special relationship. And the person on the receiving end will remember that moment each and every time he or she glances down to see what time it is.
I have given and received many watches over the years. (What watch nut hasn’t?)
Each and every watch that I have been given has a very special story, each of which would be deserving of its own blog post. Here are some examples and brief histories of a few of them.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Gemini IV “First Space Walk” Limited Edition
This Speedmaster was given to me by a friend who once worked for Omega. It launched in 2005 to commemorate the 1965 space walk by NASA astronaut Ed White. The 1965 edition is considered to be the first wristwatch in outer space.
I had met him in his first few months in the watch industry during a weekend watch show for a retailer to whom we both sold watches, and over the ensuing months and years that followed I offered him any help and advice that I could.
Many years later this Omega watch, a copy of A Time Capsule – Omega Speedmaster (by Kesharu Imai, it is the story of the first watch in outer space), and a very special letter showed up at my house as a gift from my friend.
Every time I wear this watch, it reminds me how rewarding it is to be kind and helpful to people around you, both personally and professionally.
Quick Facts Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Limited Edition
Case: 42 mm x 14.3 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Omega Caliber 1861 (base Lémania Caliber 1873)
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
Limitation: 2,005 pieces
Original price in 2005: $3,195
Breitling Reference 181 from about 1947
I entered the watch industry in 1999, just after my passion for watches had started. In 2014, my uncle was renovating my grandparents’ house and this very special watch surfaced.
It is the timepiece that my mother and her siblings remember Grandpa wearing for most of his life until he passed away in 1976. He had originally purchased it new for himself upon returning from service in the U.S. navy.
My uncle thought it fitting that I be the heir to this timepiece. I could only agree.
Quick Facts Breitling Reference 181
Case: 32 mm x 10 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Venus Caliber 170
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
Sinn 757 Diapal UTC Chronograph
Sometimes the best gifts to give are the ones when there is no particular reason other than to say, “I appreciate you.” This is the case with this Sinn 757 Diapal.
Joe had been a client of mine for many years and had become a very good friend. While at work one day I received a text from him asking me to unlock my car, which I did without question because Joe owns a vineyard and would often drop off a bottle or even a case for me to share with friends.
This time, instead of wine he left me this watch!
I called him, told him he was nuts, and attempted to refuse the gift. He insisted and said, “It’s just a thank you for always being there.”
Quick Facts Sinn 757 Diapal UTC Chronograph
Case: 43 mm x 15.5 mm, tegimented stainless steel (tegiment is a special process that makes the steel harder)
Movement: automatic ETA Valjoux 7750 with Diapal (lubrication-free) escapement
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph, second time zone
Price: €3,070 as shown, including taxes
Remark: 5-year factory guarantee
Bulova Accutron quartz day-date circa 1980
Equally as precious to me as the aforementioned Breitling is this Accutron.
It was originally given to my paternal grandfather (aka Pop-Pop) on November 1, 1980 as a retirement gift after 33 years of service for the local power company.
Both this and the Breitling are go-to watches for me on special family occasions and on days when I feel like I could use a guardian angel.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive yet meaningful way to commemorate an event (like a high-school graduation) or an emotion (even just a thank you), why not try the Swatch Sistem51?
I bought this one for myself to celebrate the launch of a business venture and as a good luck charm for future success. I wear it often and it makes me think of the risks that I’ve taken to start my own business and the rewards that should undoubtedly come from it.
The next time you have the urge to give something special to someone and you want it to last much longer and have deeper meaning than, say, a lawnmower or a dispensable gadget, make it a watch.
It doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive, and the person you give it to will appreciate it and think of you every time they check to see what time it is.
If you have an heirloom watch that tells a special story, feel free to share it with us in the comments.