Shopping for the perfect gift to celebrate a recent college grad can be tricky. After all, every graduate’s plans after college seem to vary – some will start their careers immediately while others will tackle additional educational opportunities or take time off to travel. With all these different scenarios in mind, it can be tough to find a worthwhile present. Fortunately, there is one gift that transcends age, gender, interests, and future plans while perfectly symbolizing this period of change in one’s life – a watch. A reliable and classic watch will help set a college graduate up for success, no matter what their future in the real world may hold.
To help in your search for a nice watch for graduation, we turned to Teddy Baldassarre, host of a YouTube channel about watches with 285,000 subscribers and founder of TeddyBaldassarre.com. He put together a comprehensive list of the best graduation watches for young men and women, covering a variety of styles and price points in ascending order. Continue reading to check out the complete list!
Whether you are shopping for yourself or someone else, don’t feel the need to overspend on a watch for someone coming right out of college. Understand there are amazing watches at reasonable prices that are made to last. When it comes to an accomplishment like college graduation, it is important to mark that special occasion with something that can outlast the typical items of our increasingly disposable world.
Top Graduation Watches for Young Men:
Citizen watches offer some of the most worry-free wearing experiences out there due to their affordable prices and their use of Eco-Drive, Citizen’s proprietary movements that use solar power to oscillate the high accuracy quartz within. With their Eco-Drive movements, Citizen watches do not use a traditional battery like many quartz watches on the market do. Instead, they can be charged by either artificial or natural light and will run continuously on a full charge for months before needing light again. Simply put, Citizen watches are an obvious choice for someone seeking a solid watch for a reasonable price.
When it comes to entry-level watches from Switzerland, Tissot is at the head of the pack. Since the launch of their new Gentleman models, these watches have quickly become top-sellers for their do-it-all approach in both specifications and design. You can choose from a variety of dial colors and a more affordable quartz option, as well as a more expensive automatic version. A versatile choice, this watch will look great whether working in the office or spending a casual day by the pool.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Like our previous two entries, Hamilton watches are some of the best value you will find on the market. The line that is perhaps the most synonymous with the brand’s history is their Khaki collection. Hamilton was headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, until 1969, before moving their production overseas to Switzerland. During this period in the mid 20th century, they built their reputation around military-issued field watches that became popular with military personnel. This proud part of the brand’s history is best represented by the Khaki Mechanicals, which feature a wearable stainless steel case, an 80-hour power reserve, versatile looks, and a manual wind caliber to stay in alignment with its roots. With all that said, you could make the argument that this is the best Swiss watch you can find for around $500.
NOMOS Club Campus
It is only fitting that we include the NOMOS Club Campus when putting together a graduation watch list considering it was a watch made for this exact circumstance. With a youthful and clean design, the NOMOS Club Campus has been a bestseller for the brand, offering an excellent entry door to experiencing this manufacturer. NOMOS is now the leading manufacturer in Germany when it comes to total units produced, and they are also industry leaders in the development of their own in-house components. The NOMOS Club features their Alpha Manual caliber that’s inspired by the ETA 7001 architecture but is constructed using NOMOS’ components to be completely vertically integrated with their production, a feat seldom reached in watchmaking. The technical backstory aside, these watches also offer a great wearing experience, featuring 100 meters of water resistance, making them suitable for swimming, and are a piece that will last for decades to come.
OMEGA Aqua Terra
Now, I will be the first to admit that it might be a stretch to mention this watch as a graduation gift given its price tag, but it is such a standout that it could be your only watch for the rest of your life. The Aqua Terra is a member of the famous Seamaster family of watches from OMEGA but deviates from the dive watch undertones typically associated with the collection. Instead, it offers a capable everyday watch ready to take on any scenario. The Aqua Terra comes with a healthy water resistance rating of 150 meters, a Co-Axial and METAS certified movement that undergoes some of the industry’s strictest testing standards. This watch offers unmatched versatility with its timeless steel bracelet and blue dial, transitioning seamlessly from a casual watch to a dress watch.
Top Graduation Watches for Young Women:
As previously stated, Tissot is very much a leader in the entry-level price category. Despite Tissot’s overall recognition as a watch brand, an underrated collection from them is their Carson series. This Carson watch offers a balance of dressy undertones with casual utility that can be paired with a variety of outfits. Powering the watch is a reliable Swiss-made quartz movement that will offer peace of mind to its wearer. Bottom line, this watch is an excellent choice for someone just jumping into the world of Swiss-made timepieces for the first time.
Michele Deco Madison
Michele watches offer an excellent alternative for those looking for elegance without the sometimes pretentious connotations of high-end brands. Offering reasonable prices and classic designs with a splash of flair, Fossil Group brand Michele is one of the best choices for a women’s watch that will transition into a more formal office environment. Inspired by trailblazers in this type of design, such as the Cartier Tank, Michele exhibits a contemporary take on an Art Deco design formula that has achieved a level of timelessness rarely seen.
Longines Conquest Mother of Pearl
When it comes to historically rich brands with an overabundance of prestige, Longines is undoubtedly involved in the conversation. With a mix of vintage-inspired and purpose-built timepieces in their collection, there are many directions one could go when looking at the brand. The Conquest collection is one of Longines best endeavors, offering a nice middle ground of style and utility. With this Mother of Pearl model, the star of the show is without question the dial, exhibiting a striking dial surface that will grab attention without being overly flashy.
NOMOS has always done an excellent job developing an inclusive catalog of watches for both men and women. As a microcosm of this idea, their Orion collection does precisely that with their many editions. NOMOS is very much known for its fusion of avant-garde ideas with inspiration from the Bauhaus School of Design in their lines. The Orion, in general, is a testament to this approach given its minimalistic dial, offering just what is required while not cutting corners. Leaning into a more contemporary form of elegance with a leather strap and a very thin case due to the NOMOS Alpha Manual caliber within, this is one of my favorite watches out there. In fact, I am the proud owner of a larger version of the NOMOS Orion myself.
When I think of timeless design in luxury watches, Cartier is one of the first watch designers that comes to mind, specifically the Cartier Tank watch. Arising from the golden area of Art Deco Design and being a watch favored by countless celebrities to British royalty, its legend does not require much further explanation. Available in a variety of sizes, the more cost-friendly Tank is a no-brainer for someone looking for a classic, dressy watch that, quite frankly, sets the standard for the rectangular case and Roman numeral markers.
If you need help picking out the perfect watch or finding another great graduation gift, one of our experts would be happy to assist you. Call 1.800.642.4438 during store hours to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales associates.