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Recent grads will probably be hooked to their phones and other various technology for the rest of their life. A watch is a ticket to disconnect. You can go off on your own but know when to be back. Dads could use some unplugged time as well. And seeing those seconds physically tick by on your/his wrist might be a good reminder to really appreciate every moment. Afterall, Father Time is undefeated. Congrats to the grads, and kudos to the dads who didn’t just procreate, but are also working hard to be great fathers.


Timex Weekender 38mm Watch – $35ish

Timex Weekender 38mm Watch

Simple, cheap, and versatile. The model that basically re-launched Timex as a more fashionable brand some 15 years ago. 38mm dial diameter with a 20mm strap width. Know that the Weekender models are infamous for making a louder than average “TICK” sound with each snap of their seconds hand. It drives some people absolutely bonkers. But if you’re good with that, then it’s a cheap (very cheap) winner. The Timex Weekender is light, fun, and does its one job well: It tells the time.


Casio 200m Diver in Black, Blue, Green, etc. – $50 – $65

Casio 200m Diver

Review can be found here. Shown above on an aftermarket strap. Mentioned a lot on this site, and for good reason. Rolex looks on a top-ramen budget. For about $50 you get 200m of water resistance, a stainless steel case, and a rotating bezel which feels much more expensive than many other watches in the under $100 category. Even the stock rubber strap that it comes on is decent (soft-ish, not rigid plastic). Beat it up. It can take it. Lots of color variations to pick from.


Invicta Pro Diver 1953 Automatic – $127.99

Full review here. The new entry-level automatic dive watch standard. 40mm diameter is wearable by the vast majority. Seiko NH35A automatic movement hacks/hand-winds. 200m water resistance, screw down crown, fully brushed bracelet, and an exhibition case-back. And unlike the previous entry-level go-to (Invicta’s Sumariner homage) there’s no tacky logo engraved on the side. (That was a huge compromise with their cheap-sub imitator.) This one looks clean, classy, and is nice and comfortable to wear. Versatile too, as it can be worn with everything from a t-shirt and shorts, to a suit and dress shoes.


Timex Waterbury Classic Chronograph – $149

Classy with the white/black and roman numerals, but interesting because it’s a chronograph. 40mm diameter should be wearable by the vast majority. Link above goes to Amazon (in case you need it fast) but it’ll sometimes be included in the occasional 20% off sale direct through Timex.


Timex 40mm Marlin Moonphase (quartz) – $169

For those with their eyes on the night sky. It’s a dress watch of course, but that pusher at 2 o’clock (which controls the month function), three sub dials, and of course the moon phase, combine to make it anything but simple. Another really nice, new release from Timex.


Orient Ray II Automatic – $175ish

There might not be a better bang-for-the-buck diver on the market. Automatic movement that hacks and hand winds. 200m water resistance. 120 click bezel helps keep track of elapsed time. Classic dive-watch looks. Not everyone will like the shined up inserts on the bracelet, but it’s more subtle than many other competitors. Reviewed here.


Orient Bambino V3 “Bauhaus” Automatic – $175ish

Orient Bambino V3

Full review here. Looks substantially more expensive than its accessible price point. Simplicity. Lots of clean space. Domed crystal. In-house, automatic movement. Maybe the best looking under-$200 dress watch on the market. There’s just one small problem (for some). It’s 41mm. Which will fit most wrists just fine, but for those with slimmer wrists or those who prefer more classically sized dress watches, it runs a little big. Also, the strap width is a rare/odd 21mm width, which can make sourcing after market straps a little difficult. But the matte brown leather band it comes on looks great, feels good, and wears just fine.


Q Timex 1978 Day/Date 37.5 mm Green Dial – $179

Not as versatile as the old, out of production 1978. But great looking all the same. And dashes of color are certainly on trend right now. Deep green dial. Tonneau shaped case. Black croc-embossed style leather band.


Orient Bambino 38mm – $183 – $270

A long awaited, slightly sized down version of Orient’s hugely popular Bambino line of dress watches. 38mm case diameter. 20mm lug width. Exhibition caseback shows off the in-house automatic movement that has up to 40 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Thanks to the eventual proliferation to Amazon, prices have started to come down. Silver option shown above, but the champagne dial with blue hands will catch plenty of eyes too.


Timex Legacy Tonneau 42mm – $219

For the Dad who has driving gloves in the glove box. 1970’s style. Tonneau shaped case with grooved sides. Chronograph so he can time his laps… even if it’s up and down the aisles at Costco. OUTTA THE WAY PEOPLE. DADDY NEEDS A NEW GALLON OF MUSTARD.


Orient Bambino Small Seconds Automatic – $200-$225

One of the classiest designs Orient has come out with. Everything you’d expect from a Bambino. Simple dial. Domed crystal. And with these models, that perfectly proportioned and placed small seconds sub dial. Silver option shown above, while a full review of the champagne dial can be found here.


Seiko 5 Sports SRPE Automatic  – $240ish (depending on sales)

Seiko 5 Sports SRPE

Review here. Well executed simplicity. Diameter is a sporty but not enormous 40mm. It has a nice wrist presence but should look proportional on most wrists. The lack of a rotating dive bezel gives it a more subtle, almost field-watch like look. Sides of the case are polished but the top facing areas are brushed, which keeps any unnecessary glare and gleam down. Nice dial, great hands and indices, and (obviously) an in-house Seiko automatic movement beating inside. Doesn’t look cheap. Doesn’t feel cheap. And all of the little details add up to an impressive package.


Seiko 5 Sports Dive Style Automatic – $250ish (depending on sales)

Seiko 5- Sports Dive Style Automatic

Full review can be found here, and you can see it featured in our double time series here as well as here. The Seiko 5 Sports dive-style is basically a baby Planet Ocean for a measly 3%-4% of the P.O.’s price. It’s easy to read, it feels rugged and well built, and the 42.5mm case brings some tool-watch “presence”, yet should wear great for most. The exhibition caseback shows off the hacking, hand-winding, Japanese-made 4R36 movement. Bracelet is terrific with its comfortable, brushed links (just the edges are polished) which avoids the jangly/overly-intricate/shiny “jewelry” look. 100m resistance is plenty, and while the crown doesn’t screw down, it feels incredibly solid. You have to play the sale game, but Macy’s and Kohl’s will run codes and promos every so often that drops these watches down to the mid $200s.


38mm Seiko SRPK 5 Sports Dive Style Automatic Watches – $260 ($325)

38mm Seiko SRPK 5 Sports Dive Style Automatic Watches

They’re here. Limited US based retailers have these on hand and on sale… but they’re here. This is the sized down version of the (just mentioned) 42.5mm 5KX / SRPD line. If you find those a bit too chunky for your wrist, then here’s your alternative. These are 38mm in diameter with a slimmed down 12.1mm thickness (1.3mm thinner than the SRPD). You can find the official specs here via Seiko, but the link above goes to Teddy Baldassare’s retail website, where they have them on sale and with a Manufacturer’s Warranty.


Timex Marlin Automatic 40mm Brown Sunburst – $259

Timex is on a serious hot streak when it comes to their mid-century looking dress watches. Automatic movement on this one. Those black backgrounds behind the numerals + the lighter brown sunburst dial = all kinds of “right.”


Orient Kamasu Automatic Diver – $270ish

Sleek, a little mean looking, and there’s some toothiness to it. All combined into a medium sized (41.8mm diameter) package and swimming at a price that’s nowhere near luxury-brand “whale” territory. In-house automatic movement. Available in multiple colors including cool-green shown above. Full review here.


Dan Henry 1937 Dress Chronograph – $270

Dan Henry 1937 Dress Chronograph

Dan Henry is a brand that takes the good looks of watches from the past, then re-packages those styles in affordable timepieces for today. And they nailed this 1937 chrono. Art Deco inspired looks. 38mm case size. Tachymeter around the outer edge of the dial. Quick change leather straps. Seiko VK61 mecha-quartz movement, so you get the snappy feel of a mechanical movement at the pushers, with the reliability and affordability of a quartz chronograph. Available in a few different color combos, but the silver shown above with the sub dials at 12 and 6 really is something. Also shown at the very, very top of this post.


Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive – $251 ($299)

Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive

Classic pilot watch styling, a GMT hand (so you can tell the time across separate time zones), and an E6B circular slide rule. Yes, a slide rule. Movement is Citizen’s very popular, very accurate, solar powered quartz Eco-Drive movement. The Nighthawk also features one of the best bracelets you can find on a watch under $500. It has solid end-links, and a very secure precision machined clasp with a diver’s safety on it.


Seiko “Cocktail Time” Automatic – $425

A favorite of watch aficionados, this is the one with an almost iridescent blueish-silver dial. Case size is a pleasing for many 40.5mm, and the movement hacks and hand winds. The hands and indices look razor sharp, the case back is an exhibition style showing off the 23-jewel movement, and the slightly tapered crown has a classically styled Seiko “S” etched into it. But it’s the band that’s a deal breaker for some of us. Sure it’s pliable leather with a soft underside, and the blue accent stitching is neat, but the topside is a glossy almost patent leather. It’s easy to see what they’re going for here, but it just doesn’t do the piece justice. Looks like something they stole off a pair of 10 year-old’s dance class tap shoes. Yet a strap change-out is simple enough. Go with a black croc style embossed instead.


Seiko GMT Automatic in Black/Gray or Blue/Black – $475

Review here. Diameter is a sporty 42.5mm (which wears more like 41mm), it has 100m of water resistance, and the caseback is an exhibition style so you can see the workings of the GMT movement. Movement hacks and hand winds, and while the crown doesn’t screw down, it feels nice and secure in the seated, waterproof position. Be patient, keep an eye out (we’ll do our best for you too), and you could score one for 20% – 25% off at an authorized dealer.


Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic NY0129-58L – $279.42 ($475)

It’s a Citizen, it’s got an automatic movement, it has a 200m water resistance rating, and that blue textured dial is something else. This is the same model that during last autumn’s “Prime Day 2” event, Amazon was requiring people to sign up to have a chance to get it on sale. Granted, it was at a limited time lower price ($199), but since then, the blue dial option (by far the most desirable) has been stuck pretty close to if not at full MSRP. It has finally gone on significant sale thanks to the Amazon pricing robots. Fratello got an in person look a couple months back and… wait, does this thing come with an on-the-fly micro adjustment? Or something like that acting as a diver’s extension?


Lorier Neptune SIV – $499 (currently out of stock)

Full review here. Can you give a grad or dad an IOU for a watch that won’t be ready to ship for a couple of months? Seems a little weird, but if it’s the Lorier Neptune it could still be very, very well appreciated all the same. It’s arguably the best bang for the buck + best looking watch under five hundred bucks. 39mm case diameter leans classic but not tiny. Details like the big arrow hour hand and sizable crown are details gently borrowed from watches 10x its cost. Looks great on a NATO too.


Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm – $595

Another one for the outdoorsy/leans casual/rugged fellas. A classic field watch like this certainly does say “take me outside, please.” 38mm in diameter. Manual wind mechanical movement. 80 hour, yes 80 hour power reserve when fully wound. Full review here.


Baltic Bicompax 002 Mechanical Chronograph Watch – $580 – $610*

Full review here. Looks amazing, and if the Grad or Dad you’re shopping for (even if it’s you, especially if it’s you…) loves mechanical watches AND loves chronographs… then you know sticking to a realistic budget is difficult. Baltic is the answer when the question is “what’s a good looking mechanical chronograph for under a grand?”

*Note: Since Baltic is a French company that assembles and ships their watches from France, their prices are listed in Euros. So prices can fluctuate due to exchange rates. Also, it’s available with a closed caseback, or an exhibition caseback for an additional 25 euros.


Lorier Hydra GMT SIII – $599

Full review here. Does everything and looks great as it does all the things. GMT function but has the body and bezel of a dive watch. Dive bezel for quick timekeeping jobs. 200m water resistance. Made in Japan Miyota 9075 automatic movement. 41mm diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, 12.2mm case thickness + 2.4mm dome crystal, 20mm lug width. Should be easy to wear by most. Has some nice (but not overwhelming) wrist presence.


Baltic Aquascaphe Automatic – $630ish

Full review here. The Baltic Aquascaphe is the rare social media favorite which actually lives up to the hype. Assembled in France, powered by one of Miyota’s hacking and hand-windable premium automatic movements (9039), and sized in a pleasing to many 39mm diameter. The total package combines for a less-fortunate (but still quite fortunate) man’s version of the Omega Seamaster 300. Base price gets you the watch and a tropic rubber strap. If you want a flat link bracelet it’ll cost you an additional 80 euros. And know that the bracelet has brushed center links, but the links on the edges are polished. That’ll be a little too flashy for some tastes. Some of us are “all brushed or nothing” when it comes to watch bracelets. It also looks really, really good on a NATO strap.

*Note: Since Baltic is a French company that assembles and ships their watches from France, their prices are listed in Euros. Thus, the “ish” in the price shown above. 


Seiko Speedtimer SSC813 – $675

Full review here. Panda-dial racing good looks. Dependable, super accurate, solar-powered quartz movement. Build quality is really impressive. It just feels good on your wrist. Not flimsy. Not rickety. It’s solid. Also looks great on a leather strap (standard, perforated rally, “bund” strap, etc.) Can sometimes drop to just north of $500 with the random code or promo at Macy’s.


Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic 38 or 42mm – $695

If the recipient prefers to dress casually most of the time, then this is a watch he could wear almost every day. Rugged. Dependable. Brown leaning tan strap pops next to that black dial. Terrific feel to the construction and finish.


Tissot Gentleman Automatic – $795

Hard to get more classic than that. 40mm case diameter is wearable by most. Swiss made. Automatic movement has 80(!) hours of power reserve when fully wound. According to the official Tissot site, strap has quick-release pins. That means if/when you acquire a black strap (also with quick release pins) you can have this as your one and only dress watch, since changing out straps on the fly to match brown or black dress shoes will be easy. Ships and returns free via Nordstrom.


Nodus Contrail GMT Automatic – $825

GMT watches are clearly having quite the “moment.” Post-pandemic travel might be slowing down, but having a watch on your wrist that has that extra hand pointing to some far-flung time zone (or to a “home” timezone if you truly are on the road) has an undeniable adventurous feel to it. That and they just look cool. The new Contrail GMT from Nodus is bold, but also modern and slick. And the in-clasp on the fly micro-adjustment system is awesome. Four colors to choose from. Standby for a full in-person review in the not too terribly distant future.


Mido Belluna Royal Automatic – $840

Swiss made, cushion shaped case, “guilloche” sunray stamped dial, and an exhibition caseback that shows off an automatic movement with an 80 hour power reserve. That’s quite a bit of watch for six hundred to eight hundred bucks.


Hamilton Murph 38mm – $895 w/ an aftermarket UNCLE “Senator” Bracelet – $99

Hot dog what a combination. For fans of the movie Interstellar and/or science and science fiction. The Murph is “a faithful recreation” of the watch that appeared in the movie on the wrist of main character Murph. With the word “Eureka” printed in Morse code in lacquer on the seconds hand. Comes stock on a leather strap, but picking up the aftermarket oyster-style bracelet from UNCLE Straps would be a really, really nice bonus for the Giftee. The Murph + Brushed Stainless Oyster-style bracelet is a setup that could look good with pretty much everything.


Certina 41mm Automatic DS-2 Grey Dial Diver with additional gray strap – $1040

Swiss made. Retro diver looks. Black bezel and gray dial. Quick release pins on the H-link style bracelet and also comes with an easy to swap in extra strap. Just know that the “H” links in the bracelet are actually polished, and not brushed. That’s important to know. That said, it could be the perfect “one watch collection” for someone. Whether it’s their one and only watch, or the watch they choose to wear when travelling. Pack a few extra straps (leather too) and you should be set for any and all situations. It’s easy to imagine the grey dial DS-2 working on a black leather strap and worn with a suit and black cap-toe oxfords, or a brown leather strap with jeans and sneakers. It should look good on any and all NATOs, and of course the stainless bracelet should be good to go in all conditions.


Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 300 – $1095

Christopher Ward is one of those rare brands that continues to develop their designs without destroying them with trendiness. Their flagship Trident Pro watches are slimmer and more wearable than ever, are still Swiss made with Swiss automatic movements, and boast an impressive 300m worth of water resistance. The bracelet is incredible, and the clasp even has an on-the-fly micro adjuster for maximum comfort. They ship from the UK, so you’re on the hook for import duties (which aren’t refundable in case you decide to return the thing), but at least they’re covered by a 60 month movement guarantee. Available in 38mm, 40mm, and 42mm diameters.


Also (very much) Related: 

20 Reasons to wear a watch

Everyone carries a smartphone, so why bother wearing a wristwatch? Here’s why.