How to find the perfect watch this Father's Day

Watch Pilot - Baume & Mercier Men's Black Clifton Watch - £2,740
Credit: Baume & Mercier Men's Black Clifton Watch

The founder and CEO of Watch Pilot, Tim Harrison, tells us how to find the perfect watch this Father's Day.

How can you ensure that you are buying the correct size when looking for your father/ father figure?
There are two aspects of watch size to consider when you’re buying a Father’s Day gift. The first is his wrist size and whether he’s got narrower or larger wrists. Most watch straps can be adjusted to fit, but if he’s at either end of the spectrum you can help yourself as a buyer. If he’s slimmer, go for a leather or fabric strap that can be more easily adjusted. If he’s 6ft 5” and built like a rugby player, he may need extra links in a bracelet strap or something with a bit of flexibility like rubber.

Secondly, there’s the size of the actual watch face, which is measured in millimetres. There’s no ‘official’ number that distinguishes a man’s watch from a woman’s watch, but you could say the typical unisex range is 34mm-40mm. The most popular men’s size is around 42mm-42mm, but some can go as large as 59mm! To make the right decision, you’ve got to consider his stature and his personal tastes. A watch shouldn’t look like it’s swallowing the arm whole, but there’s nothing wrong with making a statement either. Finding that balance is key for the ideal Father’s Day gift.

Finally, you’re going to want to think about the heft of the watch you’re buying. Some are streamlined and sit flush against the wrist, whereas others are chunky, robust and have an outdoor adventurer vibe. Is he wearing this new watch to the office or to climb a mountain? Basing your decisions on lifestyle can really help to narrow down your options.

What should you consider when deciding the style of watch to gift for Father’s Day?
Turn the tables and think about all the thoughts that would run through your head if you were buying for yourself. You’d filter your search by size, colour, shape, and style. You’d probably also think about when and how you were going to wear the watch, what occasions it suits, and whether you’re going to stick with a classic aesthetic like the Herbelin Classic Men's White Watch or choose something fashion-forward like the Hamilton Ventura Quartx Men's Black Watch. Now channel everything you know about the man in your life into these same questions. What would be want for himself? Or maybe the better question is, what would he never buy for himself, but you know he will love?

If he is particularly interested in cars, engines, and tinkering with moving parts, there’s something intriguing about an automatic watch with a complicated inner movement. He may appreciate a chronographGMT or day-date complication to add a bit of extra personality and functionality to a piece. There are no rules to buying a watch for Father’s Day, but we always recommend factoring some research time into your buying process. A spur of the moment, last-minute decision could mean you end up making the wrong choice.

Watch Pilot - TW Steel Men's Brown Ace Genesis Watch - £1099
Credit: TW Steel Men_s Brown Ace Genesis Watch

How important is the shape of the watch?
round watch is the ultimate classic. That doesn’t mean it’s always a safe choice though. A round case can be jacked with a unique crown set-up, an oversized bezel or a rugged set of lugs. Round is the most common and will therefore provide you with the most choice for a Father’s Day gift. However, we’ve always been big fans of rectangular and square watches at WatchPilot, especially the ‘squoval’ shaped pieces that have curved sides (like an oval shape) but a more geometric upper and lower edge to the dial (like a rectangle). Hamilton, HerbelinFrederique ConstantRado and Baume & Mercier can all offer some great alternative case shapes. Another popular one is the octagonal case that was really launched into the stratosphere by Audemars Piguet. Other brands have followed suit, including Spinnaker and Casio G-Shock, to name a few.

Our advice would be to focus less on shape in the initial stages of your watch search and more on overall style. For example, there’s a work-appropriate classic dress watch, an outdoor-inspired watch with a military aesthetic, pilot’s watches, diver’s style watches… we could go on. Thinking this way will help you focus on a watch category, and within that you can choose round, square, rectangular, oval or ‘squoval’ depending on his tastes.

Would you advise buying a watch that reflects your father figure’s favourite sport, team or hobby over something classic?
The great thing about watches is they can be anything you want them to be: a reminder of a moment in time, a fashion statement or a daily essential. If your father has a passion for something specific, especially physical activities like running, swimming or golf, there are fitness smartwatches ideally suited to their needs. If you think outside the box, you can match the colour of a watch to their favourite sports team or reflect their interest in military history with a vintage-inspired army field or pilot's watch. And let's not forget fully functioning diver's watches for scuba diving enthusiasts or beautifully decorated moonphases for anyone interested in the night sky.

Watch Pilot - TW Steel Men's Black Ace Genesis Watch - £846
Credit: TW Steel Men_s Black Ace Genesis Watch

The question is, do you tap into this unique personal interest or choose a classic watch? I suggest toeing the line between both and combining a deeply personal feature, colour or complication with a traditional shape and silhouette, such as a round case and clean stainless steel bracelet strap. That way, you are acknowledging what makes your loved one special without risking a 'novelty' purchase that they'll only wear once a year.

Which brands would you suggest for those who are working to a very limited budget but want a watch that will stand the test of time?
One of the brilliant things about watches is that there’s an option if you have £150 to spend or £1,500. Some brands have nailed the balance between high quality, unique design and surprisingly affordable price points. Let’s start with Mondaine, a great Swiss watch brand with a definitive sense of style. At around £200, these quartz watches have all the hallmarks of a great Father’s Day gift. Casio has retro watch models that start at just £30, while the Casio G-Shock range has rugged and sporty options for the outdoorsman comfortably under £250.

If you’re looking in the sub-£1,000 bracket, I can recommend some good places to start your search. The Hamilton Khaki Field Murph men’s watch is a bestseller, and it’s not hard to see why. For around £800, you get a Swiss-made automatic with an 80-hour power reserve, a subtle vintage aesthetic, a timeless colour palette, and a great backstory… it’s the watch worn by Matthew McConaughey in the movie Interstellar. At a similar price, there’s the popular U-Boat range that includes the Capsoil and Darkmoon models. These watches are filled with oil between the dial and the domed crystal glass, which makes the hands look like they are floating. Models range from around £900 to around £2,000, so there’s budget flexibility built in.

Watch Pilot - Baume & Mercier Men's Hampton Blue Watch  - £1,570
Credit: Baume & Mercier Men's Hampton Blue Watch

What style would you suggest for the father, who doesn’t usually wear a watch?
It’s not an easy transition to go from never wearing a watch, to suddenly strapping one to your wrist every day. There are two schools of thought: go for something timeless and daytime appropriate to kickstart a new passion for watches he didn’t know he had or opt for a special occasion piece he’ll feel proud to wear at weddings, parties and big important meetings. Style is subjective, but you can’t go wrong with an impeccable diver’s watch or a stainless steel bracelet strap with a blue dial. Almost every brand you can think of will have something like this in their repertoire, which means you’ve got a spectrum of prices to choose from. If he’s more of a traditionalist, go down the brown leather strap route with a sleek white or off-white dial. Again, most brands will offer something in this vein.

My advice is simple. Don’t choose anything too oversized, ostentatiously colourful, or experimental for a man who’s never worn a watch before. Stick to the classics. After all, there’s a reason some styles are perennially popular.

What makes a watch the perfect gift for Father’s Day?
A watch is a sentimental choice for Father’s Day. Choose your gift perfectly, and he will potentially have it strapped to his wrist for decades and pass it down to the next generation. Watches are an accessible choice, too; they’re available at all prices, in all shapes, sizes, colours and styles. Father’s Day has a bad rep for gifting. Often the joke is that all men receive slippers, socks, aftershave or novelty items that kids have cobbled together. But a watch is a thoughtful and more mature gift that can say a whole lot more than words. It can demonstrate how much your father or father figure is appreciated and valued. So there isn’t much better than that.

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