2018 Gift Guides

The 15 Best First Luxury Watches of 2018


December 7, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Chandler Bondurant

Buying someone their first luxury watch isn’t the most straightforward proposition in the world — there are more luxury watch brands than you can shake a stick at, and if you’re not a watch aficionado, the process can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Gear Patrol and StockX, the foremost online marketplace for pre-owned luxury timepieces, has your back. What follows is a selection from among some of the best Swiss, German and Japanese brands out there. While some of these timepieces don’t come cheap, with regular service they should all just about last forever. And that’s a difficult thing to put a price on.

Rolex GMT-Master II

While the new GMT-Master II “Pepsi” model has stolen the hearts of collectors and newbies alike, the “Batman” version with its black and blue bezel is a striking alternative, and a beautiful watch in its own right. With its chronometer-certified 3186 movement that displays a second time zone, the “Batman” is the quintessential traveler’s watch.

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Oris Big Crown Pointer Date

With a gorgeous blue dial, a perfectly proportioned 40mm case and a stainless steel bracelet, the Big Crown Pointer Date is the perfect update of a classic timepiece. The “pointer date” is an elegant, alternative way to display a date, and this is truly one of the best executions of the complication.

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Doxa Sub 1200T Professional 1200T PRO

If you’re looking for a serious watch for the water, you can’t do much better than a Doxa. The Sub 1200T exudes 1960s charm with its orange dial and patented decompression time bezel, making this the ultimate diver’s timepiece. Of course, if you don’t dive, the 1200T is perfectly suited to the beach, as well.

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Bell and Ross Aviation BR0392-BL-ST

Bell & Ross’s bread and butter is building watches inspired by the world of aviation, and the aircraft gauge-themed BR0392-BL-ST is a case in point: the square-shaped, stainless steel case, stark black dial and white-tipped sword hands exude a military-themed cool in which form always follows function.

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Tudor Black Bay GMT

Having caused quite a stir upon its release, the Black Bay GMT made the aesthetics and functionality of the famed Rolex GMT Master line available at a significantly lower price point. With its beautiful dual-color bezel, rivet-style bracelet and in-house, chronometer-certified movement, the Black Bay GMT is hard not to love.

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Nomos Zurich 806

The Nomos Zurich 806 has won several design awards, and it’s not difficult to see why. With its complex case geometry, simple, Bauhaus design language, easily legible dial and in-house Epsilon automatic movement, the Zurich is a watch that exudes timelessness through restraint and class. A true “watch guy’s” watch.

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Breitling Superocean Heritage

Based on a model first released in 1957, the Superocean Heritage packs a lot of watch into 42mm, including a scratchproof ceramic bezel, steel mesh bracelet, steel case with water resistance down to 200m, and a chronometer-certified, in-house automatic movement.

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Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

One of the most iconic wristwatches of all time, the Omega Speedmaster is the watch that accompanied American astronauts to the moon. The modern Speedmaster Professional harkens back to the late 1960s models with its Hesalite acrylic crystal, manually-wound 1861 movement and 42mm case.

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Tag Heuer Monaco CAW2111

A motosports icon, the Monaco is perhaps most famous for its association with famed actor Steve McQueen, but the original version stands on its own in horological circles for having featured the first automatic chronograph movement. This modern update features the Calibre 12 movement and a beautiful blue dial.

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Cartier Tank Americaine Large

The Cartier Tank embodies the idea of elegance perhaps better than any other watch design, but some men find the original case proportions a bit small by modern standards. The Americaine Large has a bigger, elongated 26mm by 45mm case and an automatic movement, bringing this classic timepiece firmly into the 21st century.

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Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake

Featuring Seiko’s unique Spring Drive hybrid movement as well as a titanium case and bracelet and a 72-hour power reserve, the Spring Drive Snowflake is proof that Japanese watchmakers make some of the best values in high-end timepieces, a playing field once dominated by Swiss and German firms.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Originally developed so that polo players could prevent damage to their watches, the Reverso is so called due to its reversible dial, one side of which features the watch itself while the second side is blank and can be personally engraved. A version with a manually-winding movement retains the vintage charm of the original.

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Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio

With a classic 1950s cushion case, patented crown protection device and in-house movement, the PAM00372 is a modern iteration of a tool watch icon. Though the 47mm case diameter won’t work for everyone, if you can pull it off, you’ll be wearing one of the coolest designs in the history of dive watches.

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IWC Portofino Hand-Wound 8 Days

Wristwatches with 8-day power reserves are impressive on their own, but finding one that pairs a beautifully finished, in-house movement with an elegant dial available in multiple colors is a truly difficult proposition. IWC, however, which has been crafting watches for 150 years, has clearly delivered.

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Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Alright, so maybe this is a tad heavy-duty for a First Luxury Watch, but go big or go home, right? With a 37-jewel movement, interchangeable bracelet and strap system and 150 meters of water resistance, the Overseas may be a luxury timepiece, but it’s also a robust travel companion that’s available in multiple configurations.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide