A Watch to Pass On to Your Son

The fact that you get to wear it in the meantime is gravy.

Illustration: Mickey Duzyj

If you wear a watch at all, there’s a good chance you spent your post-college years with something your parents bought you: maybe a quartz number from TAG, or a Rolex if you’re one of the lucky ones. But now it’s time to start thinking about the future—a future that may well involve a son of your own. And while you could wait till said offspring has graduated from college to buy him a timepiece, there’s another option: Pick one up now in order to make sure it’s properly broken in by the time the (possibly-imaginary) chip off the ol’ block actually graduates.

If there’s a better rationalization for spending serious money on an automatic watch, we’d like to hear it.

So, what to look for. Instead of bling, obsess over craftsmanship. With a fine mechanical-movement watch, you are getting more than a time-telling device. You are getting hundreds of years of horological history and countless man-hours in one tidy 40mm package. A watch from Girard-Perregaux, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, IWC, or one of a handful of other brands in the Jura Valley, the heart of haute horlogerie, represents a tremendous amount of skilled labor: even a simple mechanical movement includes over 20 jewels, combined to make a mechanism that’s only a centimeter thick, and that only represents a small fraction of a high-end watch’s thousand-part guts. (Be sure to explain all this to Junior if he tries to suggest that the watch you’re giving is a form of outmoded technology.) The watchmaker is a solitary sort, patient and exacting. Each watch is a marvel in miniature, a testament to all that man can achieve with an eyeglass, nimble fingers and time. Sure, a quality timepiece costs a pretty penny, but what you are passing onto your son is not just a time-telling device but a timeless lesson, provided he’s able to pry it from your grasp.

Ben Clymer is the founder and editor of, a website devoted to the appreciation of fine watches.

Check back Friday, May 12th at noon ET, as Mr. Clymer’s latest Gilt MAN Finds: Vintage Watches sale goes live.

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  1. William says:

    This article makes little sense, especially since it’s associated with a discount site. I love Gilt and I love this article, but together it just kind of doesn’t make sense. Buying a patek? I like the sales on Gilt, not a 30K credit card debt from a watch.

  2. Roy says:

    “Ben Clymer is the founder and editor of, a website devoted to the appreciation of fine watches.”

    William, I do agree somewhat with the statement you have made, yet the “sense” in the post is not centralized in the “cents”. The main conveyance I assume is for thoes of us that have children an take pride in our collections, to pass that pride along ot our sequel’s (so to speak). My son will most certainly recieve the Omega Seamaster Automatic 1971 edition. But the Nooka’s and the Nixons will be for the girls.

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  4. Gautam says:

    I tend to agree that it seems a little inconsistent for Gilt to recommend Pateks and then sell $150 quartz watches on its site. Additionally, showcasing some actual, featured watches in this article would have been nice, as opposed to just mentioning brands.

  5. David says:

    I think the previous commenters are a bit off base. Ben Clymer’s description of the ‘heirloom’ watch and the sentiments associated with handing-down a timepiece from father to son makes perfect sense. While these comments are accurate in noting that GiltMan doesn’t usually sell the types of watches Ben is talking about, GiltMan has had a Raymond Weil sale or two that I would argue does fit the bill. Just because this is a GiltMan guide to men’s style doesn’t mean they have to sell everything endorsed by their contributors.

  6. Allan says:

    I’m with the above. While I appreciate the article this is a discount site..don’t over reach. As an owner of a Rolex and and IWC I do appreciate the article though with the sentiment of “passing it along to my evil seed” at some point in time.

  7. Randy says:

    if you have to put 30k on a credit card to buy a watch, then you should not buy the watch. the watch is to be a legacy you want to pass down, credit card debt is a curse! We all have a different read on the article, I see it more from the family timepiece side of things, not so much telling me what to buy.

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  9. scott says:

    The idea of the passing to the son is not new. I have had my Submariner for a few years now, and it will be my son’s one day. And, I hope at some point, he will pass it down. I think it makes for a great tradition. And, he will have something of “me” with him.

  10. Brian says:

    There is no rationalization for buying an expensive watch other than you want the watch. If you want to do your kid a favor, put the thirty grand into a college fund.

  11. Kazimieras says:

    As a kid, who’s wearing his grandfathers watch, I wish he had read it before he got this one. Though the history is still fun to think about.

  12. Jorge says:

    @ Brian: Amen! You gotta love rampant consumerism.

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