Graduation Day Watches for $1k


TAG Heuer Formula 1 detail

Graduation Day 2020 is a real downer. Coronageddon killed the thrill of gathering as a class for the exodus into higher education or “the real world.” Also DOA: the tradition of giving a watch to a grad immediately after the ceremony. Still, a timepiece remains the perfect gift for that special day. Here are three graduation day watches for three basic personality types (no commission on links) . . .

Graduation day watches: the Longines Conquest V.H.P.

The Academic – Longines Conquest V.H.P.

If your grad is a grinder, their success rested on the bedrock of time management. They probably already have an Apple Watch. If they don’t, resist the temptation to buy one. The AW is not a timepiece to last a lifetime. Gift the grad a Longines Conquest V.H.P. (Very High Precision).

Longines Conquest VHP carbon fiber dial

The Longines V.H.P. is dead nuts reliable and accurate to five seconds per year. It’s comfortable, legible – both day and night – and resistant to shock and magnetic fields. If the V.H.P. is a grad’s second watch, the Longines’ “sleep mode” preserves battery life.

Longines sells the V.H.P. in multiple sizes, dial colors, complications (second time zone and stopwatch) and straps/bracelets. Confused? The Longines website has a handy watch selector.

Three-handers clock-in at a grand. Once you’ve picked a model, shop around. Contact a dealer and/or check out the gray market for discounts, ’cause they’re out there.

Graduation day watches: the TAG Heuer Formula 1

The Jock – TAG Heuer Formula One

These days, students create athletic excellence scientifically. They keep track of their nutrition, hydration, heart rate, strength, stamina and flexibility – with a smartwatch. If they don’t have one, the Garmin fēnix® 6 will git ‘er done. But . . .

I repeat: smartwatches = obsolescence. With minimal care, a traditional watch will remain functional long after the Apple Watch Series 29’s debut. A trad watch is a better reminder of your student athlete’s glory days, when they could run miles without taking four aspirin.

TAG HEUER Formula 1 caseback

A classy chronograph (stopwatch) would make an ideal gift. There are plenty of Seikos, Citizens, Timex, etc. that fit the bill for $1k and below. But TAG Heuer is a more prestigious brand, and pride is the name of this game. That and style that stands the test of time.

The Tag Heuer Formula 1 is a versatile watch – tough enough for tennis, elegant enough for evening, safe for swimming, suave for soirees. Overall, the Formula 1’s got the same look and feel as a well-made piece of sporting gear. Which it is. [Discounts also available web-wide.]

Antea 1919 Black Forest Limited Edition

The Artist –Stowa Antea 1919 Black Forest Limited Edition

Graduating students who found their happy place in the world of arts and letters (as they used to call it) are either in touch with the latest cultural trends or lost in some tragic/romantic past/future. If they don’t view a watch as some kind of temporal oppression, they probably see it as a fashion statement.

Uh-oh. The last thing you should do is buy a grad a watch that’s in fashion. Gift a timepiece that transcends fashion. Which puts us squarely in the minimalist camp.

A lot of the best minimalist watches are significantly less expensive than our $1k target (e.g. the $175 Mondaine Essence, $270 Defakto Struktur Inkognito$495 Junghans Max Bill, and $495 Movado Museum Watch).

And so we turn to the black-on-black-with-a-transparent-back Stowa Antea 1919 Black Forest LE, a horological tribute the Bauhaus movement. The 39mm German timepiece has intellectual street cred and it’s timelessly handsome – easily one of the best graduation day watches an artsy grad can own.


Congratulations to all the moms and dads of the 2020 grads! You survived being confined to quarters with your genetic progeny and endless lectures about institutional racism. Some day the bird will fly the nest – and stay flown. Maybe. Meanwhile, here’s hoping your grads have the time of their lives. Literally.


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