First Good Watch – Which Watch When?

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Floyd Meriweather's grandson's first good watch

Wrist Check: Floyd Mayweather Buys Five-Week-Old Grandson a $45,000 USD Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Reality check: that’s insane! Well, maybe not. Infants of that age wearing their first good watch can’t wander off – or lift their timepiece high enough to smash it. Specific to this example, I’d be worried about . . .

one of those diamonds entering my baby’s digestive system. Never mind the babysitter. How much do you trust your diamond setter? Fortunately, Rolex water resistance is up to challenge of baby sick for more likely digestive issues. And it’s when babies become mobile that equipping your rug rat with a $45k Rolex becomes seriously problematic.

So when should you give your child their first good watch? Let’s start with a definition of a “good” watch.

First good watch - G-SHOCK DW5600SC-2

An inexpensive G-SHOCK is a damn good first watch. It can be lost without tears before bedtime (by you anyway) and can’t be broken (until your teenager decides to test his G-SHOCK’s durability by running it over with the family truckster).

An Apple Watch is also a first good watch – that no one reading this website would consider unless and until they fell through the ice while skating (as a final thought). And while a Timex can no longer take a licking and keep on ticking unless there’s a tongue involved, they provide an excellent introduction into the world of horology.

Longines Conquest V.H.P. bright

But c’mon. We’re watch snobs. There’s good and there’s good. (And then there’s really good.) For the sake of argument let’s say a “good watch” is any watch whose loss inspires a hypocritical lecture about the importance of responsibility. Say anything above eight hundred dollars.

As the parent of four very different daughters I feel obliged to point out that children have various levels of conscientiousness. One child may be OCD to the point where cleaning their room requires therapeutic aftercare. Another wouldn’t remember their own head if it wasn’t screwed on.

At the risk being accused of gender stereotyping (especially by my last born), boys and girls are very different when it comes to concentrating on something other than anything else, if you know what I mean.

OMEGA Aqua Terra - first good watch

Bottom line? It’s an age thing.

I draw the first good watch line at college age (18). That’s when most sprogs realize you’re not going to replace an $800+ timepiece that disappeared down a black hole. That adult stuff has work-was-required-to-buy-this monetary value. That they won’t be able to afford to buy their own nice watch for five years or so, and have a concept of what a year is.

Hamilton Panda Dial Chronograph

Some watch enthusiasts like to give a good watch to their child when he/she/they graduate from high school. I reckon the grad’s first good watch shouldn’t be that good; college costs more than a small house or a decade’s rent on a decent apartment (for those whose children realize that a liberal arts degree is as useful as a kickstand on a Sherman tank).

Even if you can easily afford a most excellent high school graduation watch, and your child can read an analogue timepiece, and they’re willing to sideline their smartwatch, you can’t afford to endow your child with a sense of entitlement. Not if you want them to make their own way in the world.

Asahd Khaled - first good watch

Some people – I’m looking at you Mr. Heavyweight boxer – recoil at the idea of their offspring repeating their financial struggle. Some of these financially well-endowed parents consider a good watch – a really good watch – a timekeeping talisman to ward off the possibility of hard times.

In fact, they’re teaching their children to expect a lifetime of unearned privilege. In the name of love, of course.

First good watch MMA style

When it comes to a really good first watch, I believe you should only bless a child with expensive horological excellence if they’re a diehard watch enthusiast, when A) they’re old enough to speak and B) they can express their watch lust in technical, historical and financial terms, preferably in writing.

In other words, the first really good watch should arrive if and when you know they truly value it.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas - first good watch

Otherwise, don’t buy them a Rolex, Grand Seiko, Vacheron, Patek or suchlike. Ever. Wait until you’re dead and give them yours.

That’s my plan. The way I figure it, my kids can either keep my cherished timekeepers for sentimental value or sell them and use the money to take a nice vacation. At the end of the proverbial day (i.e. when you’re so old your health is more important than your possessions), watches are just stuff. Teach your kids to value time first, watches second.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t weigh in on this as I still haven’t gotten myself a “good” watch. I’m more fascinated by the lunacy of giving a watch to a child that won’t have a capacity to tell time for several years, and how this was sized. I’m guessing it’s a woman’s 28mm. I don’t know how many removable links there normally are.

    • “Good” is subjective and relative.

      I think any watch you like and does the job reliably… is a good watch.

      So far, my watches range from Casio and Timex and Armitron to Breitling and Rolex. I enjoy them all equally. I really do.

      And, there are those that think Breitling and Rolex are “slumming” it.

      • I didn’t know this, I used to only see limited models in the 100K range, so they sold quickly. I suppose the irony is that the sport models are the ugliest in the Patek brand.

  2. It’s all relative. Your first nice watch need only be precious to you. “Precious” is a sliding scale based on your personal circumstances. For some, a Hamilton is hugely aspirational and will be worn with pride for years. For others, the entry point for “precious” is Omega and its ilk. And so on. There’s no uniform cutoff because we all have different resources. The important criterion is that it was an aspirational purchase for you, and that you view it as such.

    • Jeff Bezos made enough last year to buy two Patek Nautiluses at market every minute. So he has a
      Ulysse Nardin GMT and a clock built into a mountain. But this is about a suitable watch to buy someone as their first nice watch. I could easily give my kids Omegas, but they damn well better appreciate Hamilton Mechanicals.

  3. I recently got my 10 year-old his first real watch. He’s a Pokémon fan, and I wanted to get him something that resembled a pokeball while retaining some horological internet cred. The result is a Timex Expedition with a white dial and a black case, paired with red and white canvas straps.

    • I’m fascinated by the topic of watches for children that are in that tween range where both a kiddie toy watch and a serious adult watch are both not quite right. I have no time machine but I suspect that I was given a woman’s watch around then. I see that Festina sells real steel boy’s watches with slightly smaller proportions at around the hundred dollar mark. I’m tempted to try one myself.

  4. I missed the “gifting the kids a first watch” phase as the kids are well into their 20’s. I didn’t appreciate timepieces say 10-20 years ago, and in fact would usually be wrist naked. For the older kid, I am now all about gifting. Often I’ll give them one for no good reason but just to have SOMEBODY close to me own a timepiece that I might consider “of value” or “interesting” or “novel” (regardless of whether they appreciate the features or not) and to support the designer, manufacturer or craftsman in the process. It’s more for my pleasure/enjoyment than it is for them.

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