Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Luxury Watches To Give This Year

There are only six Fridays left until December 25th! So it’s about time to start thinking about what gifts you’ll be giving your loved ones this holiday season. We are of course partial to luxury watches. After all, a luxury watch is a fantastic gift that is both beautiful and practical. A fine timepiece is a special gift that will not only make a big impact on the day it’s given, but it will also be enjoyed for a long time to come. What’s more, a luxury watch is a suitable gift for either him or her. Finally, a pre-owned luxury watch is a savvier choice since you’ll be saving plenty of money while still gifting a prestigious and well-respected timepiece.

So with that, read on for our recommendations on the best luxury watches to gift this holiday season covering a range of budgets, for both him and her.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Him: Under $2,000

 If you have less than $2,000 to spend on a high-end timepiece, then you’re in luck because there are plenty of fantastic choices in the secondary market.

For him, we’d recommend a Breitling watch. A masculine and sporty watch brand that boasts technical prowess and great design, Breitling is tough to beat. For less than $2,000 there are several choices. The super sporty stainless steel Breitling Transocean Chronograph Stainless Steel (ref. A530401) includes a generous 42mm case housing a dynamic red, white and blue dial. Plus, the watch offers tons of functionality including time, date, and chronograph, all powered by an extremely precise and accurate quartz movement.

If however, you’d prefer a smaller sized watch, then there’s the stainless steel Breitling Colt Ocean Chrono (ref. A53050) with a 37mm case complete with a black dial displaying the time, date, and chronograph functions.

Alternatively, for an automatic version, there’s the stainless steel Breitling Superocean (ref. A17040) with a 41.5mm case with time and date displayed on the rich blue dial topped with steel rotating bezel.

Or, for a touch more preciousness, then the automatic Breitling Chrono Cockpit (ref. B30012) fits the bill. With its 37mm stainless steel case and yellow gold rider tabs on the bezel coupled with a classic black leather strap and clean white dial indicating the time, date, and chronograph functions, this Breitling is an elegant approach to a luxury sports watch.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Her: Under $2,000

For less than $2,000 we’d recommend a Cartier watch as the perfect gift for her. And at this price point, there’s an abundance of styles to choose from.

A favorite among celebrities and fashionistas the world over, the steel Cartier Tank Francaise (ref. W51008Q3 / 2384) with a 20mm x 25mm rectangular case features all the signature Cartier details. From the black Roman numerals to the blued-steel sword-shaped hands to the eight-sided winding crown set with a synthetic spinel cabochon, this is a modern take on the classic Tank watch.

Considering that Cartier just revived the Panthere watch collection earlier this year and that two-tone style is making a huge comeback, this yellow gold and steel Cartier Panthere (ref. 166921) is completely on-trend. Sporting a 24mm steel square case topped with an 18k yellow gold bezel and outfitted with the characteristic brick-lay link bracelet in both yellow gold and steel, this is the must-have ladies’ watch of the moment.

For a leather strap alternative that flaunts a retro vibe, the Cartier Tank Divan (ref. 2599) is a great choice. Accompanying the watch’s 32mm wide rectangular steel case is a sophisticated alligator leather strap in a dark blue hue.

Part jewelry piece, part wristwatch, the Cartier Panthere Ruban (ref. 2420) does double the duty. Set among the eight rows of the brick-lay link bracelet is the 21mm square case along with the bezel with exposed screws and famed Cartier dial with Roman numerals and blue hands.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Him: $2,000 – $5,000

If your gift-giving budget ranges from $2,000 to $5,000, then we’d recommend an Omega as a men’s watch option. As one of the most popular high-end timepiece brands available today, Omega is cherished for their solid designs and reliable movements.

One of the most iconic Omega watches is undoubtedly the Speedmaster Moonwatch—named so for its historic journey in 1969 aboard the Apollo 11 mission during mankind’s first lunar landing. The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch (ref. 3573.50.00) is a modern iteration of that legendary timepiece, complete with a 42mm steel case, black dial, black tachymeter bezel, and manual-wound mechanical movement powering the time and chronograph functions.

Turning our attention to marine exploration, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Co-Axial Chronograph (ref. 232.30.46.51.01.001) is part of the company’s line of professional diving watches. Along with the unidirectional rotating diver’s bezel on the 45.5mm steel case and water resistance to 600 meters, there’s also the duo of chronograph registers on the dial and the famous broad-arrow hands.

For a more classic watch, there’s the two-tone steel and yellow gold Omega Constellation Automatic (ref. 368.1201) featuring the distinct bezel with Roman numerals, four claws (a.k.a “griffes”) on the sides of the 36mm case, and an integrated bracelet. Driving the time and date functions is an automatic mechanical movement.

Vintage watch enthusiasts and dapper gents will appreciate the traditional style of the 18k yellow gold vintage Omega Automatic (ref. 2709) timepiece. Housed within the restrained 34mm gold case is a beautifully retro dial with yellow gold indexes, yellow gold hands, and a running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Her: $2,000 – $5,000

With a budget of $2,000 – $5,000, your best bet for a gift for her would be a ladies’ Chopard watch.

Famous for their floating diamond motif, the Chopard Happy Diamond Sport ladies’ watch collection is a varied assortment of modern gem timepieces. There’s the contemporary midsize Chopard Happy Sport 27/8236-23 where seven floating diamonds are housed within a round 32mm steel case. Particularly beautiful are the flashes of color on the otherwise monochromatic watch from the blue center hands to the blue cabochon sapphires on the winding crown and lugs.

For a sportier version, there’s the limited edition Chopard Happy Sport (ref. 28/8507) with a 38mm black ceramic case, stainless steel bezel, and black rubber strap. Of course, adorning the dial are the characteristic floating diamonds—a trio of them in this particular example.

Yet another version is the square Chopard Happy Sport (ref. 27-8325-23) sized at a refined 26mm. Within the steel case are seven floating diamonds while the lugs and winding crown are topped with the signature blue cabochon sapphires. Finishing off the stylish watch is a blue leather strap.

Finally, the Chopard A Fine Lady’s (ref. 493 1) timepiece in 18k white gold flaunts a flurry of diamonds on its dainty 19mm rectangular case and dial. The perfect companion to any cocktail party or grand gala event, the watch is presented with a sophisticated black leather strap.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Him: $5,000 – $8,000

If you’re ready to spend between $5,000 and $8,000 on gifting a men’s watch this holiday season, then it’s got to be a Rolex watch. In terms of recognition, prestige, legendary designs, and dependable movements, this Swiss watchmaking giant is at the top.

Among the Rolex tool watches, the highly sought-after Submariner dive watch is in a league of its own. And a classic choice is the Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 with a 40mm steel Oyster case, matching steel Oyster bracelet, black dial with lume plots and Mercedes-style hands, and black aluminum diver’s bezel. Encased within the 300-meter water resistant case is the famous Rolex Cal. 3135 automatic movement driving the time and date functions.

The GMT-Master is yet another iconic Rolex tool watch, but due to its ability to keep track of multiple time zones simultaneously, it was built to serve pilots. A particularly popular variant is the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16710 “Coke”, nicknamed after the soda brand because of its black and red bezel. Completing the celebrated style of the watch is the 40mm steel Oyster case, ubiquitous steel Oyster bracelet, and red arrow-tipped GMT-hand on the black dial.

Along with their renowned sports watches, Rolex is also recognized for making iconic dress watches, such as the Datejust. The two-tone Rolex Datejust ref. 116233 dons a style typical of the collection thanks to its classic combination of yellow gold and stainless steel, fluted bezel, 36mm Oyster case, champagne dial, and Jubilee bracelet.

For a more robust version of the traditional Datejust dress watch, there’s also the larger Rolex Datejust II ref. 116334­. Measuring a heftier 41mm, the steel Oyster case sports an 18k white gold fluted bezel. There’s also the rich blue dial with luminescent baton indexes and sporty steel Oyster bracelet.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Her: $5,000 – $8,000

Similarly, if you have $5,000 and $8,000 to spend on her gift this year, then a ladies’ Rolex watch is the way to go. Especially since women’s Rolex watches run on mechanical movements rather than quartz ones.

The stainless steel Rolex Datejust ref. 116234 with a pink floral and diamond dial is an everyday luxury watch with a difference. Moreover, adding to the fine details of the 36mm timepiece is the intricate Jubilee style bracelet, the 18k white gold fluted bezel, and the oversized 6 and 9 numerals joining the date window on the dial.

For added luxury, there’s the two-tone Rolex Lady-Datejust ref. 179173, which combines precious 18k yellow gold with rugged stainless steel. The 26mm steel Oyster case includes a yellow gold fluted bezel and yellow gold winding crown, while the steel Oyster bracelet features yellow gold center links. Around the periphery of the slate dial are yellow gold Roman numerals, along with the date window at 3 o’clock magnified by the Cyclops lens.

Offering the wearer a touch of jet-set chic is the solid 18k yellow gold Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 69628. Clearly inspired by the nautical lifestyle, the ladies’ Yacht-Master has a 26mm Oyster case equipped with a sporty rotating bezel. The matching champagne dial sets the stage for the luminescent hour markers and Mercedes-style hands, while at 3 o’clock is a date aperture.

For the lady who is drawn to the finest things in life, the solid 18k yellow gold Rolex Datejust ref. 69178 will surely impress. Nicknamed the “Lady President” for its legendary President bracelet with the distinct semi-circular links, the lavishness of the watch is further emphasized by the diamond hour markers on the black dial.

 

The Best Luxury Watch Gifts for Him and Her: $8,000+

With such a substantial budget allocated, you want to make sure that you select absolute icons from the finest watchmakers.

For him, we’ll start with the 18k white gold Cartier Tortue Perpetual Calendar (ref. 2540), whose tonneau-shaped case was designed in 1912 by Louis Cartier himself. Offering the very practical perpetual calendar function, the timepiece automatically indicates the correct time, day, date, month, and leap year without the need for manual adjusting (until 2100 when the leap year is ignored that year). Her equivalent would be the ladies’ 18k white gold Cartier Tortue (ref. 2644) with a lavish diamond bezel.

Following that, the solid 18k yellow gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Moonphase (ref. 25594BA.O.0477.BA.01) men’s watch is one not to miss. Originally developed by legendary designer Gerald Genta in 1970, the Royal Oak’s distinct octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet kicked off the entire luxury sports watch genre. This particular example includes a trio of subdials to indicate the day, date, and phases of the moon. Additionally, the 18k yellow gold ladies’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (Ref. 67601BA.ZZ.D012CR.03-FX2UC2) with diamonds on the eight-sided bezel and a white leather strap is a great match to the men’s version.

And finally, a holiday gift guide to the best luxury watches wouldn’t be complete without the famous Patek Nautilus—also designed by Genta in the seventies. Proudly showcasing its porthole-style 37.5mm stainless steel case and integrated bracelet, the Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 3800/1A-001) includes Roman numerals and a date window on its black dial. For the ladies, there’s the ultra-precious 18k yellow gold women’s Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 4700/51), beautifully embellished with diamonds on the bezel as well as diamonds serving as hour markers on the black grooved dial.

And there you have it; our holiday gift guide to the best luxury watches money can buy—regardless of your budget. Happy shopping!

 

 

The Rolex Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014

One of the most recognizable luxury dress watches ever to be created, very few timepieces come close to the legendary status of the Rolex Datejust. Classic, prestigious, and instantly recognizable, the Datejust has been Rolex’s signature dress watch since its inception in 1945. As Rolex’s flagship model, there have been countless variations of the Datejust throughout its seven-decade history. Today we evaluate two classic models: the Datejust ref. 1601 and the Ref. 16014. If you’re in the market for a vintage Datejust, these are some solid contenders. Let’s have a closer look at the similarities and differences of the Datejust ref. 1601 vs. the Datejust ref. 16014.

 

Style Details: Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014

Since there are several different metal configurations of the ref. 1601 we want to make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, when we refer to the ref. 1601 we are actually referring to the stainless steel and white gold bezel version.

Rolex Datejust ref. 1601
Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

In terms of era, the Datejust ref. 1601 spans from the late 1950s until the 1970s while the Datejust ref. 16014 watches are from the 1970s and 1980s.

Both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 sport the traditionally sized 36mm Oyster case. The stainless steel case is topped with a white gold fluted bezel for a touch more lavishness. The most common bracelet fitted onto both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 is the stainless steel five-link Jubilee bracelet. However, since these are vintage timepieces, there are plenty of models out there that feature replacement bracelets including some leather and NATO straps, in addition to metal ones.

Something interesting to note about the Datejust ref. 1601 is the “pie pan” dial. This refers to the outer edge of the dial dropping slightly—a look similar to a pan used for baking pies. On the other hand, the dial of the Datejust ref. 16014 is flat throughout.

As these are vintage Rolex watches, both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 have acrylic crystal rather than the now ubiquitous sapphire crystal protecting the face of the watches.

 

Technical Aspects: Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014

Naturally, since these are Datejust watches, both the ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 feature the iconic date window at 3 o’clock magnified by the famous Cyclops lens. While both of these watches offer time and date functions, they run on different automatic movements.

Rolex Datejust ref. 16014
Rolex Datejust ref. 16014

Powering the Datejust ref. 1601 is the Rolex Caliber 1570/5. While this is considered a very reliable movement and one of Rolex’s “workhorses” it’s important to remember that this is not a quickset Datejust. As a result, to set the date, the center hands of the dial have to continuously go around the dial past midnight until the correct date appears in the window.

On the flipside, the Datejust ref. 16014 houses the Rolex Caliber 3035. When it was introduced in 1977, the Caliber 3035 boasted a higher frequency rating of 28,800 beats per hour rather than the previous 19,800 beats per hour. Higher frequencies mean higher accuracy ratings. Furthermore, the Caliber 3035 was the first movement to offer the quickset feature to the Datejust collection. Therefore, adjusting the date only requires a simple turning of the crown, independently of the center hands.

Both fantastic vintage Rolex watches, choosing the Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014 is a matter of personal taste. The Datejust ref. 1601 offers more vintage flair with its pie pan dial while the ref. 16014 offers more practicality thanks to its quickset feature. Which one would you go for? Leave us a comment below!