All around Amsterdam, I see flags being raised, and at the end of each of these flagpoles, there’s a backpack. It’s the typical Dutch way of announcing that someone in the household has graduated from high school. Right now, we’re in the middle of the graduation season. That means many students will also finish their degrees at university. I’m curious to see if the graduation watch is still a thing. For now, let’s assume it is and go over some possible options.

In addition to my writing job here at Fratello, I’m also a part-time teacher’s assistant at a high school. When I look around the classrooms, I hardly see any of the students wearing a watch. And if they are, it’s often an Apple Watch. I’m not sure what it’s like at universities, but I can imagine that the situation is not very different. So, for many graduates, the watch they get as a gift will probably be their first watch. That means we should probably bear a couple of things in mind. Let’s dive in!

Which watch to choose?

Criteria for selecting a graduation watch

First of all, the watch should be able to handle many different kinds of situations. That counts both for the looks and the capabilities. For example, at least 50 meters of water resistance would be nice to have. I also think that an automatic movement would be the most convenient choice, especially for someone who isn’t used to thinking about his or her watch every day. And for now, I’ve picked options from well-established brands as I feel it would be nice for the watch to retain at least some of its initial value. That brings us to the budget.

Being a father myself and looking at the current offerings, I felt that something around €3,000 would be a nice price point. It’s expensive enough to feel rather significant, but not so expensive as to make it feel uncomfortable. But that’s all relative and very personal, of course. All right, let’s take a look at the first option.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36-0771-2

Tudor Black Bay 36

The Tudor Black Bay 36 was actually the first watch that popped into my mind when I started making this list. I have owned this watch myself, and to be honest, it’s the perfect everyday sports watch. It can blend into any situation. You can wear it on many different straps, and it’s well made with a reliable Sellita movement inside. Plus, it looks very nice, at least in my eyes. It comes in at €2,880, and you might even be able to score a little bit of a discount on it.

You can get it with a blue, black, or silver dial. My pick for an everyday watch would either be the black or silver option because I feel that those are the easiest to match with your outfits. But even the blue version won’t stand out too much. Then again, if you expect the graduate to dislike those snowflake hands, you might want to look elsewhere. What about Oris, for example?

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403

The Oris Art Blakey was my first mechanical watch, so Oris definitely deserves a spot in today’s selection. I feel the newly introduced Big Crown Pointer Date with its less outspoken design language can handle a lot of different situations. I own the previous model, and it looks very good on many different straps. The only thing is that there’s no bracelet option available for this newer version, but that might be added in the future. Another reason for picking the new Big Crown Pointer Date is that it sports the new Oris Calibre 403.

At €3,300, I know it’s quite a bit more expensive than the Sellita version. I do think, however, that you get some nice perks for that extra bit of cash. First of all, the five-day power reserve is perfect for someone who isn’t used to handling a mechanical watch. On top of that, the 10-year warranty that it comes with will give you and the wearer great peace of mind for at least another decade. Currently, this model is only available with a blue dial as it has only just been released. I assume, however, that we can expect more colors to become available later on. But if the limited water resistance of 50 meters won’t suit your young professional, then let’s look at something that’s a little more capable.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300

Speaking of young professionals, the new TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 is also a young professional. A young professional diver, that is, with 300 meters of water resistance. I think it’s also the sportiest and most specialized watch within today’s selection. Therefore, it might not suit everyone. But, I must say, that bezel and those hour markers shaped like honeycombs look kind of attractive to me! If that’s not your thing, though, there are many iterations and sizes of the Aquaracer available, so there should be one that suits your style. Heck, there’s even a quartz version of it.

The automatic Professional 300 (€3,100) comes on a nice bracelet that allows for quick adjustments on the fly. There’s also a ceramic bezel, and those horizontal lines on the dial look just like the deck of the yacht that your graduate might be dreaming of. I could imagine, though, that you’re looking for something that’s a little more under the radar. If so, my next pick might be a better option.

NOMOS Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik 42 Date

When looking for an under-the-radar watch that’s a little less sporty, NOMOS Glashütte is always a good brand to turn to. In truth, even though this Club Sport Neomatik 42 Date is a very capable watch (and even has the word “sport” in its name), it could still pass as a dress watch on the right strap. I’m a big fan of this design, actually, and the fact that NOMOS now offers a proper Oyster-style bracelet (pictured below) to camouflage those long lugs is a big added value. It would still be way too big for me, though. But on the right-size wrist, this will look good in any situation.

And even though it doesn’t exactly look like a dive watch, it’s very capable with its 300 meters of water resistance. Of course, there are smaller Club models available, but this one with its black or blue sunburst dial and big white numerals looks the best by far. Normally, I find that NOMOS watches — and especially their dials — lack some detail or look a bit boring. Not this one, though. I really hope NOMOS will think about releasing a smaller version of this. But in the meantime, at €3,120, it could be a great graduation present for others out there.

What do you think about these choices so far? Is there anything you think your son or daughter might like? If not, my last one might be able to convince you.

Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat

This is a little bit of a wild card, and it might be too risky for some. But if your son or daughter is really into design or fashion and doesn’t want to think about his or her watch for the next 15 years, the Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat is the way to go! Its timeless design combined with the lastest solar technology is such a great match. I wish the one that I gifted my wife had been the large version (€3,050) so I could wear it every once in a while. Of course, it looks great on any leather strap, but there’s also the option of a quick-release bracelet.

It charges itself through the Roman numerals on the dial and only needs a service once every 16 years. Eat that, Apple Watch, which needs to be charged overnight, every night! Besides, the experience of picking the watch up from a Cartier boutique will be something the lucky one will remember for the rest of his or her life.

Final words on the graduation watch

So, there you have it — five options for a great graduation watch. I tried to pick quite different styles so you could get an idea of which directions you could go. But of course, there are many more options out there. I’ve only really gifted just that one watch to my wife, so I don’t have a lot of experience picking something out for someone else. I do know, however, that it can be quite hard to choose what would suit another person the best. When picking the watch, think about his or her lifestyle and clothing choices a bit and see if you can find the right watch to suit them. That’s just my two cents.

What do you think? Are there any good options above? Or do you not agree with my choices at all? Let me know in the comments what watch you would pick as a graduation gift!

You can also find and follow me on Instagram @fliptheparrot