Last week we received a question from one of our readers from Italy, who just became the father of a beautiful daughter about a month ago. He would like to buy a watch and present it to her when she reaches the age of 18, to have her own birth year watch. It is something we often see happening, that people are after a watch from their year of birth. If only my parents bought a nice watch when I was born, it would have made life so much easier.
Our Italian reader has been an avid reader of Fratello for a year or so, and he decided to shoot us an e-mail to ask this question. He wants to buy a watch that marks the year of her birth, a watch he can give to her in 2036. His mail to us was in Italian, so we will show you the translation:
“What watch (and in what size) would you advise me to buy to keep aside for 18 years? It also needs to preserve its aesthetic and functional value in 18 years from now.”
That’s a tough nut to crack, as it a) requires us to say something about the taste of a watch for someone else (who happens to be a female) and b) have us predict the future a bit when it comes to design. But we are happily picking up this question and give us some of our thoughts.
Also, we have not received any kind of budget for this special watch. On the one hand, this almost wants us to focus on a watch that fits in the average watch we cover here on Fratello, let’s say around €5000/$5000USD. However, it also gives us the freedom to come up with some other suggestions.
What’s really important is that the watch is still working in 18 years from now, and not only that, it should also be able to be serviced and repaired if necessary. That makes me happy my parents didn’t buy a watch in 1977, as the manufacturer would have been probably bankrupt by now. That is if they would not have picked a watch from the established brands like Rolex, Omega, IWC, Seiko, Breitling etc. So, my first suggestion would be to go with a brand that is most likely to be still there in 2036 when your daughter turns 18. This way, chances are pretty big that the watch can still be serviced and repaired. For the latter, you want a brand or watch that is most likely able to do a proper repair in 2036 or later, with the proper parts available. By 7 years, this does not rule out Rolex. But it certainly doesn’t rule out brands like Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Zenith for example, who are able to – if necessary – reproduce any type of part necessary for any of their watches. So, no microbrands here, or independent watchmakers despite how beautiful the watches are that they make. Who is going to service your MB&F, HYT or Hautlence in 2036?
Now, we would have to know your wrist size or that of the daughter’s mamma to make an estimate, but there’s another complexity here: we don’t know what will be the average watch size in 2036. Asked us 10 years ago and we were afraid it would be 60mm, but since things went back to normal again a bit, we would say you will be safe with anything between 36mm and 42mm for a lady in 2036. Today’s 36mm will not be the same in 2036 to what my grandmother’s 20mm gold Omega is today: very small. On the other hand, perhaps watches will be very small in 2036 and then 42mm would be gigantic. So let’s stick to a diameter somewhere between 36mm and 40mm, to be on the safe side. This definitely includes men’s watches, like the Rolex Datejust, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra but also a range of Patek Philippe dress watches or a Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet.
When it comes to the design of a watch, and whether it will still be something your daughter will fancy in 2036, is difficult to say. Taste is very personal, but to make life a bit easier, we suggest the following: go for an iconic watch. You know them: Cartier’s Santos, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso, Rolex’s Datejust, Patek Philippe’s Calatrava or Nautilus or the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet. The latter is a dangerous model, including the Nautilus. Every time my wife sees the Royal Oak, she feels that watch is for old people, and I had that comment more often from ladies. So a Royal Oak is perhaps a bit too outspoken.
Designwise, it is also interesting to pick something that you personally like a lot. This way, the good taste of her father is also reflected in the watch your daughter will be wearing starting at 18.
I would stay away from outspoken colours as well. Like pink or yellow dials, certain motifs, or even a bi-colour case and bracelet. Keep it in one tone, like all stainless steel, or white, yellow or rose gold.
To finally come to some suggestions, lets recap our scope: it needs to be from an established brand, preferably one that will be able to service or repair any watch in 2036 (and after) that was bought in 2018, it needs to be somewhere between 36mm and 40mm in size, and it has to have an iconic – or timeless – design. Also, we take into consideration that your daughter has a slight preference for ladies’ watches.
Although rectangular or square watches are not to everyone’s taste, women tend to love them more than us men do. So our first suggestion would be a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Also, because we know they can service and repair everything and anything. If some part isn’t there anymore, they just recreate. You will also find Reverso models in many variations, colours and sizes. I am also of the opinion that value for money with Jaeger-LeCoultre is very high.
Our second suggestion is the good ol’ Rolex Datejust (we covered it extensively here). They’ve made this model since 1945 and they will probably still make it in 2245. It is a very safe choice, but you can still go wild a bit with materials and dial executions. The 36mm version is perfect.
Here’s something out of the box: the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Moon Phase. A 40mm watch, in red gold and with a mesmerizing dial. And a neat complication. We’ve been told women love the moon phase complication. This doesn’t come cheap, but since you didn’t give us a budget, this would be our pick in the high segment of watches.
If you are reading this and have some other ideas and suggestions, it would be nice of you to share them in the comments box below this article.
Besides the suggested models, there’s another route you can take. It is the route that I am personally taking for my daughter. Why not buy a watch this year, wear it yourself during the next 18 years (either a lot, or only on special occasions for example), and then hand it over to your daughter. Then, she has a watch with true value and meaning because it was yours for 18 years and bought it in the same year she was born. I would have loved to get a watch my dad had worn for so many years. It really adds something magical to the watch, making you want to wear and keep it as long as possible as it would remind you of your dad. And, although I am happy with the watch I inherited from my grandfather, it is nice to receive a watch from someone who is still alive. So she can show you how much she appreciates it by wearing it and you can still enjoy the watch by seeing it on her wrist for the rest of your life (probably). Just give it a thought. A possible downside is that the watch might be very masculine, let’s say a Speedmaster or Submariner, but I think she will accept that. I hope my daughter does when the time is there.
Whatever you will buy, don’t worry, your daughter will cherish it anyway.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more