Top 10 Best First Watches
So, you’re looking for your first proper watch? Maybe you’ve landed your dream job. Or you’ve gotten a well-deserved raise. Or maybe you’ve just graduated, and your super generous parents are looking to buy you something sentimental. Whatever the reason, first let us give you our heartfelt congratulations. Next, let us thank you for including us on your watch journey. And finally, let us present to you a list of luxury watches that will hopefully help you on your pursuit to find the “one”. Enjoy!
Rolex Submariner ($9,450AUD)
Perhaps the world’s greatest, most iconic and most renowned watch, the Rolex Submariner is second to none when it comes to functionality, wearability, reliability and longevity. It’s a reflection of Rolex’s heritage and traditions, and its basically unaltered aesthetics means its relevance will continue throughout its lifespan. The Submariner draws critics and adorers alike, and as a first watch, the Submariner will certainly not let you down. What the Submariner lacks in affordability and uniqueness, it makes up for in bucket loads with regards to build quality, movement architecture and the backing of that much revered five-point crown. The Submariner is the perfect heirloom watch as much as it is the perfect first watch. Think about that for a second.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ($7,150AUD)
The second Rolex to feature on our list, and perhaps the more playful and cheery option, is the Oyster Perpetual 39. I’ve chosen the dark rhodium dial variant, but it does come in a few other more, lively colours, albeit slightly challenging in terms of wearability. The Oyster Perpetual easily makes this list for a few reasons. Number one, it looks absolutely spectacular. Number two, its unique and contemporary aesthetic speaks to Rolex’s ability to cater for a more youthful audience. Number three, its design and build is extremely sound. Number four, the price. And number five, it will serve you invariably well throughout the course of its life. The dial, the hands, the case and bracelet finishing; it’s all been executed extremely well.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42mm ($7,550AUD)
The good old Speedy. So many variations have been made, but I find myself constantly coming back to the original. Dimensionally flawless. Symmetrically outstanding. Wear it up or down, and it’ll still look amazing. I was considering showing the moonphase option instead (Ref. 3576.50), which is still a very viable first watch option. But I was faced with the conundrum of purity. Sure, the 3576 offers a bit more for the daily wearer, what with the moonphase and date indicator. But the original is in a class of its own. It really is a faultless watch, and its historic pedigree is enough to push it over the line. Oh, and its manually wound 1863 calibre is fully visible through the sapphire caseback window. A massive plus on my end.
Omega Seamaster 300 Omega Master Co-Axial 41mm ($7,975AUD)
Apart from Rolex, Omega are the only manufacture on this list to feature twice. The reason why I’ve chosen the Seamaster as well is because Omega has such a broad spectrum of very good first watch options that I felt compelled to feature them again. The Seamaster is the refined and restrained brother of the Speedmaster. It’s a subtle piece with plenty of emphasis on modesty and maturity. The Seamaster plays the perfect role of the vintage-cross-contemporary first watch option, which is evident in its old-school styling coupled with the silicon balance spring. The Seamaster 300 brings together the best of both worlds for a first watch the will certainly continue to delight for many years to come.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark (From $4,950AUD)
A personal favourite of mine, the Black Bay Dark is the highlight of the Black Bay range for me. Maybe even out of all the pieces offered from Tudor. Although, the Black Bay Steel is a close runner up. In-house manufactured calibre, PVD-treated coating, 41mm in diameter, black on black on black, need I say more? The Black Bay Dark is a versatile, drop-dead gorgeous timepiece that can really hold its own against its brethren (being that from Rolex). The Black Bay Dark is an ominous, almost deceitful looking piece whose darkness can be mistaken for treachery. Okay, maybe not, but I like my watches to look a bit mean, and the Black Bay Dark delivers on that front. Not as cheap as I’d like it to be, but with this much quality and in-house attentiveness, I guess I shouldn’t really complain. The youthful, more exuberant, albeit cheaper brother of the Submariner.
Breitling Navitimer 01 (From $10,390AUD)
Think Breitling and I can almost assure you without a doubt in my mind that some variation of the Navitimer will pop up in your head. The Navitimer 01, like the Submariner, is an iconic timepiece. A beacon for many other manufacturers hell-bent on creating a timeless chronograph. There have been many companies out there who have mimicked the Navitimer’s aesthetic, but they always seem to lack something: the Breitling genome. The Navitimer bleeds Breitling. It’s what they’re all about, and it can hold its own against some very formidable and very high-end timepieces. It isn’t small, and it’s definitely not cheap, but it is a solid first watch option, and it’s very probable that the Navitimer could be your last, if you know what I mean..
IWC Portugieser Chronograph (From approximately $7,500AUD)
So I had a bit of an issue with this one. It came down to either the reference IW371445 (the one with gold and blue hands against the white dial), or the reference IW371447 (black dial, silver hands). Similar price, everything else exactly the same (except, of course, the dial side of things). I chose the black version. Why? Let me explain. Black just works on so many levels. The Portugieser Chronograph is one of the IWC’s most iconic, most recognized and most beautiful timepieces. Even though the movement isn’t made fully in house, it still is up to the standard which we’ve come to expect from IWC. The different shades of black work wonderfully as the backdrop to the steel hands, numerals and markers, and contrasts very well with the polished case. The Portugieser Chronograph is inherently a dress watch, but it can easily be worn casually. A great first watch option, and one that accurately reflects everything that IWC is.
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre HEUER 01 Automatic Chronograph ($6,800AUD)
TAG Heuer seem to be synonymous with “first watch”. So many people I’ve spoken with have explained how they came about purchasing a TAG as their first watch. And it’s not that hard to see why, to be honest. Now I was split between choosing something from the Aquaracer collection, or from the Carrera collection. I chose the Carrera simply because it not only looks better, but I think it carries a bit more horological gusto than the Aquaracer Skeletonisation is in, and TAG have leapt at the opportunity to create a timepiece that is well rounded, well executed and well priced. The Carrera is a versatile piece, and it’s whose aesthetic won’t really change over the coming decades, so you can be sure the timepiece you’re purchasing will remain aesthetically relevant for many years to come. Enjoyable, practical and a bit risky, the Carrera is an excellent first watch option.
Grand Seiko 9R Spring Drive ($8,400AUD)
The dark horse of the list, and probably an unexpected addition, the Grand Seiko 9R Spring Drive, also affectionately known as the “Snowflake”, is the perfect first watch option for the enthusiast whose taste is a bit more refined and exact. The reason why I chose this is pretty simple really: it just seems to work on so many levels. The dial is exquisite. The finishing is sublime. And the fact that this could easily pass as an “ordinary Seiko” excites me, for some reason. I kind of like knowing the assumed but very plausible fact that no one will really know what they’re looking at, unless they’re in the know. You know? The 9R Spring Drive is a very personal piece that flies well and truly under the radar, but can still hold its own against any piece on this list. Some may argue that it’s just a Seiko, but until you’ve actually held a Grand Seiko, you honestly can’t pass judgement. Expensive, yes. Unbeknown to most, also yes. But of incredible value, quality and potential. The perfect underrated yet much respect first watch.
Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio 44mm ($8,250AUD)
I decided to add Panerai to the list because I think they’re an acquired taste. When I first got into watches, I didn’t pay them too much attention. I thought their designs wore quite boring and repetitive, and I didn’t really understand the company’s directives or persona. But what can I say, people change and so do opinions. And now I can confidently say that while I still don’t fully understand the hype, I do admire their pieces. The Luminor 8 Days was chosen for a few reasons. One, it’s very Panerai. Two, it has an enormously impressive movement. Three, it’s aesthetic is super versatile. And four, it actually looks pretty cool. I like the fact that with a simple strap change, the visual dynamics of the piece will completely alter. The stock strap can be replaced with a NATO strap, or even a rubber strop, which will change the whole feel of the piece. The Luminor Base speaks to the lust of versatility in me, and the 8-day power reserve really is like the cherry on top. A very formidable entry that will serve you wonderfully well as your first watch.