No one knows your dad like you do, or can guess what kind of watch is right for him. Buying watches as gifts for others is hard, even when that person is close to you — maybe especially if he’s close. The good news is that even if you totally misjudge Dad’s taste, the most important thing is that the gift is from you. It’s likely that not every Father’s Day is going to be one where you give him a watch, but if this is one of those years, these sub-$1,000 timepieces are a good place to start.
Geeky Dad: Casio World Time Digital Watch
This is a great option that just about anyone can afford. It’s got a nostalgic, retro-futuristic appeal, plenty of functionality, and it’s incredibly robust considering its price. All of this makes it a completely worry-free watch for almost any occasion.
Sporty Dad: Seiko 5 Sports
For the active dads out there, a sporty, the newly revamped Seiko 5 is a practical and satisfying choice. Available in several configurations on both straps and bracelets, these sportier, heftier 5s feature 42.5mm steel cases and automatic day-date movements, so Dad won’t have to worry about changing a battery. Best of all, they’re water-resistant to 100m — which is plenty for the great majority of outdoor adventures.
Outdoorsy Dad: G-Shock Master of G Mudmaster
There’s a certain satisfaction to something that seems almost more like a piece of military equipment than a watch. If that’s something the dad in your life can appreciate, a number of G-Shocks probably match the description. The Mudman, however, just has that rough-and-tumble feel that seems like it would only get better by banging it up: it’s got 200m of water resistance and plenty of useful Casio tech as well.
Tool Watch Dad: Nodus Retrospect II
After iterating on the design several times, California-based Nodus has hit upon a winning formula for their Retrospect II dive watch. Available in three colors, the Retrospect II features vintage influences, yes, but is also very much its own design, with an interesting, inward-sloping bezel, a matching steel bracelet, plenty of lume and a highly legible dial. Powered by the automatic Seiko NH35 movement and featuring 200m of water resistance, it’s available at a price that simply can’t be beat.
Retro Dad: Yema Superman French Air Force Steel Limited Edition
The original, re-released Yema Superman offers a vintage dive watch aesthetic, modern dive watch specs with 300m of water resistance and sapphire crystal, and a solid ETA 2824-2 automatic Swiss movement. However, this fun special edition, which was designed with the French Air Force to equip their divers and fighter pilots, has a special dial and crown, an in-house movement, and is available in both 39mm and 41mm sizes.
Formal Dad: Timex Marlin Automatic
What if your dad’s more of a formal guy — the type who appreciates sophisticated simplicity? Easy: you get him a Timex Marlin automatic in one of six available colors. With a 40mm case, an unadorned, time-and-date dial, an automatic movement and a simple leather strap, he’ll be grateful to have something that he can easily wear to the office or out on the town.
Aviator Dad: Stowa Flieger Verus 40
Does your dad wear a leather bomber jacket and/or aviator sunglasses? That might be a good indicator of a candidate for a vintage-styled pilot watch like the Stowa Flieger Verus 40. Stowa is a German brand with legitimate history making pilot watches, and the Flieger Verus looks the part, is available in date and no-date as well as with many different movements, and remains very wearable at 40mm.
Weekend Warrior Dad: Victorinox I.N.O.X. Mechanical
This is a tough tool watch perfect for the dad who likes the outdoors and is rough on his wristwear. When first released in its quartz-powered version, Victorinox even put this watch through 130 tests more trying than normal wear would ever be — so you know it can handle anything. There are various colors, as well as diver models and more affordable quartz watches to choose from. This mechanical version offers a Swiss automatic movement for a pretty reasonable price.
Diver Dad: Seiko Prospex SRPE05
If there’s a more summer-appropriate, carefree dive watch out there, we’ve yet to find it. (In fact, we love this watch so much that we put it on our list of favorite dive watches under $1,000.) While the original Seiko “Turtle” was plenty cool, the “King Turtle” features sapphire crystal, a ceramic bezel inset and a “cyclops” magnifier over the day-date window. Its coolest feature, of course, is that hand grenade-looking dial, though.
Motorhead Dad: Autodromo Group B Safari Edition
There’s a good chance that any dad out there who’s into cars in some form or another will also be able to appreciate a good watch. For those who are serious motorheads, the Autodromo Group B celebrates motorsport in a fun way, with vintage cues and colorful dial options. The most recent iteration, however, which celebrates the Paris-Dakar rallies that were once held in Africa, is our personal fave.