Since buying watches tends to be a relatively expensive pursuit, it’s not every year that you can gift the watch lover in your life an actual timepiece. There’s no reason, however, that you can’t celebrate the hobby with thoughtful items to accessorize a horological obsession. Below are some great gifting ideas ranging from simple stocking-stuffers and affordable straps to some really handy equipment for the watch guy or gal who has it all.
Different settings call for different watches, and when you find yourself in a setting where the going gets tough, you’re going to want the Nixon Regulus. Originally designed in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations personnel, the Regulus features shock-absorbent materials, a water-resistant case, an adjustable LED backlight and dual chronographs. No matter what you throw at it, this is a watch that will stand up to the harshest conditions.
1. Esslinger Double-Flanged Spring Bars
Spring bars get lost, so it’s always useful to have a bunch on hand for all your strap-changing needs. Thankfully they’re cheap, sold here in sets of ten by Esslinger, a supplier of high-quality watchmaking tools and related accessories. The majority of modern men’s watches take 18mm, 20mm or 22mm spring bars, but it’s a good idea to confirm what the giftee might appreciate most.
2. Friction Ball Case Back Opener
While caution is advised when opening a watch’s case back, there are some instances where one might want to do so — such as checking a vintage watch’s movement to verify its authenticity. For screwed-on case backs, it’s cheap and surprisingly easy to do so with a friction ball like this one.
3. Polywatch Crystal Scratch Remover
Acrylic was the most common material used for watch crystals before virtually scratch-proof sapphire crystal became the top choice for luxury watches. Found on vintage watches and even some modern ones, acrylic inevitably gets scratched. Use this stuff to make it look like new again — best of all, it’s quite simple to use.
4. Watch Repair for Beginners
A great way to learn the basics of horological mechanics, many watch lovers and tinkerers will enjoy nerding out with this book, originally published in 1957. Mechanical watches haven’t changed all that much since then, and it’s still a classic for those who want a primer on elementary watch repair and essential related knowledge.
5. Crown & Buckle Keyring Spring Bar Tool
Serial strap changers (and who among us isn’t?) need a good spring bar tool on hand. This handy little solution from Crown & Buckle fits easily right in your pocket with the pointy end safely protected by a screw-on cap.
Gear Patrol Magazine Subscription
Gear Patrol Magazine is a deep dive into product culture. Inside each issue, you’ll find seasonal buying guides, rich maker profiles and long-form dispatches from the front lines of product design. Get four print magazines — delivered quarterly — with an annual subscription.
6. Maratac Mil-NATO Strap
There are relatively expensive NATO straps out there, and there are plenty of options that are easier on the wallet. Among the latter, Maratec offers some of the best. They’re based on British MOD specs, but refined for the modern watch-wearer and available in a range of colors.
7. A Man & His Watch
A hefty hardcover book full of beautiful watch pictures is a great way to accessorize the home or office of a watch lover. There are actually a number of such watch books, but this one is popular and a delightful read, relating the stories of notable people and the relationships they have with their favorite watches.
8. Esslinger Digital Micrometer
A micrometer like this one from Esslinger is useful for things like measuring lug widths when you’re ordering a new strap. It’s more accurate than you’ll probably ever need, takes both external and internal measurements, and it’s super easy to read with a large digital display.
9. Crown & Buckle Chevron Adjustable Straps
Similar in style to the super popular NATO strap, the Chevron strap from Crown & Buckle offers a similar look but with a twist. It’s a single-pass nylon strap adjustable at the buckle, and it’s tough and comfortable, with a texture somewhat like perlon but quite unlike anything else on the market.
10. The Watch: Thoroughly Revised
A satisfying supplement to a watch collection is this beautifully illustrated hardcover book, an exhaustive treatment of the wide world of watches. Updated for the current watch landscape, this is a fun read for the novice or seasoned watch enthusiast, and chock full of useful information.
11. Revolution Leather Watch Pouch
A stylish way to store and travel with your watch, this leather pouch has a soft suede texture and cool camouflage motif. It’s made from single-layer French suede, treated and stitched by hand, and it’s available from the Revolution online store.
12. Hub City Vintage Deluxe 5-Slot Watch Roll
Hub City Vintage not only restores and sells vintage Seiko watches, but also sells watch rolls like this super affordable 5-slot version. It’s got soft flannel inside to treat your precious watches as they deserve and it even includes a pocket for a spring bar tool.
13. The Vintage Rolex Field Guide
The world of Rolex is vast and potentially intimidating, much of it rooted in vintage collecting. A well-written book like this one is not only a useful resource for experienced collectors but even entertaining for relative novices and watch enthusiasts in general.
14. Tropic Rubber Watch Strap
The 1960s rubber dive straps from Swiss company Tropic are so famous that they’ve given their name to the general style emulated by other brands. But the brand Tropic itself has been resurrected, and their straps make a great option for summer or generally sporty wear.
15. Analog Shift Leather Watch Straps
The new strap collection from NYC-based vintage watch sellers Analog/Shift offers beautiful colors, different leather textures and, best of all, affordable pricing for the guy who likes to change out his watch straps. There are 15 different models available in 18mm, 20mm, and even 19mm sizes for those pesky vintage watches.
16. B&R Bands Classic Racing Strap
B&R bands offers a range of high-quality watch straps, and the perforated Vintage Racing models are some of our favorites. Made of waxed Italian leather, they work well for chronographs but also for other sporty watches with a vintage feel.
17. Horological Society of New York Membership
A unique gift for a watch enthusiast, a membership to the Horological Society of New York (HSNY), which includes priority access to classes and events, is sure to be appreciated. For $200-$500, you can also gift horology courses, which are available in New York City but are also known to travel nationally and internationally.
18. Wolf Heritage Single Watch Winder
Watch winders might not be strictly necessary, but they’re useful not only for keeping automatic watches wound, but also as a handsome storage options and even interesting home or office appointments. Wolf is a well-known maker of quality but reasonably priced winders such as this one, which holds a single watch.
19. Bergeon Jaxa Case Back Wrench
Swiss-made tools seem appropriate for tinkering with high-end Swiss watches, and Bergeon supplies watch industry professionals with some of the best. This Jaxa Case Back Wrench will open a watch with a notched case back — it’s engineered and produced to a high standard for longterm durability and professional use, and is adjustable for a range of case back sizes.
20. WindUp Watch Shop 12-Space Watch Box
This lovely watch box from Worn & Wound’s WindUp Watch Shop is a great way to keep a watch collection organized. With tough steel construction and space for 12 timepieces on handsome cushions, it’ll turn a messy jumble of watches into an attractive display.
21. TYMC Timegrapher MTG-1100 Personal Watch Tester
Go beyond simply checking the precision of your mechanical watch against a computer or smartphone with this personal watch tester. In just a few seconds, you can check a timepiece’s amplitude and exactly how much it deviates per day. This is useful information in keeping watches healthy, but it’s also fun for watch nerds who want to know all about their precious watches.
Marathon Clip Compass
Marathon’s Clip Compass is ideal for any outdoor, survival setting. The rotating bezel is glow in the dark, providing easy low-light viewing. It can be worn on most watch bands and is lightweight and compact. It is built to withstand harsh conditions, and is dust and water resistant, making it a great gift for the outdoorsy watch enthusiast.