A Watch Collector’s Gift Guide: Seven Watches For Any Budget
Few presents are as personal as a timepiece, and that’s what makes them great. It can also be perilous if you are buying for a collector because they can be very particular in what they want. But if you get it right, that watch will become an object that can be treasured for generations.
To ensure (and insure) that the watch you give sparks joy, the folks at WAX Insurance have assembled a list of can’t-miss horological presents for every enthusiast on your list. (You can also use this guide to drop some hints to anyone who might want to slip a little something into your stocking.)
To get started, a gift you can give year-round is helping the collectors in you your life get their insurance sorted.
As we mentioned, building a watch wardrobe is personal. And that means a one-size-fits-all insurance policy for your collection doesn’t always work. Luckily, WAX is insurance for the modern watch collector.
Created by fellow watch enthusiasts frustrated in their efforts to insure their own collections, the WAX app allows you to take pictures of your watches, jewelry, art, or any other collectibles to get them insured. Available in both the Apple and Android app stores, WAX Insurance is backed by some of the biggest insurance companies in the world, which means your collection is always covered. Even if you're not in the market for insurance right now, you can download the WAX app to start creating a digital archive of everything you own.
This tailor-made approach is also helpful if you ever want to sell a watch. Simply click through your inventory on the WAX app, and your policy is updated instantly!
For The Beginner | Astor + Banks Fortitude, $625
Collectors collect for many reasons: Some are loyal to certain brands, others assemble examples of specific complications. But one of the most beautiful things about the watch collecting community is that you don’t need a lot of money to buy horological happiness.
One of the WAX team’s favorite up-and-coming brands is the Chicago-based Astor + Banks – a micro brand that assembles all of their watches right here in the US of A. This past fall, they released the Fortitude, a military officer-inspired watch, coming in at very wearable 38.5mm.
In particular, they are fans of the 50-piece, limited edition created in collaboration with BLVDier, a local Chicago clothier.
Its size suits almost any wrist, and with a $650 price tag, it is an excellent value proposition for an entry-level enthusiast. As the WAX team told Watchonista, “Dollar for dollar, we’re not sure you can get better bang for your buck with a starter piece. And supporting a home-grown brand is something we can always get behind.”
For The Budding Collector | MING 27.01, $3,950
If the person on your list is looking to build a unique collection, the folks at WAX suggest getting in on the ground floor with MING.
As the new kid on the block, MING is a young independent brand that has consistently put out great pieces at very accessible price points.
Designed in Malaysia and made in Switzerland, MING was formed a few years ago by six collectors from around the world. And judging by the Instagram accounts of watch fans, the company’s “mad for collectors, by collectors" ethos has been an unmitigated success.
Although the MING 27.01 isn't a limited edition, the company operates under a small batch production model, which means they sell out quickly. So, while your gift this holiday season might only be a spot on the waiting list, it will be worth it because in the WAX team’s opinion, “These guys are going to keep putting out winners, so stay on top of them.”
For The Indie(pendent) Rocker | Kudoke 2, $8,000
As you might guess, WAX sees value in supporting independent watchmakers from around the world. Investing in Indies helps promote innovation and it also adds to the story of a timepiece.
For a collector who is just getting into independents, WAX recommends the German brand Kudoke. As WAX told Watchonista, "Kudoke has captured our hearts with their twisted hands, oversized hand-engraved day-night indicators, and sublime dials.” In fact, the most sublime of their dials was a beautiful forest green dial created in collaboration with the American outfit Esperluxe. Sadly, it was a 10-piece limited edition and is now completely sold out.
While the basic white-dialed Kudoke has a distinct Teutonic look, like most indies, a quick email to the manufacture can result in you being able to get something a little more bespoke.
For The Tech Savvy | Ressence Type 1N, $16,800
Ressence watches have always been Silicon Valley's watch of choice. These timepieces are extremely innovative. It is a mechanical watch with a futuristic digital display that basically tells time in a bold new way.
The Belgian brand has definitely captured the heart of watch collectors who are into disruptive design. And the Type 1 remains a favorite of the WAX team: “With the clever dial setup, the hour and minute hands never actually cross, it is one of the most unique watches on the market.”
For The Person Who Wants Something Bespoke | JN Shapiro Infinity Series, $21,000 (base model price)
Los Angeles-based Josh Shapiro is a high school principal by day and a watchmaker by night. In the collecting community, he is best known for his stellar engine-turned dials.
Naturally, both Shapiro and his timepieces have a lot of personality, but he also strives to bring the wearer’s taste and character to the finished piece.
Because he handmakes every piece is, you can ask for Shapiro to customize the dial, the applied numerals, the sculpted hands, or add a hunter caseback. WAX also offered the inside scoop for future Shapiro collectors: “You can't go wrong with any of Josh's Infinite series watches, and rumor has it he's working on his first in-house movement.”
For The Person Who Has It All | Urwerk UR-220 Falcon Project, $162,000
The hardest watch enthusiast to buy for is the collector who appears to have everything already. WAX has seen it all when it comes to covering such collections, and a watch from avant-garde brand Urwerk is their suggestion for checking a completist off your list.
According to WAX, “Urwerk is not a place where someone starts their watch collecting, but it could be a place where they end it.” This indie brand has been releasing hit after hit lately, but the newly announced UR-220 Falcon Project is particularly daring.
This model features a cutting-edge carbon TPT case, which has resulted in a light but robust timepiece. Plus, the caseback is curved for extra comfort. It is an investment, but because you can wear it every day and everywhere, it should pay off in dividends.
For That Extra Special Person | MB&F LM Perpetual Evo, $167,000
Speaking of investments, the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO may be a little out of reach for most collectors, but it represents the kind of timepiece anyone would love to have.
If you are the kind of benefactor who has the resources and connections to gift one of these limited edition perpetual calendar watches, please let it be known that we have been very good this year. And if you are fortunate enough to be gifted one of these sophisticated calibers, it’s good to know that WAX can provide uncomplicated insurance coverage.
What’s so special about this timepiece? It is MB&F’s first sporty watch. Available in three colors and limited to just 15 pieces per version (45 pieces total), this watch also represents a sea change in luxury watch design. We expect to see MB&F continue to explore sportier themes and bolder colors in the future, but for now, the WAX team noted, “This is the best Legacy Machine they have ever made.”