12/21/2020
 4 minutes

The Best Watches for the Holiday Season

By Tom Mulraney
The Best Watches for the Holiday Season

The Best Watches for the Holiday Season

Let’s play a game. Don’t worry: It’s a fun, happy game and not some weird, creepy one like in the Saw movies. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that the coronavirus pandemic is over or – better still – that it never happened in the first place. There are no lockdowns, no restrictions, and the holidays are very much not canceled. Instead, life is carrying on as usual, which at this time of year means office Christmas parties, dinners with friends and family, a holiday feast, and, of course, ringing in the New Year in style! Sounds great, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem: What watch are you going to wear to each of these special occasions? Fortunately for you, I have been spending an (un)healthy amount of time daydreaming about these scenarios and have a few suggestions.

Office Christmas Party: Rolex Air-King

Rolex Air-King
Rolex Air-King

The Rolex Air-King is a watch that doesn’t tend to get as much air time (forgive the pun) as some of its more famous stablemates. It’s not a tool watch as such – not in the truest sense of the term, anyway. It doesn’t have the same practicality as the Submariner or the GMT-Master, for example, but in some ways, I think that actually works in its favor. This is one of the few Rolex models with a design not entirely governed by its history, which has resulted in a rather quirky-looking watch with lots of personality. At the same time, it’s still formal enough for even the stuffiest of office settings. It’s the perfect watch for when you want to let your hair down without fully letting your hair down. Plus, it’s not so showy that your boss is going to think they’re overpaying you. The Air-King’s polarizing dial is not for everyone, however, so if you’re looking for similar specs but in a less bold package, the Rolex Explorer will also do the trick.

Drinks With Friends: NOMOS Club Campus 38 Night

NOMOS Club Campus 38 Night
NOMOS Club Campus 38 Night

There’s no denying that the holiday season can get pretty hectic. Buying presents, wrapping presents, family obligations – the list goes on. It’s always nice to take some time for a quiet get-together with friends at your favorite bar. Typically a low-key occasion, this is an opportunity to reminisce about the year, swap some war stories, and just generally enjoy each other’s company before everyone heads off for the holiday break. For this type of gathering, I recommend something understated yet stylish, such as the Club Campus 38 Nightfrom NOMOS Glashütte. It’s impossible to feel stressed when you’re wearing a watch this laid back and cool. A healthy dose of luminous material on the dial means you can easily keep track of the time, regardless of the “mood” lighting in the venue (translation: dive bar) you and your friends decide on. 

Christmas Eve Dinner With Your In-Laws: Grand Seiko Elegance GMT SBGM221

Grand Seiko Elegance GMT SBGM221
Grand Seiko Elegance GMT SBGM221

Dinner with your in-laws (current or future) can be a raucous, enjoyable experience, though sometimes it can be downright painful. It really comes down to what watch you choose to wear. I’m kidding, of course, but there’s no denying that having a nice timepiece on your wrist imbues you with a certain sense of confidence. The Grand Seiko Elegance GMT SBGM221 takes it one step further. This watch is rich in detail and history and, thus, gives you an interesting (and, most importantly, neutral) topic of discussion to fall back on if there’s a lull in the conversation or if you need to quickly change the subject after an awkward question about a ring or baby (or lack thereof). Of course, you don’t buy a Grand Seiko just so you can educate people on the intricate details of Japanese craftmanship (google “zaratsu polishing” if you don’t know what I’m talking about), but it is a nice side benefit. Plus, it’s impossible not to like someone who clearly has such good taste in wrist wear.

Christmas Day: Breitling Superocean Automatic 44

Breitling Superocean Automatic 44
Breitling Superocean Automatic 44

Growing up in Australia, Christmas day meant two things: a huge family feast and some semi-competitive outdoor sports, usually at the beach. A robust and rugged watch with decent water resistance was a must. Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, though, this time of year is much colder and darker, meaning we typically stay indoors for the holidays. That being said, one must always be prepared for the possibility of an impromptu snowball fight to burn off those Christmas calories. Thus, a watch like Breitling’s Superocean Automatic 44 fits the bill perfectly – relaxed enough for a day of lounging around, yet ready for action at the drop of a hat. For an extra sense of holiday cheer, I’d recommend the version with a bright yellow dial.

New Year’s Eve: Cartier Santos Large

Cartier Santos Large
Cartier Santos Large

I’ve really come to enjoy the ritual of getting dressed up and going somewhere fancy to mark the end of another year, but let’s face it, New Year’s Eve never really goes the way we planned. More often than not, you end up somewhere completely different from where you’d expected. If you’ve done things right, this is very much a good thing. With that in mind, you need a watch versatile enough to hold its own in just about any setting, and that’s exactly what the Cartier Santos Large model delivers. You can dress it up or down and even change the strap on the fly to better suit your surroundings. It’s an absolute classic in a modern form and will always complement your attire, regardless of whether you’re at a bar, restaurant, house party, an illegal rave, or however else you choose to spend your night.

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About the Author

Tom Mulraney

Growing up in Australia in the 1980s and 90s, there wasn’t much of a watch scene. There was only one authorized retailer of high-end watches in the city I lived in …

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