NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The holidays are the time to pamper the most important person in your life. Shouldn't you make that list? And what better way to pat yourself on the back for a job well done than with a hand attached to a brand-new business watch?
Yes, I've heard the argument that businesswomen and businessmen no longer need timepieces in these techno-addled days, when essentially picosecond-accurate time is available 24/7 on your mobile phone. I say hogwash! Time is what we business people do, and I find that a beautifully crafted chunk of horological technology, prominently displayed on my wrist, lets all know just how precious each tick and tock of my business day is.
Now, before we go watch shopping, let me warn you that the gray market for timepieces is wide, fast and murky. No matter which buyer you choose -- on the Web or in a bricks-and-mortar store -- you must work with a reputable dealer. There are far too many fakes out there, and when you get stuck with one of those, it's awful.
Boccia Titanium 3500-01
Though the market is flooded with $100-or-so watches from the usual suspects such as
, for this watch nerd the C-Note category winner is
and its entry-level titanium model in the Boccia line. The
has a lovely, cleanly designed watch face and more than you can expect in movement for a watch of this price. It's water-resistant to 165 feet (that means shower yes, swim no) and comes in a really, really well-done titanium case and buckle. The strap is great, too.
Nixon The Optique
Nixon is the watch lover's dirty little secret: fabulous design, tremendous style, great prices ... but simply awful movement. The company appears to be turning over a new leaf with some better-quality watches, though. For women's professional models I like
. It boasts a stainless case, an easy-to-read dial and the hour marker is down at 6 o'clock, not up at 12 -- nice touch. At least on paper, the unit makes a reasonable attempt at a quality movement; time may still prove me wrong, and I would still not rely on the Nixon for long-term service, but for a basic business watch with some serious style at a good price, ladies, this is the one to get.
Rado True Thinline Unisex Ceramic
watches are essentially what cheapies from, say, Swatch should be: perfectly designed, meticulously engineered and done in an indestructible ceramic. Plus, this sucker is less than 5 millimeters thick; that's like a couple of playing cards. If you can't stomach the price, tell yourself you'll share it with your significant other -- it is unisex, after all, and that makes it only $680 for each of you. That's a bargain for something you will love for the rest of your life.
Italo Fontana U-Boat Classico A-925 45 MM
Nothing like a big 'ol German submarine to inspire a big 'ol Italian watch. But there is something simply, well, tremendous about Italo Fontana's U-Boat line. Sure, Fontanas border on the bizarre. Others in this line look like they really can sink ships. But if you stick with the merely large
, you get a one-of-a-kind piece you can wear to any business meeting. Keep in mind, pricing on these things can be a state secret. I was quoted $4,000 from Matt Baily, Montreal's excellent watch retailer. Call 'em up, they are happy to sell to you. And the company has many domestic retailers as well. Assuming you find the right retail shop, the A-925 is the pick for a business watch you want to invest in.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921
($32,400 list price)
Yes, you have to wind it. Yes, it costs as much as the small Mercedes. And yes, noon is where 2 o'clock usually is. But who cares? The Vacheron Constantin Historique American 1921 is the watch of the moment. Perfect manual movement, 18K pink gold, a simply flawless band and, once you get used to the noon-not-being-up thing, there is no watch easier to read. Now, actually getting one can be stressful; knockoffs lurk like mad on this brand, so be careful. But if you had a really, really good year, remember it with the American 1921. For me, there is no watch like it.
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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.