Baby’s first steps, boys first crush… a man’s first watch. Ok so one of these is not like the others, but your first timepiece is still a big deal. It’s likely the first wearable object you’ll spend far too much on; get it right and it won’t be the last.

The question is, with so many watches out there in more shapes and sizes than any sane person should know about (trust me, I’m borderline), what should your first watch actually be?

Well, unless you have more money than you know what to do with, you’re probably looking at entry-level watches. Don’t worry, the term’s not synonymous with ‘cheap’. It’s an airy-fairy term but it generally means the price at which a watch can be considered luxury.


Ape’s Editor, Chris Beastall wears an IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

It changes year on year as prices slowly get hiked by at the moment you’re looking around the 4-5k mark. Think of your Omegas, IWCs and Breitlings, the kind of watches that get admiring glances without breaking the bank. Maybe take a look at Montblanc too. Generally, they’re the bigger names that can afford to mass-produce watches of very good quality.


Breitling Navitimer 8 B01

The one I didn’t mention there is Rolex. The king of watch brands does fit of course, but there’s a bit of a downside. EVERYONE gets a Rolex. It’s so – excuse my French – passé. That’s not to say they’re bad watches, far from it; Rolex have their reputation for a reason. But your first watch says something about you and you don’t want it to tell everyone you’re a status-obsessed conformist.

You do want a name that people will recognise as having to explain your watch constantly is a bit painful. Trust me on that, I’m a bit of a horological hipster when it comes to my own watches – except for one. I’ll get to that later.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

At the same time, you do want something with longevity. You have to assume the watch is going to last you for a few decades, if not attain heirloom status. Therefore, you should take a look at the designs that have already stood the test of time – watches like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, the Panerai Radiomir or the TAG Heuer Carrera.

You might wonder why I’m not suggesting vintage at this point. You do get better value for money in general, often for some cooler watches. The reality though is that you need to know what you’re doing. Some dealers will rip you off, some will give you good deals and knowing the difference between the two comes only from experience. I’d suggest vintage should be left for your second watch.


Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional (the classic Moonwatch)

So, bringing it all together, what was the first entry-level watch I bought myself? Bear in mind that I’m not saying buy this, just that it fit the bill for me at the time. It still does in fact. If I say that it went to the moon, you can guess already: the Omega Speedmaster.

A design that can be called iconic without hyperbole, a classic movement and a recognisable brand name, it ticks all the boxes for a first watch. It might not be what you’d choose, but I still love it and will probably continue to. Most importantly, if that’s how you end up feeling about your first watch, you know you’ve chosen right.