18 Engagement Watches, In Case Rings Aren't Your Thing
It'd be a stretch to say engagement rings are out (okay, a BIG stretch) but an engagement watch? That's very much in these days–in fact, wedding watches in general are having a moment. More and more we're seeing couples eschew the tradition of the engagement ring in favor of engagement watches (or even in addition to the ring—wedding gift alert). For some couples, an engagement watch for a groom-to-be is a thoughtful, practical companion piece to a bride-to-be's engagement ring. For others, an engagement watch serves as a practical alternative to a ring. Couples can get matching watches or ones that tap into their personalities and lifestyles in a way rings can't always accomplish. With the watch market booming in popularity these days and quality timepieces more available than ever, a watch can put a unique mark on a proposal or commemorate an engagement after the fact. Here are some of our favorite selections from the watch world for those looking to pick one up.
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Engagement Watches for Him
Cartier Tank Louis
Watch enthusiasts love the Cartier Tank for a reason: It's undeniably sophisticated and utterly timeless with its rectangular, roman numeral face. If you're looking to save a few bucks on this one, pick up a vintage piece on watch resale sites like Bezel or Chrono24.
DOXA Sub 200
Tiffany blue dials are all the rage in the watch world these days and make any timepiece feel right for a special occasion–including engagements. DOXA's stunner of a dive watch, the Sub 200, comes in a beautiful teal dial without costing you more than your entire wedding combined.
Nezumi Studios Voiture
Chronometers (aka racing watches) are some of the most stylish, coveted pieces in the watch world. Nezumi's take on the style comes with a matte black leather band and a unique dial of black accented with off-white. It's a piece sure to turn heads and it won't set you back too much financially.
Tag Heuer Carrera
Speaking of racing watches, Tag Heuer is more or less synonymous with them, serving as the link between the world of racecars and watches. Their signature Carrera is available in this handsome edition that channels all the chic of a dress watch while still holding its own as a classic race watch.
Hamilton American Classic Boulton
The Hamilton Classic brings a rugged edge to the classic dress watch, making it the perfect engagement piece for anyone looking to commemorate a proposal with a great-looking timepiecethat they don't have to be precious about. If it's good enough for Indiana Jones (it's the only watch he's ever worn on screen) it's good enough for you or your loved one.
Omega Seamster Aqua Terra
Omega makes some of the most popular watches in the world, creating stylish Swiss craftsmanship at a price that retains luxury status without being so high end that you have to refinance your home to afford one. Their diver series, the Seamaster, is in many ways the heart and soul of the watch world . TheAqua Terra makes for the perfect engagement watch–it can be worn in engagement photos one day, to work the next, and with a tux the day youwalk down the aisle.
Echo Neutra Cortina 1956
Echo Neutra brings a cool vintage feel to their take on classic watch staples, with their Cortina 1956 chronograph being a particularly impressive piece. With a black racing strap set with red stitching and dial detailing to match it, it's the sort of watch that will have people asking, "Wait, where'd you get that?"
Rolex Two-Tone Datejust
Is it really a survey of great watches if Rolex isn't in the mix? The brand's wares unilaterally make for great engagement pieces, but I'd like to call special attention to the two-tone Rolex Datejust. It's an affordable option when picked up from a reliable secondhand or vintage sourcing site like Bezel and blends old-school Wall Street cool with the ritz you'd expect from an engagement watch.
A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1
AL & Sohne are one of the oldest watchmakers in the world, bringing centuries of craftsmanship to each of their pieces. They don't come cheap, but pieces like the Lange 1 are timeless pieces of art that commemorate an engagement perfectly. .
Huckberry x Zodiac Bronze Super Sea Wolf Diver
For some, an engagement watch needs to be as practical as it is eye-catching. Enter Zodiac's collaboration with Huckberry, a bronzed-out take on the brand's classic diver. Will it look good with a suit? Sure, but it'll also hold up to all kinds of wear and tear over the years.
Furlan Marri Castagna
Furlan Marri stands as a tremendously underrated brand in the watch world, bringing beautiful style and craftsmanship to dress watches at an affordable price. The Castagna epitomizes this. It's an embodiment of their ethos, with a beautiful and intricate dial anchoring the handsome timepiece.
Engagement Watches for Her
I mean, we can't NOT include the Panthère in here. It's perhaps the most iconic women's watch of all time and looks just as good today as it did when the brand first unveiled it decades ago. It's the choice of royalty and pop stars alike, a lineage your fiancé absolutely fits into. You can't go wrong with this one.
Nivada Antarctic Spider
With a chic salmon spider-style dial and trendy strap, the Nivada Antarctic Spider is a stunner of an engagement watch for her–especially if she's a watch enthusiast. The brand is steeped in history and has been making waves since their return a few years ago.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Ladies Reverso One
The JLC Reverso is one of the more unique dress watches in the world thanks to its signature flip-back case. The ladies' edition is downsized and given a fetching steel band to accompany a set of diamonds across the case–who said going with an engagement watch instead of a ring means no diamonds?
Chopard Happy Diamonds Icon
Luxury jeweler Chopard's watches aren't to be slept on, with the Happy series making for one of the brand's signature pieces. This edition comes with a stunning purple band and an ethical rose gold case set with a diamond "smiley face" at the bottom.
Dan Henry 1900
A stylish and sporty option for ladies looking to channel a little something different in their wrist game, Dan Henry's 1900 is a simple dress watch set in a rugged two-piece strap. It's a great call for gals looking for a watch that gives Amelia Earheardt energy.
Cartier isn't all Tanks and Panthères, you know. Their watch line runs deep and the Baignoire isn't to be overlooked. Featuring a super thin leather band and an ovular case that looks like a work of art on its own, it's the perfect left-field choice for an engagement watch for her.
Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori
Bulgari's stunner of a women's watch is perfection–more art piece than timepiece. With a simple silver case and a steel band made to imitate a snakeskin pattern, it's subtle, timeless, and classy. She'll never want to take it off.
What Is an Engagement Watch?
Typically, an engagement watch is given to a man 1) to reciprocate an engagement ring or 2) in lieu of an engagement ring. That said, the gesture definitely doesn't have to be gendered. Anybody can give or receive an engagement watch, so long as it's something the recipient would appreciate as a gift or prefer as a different kind of proposal piece. Really, the key here is that the intended wearer actually likes—or better yet, really loves—watches. The piece is usually a bit of an investment, and maybe even something to pass down to future generations.
The Proposal Engagement Watch
Don't want to wait for your partner to propose? If time's a tickin' (we had to), take matters into your own hands. Nowadays, more and more women are popping the question to their boyfriends. And they do so with a piece of jewelry they know their guy will love: a fancy timepiece. Again though, engagement watches aren't off-limits to anyone. If you were always planning to propose but your partner isn't into rings, an elegant watch might be the perfect alternative. Like a ring, it's something they can wear every day if they so choose. Nice watches have a certain air of sophistication that makes them ideal proposal pieces.
The Post-Proposal Engagement Watch
Maybe you're the one who said "yes" but you want to return the favor. Some choose to present their significant other with an engagement watch in exchange for whatever they received during the proposal. It's a nice way to give them the same feeling you had when they dropped to one knee—it can also symbolize equality in your relationship. This may seem like a new trend, but in other cultures, dual engagement gifts are actually pretty common.
How to Shop for an Engagement Watch
If you've decided to buy an engagement watch, you may be wondering where to start. We're here to help.
What Kind of Watch Should You Buy?
First thing's first: come up with a reasonable budget. If you want this timepiece to feel like the equivalent of an engagement ring, look within that price range. Yes, watches tend to be expensive—which is part of the reason why they're gifted for this major milestone—but at the end of the day, it's the thought that counts.
As for the make and model? Etiquette suggests an engagement watch should be a dress watch—aka a watch that can be worn with formalwear. That's partially because it's sweet to wear the engagement watch on the wedding day, plus other special occasions (like anniversary dates) for years to come. It's also because dress watches just seem special—much like a diamond engagement ring does. What makes a watch a "dress" watch? There's no super-formal definition, especially since modern fashion rules imply you choose your own adventure. But minimalist timepieces (with smaller, simpler faces) on leather bands typically qualify. The idea is that they're, well, timeless—and can fit comfortably with long sleeves (dress shirts, basically).
That said, there's nothing wrong with buying your S.O. a sport watch. Many people wear their engagement rings every day, so why not do the same with an engagement watch? If they're really into gadgetry, get them something more high-tech. If they need something durable, a metal band is perfectly fine. All in all, it comes down to your partner's (life)style and taste. Get them the engagement watch they'll adore—not the one you think you should get.
Where Should You Buy It?
Luxury watches are popular engagement watches, but "luxury" obviously means "pricey." Consider buying from a site like Bezel or Chrono24, which sell new, gently-used, and vintage watches from users around the globe.
Otherwise, go straight to the source and shop from brand boutiques. Note that department stores, like Nordstrom and Saks, also sell good watches. If you're looking for a little personalization, search for brands that offer engraving.