“After 40,” Abraham Lincoln once said, “every man gets the face he deserves.” We assume that Abe was talking here about watch faces and so, with that in mind, we turned our attention to the best timepiece you can buy to celebrate a 40th birthday for under $5000.
Because 40 is a milestone worth celebrating. This is the decade of self-actualisation, where you stop caring what other people think about you so much. Sure, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – your hangovers are tougher, your back hurts more. But you also start to know who you really are and your watch should reflect this inner substance that your 40th year bestows.
Longines Legend Diver Bronze
This is a diving watch with gravitas. The case is particularly appropriate for a 40th birthday occasion with bronze also being a metal that gets better and better with age. It’s also the perfect counterpoint for the forest green dial that darkens to almost black at the edges. The hand-sewn two-stitch strap in butter-soft calf leather adds to the prevailing sense of effortless stature. Price: $4475
Grand Seiko SBGP005
This dial is dangerously close to perfection. Texture-free, it exists in some wondrous hinterland between matte and gloss with a delectable navy tone that shifts with the light to give it an elusive shimmer. Inside the classic 44GS-style case, the movement is quartz – but you now have the advanced worldly wisdom to know that this is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, this new 9F85 quartz movement proves the point – it’s accurate to a mind-blowing +/-10 seconds per year. Bottom line: this is a classic expression of Grand Seiko in its purest form. Price: $4800
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue
You start to appreciate the past more as you age and this is a case in point (literally!). Downsized into a slimmer 39mm case, the dinkier proportions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight contrive to accentuate its retro soul. This new version maintains all the characteristics of its predecessor that you know and love – the snowflake hands, the 72-hour power reserve – but does so in an appealing new colour. Referencing Tudor dive watches worn by France’s Marine Nationale in the ’70s, it’s “navy blue” in the truest possible sense. Price: $5000
Rado Captain Cook
I actually know one discerning fellow who got this exact watch to celebrate his 40th last year. The winning details for him? The deep jade green of the dial and bezel that makes it stand out from other divers. Inspired by one of the earliest dive watches from the brand in 1962, this 2020 release has a couple of exciting new features. In addition to the three-link bracelet, the watch also arrives with a supple leather strap and a hard-wearing fabric NATO. A true triple threat for the wrist. Price: $3675
Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10551
You might start going grey in your 40s and this watch shows you can do it in style. The fumé dial bleeds from slate to charcoal, creating a moody backdrop that illuminates the glint of the steel sword-hands, indices and stark white print. The solid-steel five-link bracelet is enhanced with satin-polished outer links and brushed centre links to further embolden the smoky dial tone. The crosshairs in the dial’s centre tell the whole story – this is a watch to have in your sights. Price: $4700