5 of the best watches to hand down to the next generation 5 of the best watches to hand down to the next generation

5 of the best watches to hand down to the next generation

Tom Austin

As watch enthusiasts, we have the fortune to have plenty of options when it comes to leaving something behind for loved ones when we inevitably depart this earthly plane. Being able to keep a memento of something which meant a lot to a person can be a nice memento when they’re gone, but it can also be amazing to hand down a watch to a younger family member while you’re still around, to see them enjoy it and build a relationship with it, much as you did. Watches are perfect for this, but what makes a good heirloom watch?

Patek Philippe Calatrava 6119G/R

Patek Philippe Calatrava 6119G:R

It’s been 28 years since Patek Philippe launched its iconic ad campaign, featuring photography from the late great Peter Lindbergh, showcasing an effortless way to market a $25,000+ wristwatch well. The famous strapline read, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation”. The line ran in Patek marketing for around 20 years, and as such, became synonymous with the brands ethos. Patek Philippe became the brand so special, you bought one with the thought of handing it down in mind.

patek philippe heirloom advert

There’s no denying that pretty much any Patek Philippe would be suitable, but of course, not all of them are as accessible as we may like. A piece that is more within reach is the Calatrava 6119, a time-only watch that embodies everything about the brand and is understated enough to become a staple in any collection. It’s worth noting that to be a good heirloom, it has to be something that you actually wear a lot, so it makes sense that it would be a more everyday piece. The 6119 is as classic as it gets with Patek Philippe, looking both traditional and contemporary at the same time. Price: US$35,000

Chopard L.U.C Strike One

Chopard LUC Strike One

We’ve established that watches are a perfect way to let those you eventually leave behind remember you, a way to hold onto that memory. Another way we all naturally do it is through music. We all have our favourite songs which were adored by loved ones, and each time we hear them it can capture that emotion perfectly. Now, imagine being able to do the same thing with a wristwatch. In years to come, being able to hear a sound that fondly reminds you of your parent is something unique, and, frankly, rather special. That’s exactly why the Chopard L.U.C Strike One makes a perfect heirloom watch.

Chopard’s line of chiming watches were reworked in 2022 to introduce the Strike One. It’s a sonnerie au passage watch which uses a hammer and gong to chime the passing of each hour. A charming complication which uses a sapphire crystal gong to ensure consistent sound at just the right pitch and tone. The L.U.C movement is housed in a 40mm rose gold case which is pleasantly decorated and well-proportioned. Finishing off the watch is a solid gold honeycomb dial, galvanically treated, producing a muted brown colour. Price: US$68,700

Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph

the longines avigation bigeye

There’s no better dad watch than a vintage-style chronograph. Something affordable and long-lasting, too, which is exactly where Longines deliver. The Avigation BigEye is the perfect selection, with its traditional aesthetics and chunky, purposeful wrist presence. The BigEye has been around for a while now, but it’s well-placed as a good value proposition given its typical Longines quality and finish.

The dial is the focal point, with clear chronograph indicators and large numerical hour markers; it’s one of the most legible chronographs you’ll find. That, combined with the petrol blue dégradé dial offering a metallic sheen, makes for a look rarely found on tooltastic chronos like the BigEye. The case is light thanks to the titanium construction, with a larger 41mm x 14.5mm disposition. This is mainly due to the movement, an automatic column-wheel chronograph based on the ETA A08.L01. Nevertheless, the Avigation BigEye is a capable watch which is great for everyday wear, and for someone to get a lot of use out of to before leaving to any future vintage watch fan. Price: US$3,850

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Murph

hamilton khaki field murph

Most of us have memories of our dads getting their hands dirty, be that building things, chopping wood, fixing cars, or even as simple as putting the chain back on our bicycles for the hundredth time. What better watch to be wearing while doing all that dad stuff than a Hamilton? It’s the kind of watch that perfectly fits the dad aesthetic, carrying those marks and scuffs well over time. Eventually, if worn hard enough, it will end up looking even cooler, and will be an awesome keepsake for your kids to remind them of you.

The Hamilton Khaki Field is a jack-of-all-trades, but our choice would be the 38mm Murph. It featured in the Christopher Nolan sci-fi epic Interstellar and was centred around the main character, Coop, handing it to his daughter Murph. The watch played a key role in the storyline, allowing his connection with his daughter to transcend through space and time via the watch, something I guess all of us watch fans can connect with. Spec-wise, the Hamilton Khaki Field holds its own, with a 38mm stainless steel case, a legible dial with numerical hour markers and cathedral hands. The H-10 automatic movement is a simple and sturdy affair, offering time-only functions with a whopping 80-hour power reserve. Price: US$895

Any watch at all

heirloom watches grandfather seiko

The truth is, it’s not always about what the watch is; it’s about what it represents. The watch in the picture is a Seiko SQ 5Y23-7050, belonging to my late grandfather. He died some 28 years ago, and I have had his watch ever since. It has become an important part of my collection, and given its positioning amongst some fairly expensive watches, it’s the one which is absolutely priceless to me. It’s also 33mm, which is funny because my grandad had even larger wrists than I do, yet he didn’t seem to care and wore it every single day. Looking back at photographs, it doesn’t even look too small on him either. Among it are a bunch of other affections of his, but the watch is the one closest to my heart.

The point is, these watches all tell a story. Despite it being a humble, quartz Seiko, it represents my childhood and everything that makes me happy, and probably played a huge part in my love for watches throughout the years. It’s probably the one physical thing I would be devastated to lose. It represents a part of me that I will carry forever, and hopefully hand down to someone one day.