About 16 years ago, my then-girlfriend (now-wife) gave me the first decent quality watch I’d ever owned. It was an analog Nixon with a broad leather band and a handsome, square black face framed by brushed steel. Before getting that Nixon, I’d worn Swatch and Casio wristwatches as a kid and a cheap, Soviet-made windup that worked terribly but looked interesting in a retro-cool “I’m in high school and alternative and look at me!” kind of way. I still have the watch my now-wife wife gave me back in 2002, and although it has since seen two different bands and has been relegated to hiking watch status due to all the scratches marring the face and case, it still works perfectly.
Nixon isn’t an old company. In fact, the brand just celebrated its 20 year anniversary. Nixon was launched to fill a niche its founders, action and snow sport enthusiasts Chad DiNenna and Andy Laats, saw lacking: decent watches with a youthful, yet refined look that sell for an affordable price. Indeed, Nixon watches bridge the gap between the cheap, functional watches many people slap on without a thought and pricier, luxury chronometers worn primarily to impress and that only tangentially serve as reliable timepieces.
If there’s one thing I can vouch for with certainty, it’s that a Nixon watch is reliable. As I said, I’ve had mine going on 16 years now and I wore it daily for the first five or six years I owned it. Since then, it has come along with me as I’ve summited mountains, hiked through rain storms, and bummed around a town or 20. As I grew a bit older and entered into the career and then family-man stages of life, I’ve acquired multiple additional watches, and many of them are from higher price points and better suited for meetings, dinners out, weddings, and so forth. But I’ve also added another Nixon or two to the lineup, because there’s always room for a semi-casual watch that looks fine, works well, and that, frankly, I don’t worry about all that much because regardless of looks or function, it’s not a huge investment.
My original Nixon was the perfect first fine watch for me as I navigated the twists and turns of my early 20s. And while the company does offer several more refined-looking watches, some of which are at a several-hundred-dollar price point, I admire the fact that Nixon has stayed true to its founding vision two decades on.
The brand’s various watches (and its limited selection of apparel, bags, and audio gear) maintain a poised aesthetic that won’t look out of place on the wrist of a junior executive heading into a meeting or a surfer headed out past the breakers. After all, said Jr. Exec and surfer may well be the same guy, depending on the day of the week.
Go ahead and choose a rugged digital Nixon if you need a reliable watch for use during cycling, hiking, or diving. Or get an analog Nixon with a black dial and a gold-colored band if you need to add a grace note to your business attire. Either way, you can count on owning a Nixon timepiece for many years, so choose well even if you won’t be spending all that much.
Are these high-end watches? No. But there’s a time and a place for the Tag Heuer or the Rolex, and many people aren’t there yet. And that’s exactly as it should be.