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Every New Dad Should Wear a Watch. This Is Why

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Perfectly practical reasons why every parent should wear a wristwatch. A few sentimental ones, too.

Kailah Ogawa

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So you’re going to be a parent. Congrats!

There’s an almost impossible amount to prepare, from the nursery to the hospital go-bag and beyond. But before that fateful moment in which you put your gear to the test, as I did one cold January morning, I’ve got one more item to put on your to-do list: Get a watch.

A watch is an essential parenting tool, and it comes in handy even before the bundle of joy arrives. Those contractions won’t time themselves!

Down the line, you’ll also want to track your kid’s ever-shifting wake windows and nap times, and assuming you can even find your phone in that mess of random odds and ends, there comes a point in every parent’s journey where lock screens and charging cables aren’t worth the extra seconds.

So what watch? Well, I can’t tell you exactly, but I can give you a few hard-won tips, some practical, some less so.

First and foremost, get a watch that is easy to read. That’s table stakes. You want big fonts and numbers with a nice contrast for aesthetic and usability purposes.

My Shinola Runwell was great for this — nice big fat sans-serif letters that were nicer to look at than the screaming blue light of my phone. But it’s not just for you! Now that my kid knows her numbers, we can sit and count to 12. In a world with so many digital distractions, I want my child to be inspired by analog time.


Shinola Runwell 41mm

You’ll also want some lume. Can you pull out your phone in a pitch-black bedroom at 1:53 a.m., after 55 minutes of soothing, just to see what time it is? Yes. Will you come to regret it? Also yes.

Of course, all the legibility in the world is worthless if it’s too uncomfortable to wear. I opt for nylon straps that I can wash and swap out as needed. The first year of my kid’s life taught me my Shinola with a leather strap was just too big and sweaty. So I downgraded to a Timex x Todd Snyder MK-1 with a much smaller size at 42mm and a canvas strap. It was a breath of fresh air, and my daughter loves the orange hands.

Todd Snyder

Timex x Todd Snyder MK-1 Sky King

Naturally, a good dad watch has to be able to take a beating. Kids are filthy. Liquid resistance is mandatory. I gave up on keeping my watch pristine and love my dialed-back Timex because I don’t have to worry if it can handle bathtime. I pine for a diver, or something with a stopwatch, so I can fully resign my phone to pocket duty. Just don’t be too precious with whatever you pick.

Yes, a watch is a practical tool. It can also hold a lot of sentimental value. As someone who works with photography and art direction on a daily basis, I’m always thinking about how something “shoots.” That might not be top of mind for you but remember: Your watch will feature in family photos.

Finally, here’s a tip I learned from my old man: Don’t try too hard. Growing up, I never gave much thought to his Mickey Mouse Seiko. Now I can’t help but see it as an icon of his humor and discipline — traits forged in fire during his time as a marine.

But no watch, no matter how accurate, can save you from that fundamental curse of parenthood: Time is going to speed up, and there’s no way to stop it. As I’ve gotten older, it’s clicked with me that my parents wore watches if not to slow the time, then to remember not to take it for granted.

For now, my daughter is just learning how to move the clock hands in Tell Time with the Very Busy Spider. Before long, I’m sure, she’ll be reading books and clocks all on her own. I just hope I can teach her early to savor the seconds. They’re flying by too fast for me to do it alone.