18 Yo Birthday Gift That Can Be Kept?

My son is turning 18 soon. I want to give him something that he may keep or even use until he is 80!
Of course I will also give him the obvious stuff like Kindle, tablet, watch …
But what about something unique and useful and can LAST? Budget is about $500
Please advise quickly as his Bday is close, thks.

He is still living at home with us for now and the near future

Update 1 after 109 replies:

Skipping the jokes, below are my thoughts

  • Knife: why? what for? cutting apples at picnic? concealed in his hoodie on public transport and get a fine? stabbing people? I can't really understand all the craze about knives collection and I think so does my boy. So I'll pass.
  • Wines / whiskey: Probably not. I am not a drinker and don't expect / want my boy to be. One or two occasional beers and a glass of fruity champagne is enough for us.
  • Experience: Nice suggestion but both of us are not into things like car racing, footy/soccer and stuff. So - crossed from the list.
  • Travel: We will have a holiday together anyway and I am the protective type of parent and can't let him go alone or with young friends on an overseas trip at this age yet (the most he has been away from home was a 5 day cadet outdoor trip in the bush).
  • Shares: Great in the long run, but doesn't meet the "can be used" point and also is not appreciated by him right now.
  • Zippo lighter: I know it can be used for other purposes, but I would be out of my mind to give him a thing to light up cigarettes.
  • Jewelry/necklace: sounds OK but the problem is he has never really worn any so I don't know about his taste - would be very difficult to choose something that he WILL like or wear. So probably not.

  • Watch: Definetely shortlisted. I read about Seiko a bit as one said it was no way high-end - that person may not know about such thing as Grand Seiko. I read it may come at US$ 400,000! I may consider an automatic, or even Spring Drive Seiko if it can be found in a stretched budget of $1000 - any comments?

  • Also as I mentioned, whether I go the watch option or not I will also likely get a pair of cufflinks - the Griffin is a really neat idea as he likes those fancy, legendary things a lot. Any pointer - which one, where?
  • Good leather luggage: a very good idea. The saddlebackleather looks like great heirloom quality. But, 100 years warranty from a single guy that just started his business 15 years ago? Anything similar and Australian-made? I am only first gen Aussie but would love to give my boy some nice leather stuff locally made. Suggestions?
  • Tools: A Leatherman sounds fine. Even though he is of the nerdy type, not handy this is still shortlisted.

So I'd like to ask for more specific suggestion/elaboration on these shortlisted items: watch, high-end leather luggage, and tools. Later I may set up a poll on certain shortlisted brands for your votes - thanks.

(I decide just to give him something simple first like a Kindle for example, then the official, heirloom-quality one will be given at a later date when he finishes his VCE as those would be too much of a distraction to him now that he is studying hard)


  • Does he still live at home or has he moved out? If he's moved, consider some decent cookeware or knives.

    • cookeware or knives

      sounds like the best present any 18 year old guy would like.

      • In all seriousness though, a leatherman or quality pocket knife will last him the rest of his life and young men almost unanimously love pocket knives.

        Useful, lasting, thoughtful!

        Or some quality tools. Even if he isn't the 'handy' type, one day he'll be living on his own, and every time he goes to fix something he'll remember you gave him the tools! I know I do, but I could just be the sentimental type ;)

        • I agree. I received a Leatherman almost 20 years ago as a gift and am still using it today. That thing has been half way round the world with me on all sorts of trips. It's been so useful and good quality build as well.

      • Yea I totally recommend http://japanesechefsknife.com/

        Bit pricey depending on what you buy, but worth it!

      • I would have loved a good set of Wusthofs or Globals when I was 18, and they last a lifetime… but of course only if he's into cooking.

    • It wasn't an 18th present, but my Victorinox Huntsman is one of my most prized positions.
      I've used that thing for years and I've helped me in a variety of situations.

  • how about a nice watch?

    • Motorola 360. or Pebble Steel.

    • You aren't getting a nice watch for $500. Anything that low will likely be quartz, and not worth keeping. It certainly won't have any intrinsic value, it will be a blinded up $20 movement, at best. A nice mechanical watch worth keeping is going to start in the thousands.

      • Nonsense. Seiko makes wonderful automatics at the $500 price level.

      • The Watch Snob would agree with you. Iirc about the only cheapie he's ever suggested was a Seiko 5 - maybe! In any case an 18yo will rarely appreciate the heirloom factor. He wants something trendy or useful.

        Give him a memory OP - eg a concert ticket with hotel stay, a balloon ride, or one of many adrenalin experiences you can buy. Or there's memorabilia (signed stuff)?

        Good luck. 18 was one of my favourite years

        • Do you expect more from OzBargainers?

        • This bloke has forgotten more about watches and what constitutes quality/craftsmanship than most of us will ever know. Entertaining reading also if you 'get' the style - eg "incidentally, the fact that many knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers wear Rolexes should not necessarily deter you. They make a good watch."


          I saw on your Reddit thread that you recommend Seiko as a brand to consider for those who can't afford luxury watches. What is your opinion on their line of hybrid movements they refer to as “kinetic”? If someone wants a mechanical watch, does this qualify?

          The Seiko Kinetic is not a mechanical watch that would satisfy a purist’s definition, no, but it is an interesting piece of technology in its own right. After all, what do we really object to in quartz watches? The problem with the damned things is that the moment you begin to use it, the battery starts to slowly go flat — perhaps over several years, but I have never cared for the feeling of something dying a long, slow, inevitable death on my wrist (it reminds me of the months-long gradual decline and death of my favourite pet tortoise, Pitt The Elder, when I was of tender years. Away, dark memory!).

          The Kinetic solves this problem neatly; the only real problem is finding one that is reasonably attractive. Seiko, for all their technical prowess occasionally produce, for reasons best understood perhaps through a perusal of their popular graphic novels, some of the most bizarrely ill-advised and peculiar designs in the history of watchmaking and the Kinetic watches seem to be especially the recipients of these dubious efforts. Of course, if you are looking for an incredible variety of flat-out weird designs, look no further.

          Plenty of good info and advice if you're looking for a true heirloom watch of quality, but they usually don't come cheap.


      • your definition of nice is perhaps debatable? The sub-$500 watch market is flooded with all sorts of great lines. As for the quartz part - suggesting that a quartz watch is sub-par to a mechanical is absolutely absurd. Sure they are battery operated but thats not the point here since heirloom watches are bought for the connection they provide between generations as they are gradually given down. Mechanical watches do have the craftsmanship that comes in watchmaking but what of it? (unless ofc OP is a budding watch enthusiast, i don't think that is a factor that should be considered here)

        • Get a Steinhart if your budget is c. $500 and you want something that looks like the Rolex Sub

          Or an Oris dress watch if you can stretch the budget to $1,000.

          Either is miles better than a Seiko 5 (yes I know Grand Seikos are excellent but the rest of the entry level automatic Seikos are not made to the same specifications or level of finish as entry level Swiss watches)

          You actually can't win with a Seiko - people who know nothing about watches won't realize its a $500 watch, and people in the know will snobbishly show you their Swiss timepieces and think in their minds how much better their watch is when compared to yours - "it's not even Swiss!"

        • @Cozdog: Now I know precisely what the watch Snob is up against.

  • Not useful, but my friend got a sword and shield replica from the Legend of Zelda games. He loved the games as a kid

    • I would love them. Plaued Zelda since i was a kid too. It is something that stores your childhood memory

  • +6 votes

    Picture frame with a family photo of you all when he was younger and an 18yo bottle of single barrel scotch whiskey.

    My friend received a 30yo bottle of Scotch on his 30th birthday.

  • I got a good watch from my parents for my 18th which I still wear every day. (I am 31 now)
    Get a watch and engrave something small into the back of it.

  • I got diamond earrings from my mum for my 18th. I still can't bring myself to wear them because I know I'll lose them. The diamond's quality isn't top notch, but I treasure them though for sentimental value

  • A good quality knife

  • I wouldn't even consider this for my own kid but how about…



  • It may not last until he is 80, but how about some good luggage? Or bespoke handmade shoes - the last should be useful all his life.

  • Some kind of fancy smancy pocket watch

  • Two ideas,

    Either a coin set - which by he is 80 there definitely will not be any coins in use by then (there may not be any coins within 10 years with our movement to cashless economy)

    A good case of red wine - this will get better with every year.

  • A leather overnight bag makes a great gift….you can keep it for life and it gets better with age.

  • +27 votes

    The opposite gender.

  • I'm a 24 year old guy, here's my ideas:

    Jewelry - gold chain, rings or cufflinks, depending on what he likes.

    A good quality tool kit.

    Gym equipment.

    Good books that are worth re-reading or reviewing every few years.

    What are his hobbies / interests?

    It's hard to think of anything else, given how disposable everything is these days. How about a non-tangible EXPERIENCE that he will remember forever (e.g. holiday, skydiving)? Or something personalised, like a photoshoot or something engraved?

  • +3 votes

    Tissot watch

  • +5 votes

    Birthday Gift That Can Be Kept

    A COTD gift voucher. Guaranteed to be stuffed somewhere in his sock drawer for many years to come.

  • Yup, something engravable (jewellery or watch, even whisky bottle) or an experience (rally car, v8, skydive).

    Use the dan Murphy's cashback and free ship. Most experience places will do the same price for you as buying Red Balloon deals on sale/discount.

    I'm a Lego fan, that stuff never depreciates, especially sets that are unique/cool/limited (e.g. Ghostbusters Ecto vehicle)… Just keep it in the box, or buy 2 (one to build, one to keep… But that's just me, OCD-ish)

    Not in your price range, but in terms of wine, Grange and other $500+ wines are probably the only ones to consider cellaring until he's 80 (even with them, they may not last that long)


  • +1 on the watch, but you'll have to save a bit more. World of Watches will do you a nice Breitling or TAG for around $1200 every now and then when they come up on sale, which is about 30% off normal price. That will never go out of style, and will last that long too as they can be repaired if needed

    • I received my Grandfather's TAG and wear it daily, gold and silver, looks fantastic with just about everything. Very pricey, but worth it.

  • An 18 year old girlfriend. lol

  • A cheap street hooker that doesn't use protection. The Hep C will last a long time and should be able to keep it till he's 80. It will also will fit within your $500 budget. I think that satisfies all your requirements.

    • Gilead has a very expensive Hep C treatment..efficacy is around 96%. Sorry!

      Now Ebola will last him his whole (albeit short!) life!

  • +13 votes

    Nokia 3310

  • Latex vagina?

  • condoms? i'm not sure if he will use it but i'm sure it can be kept until he is 80 and i guess it kinda shows that you care about him in that way/department lmao. lol

  • Perhaps an engraved swiss army knife or watch from victorinox?

    • My grandmother bought me a Swiss army knife and its fantastic! I leave it in my cars glovebox and it frequently comes in handy!

      I'd definitely recommend this.

      Also, my mother bought me a bed for my 18th, with similar intentions to you, however as I have moved around the bed has become quite combersome. I am too sentimental to part with it though.

      • Also, my mother bought me a bed for my 18th, with similar intentions to you

        Wait.. everyone was just talking about condoms and procreation… did your mom REALLY want grandkids?

  • knight uniform and accessories

  • Not sure about your budget or cultural background. My family roots are Scottish and my folks gave me an engrave Sgian-dubh which is a ceremonial highland knife that you poke into the top of your sock when wearing a kilt. I cant say it has ever seen much use but it has been nice to have all of these years (I am approaching 50 now).

    I have a 17 YO son myself and I've been thinking about the same thing, some of the ideas I have had:

    • Swiss Watch. I am a bit of a watch snob and although it is not a cheap gift, a nice Omega or even a Rolex if your budget will stretch that far would be something that can stay in the family for several generations. I personally find the Rolex Datejust watches very old-fashioned, like something a 1980's stockbroker would wear. For something more contemporary you could try a sports watch, maybe an Omega Aqua Terra (I have one of these, can be conservative with a suit or sporty with a t-shirt etc). For something more contemporary a Planet Ocean. Cost around $5-7K ish here in OZ but about $3.5 - 4K ish mail order from the US. If you can spend more, a Rolex Submariner, GMT Master or Daytona is almost an emergency budget for life you can wear. Rolex's hold their value well and if worst came to worst your son could always have a spare $12K ish asset he could sell to payout the loan shark etc!!

    As a guide, something with a Swiss Automatic movement is more likely to hold value than any Quartz (battery powered) watch. There are Japanese, Russian and Chinese Automatic Movements, but in general, unless you want to become a watch aficionado, a Swiss Movement is probably your best bet for retaining value.

    • Medicare Shares. Big public float coming up, maybe gift him some of these. Maybe he can hang onto them or even be a stepping stone into his future investment portfolio.

    • Melbourne Victory Shares. Dont know if you follow the A-League but MV are selling off part of the club to fans. I think the minimum parcel is about $500. Wouldn't it be nice now to have shares in Man Utd or Barcelona? If the A-League takes off in years to come it might be nice to be one of the original shareholders.

    • Bottle of Grange Hermitage. The classic Aussie Red, cost around $600. I am no wine expert but this is an investment grade aussie wine that might be worth putting away for a good 40 or 50 years. Make sure he understands it is not cheap plonk to be skulled at schoolies. I have a bottle tucked away I bought my son that is from the vintage of the year he was born, plan is to give it to him on his 21st. In order to retain the value you need to make sure it is stored in a protected place, being tossed around between uni flats or share houses might not be the best environment, not sure what your son's future holds but if he could find a way to store it this could be a nice future investment gift, maybe even plan to use it to wet the head of the future grand kids!

    • Cuff Links. Somebody else mentioned it. My long dead Grandma bought me a pair with a Griffin on them. I dont think they were particularly expensive, they aren't novelty cufflinks but they aren't gold or precious metals either. They are more valuable to me than some of my expensive Swiss Watches. If I ever have an important meeting or interview etc I always wear Gran's cufflinks because it makes me feel like Gran is watching on and helping me. She gave me them back when I was around 20, I am now nearly 50. If I was buying cufflinks there would need to be meaning in the logo etc, novelty cars or golfballs might not really cut it. The Griffin was a divine creature renowned for protecting the valuable. Gran gave me mine when I had just been commissioned as an officer in the Army.

    • Nice list, thks, maybe a pair of cufflinks too with a watch then

    • for some reason when you mentioned your gran gave you cuff-links, i imagined hand-cuffs in my head :P


      2ndeffort, what a lovely post. Brought a tear to my eye.

    • PLUS 1 for the shares suggestion. Buy a $500 parcel of blue chip CSL or WOW shares. These will allow him to educate himself about the sharemarket; it's a gift that keeps giving (dividends, capital growth) and he wont just 'cash them in' as he might with a more tangible item. These shares will be 400%+ higher in 72 years* (if he can hold onto them for that long) and he too can hand them to his children when they turn 18.

    • If I was Scottish I'd ask for a Claymore for my 18th…

    • Some good suggestions.

  • Browsing through your suggestion, I probably will settle with a nice watch eventually, may be not that nice like a Breitling, but something like an Eco-Drive? (Which I heard can last a lifetime) Where can I get it engraved??

  • •Good bottle of Scotch - NOT for schoolies. For drinking with his best mates or by himself after a long day.

    • Good bottle of Red to put away for 30-40 years

    • Decent watch - you might have to save some more.

    •leatherman knife/multitool - for a proper one expect to pay $200.

    • Is an 18 year old likely to have the cellaring conditions that you would need to be able to store a bottle of red 30 - 40 years?

      I like the Scotch Idea - get an 18 year old to age-match!