The allure of a luxuriously handcrafted watch never fades, and these timepieces are testament to that. A luxury watch doesn’t just tell time, it’s a piece of art – every single one is worthy of becoming a prized heirloom, passed down from generation to generation.
Related: These six new men’s luxury watches are great investment options for 2021
Given their supreme craftsmanship and top-notch precision engineering, these highly-complicated luxury watches are a true symbol of taste and class.
If you’re an avid watch collector, luxury watch investor or a novice to the world of luxury watches, this curated list of top ten watchmaker brands need to be in your radar. Maybe you are paying attention to what celebrities and style-makers are doing. Delve deeper into the history and origins of your favourite luxury brands and learn about their most iconic pieces that you should invest in.
From the distinguished Patek Philippe watches to the covetable Rolex watches, scroll ahead for ten horologists every watch lover should bookmark.
Founded in 1851, Patek Philippe is the last family-owned Genevan luxury watch manufacturer. The brand is renowned for its hand-finishing techniques that include minute decorations and enhancements done by a trained specialist. The Swiss watchmaker has mastered the savoir-faire for its horological complications, and has proudly crafted the world’s most complicated portable timepiece.
What’s more, their classic designs were handmade for royalty back in the day. Precision, functionality and exceptional artisanship define this luxury brand the best.
Watch to Invest In: Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R, inspired by their sport watches circa 1976.
This luxury watch brand was established in 1875 by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet in a small village, Le Brassus, of the Vallée de Joux in Swiss Jura. Over the last two centuries, the brand has perfected its complicated watch mechanisms, miniaturization, and pioneering design done by highly-specialized watchmakers to create some of the most sought-after watches.
Royal Oak is one (revered for being the first steel luxury sports watch, launched in 1972), as is Royal Oak Offshore (known for its oversized dial).
Watch to Invest In: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin, inspired by the 1972 steel luxury sports watch design.
Vacheron Constantin was founded by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755 in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s one of the oldest luxury watchmakers with a rich heritage. Not only was it worn by royalty back in the day (by the likes of His Majesty King Farouk I of Egypt and Napoleon Bonaparte), but it’s also a favourite of historical figures like Harry Truman and Pope Pius IX as well as Hollywood celebrities.
The brand is touted for its innovative craftsmanship and technical mastery showcased by the Maison’s craftsmen—the engravers, enamelers, guillocheurs, gemsetters, watchmakers and jewelers who together create a unique, heirloom-worthy piece.
Watch to Invest In: Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-Second Chronograph Tempo is a double-sided timepiece, one of the most complicated wristwatches to produce.
Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre has been crafting innovative watches since 1833. The brand is renowned for having created more than 1200 calibers, which has earned it a name in the watchmaking industry. One of its most iconic timepieces is the thin and slim Reverso model, launched in 1931, which features a reversing case.
Interestingly, it was designed like that to withstand the polo matches of the British officers in India! Other famous Jaeger-LeCoultre collections include the Master, the Atmos and the Duomètre. The prestigious company is also known for its 1,000 hour test wherein it rigorously tests the movement before and after the casing of the watch.
Watch to Invest In: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Small watch in pink gold, inspired by the 1931 Reverso collection.
Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, Rolex is famous for its chronometric precision and timeless function. The brand was created with an attempt to produce precise wristwatches, and Wilsdorf found success in 1910 when a Rolex watch was granted the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in Bienne.
Rolex also created the first-ever waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster. What’s more, they also launched self-winding watches in 1945 that changed the horology industry forever.
Watch to Invest In: The Oyster Perpetual Submariner in Oystersteel, inspired by the original Oyster launched in 1953.
Interestingly, watchmaker Ulysse Nardin was an apprentice to leading Swiss watch brands in the 19th century. In 1846, he embarked on a journey to create precision marine chronometers which eventually led to his brand attaining success. In 1985, the brand launched the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, a timepiece that ended up in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most functional watch.
In recent years, the luxury brand has been producing experimental designs, like The Freak, which features no crown, dial or hands, a flying carousel tourbillon, and super-light silicium technology.
Watch to Invest In: Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 42 mm, inspired by the 1846 marine chronometer.
Though the French brand is more synonymous with jewellery, founder Louis Cartier initially started off by making watches in 1847.
In 1916, the legendary Tank watch was born, and for over a century, the luxury watch brand has reinvented this timepiece to allow for technical excellence. The Maison’s craftsmen also practice impressive techniques like the gold granulation and grisaille enamel, which truly set the traditional luxury brand apart.
Watch to Invest In: Tank Louis Cartier watch, inspired by the 1916 model.
Founded by Louis-Ulysse Chopard in 1860 in Sonvilier, Switzerland, this luxury brand has become synonymous for its unique chronometers and pocket watches, as well as for its sophisticated jewellery. In the 19th century, qualities like precision and reliability were missing from watches, and that’s what Chopard (who came from a humble background as the son of a farmer) set out to achieve.
As the official provider of watches for Tir Fédéraz and the Swiss Railway Company, Chopard established a name for his supreme craftsmanship and innovative designs in Switzerland, which paved the way for international recognition.
Some of Chopard’s highly complicated watches in the L.U.C. collection features a sixty-five-hour power reserve, which allows them to run for years without slowing. Other notable collections include the Mille Miglia and the Alpine Eagle collection.
Watch to Invest In: Chopard L.U.C Full Strike, featuring one of their grandest complications.
IWC Schaffhausen was established in 1868 by an American, Florentine Ariosto Jones, in eastern Switzerland. The objective for the luxury watch brand was to marry American production techniques with the craftsmanship of Swiss artisans. What set IWC Schaffhausen apart from its Swiss contemporaries was its intelligent use of hydropower, sourced from the River Rhine that was used to manufacture high-quality watch movements.
Today, the Swiss brand produces meticulously-handcrafted timepieces with precision engineering and timeless designs for six watch families: Pilot’s watches, Portugieser, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Da Vinci and Portofino.
Watch to Invest In: IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph watch with an 18k gold case.
Though the Swiss luxury watch brand was founded in 1980, it’s quickly risen up the ladder to become a pioneering force in watch-making. With its unique proposition of combining gold and rubber in the same watch, Hublot is leading the way by fusing traditional techniques with modern materials.
Additionally, the brand has also created a range of in-house movements—like the design of the Unico automatic chronograph, the power reserve of Meca-10, Tourbillon and MP-11 calibers among others.
Watch to Invest In: Hublot Big Bang Integral King Gold, inspired by their in-house movement.