Today, life moves faster than ever. Keeping track of time is essential in our fast-paced world—so why not do it in style, with one of the world’s best luxury watches on your wrist?
Luxury watches are destined never to go out of fashion. Even though we now have clocks on our phones, nothing beats the exceptional elegance of a beautifully crafted timepiece. Suddenly, checking the time becomes a rather exciting endeavour.
But these watches aren’t simply a way of tracking time. A premium time-keeper is an emotional investment. A treasured possession. And it will most likely go on to become a prized family heirloom.
Not forgetting that a luxury watch is also an enduring symbol of taste and class. Because what says luxury like a Rolex? What conveys distinction and fashion flair quite like a Patek Philippe?
A high-end watch is a display of impeccable craftsmanship. It’s a testament to centuries-old traditions and engineering techniques. In fact, the best men’s watches are miniature works of art.
By wearing a luxury watch, you are also joining a truly exclusive club. After all, these are the watches worn by presidents, Hollywood stars, and royalty.
But how to choose the best luxury watch for you? How to decide between a traditional and refined timepiece and something more cutting-edge and avant-garde?
A good place to start is with this list of the 55 best luxury watch brands today. This list was created based on detailed research into which luxury brands enjoy a global reputation for delivering high-quality timepieces. A demonstration of exquisite craftsmanship, incomparable aesthetic sensibility, and a passion for pushing boundaries have distinguished these brands as the best luxury watchmakers today.
The best luxury watch brands of 2021
- Patek Philippe
- Audemars Piguet
- A.Lange & Söhne
- IWC Schaffhausen
- Vacheron Constantin
- Ulysse Nardin
- NOMOS Glashütte
- TAG Heuer
- Baume & Mercier
- Maurice Lacroix
- Roger Dubuis
- Tiffany & Co.
- Louis Vuitton
- Bell & Ross
- Arnold & Son
- Jaquet Droz
- Laurent Ferrier
- Maurice de Mauriac
- Parmigiani Fleurier
- Van Cleef & Arpels
- Bovet Fleurier
- Armin Strom
Read on for the ultimate break-down of the top high-end watches by some of the world’s most exclusive brands. You’ll also find a guide to buying a luxury watch, information about whether luxury watches make good investments, a detailed explanation of how to care for and maintain your luxury watch, and an FAQ section.
If there’s one watch brand out there that everybody knows, it’s Rolex. The very name has become a byword for luxury and exclusivity. Wearing a Rolex is more than just wearing a watch. It’s a statement of power and prestige.
From its classic collection to its dive and yacht-master watches, Rolex applies its decades of horological experience and technical know-how to the question of creating quality timepieces that owners can carry with them all their lives—and pass on to their children.
Rolex watches have been worn to some of the most remote places on earth; into wild and challenging terrains, down into the depths of the ocean, and up onto lofty mountain peaks. If you needed proof that a Rolex isn’t just a fashion accessory, then this is it.
The company was the first to patent a waterproof watch: the famous Oyster model. They also brought the first self-winding watch to the market in 1945. A Rolex is also one of the favoured timepieces of the world’s most famous spy, James Bond—further evidence of Rolex’s commitment to all things daring and intrepid.
The brand prides itself on its dedication to quality, on continuously improving its offerings, and on delivering enduring excellence to its loyal customers. In a world of mass-market consumerism and disposable fashion, this is a brand whose designs are guaranteed to last a lifetime. In fact, Rolex watches can actually appreciate in value over time.
Globally recognised and highly coveted, Rolex’s status as one of the best luxury watch brands in the world sees few competitors.
Most popular model: the Rolex Submariner
2. Patek Philippe
Switzerland has become synonymous with luxury watches and one of the top Swiss watch brands of all time is Patek Philippe.
The last family-owned independent watch manufacturer left in Geneva, the company was founded in 1839, and has remained in the hands of the Stern family since then. This continuity of ownership has allowed it to maintain its unique identity and the brand takes its creative freedom seriously.
Indeed, it’s Patek Philippe’s unparalleled approach to design that has allowed the brand to achieve status as one of the best watch companies in the world.
Unanimously declared by experts to be responsible for some of the finest timepieces in existence, Patek Philippe watches are created on the basis of decades of knowledge and horological understanding. What makes a Patek Philippe watch so special is the fact that each detail has been finished by hand by a dedicated master craftsman.
But while the brand is proud of its heritage, the company is also innovative and future-facing, combining skills acquired over its 177 years in existence with high-tech equipment and machinery.
The company also collaborates with artisan craftsmen to develop unique one-of-a-kind models that go on to become some of the most coveted timepieces on the market.
Indeed, another reason for the brand’s appeal is the fact that less than 1 million Patek Philippe watches have been created since 1839. That’s very few, and this scarcity makes them highly sought-after.
On a constant quest for perfection, the very name Patek Philippe has become a guarantee of reliability and star quality.
Most popular model: the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711
3. Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet is one of the most famous high-end watch companies in the world. Created in the Vallée de Joux of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, AP watches now travel the world on the wrists of the rich and famous, including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, and LeBron James.
What secured AP a seat at the table among the most successful global watch brands was its Royal Oak model. Introduced in 1972, the Royal Oak was the first stainless steel sports watch to be marketed as a luxury timepiece, combining style and durability for the first time ever.
The first customer to buy a Royal Oak was the Shah of Iran. The timepiece has since gone on to become the brand’s flagship model—highly prized and worn by men and women alike.
While not as much of a household name as Rolex, perhaps, Audemars Piguet offers something else to would-be wearers: a sense of exclusivity that can only come with being slightly under the radar.
Effortlessly stylish, an AP watch is a demonstration of true creativity and artistry. While many wristwatch brands boast about their level of precision or incredible durability, AP pays just as much attention to impeccable finishes, intricate motifs, and eye-catching engravings.
Its independent spirit makes Audemars Piguet a seductive alternative to more well-known brands and the company’s collection of luxury watches feel inventive, innovative, and thoroughly modern.
If you want a luxury watch that distinguishes you as an Haute Horlogerie connoisseur, then an AP watch is for you.
Most popular model: the Royal Oak
4. A.Lange & Söhne
The first German luxury watch brand on our list, at A. Lange and Söhne, excellence and perfection is a priority at every stage of the process. The company prides itself on the dedication of all its workers and their commitment to consistently delivering the best.
At the heart of A. Lange and Söhne is a unique history. Founded in 1845, the company was expropriated after the Second World War. It wasn’t until after the reunification of Germany in 1990 that it would return.
It was Walter Lange, great-grandson of original founder Ferdinand A. Lange, who opened the doors to business again—launching the company back on its path to watch-making success.
With an intuitive understanding of aesthetics and an unwavering commitment to precision, A. Lange & Söhne’s designs stand out from the crowd of luxury watches with their distinct appearance that is very different to that of the Swiss watch brands.
Take the Lange 1, for example, first released just after the rebirth of the company. The company’s signature model, it is remarkable for its unusual and visually appealing asymmetric dial.
Watchmakers at the company spend three years at watchmaking school before they start work.
They are behind the peerless quality of A. Lange & Söhne timepieces, which can last a lifetime and be passed down through generations.
The brand’s watches have become the favoured timepieces of both celebrities and royalty, from Brad Pitt to Alexander II of Russia. One of the company’s many claims to fame is the fact it was the first watch-making business to create a wristwatch with a three-disc jumping numerals mechanism.
In short, A. Lange & Söhne is all the evidence the world needs that not all the best luxury timepieces are Swiss.
Most popular model: the Lange 1
Omega has been delivering exceptional luxury watches to horophiles for more than 170 years. Omega watches have traveled to the North Pole, been launched into space, and descended into the depths of the ocean in submarines. As a consequence, Omega has gained a reputation as one of the successful wristwatch brands in the world.
Founded in 1848 in a small Swiss village under the name Louis Brandt & Fil, the company launched its first series-produced caliber—the ‘Labrador’—in 1885. In 1892 they introduced the world to a minute-repeating watch—the first of its kind. In 1894, they produced the Omega caliber, whose success prompted a change of name to the Omega Watch Company.
Since then, the pace of success has hardly slowed for Omega. Indeed, Omega watches have broken several precision records. At the 1931 Geneva observatory trials—nicknamed the Olympics of watchmaking—Omega came first place in all six categories.
Meanwhile, the Omega Speedmaster Professional was the first watch to be worn on the moon—on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin. To this day, most American astronauts will only wear an Omega Speedmaster.
It’s certainly an illustrious history. Need more persuasion as to the enduring appeal of an Omega watch? They’ve been worn by the likes of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley, and American president, John F. Kennedy.
For incredible performance and timeless design, an Omega watch has you covered. With name recognition in spades and a supreme standard of quality, your search for a luxury timepiece could easily end here.
In short, it’s no coincidence that the Omega is Greek for greatness and perfection.
Most popular model: the Omega Speedmaster
Perpetual calendars, tourbillons, carousels, and chronographs—the level of intricacy of the mechanisms contained within a Blancpain watch are astounding. Creating one requires an almost unimaginable capacity for precision.
It also requires time. Indeed, only 30 watches are produced in the Blancpain workshop each day. This means there are only a limited number out there, which also allows Blancpain to a level of exclusivity, propelling them into the very top tier of luxury watches.
For Blancpain, nothing beats a traditional mechanical watch. For this reason, you won’t find a single digital component in a Blancpain timepiece. Furthermore, all Blancpain timepieces are created with balance springs made from silicon. This improves performance and precision, and, importantly, creates magnetic resistance.
Decorative adornments are the finishing touch to a luxury watch—and they are what distinguishes Blancpain from competitors. Ornamentation includes etchings and miniature portraits in enamel, plus the integration of innovative materials such as Japanese shakudō, an ancient metal alloy, and binchōtan, a type of charcoal.
Dedicated to upholding the impeccably high standards associated with Haute Horlogerie, Blancpain takes pride in its heritage and the great tradition of watch-making. But innovation also occupies a central place in the company. Blancpain is known for creating certain unique complications, including a Carrousel Volant Une Minute, and an annual calendar combined with a GMT function.
If you’re looking for a unique time-keeping device that will reliably keep the time for decades, plus offer some fashion punch on the side, a Blancpain watch is not an indulgence but an exceptional investment.
Most popular model: the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
7. IWC Schaffhausen
When shopping for a luxury watch, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details: the mechanics and the complex internal workings. But at the end of the day, you also need to ask: does it look good? Does it complement your personal style?
An IWC Schaffhausen watch is that rare thing: a luxury accessory that marries flawless functionality with exceptional design.
IWC was founded in 1868 by a Bostonian: Florentine Ariosto Jones. The company created a name for itself by bringing together innovative new American production techniques with the traditional skills of master Swiss watchmakers. The result? World-class watches that stand out both aesthetically and in terms of reliability.
While the majority of Swiss watch manufacturers are located in the west of the country, IWC Schaffhausen is located in the east, where it makes use of the Rhine river for hydropower.
Indeed, for eco-conscious consumers, a major advantage to an IWC Schaffhausen watch is the company’s commitment to sustainability. They were the first Swiss luxury watchmaker to produce a sustainability report to Global Reporting Initiative Standards, setting out their sustainability targets.
But that means nothing if the watches themselves don’t quite meet the necessary standards. Fortunately they do—without question.
Taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to deliver the highest level of precision, and combining this peerless engineering with the efforts of progressive designers, IWC Schaffhausen brings the best in global watch-making to your wrist.
There are 6 IWC watch families: Pilot’s Watches, Portugieser, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Da Vinci and Portofino. This range includes everyday watches, sports watches, and watches that can only be described as minor works of art—sure to be a conversation starter.
An IWC watch is that dream combination of sophistication and durability. Effortless elegance alongside peerless quality and precision make an IWC watch one of the best on the market.
Most popular model: the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Ref. 3714
If you’re looking for a luxury timepiece that will definitely turn heads, then you want to begin by browsing the collections of high-end watch brand, Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is known within the industry for its inventiveness. In fact, JLC has developed over 1,200 individual calibers and holds 400 unique patents—a testament to its capacity for cutting-edge design.
Take, for example, the brand’s Reverso collection, born in 1930 at the peak of the Art Deco movement. With its legendary rectangular design, it’s a horological great—and the perfect unisex watch.
Or what about the aptly named Grande Complication—known as one of the world’s most complicated watches? The company is also responsible for the world’s smallest mechanical movement, named the Calibre 101.
Many luxury watchmakers pride themselves on their respect for and adherence to tradition. Sometimes this can feel a bit old-fashioned and outdated. JLC represents a more progressive choice, having gained a reputation for being one of the most creative and imaginative watchmakers in the industry.
The brand is still exceptionally prestigious though, and you can be assured of the high quality of each watch thanks to the 1,000 Hour Test each one undergoes. This is a program of internal certification, and includes movement testing before and after the casing of the watch. The 1,000 Hour Control engraving on the back of a JLC watch is guaranteed that it has passed this rigorous program.
A Jaeger-LeCoultre watch is precise, dignified, and marks the wearer out as a true luxury watch connoisseur. The company offers up to eight years warranty—but this is a safety net you’re unlikely to ever need.
Most popular model: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
Known for its contemporary and playful designs, Chopard offers a fashionable and creative timepiece for style-savvy shoppers. Indeed, for luxury dress watches that will have everyone’s eyes on your wrist, Chopard is the luxury watch brand you need to know about.
Founded in 1860, Chopard was originally famous for making ladies’ watches and pocket watches. Today, as well as watches, the company also makes high-end jewellery for an upscale clientele.
Chopard is most famous within the watch industry for its Happy Diamonds Line, one of the company’s most highly-prized and recognisable collections, launched in 1976.
And it hasn’t stopped bringing out gorgeous watches ever since. Check out the wonderfully feminine Imperiale collection, for example: delicate, ethereal, yet nevertheless durable.
And if you’re all about a timepiece that sparkles, then check out the L’Heure du Diamant collection. It doesn’t get more luxurious than these fabulously opulent watches. It certainly is the hour of the diamond.
But a Chopard watch is not simply a decorative watch. Some movements in the L.U.C. collection, for example, have a sixty-five-hour power reserve, allowing them to run for a very long period without slowing.
Or there’s the Mille Miglia collection, for example, born from a partnership with the Mille Miglia race in Italy. Or the brand’s new sport-chic Alpine Eagle collection, inspired by the Alps, and designed to have the strength and resilience comparable to a bird of prey.
You might also take a look at the brand’s Classic Racing watches: serious, down-to-earth, and demonstrating Chopard’s well-attested capacity for extreme precision and performance.
For a state-of-the-art luxury watch—one highly-coveted by those in the know—it’s definitely worth your time browsing Chopard’s collections. A Chopard watch offers wearers a function-packed watch—that also happens to be an impeccably sophisticated accessory.
Most popular model: the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike
Many luxury watches tend towards the bulkier end of the spectrum. For many people, they want something more low-key, understated, and less obtrusive on the wrist. Piaget took up the challenge.
Indeed, Piaget is most famous for being a pioneer in ultra-thin watch calibers. This is the company behind both the world’s thinnest manual wind watch and the world’s thinnest automatic watch. Today, Piaget is known for its slim and pared-back designs—the last word in horological elegance.
Piaget makes jewellery as well as watches and this might explain the brand’s innate grasp of aesthetics.
In fact, it’s this embrace of powerful and unique design that makes a Piaget watch so special. Demonstrating an exquisite marriage of style and function, Piaget pays just as much attention to the visual appeal as the inner mechanics of its watches. A Piaget watch may be less well-known than a Rolex but it’s no less iconic.
But that’s not all. Piaget is also celebrated for its incredible attention to detail and precision engineering—all required to deliver flawless micro-mechanics on this scale. A Piaget watch demonstrates that a watch is far more than just a timekeeping device: it’s a display of human ingenuity.
With a rich 140-year-long history, Piaget showcases feats of pure artistry, elevating the brand to the ranks of the top 10 luxury watch brands in the world. Whether you’re looking for something for special occasions or something you can wear every day, then Piaget has a watch for you.
Most popular model: the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate
When someone says Cartier, your first thought might be jewellery. Indeed, Cartier was famously jeweller to the kings. But this world-renowned designer started off making watches.
In fact, today, Cartier’s range of luxury watches are some of the most celebrated timepieces on the market and the brand has established itself as a major player within the watch-making industry.
While you might associate Cartier with tradition and heritage—it is, after all, somewhat of an institution—the brand is eager to upturn convention and push boundaries. In its technologically advanced watchmaking laboratory, the company’s best craftsmen practice little-known and impressive techniques such as gold granulation and grisaille enamel.
As a result, Cartier’s designs are often unusual with distinct configurations that set them apart from the crowd. The brand is best known for its ‘Tank’ range of watches—now considered iconic by many.
With watches in every possible shape, and for every possible taste, you’ll definitely find a Cartier timepiece that speaks to your unique style preferences.
Most popular model: the Cartier Tank
12. Vacheron Constantin
Founded in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the most established luxury watch brand on this list—and the world’s oldest continuously operating watch-maker.
With 265 years of horological expertise behind it, this high-end watch brand has plenty of experience in producing quality and aesthetically outstanding timepieces.
But heritage and tradition only get you so far. Indeed, Vacheron Constantin continues to push creative boundaries and develop its technical capabilities, and is unceasing in its delivery of exceptional luxury watches that owners will wear their whole lives.
What’s more, the Vacheron Constantin workshop only produces a limited number of pieces. This not only guarantees that each one is made with the highest level of care and attention but also accords the brand a level of exclusivity that can only come with rarity. Owning a Vacheron Constantin is like being admitted to an elite club.
Don’t just take our word for it. Each Vacheron Constantin watch bears the Hallmark of Geneva—the ultimate seal of quality in fine watchmaking.
And did we mention that Napoleon Bonaparte used to wear a Vacheron Constantin watch? So you’ll be keeping good company.
Most popular model: the Patrimony
German luxury goods brand Montblanc is best known for its high-quality writing pens. However, the brand has also dabbled in watch-making—and has done so with considerable success.
The first Montblanc watch was launched in 1997. That’s quite recent by the standards of most luxury watch-makers. However, what it lacks in maturity, Montblanc makes up for in vision and quality.
Montblanc’s master craftsmen work diligently to create an exceptional range of timepieces in a diverse mix of styles, from the cutting-edge cool of the Timewalker collection to the ultra-luxurious Summit.
Montblanc watches combine traditional Swiss Horlogerie skills with cutting-edge engineering. With watches available for both men and women, Montblanc is now considered one of the most sophisticated watch brands out there.
Whether it’s a pulsograph chronograph or classic automatic, a Montblanc luxury watch is a true study in immaculate design and superb craftsmanship.
Most popular model: the Montblanc Heritage
14. Ulysse Nardin
If you’re looking for a luxury watch brand with its eye firmly on the future, you want to turn to Ulysse Nardin. This watch manufacturer is always the first to embrace new technology and pioneer new techniques to transform the way we track time today.
The brand first gained attention for manufacturing highly accurate marine chronometers which soon became favourites among the world’s navies.
In 1985, Ulysse Nardin released the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, a watch that was named by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most functional watch. It had 21 different functions, including tracking local and solar time, the orbits of the sun and moon, and the positions of the major stars.
Then in 2001 came the Freak: one of the most unusual looking watches ever to be launched. Bold and daring, demand for this unique timepiece skyrocketed soon after release, and since then a number of different versions have been launched.
Today, the brand has won over 4,300 distinctions and 18 gold medals. If your priority is accuracy—plus something a little quirky—you’d be hard pushed to find a better brand than Ulysse Nardin.
Most popular model: the Freak wristwatch
Italian watch manufacturer Panerai is known for its unique watch designs that are traditional and timeless at once. Panerai’s diving watches, in particular, are incredibly handsome, recognisable thanks to their large cushion-shaped cases.
Panerai’s best-known watches, however, are the Radiomir and the Luminor—both of which have been updated numerous times to take advantage of new technology. The aesthetic has remained mostly the same, retaining that undeniably Panerai mood.
When it was released in 1938, the Radiomir was considered ground-breaking thanks to its use of radium-based powder to illuminate the dials. Meanwhile, the Luminor was made using a luminous tritium-based material.
After it was seen being worn by film stars such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Luminor developed a devoted following and remains one of the most coveted Panerai watches today.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Luminor, Panerai collaborated with explorer Mike Horn to release the Submersible Eco Pangea Tourbillon GMT, which comes with the chance to go on an expedition to the Arctic circle with Horn himself.
Most popular model: the Panerai Luminor
Founded in 1791, Girard-Perregaux has been making watches for over 227 years. As you would expect from such an established brand, these are some seriously high-quality timepieces.
All the elements of a Girard-Perregaux watch are made in-house. This permits the surveillance of the entire workflow and ensures every aspect of production meets the highest standards of quality.
For Girard-Perregaux, the watch’s movements are just as important as the aesthetics. So much emphasis is placed on the mechanics that the architecture of the watches have become signature features in themselves.
The brand is famous for its historic Esmerelda Tourbillon with three gold bridges, awarded a Gold Medal in 1889. And in 1971, the company presented the first quartz watch ever to be produced in Switzerland, and whose 32,768 Hertz frequency has become a benchmark for manufacturers around the world.
For luxury timepieces that exude the kind of confidence that only 227 years of skill can bring, you need a Girard-Perregaux watch.
Most popular model: the Girard-Perregaux 1966
Fusion is the name of the game with a Hublot watch. The brand often combines together metals, rubber, leather, ceramics, and fabrics to create original designs that you definitely won’t see anywhere else.
The brand certainly produces some striking and unique timepieces. By fusing centuries-old craft with the latest engineering and production techniques, Hublot is a pioneering force in watch-making, producing original and future-forward designs.
Hublot’s special edition and limited edition watches are some of the most prized on the market, and anyone with a taste for bling will be particularly attracted to those models with diamond bezels and all sorts of other precious metals.
The Hublot Big Bang collection is instantly recognisable while the dazzling Rainbow and Paraiba models are ideal if you want something that just screams luxury.
Hublot is also known for its association with big-league sports. The brand has endorsed many major football clubs over the years, and was also the official timekeeper of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and 2014. In 2010, Hublot was also appointed the Official Watchmaker of Formula 1 and released a number of Formula One-inspired watches.
Most popular model: the Hublot Big Bang Integral Titanium
Iconic Italian brand Bulgari has many strings to its bow. It’s known for its jewellery, fragrances, high-end accessories, and leather goods. But it has also made a name for itself with its remarkably unique collections of watches.
Famous for its symmetrical and striking fashion creations, using rich and vivid colours, Bulgari is all about the bright and bold. Today, Bulgari watches are known around their world for their impeccable quality and superbly recognisable designs.
But the first watch to really catch people’s eye was the Art Deco-inspired Serpenti collection with its idiosyncratic snake-like designs. Launched in the 1940s when snake-inspired bracelets were trending, Bulgari capitalized on this vogue for all things serpentine and created snake-like watches that quickly boomed in popularity.
Horology had never seen anything like it before. Even today, Bulgari’s Serpenti watches are some of the brand’s top-selling timepieces and come in different models, some decked in jewels, others more understated.
For luxurious design, fashion flair, and mechanical know-how, a Bulgari watch should be high on your watch wish list.
Most popular model: the Bulgari Serpenti
Up-and-coming Danish luxury watch brand Nordgreen is fast becoming a reference for simple yet impactful minimalist design. With Jakob Wagner as its Chief Designer, the brand focuses on the essence of what a watch means for the wearer to create long lasting and enduring watches. Jakob Wagner is known for his work with Bang & Olufsen and other major Scandinavian brands.
Created in Denmark, Nordgreen’s watches bring a modern approach to classic Nordic design. Nordgreen’s philosophy is centered around social-consciousness and being fully carbon-neutral. Any carbon generated throughout the manufacturing or shipping process is offset by planting trees.
We particularly like the brand’s efforts to offer their watches in multiple sizes, from 32mm in their women’s collection up to 42mm for their men’s collection. None of them come across as oversized or opulent, however. These watches are perfectly balanced for a timeless aesthetic.
Nordgreen’s watches come in beautiful set boxes. And you can upgrade them to a bundle with two additional straps if you want more options to mix and match the dial with a strap that complements your outfit of the day.
Most popular model: The Pioneer
20. NOMOS Glashütte
Founded in 1990, award-winning German brand NOMOS Glashütte was born just two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Emerging at the beginning of a new era, NOMOS is known for its disruptive and future-focused designs.
The aesthetic at NOMOS Glashütte is clean and contemporary, drawing on the design principles established by Bauhaus: straightforward minimalism and streamlined simplicity.
The brand produces its own swing system—or escapement—which is one of the most important parts of a mechanical watch because it sets the pace and ensures that the watch ticks accurately. It took the company almost seven years to develop this masterpiece of engineering.
NOMOS Glashütte owns several patents for their calibers and have won over 150 awards for their designs. The NOMOS Metro, in particular, accumulated endless prizes for its fusion of contemporary and classic design.
Today, the brand has thirteen different watch models, which each come in a number of variations. NOMOS Glashütte is considered by aficionados to be at the very vanguard of watchmaking.
Most popular model: the NOMOS Tangente
Real talk: You must have been living under a rock for the past few years if you haven’t heard of young upstart luxury watch brand Vincero—-the brand behind some of the most desirable affordable luxury timepieces on the market today. “Exceptionally crafted. Fairly priced.” is Vincero’s motto and raison d’être. The brand produces high-quality watches with premium materials sans the price tag. The catch? They mostly use affordable yet trustworthy Quartz movements made by Seiko and Citizen.
By working with established movement companies to create the inside of their watch, Vincero can focus on designing the outside and crafting exquisite premium watches while keeping their retail price fair.
This business model also allows a high degree of flexibility for the watch brand. Vincero is indeed regularly releasing new models by listening to its customers and constantly improving on their design.
Vincero is the perfect partner for the impeccably stylish among you, striking an equilibrium between timelessness and modernity.
While the brand started with relatively large-size dials, their newer models are becoming more conservative and timeless. We particularly like their Icon Automatic in Rose Gold with a black dial and black Italian leather strap that’s been featured on our best dress watches selection. Their women’s watch collection is equally beautiful, with models such as the Aya Petite in Gold and Jet Black among their bestsellers.
The brand launched in 2014 with a fully integrated production chain. Vincero’s team sources every material that goes into their watch themselves to deliver unrivalled value and quality. They design everything in-house, produce in small batches, and ship directly to their customers’ door. This ensures that their watches are ethically produced and meet their rigorous quality control standards. Thousands of positive reviews by Vincero’s customers can’t be wrong.
Most popular model: the Vincero Icon Automatic in Rose Gold
Breitling is the timepiece of choice for military personnel, pilots, and astronauts. These are serious watches made for serious occasions. Take the Breitling Emergency, for example, which has a distress beacon and locator.
You probably won’t need something as extreme as that in your everyday life, but there are thousands of other Breitling models to choose from. The brand has also developed a few smartwatches, including the Exospace B55, which has special features for aerospace professionals.
Breitling is also famous for developing the slide rule bezel, used originally by aviation professions to measure flight time and fuel requirements. And in 1969, the brand produced the first self-winding chronograph.
Breitling is constantly pushing the bar higher for watch-making. For one thing, all Breitling electronic models have SuperQuartz™ movements that are ten times more accurate than the standard.
If you’re an outdoorsy type, lover of extreme sports, or simply looking for a state-of-the-art timekeeper, head to Breitling to pick out an expertly crafted luxury watch.
Most popular model: the Breitling Navitimer
Flying the flag for British watches everywhere, Bremont is a watchmaking company based in England that draws inspiration from aviation for its range of timepieces. Founded by two brothers in 2002, Bremont is quite young by watch-making standards. But the brand’s designs are imbued with a sense of heritage and tradition befitting a much more established company.
Bremont stands for high quality and impeccable precision. It’s one of the few watchmakers out there to offer a 3-year warranty on every watch.
The company has long been associated with aviation, with a range of pilots’ watches forming the core of the Bremont collection. The brand is also closely tied to the military, with its timepieces worn by combat personnel across the world. The brand has also created special editions and bespoke watches exclusively for members of the armed forces.
For an exclusive timepiece that also serves as a tribute to age-old traditions and aviation history, you need a Bremont on your wrist.
Most popular model: the Bremont Alt1-P Pilot
24. TAG Heuer
You might know Tag Heuer best by its slogan: Don’t crack under pressure. This perfectly captures the spirit and mindset of the brand, which is all about pushing boundaries. With its close associations to motor racing, TAG Heuer is about breaking rules, being daring, and blazing new trails for watchmaking.
The brand is popular with a younger and style-conscious crowd thanks to its endorsement by celebrities. But that doesn’t mean TAG Heuer doesn’t also produce watches of stellar quality.
Take the Aquaracer, for example, one of the most coveted TAG Heuer watches. While its sporty design elevates it in the fashion stakes, it also has remarkable durability. In fact, it can be down to a depth of 1,000 in the sea, making it an exceptional dive watch.
A TAG Heuer watch is a great option for those looking for a luxury timepiece that is also one of the less expensive luxury watch brands on this list.
Most popular model: the TAG Heuer Aquaracer
25. Baume & Mercier
Baume & Mercier is a brand that takes delight in mechanical mastery and has an absolute passion for perfection. In fact, on every dial of a Baume & Mercier watch, you’ll find the Greek letter Phi, which represents the Golden Ratio: the concept of divine proportion and harmony.
Baume & Mercier is known for the inventive and innovative designs of many of its timepieces. Take the Galaxie or the Stardust, for example, which are rectangular and pear-drop shaped respectively—and both of which are studded with glittering stones.
Originally launched by two brothers under the name Baume Brothers, in 1918, they joined forces with Paul Mercier and founded the company we know today. The company quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with among other horological giants.
The brand’s line of women’s watches is of particular renown. One of its most successful models is the Marquise, a small and elegant watch that was soon imitated by many other popular men’s watch brands.
Baume & Mercier had understood something fundamental: women’s watches could be far more than simplified versions of male timepieces. They could be exquisite time-keeping devices and subtle displays of taste in their own right.
Most popular model: the Hampton
Swiss luxury watchmaking company Rado is known for its collections of ceramic watches. As the majority of Swiss watch brands use metal, the brand’s innovative use of other materials has earned it the nickname ‘Master of Materials.’
The use of high-tech ceramic is central to the Rado approach. Smooth and stylish, available in both metallic or matte finishes and in a range of colours, these watches are lightweight, hypoallergenic, highly durable, and incredibly wearable.
Rado also pioneered the use of plasma high-tech ceramic, whereby the material is forged in an oven at exceptionally high temperatures, lending the surface a metallic shine akin to metal. This accords the watch an unrivalled lightness and extreme resilience.
Aesthetically, Rado watches are distinct thanks to their clean-lined, pared-back and minimalist silhouettes. But what really distinguishes them is their use of the most modern and high-tech materials available.
Most popular model: the Rado Centrix
27. Maurice Lacroix
One of the most highly-applauded and highly-coveted luxury watch brands for men in the world is Maurice Lacroix. The brand has firmly established itself among the ranks of the best high-end watch businesses today, and the stylised M that the company has taken as its motif has become instantly recognisable.
While quite young by horological standards—only 40 years old—thanks to the company’s spirit of perfectionism and passion for innovation, Maurice Lacroix has raced ahead of other wannabe horological stars to secure its status as one of the world’s top luxury watch brands.
In 2008, the company was awarded the prestigious Goldene Unruh of Germany for its ML128 caliber. Wearers of this watch are able to switch between the ‘time’ and the ‘chrono’ function seamlessly.
But mechanical mastery is just one side of the coin. With a Maurice Lacroix watch, you also have a beguiling mix of classic and contemporary aesthetic choices, and the fact that a Maurice Lacroix watch is quite an affordable option.
The most popular model: the Masterpiece Le Chronographe
28. Roger Dubuis
With its creativity, glamour, and desire to disrupt, Roger Dubuis is a refreshing and exciting presence within the watch-making world.
Since it was founded back in 1995, the Roger Dubuis Maison has consistently broken conventions and challenged norms in watchmaking. It has trod new paths in the use and combination of materials, and turned many heads in the process.
Take the Excalibur Diabolus in Machina, for example. Aesthetically, the watch is audacious and extravagant. It also has a minute repeater that can chime the time at the press of a button. It was a ground-breaking and game-changing creation when it was first launched. And it’s Roger Dubuis in a nutshell.
A Robert Dubuis watch truly is a cut above the rest. These luxury watches are exhilarating to behold: bright and beautiful—and suitable for men and women alike.
The most popular model: the Roger Dubuis Excalibur
F.P. Journe is the only three-time winner of the Aiguille d’Or grand prize from the Fondation du Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève. This gives you some idea of the level of prestige and success that is associated with this Swiss watch-maker.
Founder François-Paul Journe previously worked as an expert restorer and maker of one-off watches. This gives him an intimate knowledge of timekeeping devices.
The company has now forged a place for itself as one of the most technically skilled watch manufacturers in the world, creating innovative timepieces that are totally distinct. These luxury watches are even more exclusive for being produced in limited quantities—less than a thousand each year.
The Astronomic Blue is one example of how each F.P. Journe watch is an expression of unwavering expertise. With its tantalum case, minute repeater, hours and minutes sidereal, two time zones, moon phase dial, and combined day/night, sunrise/sunset complication, it really is quite a thing to behold.
The most popular model: the Chronometre Bleu
30. Tiffany & Co.
Simply put, TIffany & Co. represents the best in understated glamour and iconic luxury. The name is known in households across the world and the brand is one of the most famous jewellers in the world.
Thanks to Audrey Hepburn, many people think only of diamonds when they hear Tiffany & Co. But what about this luxury giant’s line of watches?
In fact, Tiffany & Co. is behind a few notable firsts in the watch industry. Until 1903, it held the patent for using luminous paint for watch numerals and hands, for example.
As for the watches themselves, they are everything you’d expect from a brand with the allure and timeless appeal of Tiffany.
For men, the brand presents its collection of watches that combine traditional craftsmanship with the best materials available, offering flawless timepieces that you’ll wear forever. For women, Tiffany & Co. has a range of sleek and slim designs that are unobtrusive and eye-catching at once. Of course, many of their watches can be worn by men or women alike.
Each of Tiffany’s high-end timepieces comes in that legendary blue box that we all know and love, now a global symbol for luxury and sophistication.
Most popular model: the Tiffany T
31. Louis Vuitton
Even if you’re not an avid follower of high fashion, you could probably draw the famous monogram of luxury label Louis Vuitton from memory.
Those instantly recognisable brown leather bags can be found across the globe. But iconic luggage isn’t the end of the story for Louis Vuitton. One of the world’s most famous luxury brands, it’s no small surprise that the company is behind some of the world’s best luxury watches too.
The brand positions itself as an unrivalled expert in questions of taste and style. And so it’s to be expected that Louis Vuitton watches are perfect examples of how craftsmanship and artistry can come together to create a luxury accessory that also happens to tell the time.
The first collection was unveiled in 2002 and was an immediate success. In 2017, the label also launched its own smartwatch: the Tambour Horizon, created in partnership with Google and Qualcomm.
Exploring Louis Vuitton’s dazzling display of luxury men and women’s watches, you’ll quickly understand why the brand has a global reputation for quality and innovation.
Most popular model: the Tambour Brown
In today’s world of mass markets and production, it’s not easy to find a watch that feels unique. But a watch should be personal to you, designed to suit your specific style and needs.
This is what Bamford seeks to do. The Bamford Watch Department has been blazing a trail in bespoke timepieces since it was founded in 2004 and is the first-ever watch company to offer clients the chance to customise their own luxury watch.
At Bamford, you have the opportunity to personalise some of the world’s most iconic watches. You can choose everything from the watch face and hands to the hour and minute numerals. All modifications are of the highest quality, using only the best materials and techniques.
And each one is finished with the brand’s signature black titanium using a military-grade Physical Vapour Deposition coating.
The Bamford range includes limited edited series in collaboration with the likes of Rolex and Patek Phillippe. They’ve purportedly even matched a watch dial to a customer’s favourite shade of lipstick.
And so if you’re looking for something unique, you can’t beat a Bamford.
Most popular model: the Mayfair
Zenith means the highest point. And we agree. The brand really has reached the peak of horological excellence.
Zenith is most famous for the Zenith Chronomaster, which, in turn, is arguably one of the most famous calibers in all of horological history.
The iconic El Primero movement, capable of beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, allowed the watch to reach a level of accuracy never seen before. It was the world’s first integrated and most accurate automatic chronograph.
While in the 70s, mechanical watches went out of fashion and trends turned towards quartz, since then mechanical mastery has once again become a priority in the eyes of watch enthusiasts. As a result, Zenith has returned to the spotlight as one of the most reliable brands creating luxury watches today.
Indeed, the brand has won 2,333 chronometry prizes and 8 medals. So if it’s accuracy you’re looking for, you’d be hard pushed to find a brand that’s quite so particular about precision.
Most popular model: the Zenith El Primo chronograph
34. Bell & Ross
One of the younger luxury men’s watch brands on the market, Franco-Swiss watch manufacturer Bell & Ross was founded in 1992. But they made up for lost time quickly, having now established themselves as one of the best in the business.
Originally a team of watch designers and aeronautical control panel specialists, the company set out to build watches for aviation professionals. One iconic example is the BR01, whose large dials resemble those in aircraft cockpits.
The brand also specialises in diving watches with models designed with exceptionally high water resistance. In fact, the world record for the watch with the highest water resistance, at 11,000 metres, is held by Bell & Ross.
By combining high-tech and highly resilient fabrics with luxury design, Bell & Ross created a winning range of watches that can withstand all sorts of extreme conditions, including Arctic temperatures and high altitudes. In doing so, they’ve acquired a loyal global following of fans.
Most popular model: the BR 01
35. Arnold & Son
British watchmaker John Arnold began making marine chronometers for ship captains during the time of the British Empire.
The horological mastermind was responsible for breaking a lot of new ground within the watch-making world and is credited with numerous inventions including the overcoil balance spring – found in most watches today—and the smallest minute repeater ever, fitted into a ring for King George III.
Today, the company makes its own in-house movements and has developed an impressive collection of calibers and a variety of startlingly sophisticated complications. Thanks to CNC machinery, they are able to deliver microscopic precision and a level of accuracy for which they have become famous.
At least two new movements are launched each year by the brand. The company therefore plays a major role in propelling watchmaking into the future.
Marrying high-performance timepieces with an inventive approach to design, Arnold & Son has demonstrated that it understands exactly what people want in a luxury watch.
Most popular model: the Globetrotter
Tudor was launched in 1926 by none other than Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex. Wilsdorf wanted to launch a brand that had the same reputation for durability and precision as Rolex—but was more contemporary in its outlook.
Being a sibling to the world’s most famous luxury watch company can’t be easy but Tudor has hardly hidden away in the shadow of its older brother brand. With the slogan ‘Born to dare’, Tudor is all about overcoming challenges, taking risks, and being bold.
Tudor distinguishes itself with its highly functional watches, especially designed for divers, members of the navy, and explorers on expeditions around the world. But it’s not just adventurers and military professionals sporting Tudor watches. These timepieces are also the favourites of celebrities such as David Beckham and Lady Gaga.
Tudor watches are more affordable than Rolex, making them a more accessible alternative to the world’s most iconic watch brand, while maintaining that same sense of prestige and exclusivity.
Most popular model: the Black Bay
The red Alpina logo was inspired by the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland. The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic mountains in Europe, making it a perfect choice for a brand fast on its way to becoming an icon itself within the world of high-quality sports watches.
Alpina supplied chronometers to the German Navy in 1913, and in 1921, became known for supplying timepieces to military pilots too. Their pilot’s legs watch was ideal for aviation professionals because it could be worn over the top of uniforms.
The brand was also the first ever to introduce an international guarantee—testimony to the faith and confidence the company had in the durability and technical perfection of its creations.
Today, the company is known for producing some of the finest sports watches around. Thanks to their investment in state-of-the-art technology, Alpina is able to deliver robust sports watches that can perform in the most physically challenging of situations—whether you’re climbing, flying, diving, or sailing around the world.
Most popular model: the Alpina Startimer
A Seiko watch offers wearers that rare thing: a superbly high-quality luxury watch at an accessible price. Delivering exceptional watches with a price point that doesn’t alienate the majority of shoppers, Seiko is a welcome presence on the horological scene.
Seiko is also the first Japanese brand on our list. Established in 1881 in Tokyo, the company creates watches for both men and women, but is best known as a producer of dive watches, delivering some of the best diving timepieces available today.
Seiko was also at the forefront of the development of the quartz watch, launching the Seiko Quartz Astron in 1969. They’re also behind the Seiko Astron, the world’s first GPS solar watch.
When it comes to diversity of choice, a promise of durability, and an embrace of cutting-edge design, Seiko is the luxury watch brand you should be talking about.
Most popular model: the Seiko 5
39. Jaquet Droz
For a watch not quite like any other, no brand does it better than Jaquet Droz. Its French founder, Pierre Jaquet Droz, began creating intricate grandfather clocks in 1738 before moving into the development of avant-garde watches.
His creations soon became known across the world, in royal courts from Europe to China. He also developed animated dolls—known as automata—and mechanical songbirds to help him promote his wares.
Today, Droz is considered an Enlightenment age genius and somewhat of a legend within the watchmaking world. The brand’s watches are just as mischievous and unique as you would expect from a visionary of this sort. Imagine automaton dials with tiny moving parts, bringing miniature scenes to life.
We can also thank the company for reviving centuries-old crafts with its use of spangled dials and black Grand Feu enamel.
For the ultimate in ostentatious glamour with a whimsical touch, you need a Jaquet Droz watch.
Most popular model: La Grande Seconde
40. Laurent Ferrier
Laurent Ferrier began his career at Patek Philippe where he spent 37 years climbing up the ladder until he reached the position of creative director. But as the son and grandson of watchmakers, he felt the urge to strike out alone. In 2010, he launched his own watchmaking operation.
On the side, Ferrier was also playing around with racing cars. In fact, he took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours race seven times. It was while racing that he met François Servanin, who would provide the financial backing for Ferrier to start his own company.
Laurent Ferrier makes only a few hundred watches a year. The designs are precise, simple, and unfussy. They are immune to changing trends. In the words of Ferrier himself, they are an expression of ‘uncluttered beauty.’
From the exterior, you’d have no idea about the complexity and intricacy of the mechanics going on within the case. These are timeless creations that will look as good tomorrow as they do today.
Most popular model: the Galet Square
Hamilton brings together the quintessentially Swiss capacity for meticulous precision and high functionality with a classically American spirit of progress and innovation.
Hamilton began life during the construction of the American railroads, supplying accurate pocket watches to workers to help reduce accidents on the tracks. Next, they moved into aviation, creating watches to help keep the new coast-to-coast U.S. Airmail service running on time. Today, the brand is the Official Timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
The company has celebrated many major achievements over the years. For example, in 1957, the Hamilton Venture became the world’s first electronic watch powered by a battery. Meanwhile, Hamilton Pulsar was the world’s first LED digital watch.
Hamilton has also long been associated with the silver screen, with its watches worn by Hollywood stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii. The brand’s timepieces have had cameos in more than 450 feature films, including recent blockbusters like The Martian and Interstellar.
Most popular model: the Hamilton Khaki
The history of luxury watch brand Longines is a veritable catalogue of triumphs and accomplishments, while the brand’s watches boast an unbeatable level of accuracy, reliability, and durability—as well as a seductively low price-tag.
Unlike many high-end watch manufacturers, Longines produces a lot of watches. It has 2,781 different models. That’s quite a contrast to brands like Rolex.
But despite the large selection, Longines still feels very much like a luxury brand, with the vintage look of its watches a masterful lesson in refined class and elegance—completed by that winged hourglass logo.
Partner to many world-famous horse races, Longines has dedicated a collection to its equestrian heritage. These watches feel sporty and sophisticated simultaneously, featuring pearl dials, diamond dot hour markers, and traditional brown leather straps.
A Longines watch would suit any style-conscious watch-wearer looking for something comfortable, high-quality, and fashionable. Women should check out the new Conquest Classic—elegant, feminine, and instantly iconic.
Most popular model: the Master Collection Moon Phase
43. Maurice de Mauriac
Maurice de Mauriac stands out from the other brands on this list of popular men’s watch brands for several reasons.
Firstly, the founder, Daniel Dreifuss, used to work as a banker in New York before the financial crash convinced him to move back home to Zurich and start something different.
The brand is known for its minimalist designs. The emphasis is on sleek and streamlined functionality. Not that they aren’t also luxurious, with eye-catching straps in materials such as cowskin, Nappa, and crocodile leather.
Another unique aspect to Maurice de Mauriac is the brand’s collaboration with Fabian Schwaerzler, one of Switzerland’s top furniture designers, whose visionary approach to chairs and sofas translates surprisingly well to the creation of watches.
At Maurice de Mauriac, it’s possible for members of the public to learn about watchmaking at one of the brand’s workshops held for private parties, where experts are on hand to show you how it’s done.
Most importantly, at Maurice de Mauriac, they hand make each individual watch. This gives you some idea of the attention to detail that has gone into your timepiece.
Most popular model: the Chrono Modern ‘Zuerich’
44. Parmigiani Fleurier
Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand dedicated to producing beautiful and technologically exceptional timepieces, and is one of the most well-respected watch-makers within the industry.
Michel Parmigiani is well known as a restorer of antique timepieces and this profound knowledge of the inner mechanisms of historic watches has helped inform his designs.
The brand is perhaps best known for the Bugatti 370, inspired by the Bugatti racing cars. Assembled along a horizontal axis and in a tubular formation—similar to a car’s engine—it was a ground-breaking design and is still considered a sensational bit of watch-making today.
Also popular are the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric watches, whose design is based on the Golden Ratio. And then there’s the Kalpa collection with their iconic tonneau case—a four-cornered barrel shape.
With its respect for and understanding of traditional craft, the brand has played no small part in re-establishing Swiss watch-making as a heritage art.
Most popular model: the Bugatti 370
It’s hard to think of a brand that better encapsulates the glamour of high-end fashion than Gucci. The label is known for its imaginative and innovative approach to luxury apparel and its maximalist aesthetic—as well as its peerless Italian craftsmanship.
Impossible as it is to imagine, Guccio Gucci started his career as a lift attendant in the London Savoy Hotel. Today, the fashion house is one of the most beloved luxury brands in the world.
Gucci started creating watches in 1997. Combining a Swiss passion for precision and perfection with Italian panache and playfulness, it comes as no surprise that Gucci watches are just as vibrant, high quality, and eye-catching as everything else produced by the label.
There are three Gucci watch categories: classic, sport, and fashion. Each timepiece incorporates the brand’s immediately recognisable motifs and offers the perfect high-end accessory.
Gucci watches are striking to behold and are sure to catch the eye of anyone next to you in the office, coffee shop, or cocktail bar.
Most popular model: the Gucci G Timeless Quartz
Weiss watches was founded in 2013 by Cameron Weiss whose mission was to create small-batches of premium watches using traditional Swiss techniques and methods. The company has remained in family hands since it began, with Weiss’ wife handling all marketing operations.
These are fuss-free watches that look just as good with casual wear as with a suit. They also evoke a uniquely American brand of relaxed luxury. Even the workshop itself, located in Torrance, California, is a far cry from the airs and graces of the traditional Swiss ateliers.
Weiss’ designs have a sharp yet vintage feel, with retro-style gauges, and an aviation bent. The leather straps come from Horween tannery, one of the oldest tanneries in the US. Each watch is finished by hand in house and the entire process takes over 35 hours per watch.
The premium watch brand proclaims that it’s aim is to restore prestige to American watchmaking. By all estimations, Weiss is doing a very good job.
Most popular model: the American Issue Field Watch
One luxury brand that has been persistently popular, no matter the changing trends, is Armani. At a time when luxury brands are fighting to remain relevant and up-to-date in a world of technological disruption and evolving attitudes, the brand stands strong. Armani, it seems, is always in fashion.
Founding his company in 1975, Giorgio Armani had a clear identity in mind: exclusivity, class, and quality. Armani is all about luxury, yes, but simplicity is also a major pillar of the brand’s approach to fashion.
As a result, Armani timekeepers are, ironically perhaps, timeless. The designs are sleek, unique, and, it goes without saying, exceptionally precise. No wonder that they’ve been glimpsed on the wrists of the likes of the Beckhams and Cristiano Ronaldo.
For discerning watch-wearers looking for a luxury timepiece, an Armani watch will bring you serious clout.
Most popular model: Armani Classic Stainless Steel Watch
Tissot’s motto is ‘Innovators by tradition.’ This really says it all, really.
While apparently a paradox, the slogan conveys how the brand embraces the heritage and tradition of watch-making but also cutting-edge modern horology. While respecting and incorporating age-old watch-making practices, Tissot also works to push boundaries and encourage progress.
Accuracy is also a principal concern at Tissot, which was named Official Timekeeper for the NBA, Tour de France, and European Rugby Champions. Each mechanical movement contains an average of 100 precisely manufactured parts.
Its innovative projects extend beyond the world of watch-making too. On Glacier 3000, Tissot put its name to the world’s first suspension bridge linking two different summits.
The brand’s mission statement is: to make excellence accessible. As a result, these watches offer flawless mechanics and high-end design at prices that are far more accessible than many other luxury watch brands for men.
A Tissot creation is classic and contemporary at once.
Most popular model: the Tissot Dress Watch
49. Van Cleef & Arpels
Founded in 1896 in Paris by Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels, just one year after they got married, romance is at the heart of the Van Cleef & Arpels aesthetic.
The brand became an international success soon after launching, with fans fawning over its intricate and unique designs that conveyed an artistic sensibility and playful creativity. The company was even given the task of creating a crown for Empress Farah Pahlavi in 1967.
The brand is known for its designs inspired by nature and fantasy, with creations featuring flowers, fairies, and other poetic scenes.
Check out the Van Cleef & Arpels Pont des Amoureux, for example. In this watch, two minutely sculpted gold lovers unite for a kiss at midnight on a bridge in Paris. It’s a true piece of artistry that demonstrates not only VCA’s superb technical skill but also its imaginative and inventive designs.
With its visually arresting and unforgettable creations, the brand has long been a favourite of stars and royalty, including those famous arbiters of taste, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Grace Kelly.
Most popular model: the Cadenas
For the discerning watch-wearer, a Junghans watch offers precision, durability, and a statement of taste. These are modern watches for the modern man—or indeed, lady.
The brand began life as a factory creating components for clocks in the Black Forest of Germany. In fact, by 1903, it was the world’s largest clock factory.
In 1927, the company started making wristwatches, and today they still make their watches in the original Schramberg factory where they combine traditional techniques with state-of-the-art technology.
The brand makes no secret of its love for racing and automotives have inspired a number of designs, including the Meister Driver Automatic, with its racing green or brown leather strap.
Then there’s the Max Bill Collection, designed in collaboration with the famous Bauhaus architect, whose timepieces convey a minimalist and clean-lined aesthetic.
Junghans is not a showy or ostentatious brand. The designs are discreet and understated. This enduring elegance makes a Junghans watch a solid investment. Junghans is also one of the more affordable luxury watch brands.
Most popular model: the Meister Driver Automatic
Bulova immediately stands out as one of the few luxury watch brands that is based not in Switzerland but in Manhattan, New York City. It’s only fitting that a company known for its exciting and innovative approach to watch-making would hail from a city famous for its boldness and dynamism.
Bulova’s history is certainly one of firsts and the spirit of invention is at the heart of the brand. The company is celebrated for pioneering a standardized process for the production of watches as well as developing the first fully electronic watch with proprietary tuning-fork based technology.
With a Bulova watch, you are wearing the very best of modern horological technology and progressive design on your wrist. Oh, and these watches are also incredibly accurate. It’s no coincidence that two of Bulova’s most popular watches are called the Accutron and the Precisionist. Saying it like it is.
Most popular model: the Precisionist Champlain Chronograph
52. Bovet Fleurier
If you’re looking for a luxury watch that doubles as an artwork, then look no further than a Bovet Fleurier timepiece. These watches combine high-tech craftsmanship with the decorative arts to create timekeepers that are also minor masterpieces.
Bovet began life in the 19th century, making pocket watches for the Chinese market, and its early clientele included the Emperor of China. Today. Bovet isn’t the world’s most famous watch company but it remains highly distinguished, with unique creations that have won the brand its fair share of admirers.
What makes Bovet special is its intricate dials, miniature paintings, and seven-day tourbillon. Bovet was one of the first watch maisons to create highly decorative movements – and to offer skeletonized timepieces to show them off.
One of its most stand-out accomplishments was the creation of the Amadeo convertible system, which allows wearers to transform their timepiece into a table clock, necklace watch, pocket watch, and reversible wristwatch, all without the use of a tool.
Another admirable feature of Bovet Fleurier is the company’s efforts to employ female artisans.
Most popular model: the Bovet 1822 Amadeo Fleurier
Oris produces only mechanical watches, all powered by springs. You will never find a battery-powered Oris. The Oris red rotor, visible through the crystal case back, symbolizes the natural power that fuels all Oris timepieces.
This commitment to preserving the traditional mechanics that make watches such a unique demonstration of human ingenuity is what makes Oris distinct. The company makes its own calibers in house and its designs are celebrated for their simple appearance, superb functionality, and great value for money.
Oris watches fall into four categories: Aviation, Diving, Motorsport, and Culture. While the first three of these ‘watch families’ are focused on high-performance durability, the latter is geared more towards classic aesthetics with cultural inspiration.
If you’re looking for a watch that will last for years into the future, and for a timepiece that can accompany you on your adventures around the world, then Oris has a watch for you.
Most popular model: the Oris Diver Sixty-Five
54. Armin Strom
Armin Strom first opened his shop in 1967 and was not slow to catch the world’s eye with his designs. The highly skilled watch-maker was quickly hailed as a genius within the industry thanks to his hand-made skeletons and watch engravings.
Today, the brand is known for its creative and unique attitude to horology. Armin Strom himself is famous for creating the world’s smallest watch to ever be hand skeletonised – which requires some serious talent. The watch even gained an entry in The Guinness book of World Records.
The skeletonisation of watches involves cutting away all parts of the movement with no operational function. The brand’s team of master craftsmen then hand decorate and engrave all remaining parts in the most intricate and ornate way. The results are astonishing. All the movements of the watch are visible from both front and back, leaving the mechanical beauty on full display.
Most popular model: the Mirrored Force Resonance
Ressence is a Belgian watchmaking company that has been changing the game of watchmaking since 2010. In an industry where tradition and heritage are often considered everything, this desire to launch watchmaking into the 21st century has been widely celebrated.
The brand name is a combination of renaissance and essence and this attitude of rebirth and revitalisation, and taking watchmaking back to its essential elements, is at the heart of the company’s ethos.
Founder Benoît Mintiens wanted to bring some of his own unique Belgian ideals to the Swiss-dominated world of watchmaking. He was inspired by the Belgian legend of Antigoon: a giant whose hand was cut off.
Drawing on this mythical story, Mintiens designed a watch that was also missing hands. The Type 1001 was born—a watch with no hands. Instead, you read the time by means of rotating disks.
Ressence combines top-quality Swiss calibers with innovative and progressive engineering to re-envision what a mechanical watch can be today. If you’re looking for a ground-breaking piece of mechanical mastery, you want a Ressence watch.
Most popular model: Ressence Type 1
Luxury watch buying guide: what to look for when shopping for a luxury watch
When shopping for a luxury watch, there are a few key things to look out for. To ensure you invest in the right model for your particular needs, there are a couple of things to consider.
Firstly, a few terms from the world of Haute Horlogerie to wrap your head around before you start browsing:
- Balance wheel: a weighted wheel that rotates back and forth, allowing the hands of the watch to move
- Balance spring: also known as a hairspring, this is a delicate spring that controls the speed at which the balance wheel oscillates
- Bezel: the metal or ceramic ring that surrounds the crystal
- Caliber: another word for a watch movement
- Chronograph: a watch with a stopwatch function
- Complication: any function of a watch that goes beyond just telling the time
- Escapement: releases the gear train, allowing the clock’s hands to move forward
- GMT: a GMT watch can track two time zones simultaneously
- Tourbillon: a type of escapement in a rotating cage, designed to counter the effects of gravity and increase accuracy
The following features might also be something to pay attention to:
- Chronometer rating: this means their timekeeping abilities have been tested.
- Water resistance rating: you need a rating of at least 100 metres if you want to wear your watch in a swimming pool. For diving, you’ll need a rating of more than 200 metres.
- Synthetic Sapphire Crystal front window: a scratch-resistant material. The thicker the window, the better. Mineral glass is a cheaper option.
- Strap: this could be metal, rubber (if it’s a diving watch), or leather. If it’s metal, make sure it’s joined together with screws instead of pins.
Next, consider your lifestyle. Are you the adventurous sort, looking for a watch that is durable, reliable, and most importantly, water-resistant?
Or are you more likely to wear your luxury watch to an exclusive social gathering or gala night? In this case, you might simply want a status symbol: something that conveys exclusivity and prestige.
What is your budget? Some luxury watches cost more than a car. But bear in mind that the best luxury watches will last you a lifetime and can be passed down to your children. A luxury watch is a real investment. And if you don’t have limitless cash to blow, don’t worry. There are more budget-friendly options too, such as those by Oris or Junghans.
Finally, have a think about the kind of watch you require or want: a quartz watch or a mechanical watch. What’s the difference?
- A mechanical watch doesn’t use batteries. And most luxury watches use automatic movements, which means they don’t need winding either—unlike manual mechanical watches.
- Quartz watches are a cheaper option and use batteries for power. However, it’s possible to find a luxury quartz watch, such as those by Seiko.
Are luxury watches a good investment?
Mechanical luxury watches are a good investment because they don’t generally depreciate in value. Models by luxury brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe can hold their value for a long time—and some can even increase in value due to limited supply.
While a normal watch might last three or four years, a luxury watch can last a lifetime—even several lifetimes if cared for and maintained properly. This makes it a great investment.
Additionally, the high price-tag is arguably merited. These are minute works of art. The complexity of the engineering is just one reason for the high cost of these luxury watches.
Furthermore, you can always sell your luxury watch later if you want to. Check out websites like Bob’s watches, a marketplace for pre-owned watches.
How to care for and maintain a mechanical watch?
Taking care of and maintaining your mechanical watch is important if you want it to last a long time. Indeed, many watches are passed down the generations, becoming valuable family heirlooms. It’s vital to look after your luxury watch in the right way to keep it running.
Firstly, remember to wind up your mechanical watch once a day. If you don’t keep it wound, the coiled mainspring inside that provides power will only keep going for a day or two.
Take your watch off to wind it in order to avoid putting strain on the stem. And don’t overwind. Of course, automatic watches don’t require winding as long as you’re wearing them daily.
Clean your mechanical watch as often as you can with a soft cloth. Gently wipe down the band and case, removing any built-up grime. Another option is to use an old toothbrush. In the case of stubborn dirt and dust, it’s best to have an intensive clean done professionally.
Every few years, it’s wise to get your watch serviced to get problems resolved before they develop into anything more serious.
The inside of your mechanical watch is an engineering miracle. The functioning of all those gears and springs are the work of master craftsmen and are exceptionally precise. That means the smallest bash or shock can knock everything off-kilter. Bear this in mind as you go about your daily life.
A few other tips for ensuring your mechanical watch lasts a lifetime:
- Avoid magnets—although more modern watch springs are made from silicon, which is resistant to magnetism.
- Be cautious around water. Is your watch water-resistant? Does this include the shower? And up to what depth can your watch be worn? Extreme pressure changes can break a watch. And leather bands shouldn’t get wet at all.
- Keep hold of the original watch box. This is a great place to store your watch when not wearing it.
- Avoid extreme heat and sunlight—although most modern hairsprings are made from a metal that can withstand temperature changes.
- Perfume can damage leather bands. When applying, wait a bit before putting your watch on.
High-end watches: Frequently asked questions
What is the best luxury watch to buy?
The best luxury watch brand is Rolex. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has become synonymous with high-end horology and Rolex watches are some of the most highly coveted luxury timepieces in the world.
What are the most prestigious watch brands?
What is the cheapest luxury watch brand?
Hamilton is one of the cheapest luxury watch brands. The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic is a good option for those looking for a budget luxury watch. It’s a high-quality stainless steel watch, water-resistant up to 100 metres, and available at a competitive price.
Why are Rolex watches so expensive?
Rolex Watches are some of the most expensive watches around. The main reason they are so expensive is the manufacturing process, which is incredibly labor-intensive, involving an incredible attention to detail by master watchmakers with years of expertise.