A thing to know when on the hunt for a new luxury watch is that there isn’t one best brand… but there is a perfect brand out there for you. Each luxury watch brand is different, and the ‘best’ brand to one person will miss an essential addition for another.
To discover your dream luxury watch brand, read on! There’s plenty to find out.
1. Audemars Piguet
Edward-Auguste Piguet and Jules-Louis Audemars founded Audemars Piguet in Switzerland in 1875. Although this Swiss watch brand is not as well-known as Rolex, they have a name for their exclusive style of watches among rare watch collectors.
Each year Audemars Piguet produces 36,000 revered timepieces and is famous for developing the very first luxury steel sports watches, the Royal Oak, in 1972. Over two decades later, the brand released the Royal Oak Offshore, the first oversized watch.
Famous owners: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z and LeBron James
Most popular watch: Royal Oak
Price: Between £14,000 and £151,000
2. Patek Philippe
Antoni Patek, Franciszek Czapek, and Adrien Philippe founded Patek Philippe as Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1839. Geneva's oldest family-owned watch manufacturer has produced fewer than a million watches since, making them the darling of luxury wristwatch brand collectors worldwide.
Experts recognise this watchmaking traditionalist for its technological innovation and creativity in design. Rolex aside, Patek Philippe watches have the best market resale value.
Famous owners: Brad Pitt, Conor McGregor and Victoria Beckham
Most popular watch: Grand Complications Perpetual Calendar
Price: Between £17,000 and £845,000
Luxury Swiss brand Jaeger-LeCoultre designs its watches with uniquely detailed faces. Antione LeCoultre, the inventor of the pinion-cutting machine, founded the company in 1833 in the picturesque Vallée de Joux region. It has over 200 patents, including the keyless winding mechanism and the Atmos clock, a temperature-powered timepiece.
Jaeger-LeCoultre was also responsible for the thinnest mechanical watch on its release in 1904. The brand's detailed watch faces cement its clarity and innovative designs.
Famous owners: Christian Bale, Clive Owen and Leonardo DiCaprio
Most popular watch: Reverso Tribute Small Seconds
Price: Between £4,000 and £80,000
Forbes' most powerful global brands list is one of many that the Rolex brand has featured in over the years. Rolex was born Wilsdorf and Davis in London in 1905 and has since become the most recognisable luxury watch brand globally. It's also the busiest, manufacturing over 2,000 timepieces every day.
The Rolex wristwatch became the first watch awarded the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. The Class A Precision Certificate followed, generally only given to marine chronometers.
Famous owners: Barack Obama, Charlize Theron and Tiger Woods
Most popular watch: Submariner Date
Price: Between £2,500 to £85,000
Parisienne watchmaker Louis-Francois Cartier founded the Cartier brand in 1847. Since, Cartier has evolved into one of the most internationally-quintessential watches and jewellery brands, almost unchallenged in popularity among celebrities. Louis-Francois Cartier targeted elite women from the very beginning.
His customers wanted elegant timepieces that stood apart from other available brands. Cartier grew his brand through his target market, incorporating men's Cartier watches after the turn of the century. In 1904, he created a watch for his good friend, Alberto Santos-Dumont, which inspired the Cartier Santos collection, released in 1911.
Famous owners: Angelina Jolie, Kate Middleton and Mick Jagger
Most popular watch: Tank MC
Price: Between £2,000 and £43,000
6. IWC Schaffhausen
IWC Schaffhausen, founded in 1868 by Florentine Ariosto Jones, is identifiable through its original watch shape and upper-level material. IWC offers precise engineering and premier design and is recognised as environmentally proactive.
IWC Schaffhausen's Portugeiser dress watch was a groundbreaking oversized watch when released in 1939. It pioneered an increased public desire for larger-sized watches, although it was a few decades early to help its sales.
The Portugeiser didn't sell well initially but became a cult icon for the IWC Schaffhausen brand. It achieved mainstream success as part of IWC's 125th-anniversary collection, released in 1993.
Famous owners: Ed Sheeran, Dwayne' The Rock" Johnson and Sacha Baron Cohen
Most popular watch: Portugieser Annual Calendar
Price Range: Between £3,000 and £39,000
Omega has established itself as one of the best watch brands throughout its 176 years in production. As an effective option to Rolex, it became the official watch for the British Royal Flying Corps and the American army at the end of WWI.
Louis Brandt founded Omega in 1848, never realising at the time that astronauts who walked on the moon would wear his brand. James Bond, cinema's favourite special agent, would also wear an Omega watch almost 150 years later.
Famous owners: Nicole Kidman, Prince William and Tom Hanks
Most popular watches: Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch/Seamaster Aqua Terra
Price range: Between £5,000 and £51,000
8. Vacheron Constantin
Jean-Marc Vacheron founded Vacheron Constantin in Geneva way back in 1755. The brand is one of the most enduring, with the watch company operating uninterrupted for the most extended period. It has a heritage that supports the quality of the watches manufactured.
Rumours are that Pope Pius IX and Napoleon Bonaparte both wore Vacheron Constantin watches. This exclusive element of the brand still attracts some of the world's most esteemed collectors. Owning a VC watch adorned with the esteemed Hallmark of Geneva seal indicates you're a collector of some renown.
Famous owners: Carmelo Kyam Anthony and Tom Cruise
Most popular watch: VC Overseas
Price range: Between £17,000 and £60,000
If you're looking for a watch with precision and durability, you need to look no further than Breitling. Founded in 1884, Breitling is based in Grenchen, Switzerland. The brand is best known for its aviation watches, which include many features designed with fighter pilots in mind. The brand also creates focused diver watches, indicating its versatility in watch manufacture.
Breitling has released smartwatches like the Exospace B55, especially for aerospace specialists. It continually breaks new ground in watch design with electronic timepieces, including the SuperQuartz™, having movements ten times more precise than the accepted standard.
Famous owners: David Beckham, Gordon Ramsay and John Travolta
Most popular watch: Navitimer
Price range: Between £3,000 and £34,000
10. Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin has produced timepieces without pause since 1846. Besides wristwatches, it also designs and manufactures writing devices and accessories like the original leather used in multiple products. These stylish watches often receive plaudits for the modern materials used.
The brand was first recognised for its range of marine chronometers utilised by international navies. The Guinness Book of Records named a Ulysse Nardin watch, the 21-function Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, the "world's most functional watch" in 1985.
Famous owners: Jeff Bezos, Kate Bosworth and Randy Johnson
Most popular watch: The Stranger
Price range: Between £3,500 and £30,000
Other Must-Know Watch Brands to Consider
Switzerland's TAG Heuer produces watches, cellular phones, eyewear and accessories. The sporty brand boasts optimal functionality and a specialised appeal. TAG stands for 'Techniques d'Avant Garde', with Heuer referring to the owner. This brand essentially challenges the classical norms of watchmaking.
Founded as far back as 1735, Blancpain has headquarters in Paudex/Le Brassus, Switzerland. Now affiliated with the Swatch Group, the brand's growth took off in the 1800s as an innovator in watch production methods. Blancpain's wide range features elaborate styles and many trademark minimalistic creations.
The intricate, meticulous design and production of a Blancpain watch takes time; only 30 watches are produced daily by the company. There isn't a single digital part in a Blancpain watch; they make every timepiece with silicon balance springs to improve precision and performance. Nothing is more critical than the Swiss watchmaking tradition at Blancpain.
Abraham Louis Breguet began his watchmaking business in Paris in 1775. Now a member of Swatch's group of companies with headquarters in L'Abbaye, Switzerland, it is one of the oldest brands of watches on the market. The brand was especially popular among the scientific, diplomatic and military elite of the 1800s and 1900s.
Queen Marie Antoinette commissioned Breguet, a young man, to manufacture a pocket watch. His company also worked for Queen Caroline of Naples, Napoléon Bonaparte, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, and Sir Winston Churchill.
Officine Panerai, known better as Panerai, was founded in Florence, Italy, in 1860, with its headquarters now in Milan.
Panerai has been part of the wristwatch industry since its inception, supplying wristwatches to Italy's Naval corps between 1936 and the 1980s. The Swiss holding firm Compagnie Financière Richemont SA now owns the brand, with their watches worn by celebrities all over.
Which luxury watches tend to increase in value with age?
Many watches appreciate, but this only usually applies to mechanical watches. Rolex, Omega, and Breitling watches are the leaders when it comes to increasing in value goes.
Which watch is the "most coveted watch in the world?"
Mentioned as the "most coveted watch in the world" by certain magazines, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A is a sporty steel watch engraved horizontally with an original octagonal case. The watch, first released in 1976, can take a decade for delivery on order.
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