Not all watches are created equal. In fact, some are in a league of their own. Combining impressive craftsmanship with a stylish aesthetic, luxury watches are so much more than simple accessories; they’re wearable works of art. As such, it’s no wonder why names like Rolex stir a certain feeling in not only watch enthusiasts but just about everyone. So, if you’re looking for a timepiece that’ll provide fashion and function for years to come, you can’t go past the world’s most lavish watch labels. Unbeatable for their sophisticated designs and precise manufacturing, these names ooze prestige and magnificence. Here, we’ve rounded up the best luxury watch brands you need to know.
Best Luxury Watch Brands in 2021
1. Audemars Piguet
Founded in 1875 by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, Audemars Piguet produces 36,000 of their prestigious timepieces a year. In fact, Tiffany & Co and Bulgari use this brand’s movements. This luxury watch brand is also noted for creating the first steel luxury sports watch. This was dubbed the Royal Oak in 1972. Later, in 1993, the brand created the first oversized watch named the Royal Oak Offshore.
Founder: Jules Louis Audemars, Edward Auguste Piguet
2. Vacheron Constantin
One of the oldest manufacturers of luxury watches, Vacheron Constantin, was founded by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755, in Geneva Switzerland. This brand of fine watches is a member of the Richemont Group. Vacheron Constantin’s watches truly reflect their heritage. With precise detailing alongside traditional shapes and styling, these watches are unlike others. Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have worn their watches, along with other noted historical figures like Harry Truman and Pope Pius IX.
Founder: Jean-Marc Vacheron
3. Patek Philippe
The Swiss brand, Patek Phillipe & Co was founded in 1851. The watches boast complicated mechanics and traditional styling and have been worn by royalty throughout history. Inspiringly classic and unique with its distinctive signature style, this brand keeps its marketing consistent with their promotional campaigns.
Founded: 1839 (Patek, Czapek & Cie.), 1845 (Patek & Cie.), 1851 (Patek, Philippe & Cie.)
Founder: Antoni Patek, Franciszek Czapek, Adrien Philippe
A subsidiary of the Swatch Group, watch brand Blancpain was much like the other brands founded in another era; 1735. Blancpain underwent big developments, with its growth thriving in the 19th century, updating and modernizing production and innovation of their watches. Blancpain has a broad range of different watches available; including minimalistic designs as well as more elaborately styled pieces.
Known for their Swiss watches, Chopard is not only known for their unique timepieces, but also for their jewelry. Founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, a Swiss watchmaker, Chopard is identifiable for its classic look and great detailing. With state-of-the-art technological influence and well-established craftsmanship, Chopard is coveted because of its sophisticated models. With a clear design aesthetic and innovative development, Chopard has grown into a worldwide luxury brand.
Founder: Louis-Ulysse Chopard
6. IWC Schaffhausen
Established in 1868, IWC Schaffhausen has specialized in premium Swiss watches. This watch manufacturer combines precision engineering with exclusive design, and its timepieces are identifiable by their classic shape and superior material. Interestingly, the brand has expressed a desire to create watches with superior standards while responding to the environmental challenges of today as well as supporting landmark projects around the world.
Founder: Florentine Ariosto Jones
One of, if not the most identifiable luxury watch brands, Rolex is internationally acclaimed and coveted by society. Prized for its timeless form and function, Rolex watches are prevalent in popular culture. Its British origins are still represented in this brand’s consistently classic designs. Rolex is internationally recognized and has been featured on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful global brands. Rolex is also the largest single luxury watch brand, making 2,000 watches per day.
Founded: 1905 (Wilsdorf and Davis in London, United Kingdom), 1915 (Rolex Watch Co. Ltd), 1920 (Montres Rolex S.A.)
Founder: Hans Wilsdorf, Alfred Davis
8. Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin has been in continuous production since its creation in 1846. Specializing in wristwatches, writing instruments and accessories, the materials used in these products are visually distinctive, much like the uniquely colored leathers utilized in many of their goods. The craftsmanship of the Ulysse Nardin watches is also internationally renowned for their work with modernized materials and manufacturing.
Founder: Ulysse Nardin
The luxury Swiss watch brand, Jaeger-LeCoultre features timepieces boasting faces with unique and complex detailing. Since 1833, this brand has sustained the initial envisions for the brand, which was innovation and unique clarity. The classic elements of these watches are particularly appealing because they can be worn again and again.
Founder: Antoine LeCoultre
Founded in 1860 in Florence Italy, today Panerai’s headquarters are located in Milan Italy. With an international clientele, the Italian company is known for its bold styles and simplistic numeral and design elements.
Founded: 1860 (Italy)
Founder: Giovanni Panerai
11. Piaget SA
Piaget SA was founded by Georges Edouard Piaget in La Côte-aux-Fées, Switzerland. Known for their thinner watch styles, their materials are also incredibly unique, flaunting dials made in precious stones such as lapis-lazuli, turquoise, onyx and tiger’s eye. Piaget announced in 2014 their Altiplano 900P watch, which is the world’s thinnest hand-wound mechanical watch.
Founder: Georges Edouard Piaget
Cartier is undeniably one of the most iconic watch and jewelry brands globally, especially due to its popularity in the mainstream press and celebrity culture. Founded in 1847 in Paris France, the brand’s renowned watches speak for themselves, flaunting a distinguished and classic distinction. Represented through its high-end materials and typical roman numerals, this luxury watch brand is a safe bet for many, and is worth the splurge.
Founder: Louis-François Cartier
Founded in 1884, luxury watch brand Breitling is known for its watches’ excellent durability and precision. The watches are inspired by aviation, with many of the watches including features used by fighter pilots. The brand also designed watches specifically constructed for divers, lending to its versatility and innovation in watch production.
Founder: Léon Breitling
14. Bell & Ross
Luxury French brand, Bell & Ross is headed by Bruno Belamich and Carlos A. Rosillo. Launched in 1992, the design influences of these watches include Aircraft instruments. Most noted about this fine watch company is the square shaping that frames many of its watches’ faces. Its aesthetic boasts modern influence and can be identified by its sporty and athletic references.
Founder: Bruno Belamich, Carlos A. Rosillo
Another influential Swiss luxury watch brand, Omega has earned its stripes with its historical work as well as contemporary status as a leading luxury brand for timepieces. In fact, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps elected Omega watches as the official timekeepers for combat units in 1917. The American army shortly followed suit in 1918.
Founder: Louis Brandt
Inspired by Aviation, the Bremont Watch Company is based in Britain but have expanded their brand and production across the world. Since 2002, founding brothers, Nick and Giles English have upheld the inspiration that made their watches famous, shown through their watches’ aircraft themed and mechanically focused models. With classic curves and proportionate faces, these watches are true representations of this British company’s image and branding.
Founder: Nick English, Giles English
Country: United Kingdom
17. TAG Heuer
This Swiss watch manufacturing company also produces eyewear, mobile phones, and accessories. The TAG Heuer name is an abbreviation of ‘Techniques d’Avant Garde’ and Heur refers to the founder, Edouard Heuer. While the watches have evolved over the decades, they still possess a persisting sports-like look. With a range of chronographs and memorable timepieces available, this brand boasts a technological appeal and premium functionality.
Founder: Edouard Heuer
18. Louis Moinet
The inventor of the Chronograph, Louis Moinet was not only a craftsman of watches but a horologist, sculptor, and painter. His name and branding were revived by the founder and creative director of the Louis Moinet brand, Jean-Marie Schaller. This independent luxury brand is located in Switzerland and prides itself on its incorporation of exotic materials and innovative technology.
Founder: Edouard Heuer
19. A.Lange & Sohne
A.Lange & Sohne was founded in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange. The brand favors mechanical movements as opposed to quartz movements and its cases are made in different tones of gold, like yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum. The brand is synonymous with iconic styling and superior quality.
Founded: 1845, 1990 (re-launched)
Founder: Ferdinand Adolph Lange
20. Baume ET Mercier
For the gent who wants a luxury watch without emptying his savings account, Baume ET Mercier is the perfect brand. The label has been creating and selling superior timepieces for almost two centuries. Today, Baume et Mercier continues to make elegant watches of the highest quality while selling them for excellent mid-range prices.
Founder: Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume
Corum, which is also known as Montres Corum Sàrl, is a luxury watch label that specializes in bold designs and reliable mechanics. The brand’s range of timepieces extends from fantastic mid-range designs to stunning limited edition styles. As such, Corum appeals to regular gents who appreciate watches as well as serious collectors.
Founder: Gaston Ries, René Bannwart
22. Girard Perregaux
Setting the benchmark for supreme craftsmanship and exquisite design, Girard Perregaux is a titan in the horology world. With over 200 years of experience, the label sure knows how to create a stunning and innovative luxury timepiece. It’s no surprise then that Girard Perregaux’s history contains countless achievements and patents.
Founded: 1791, 1852 (Girard & Cie)
Founder: Jean-François Bautte, Constant Girard
23. Glashütte Original
While you may automatically think of Switzerland for luxury timepieces, Germany also knows how to create an impeccable wristwatch. The country, which is renowned for its precision craftsmanship, is home to Glashütte Original. Hailing from the watchmaking town of the same name, Glashütte is famous for blending traditional techniques with cutting-edge innovation.
Founder: Ferdinand Adolph Lange
Although Hublot may be significantly younger than a lot of other luxury watch labels, the brand is by no means less impressive. In fact, since beginning in 1980, Hublot has risen to become one of the most prestigious names in the industry. With award-winning collections already under its belt, the label looks set to continue with its success.
Founder: Carlo Crocco
25. Maurice Lacroix
Maurice Lacroix is renowned for its expert blend of traditional Swiss craftsmanship and impressive in-house manufacturing. The label, which launched in 1975, rose to the top of the industry in the ’90s with the help of its Les Mécaniques line. Today, the line is known as the Masterpiece Collection and features many of the brand’s most popular watches.
Montblanc may be best known for its famous fountain pens, but the label also creates exceptional luxury watches. Beautifully crafted by hand, the brand’s timepieces are as stylish as they are functional. As well as offering an extensive range of traditional wristwatches, the innovative label also boasts a collection of modern smartwatches.
Founded: 1997 (watches)
27. Roger Dubuis
Combining avant-garde style with intricate Swiss mechanics, Roger Dubuis has carved out an impressive section of the luxury watch market just for himself. The talented watchmaker has been dazzling watch connoisseurs since the mid-’90s and continues to impress with his unique blend of traditional construction and cutting-edge design.
Founder: Roger Dubuis, Carlos Dias
28. Arnold & Son
Arnold & Son is a legendary luxury watch brand. The label was created by famous British watchmaker, John Arnold, who released the first official chronometer. As such, precision and innovation run in this brand’s blood. Although John is now long gone, Arnold & Son continues to create impeccable timepieces and keep his legacy going.
Founder: John Roger Arnold
Country: United Kingdom
Tudor is a subsidiary brand of Rolex and an excellent mid-range luxury alternative to the prestigious label. Perfect for gents who appreciate a high-quality construction and elegant design without an excessive price tag, Tudor’s timepieces are chic, smart, and of excellent value. Add one of the label’s pieces to your collection, and you won’t regret it.
Founder: Hans Wilsdorf
MeisterSinger manufactures mechanical wristwatches and is known for their exceptional quality. It was founded by Manfred Brassler in 2001 and is based in Münster, Germany. Although it is one of the newer offerings to the watch market, it has become a highly sought-after brand because of its simple elegance and functional pieces. You can expect precision and a timeless design that is distinguished because of the single hand they use.
Founder: Manfred Brassler
Country: Münster, Germany
31. Nomos Glashütte
Nomos Glashütte is based in Glashütte, Saxony, and products made here are world-famous. Founded by Roland Schwertner in 1990, the company creates precise designs that are timeless and sophisticated and is a fantastic example of German engineering at its finest. You can choose from thirteen model families for men and women and a wide selection of colors for the straps and dials.
Founded: Roland Schwertner
Country: Glashütte, Saxony, Germany
32. Richard Mille
Richard Mille only entered the watch manufacturing business in 2001, with its first product, the RM 001 Tourbillon. Still, it is already proving to be a leader in the luxury watch brand market. Inspired by Mille’s desire to produce the watch of his dreams, the company was founded in Les Breuleux, Switzerland, by Dominique Guenat and Richard Mille. It specializes in high-end products, and its craftsmanship has earned them a legion of loyal customers worldwide.
Founder: Richard Mille, Dominique Guenat
Parmigiani Fleurier was founded in 1996 by Michel Parmigiani. His knowledge of timepieces from his time as a watch restorer coupled with his desire to blend expert craftsmanship with cutting-edge design helped him launch such a successful brand. His business ventures began in 1975, but Parmigiana was born decades later. Great care and precision go into the creation of all watches, and only a limited number are produced each year, which only adds to their appeal.
Founder: Michel Parmigiani
Another watch brand to know is Zenith. Founded in 1865 by Georges Favre-Jacot in Le Locle, Switzerland, this company has withstood the test of time and for a good reason. Their timepieces offer precision with their chronograph and are of the utmost quality and high standard. The watches have been favored by remarkable individuals throughout history, including French aviator Louis Blériot and daredevil and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner.
Founder: Georges Favre-Jacot
Country: Le Locle, Switzerland
Breguet gets its name after its founder, Abraham-Louis Breguet. He started the company in Paris, France, in 1775. It is now one of the oldest, most well-known, and highly sought-after luxury watch manufacturers with headquarters in L’Abbaye, Switzerland, after the Swatch Group’s acquisition. Among the many things that Breguet has accomplished includes the invention of the tourbillon and creating the first wristwatch for the Queen of Naples. The products are unbelievably beautiful with great attention to detail.
Founder: Abraham-Louis Breguet
Country: Paris, France
36. Frederique Constant
Frédérique Constant produces Swiss-made watches that are special and unique. Founded in 1988 in Switzerland by Peter Stas and Aletta Bax. The timepieces are innovative and stylish yet also accessible with the goal of being an affordable luxury. They are evolving to keep up with the times and have also focused their attention on smartwatches.
Founder: Peter Stas and Aletta Bax
Founded in Tokyo Japan in 1881 and incorporated in 1917, Seiko is well known for its function and style alike. This brand produces both quartz and mechanical watches. The Japanese luxury brand has evolved over the years and has expanded into eyewear as well as jewelry and interestingly enough, printers.
Founder: Kintarō Hattori
How to Wear a Watch
Which Wrist to Wear Your Watch on
As a very general rule, most people choose to wear their watch on their non-dominant hand. This reduces the risk of banging it while performing tasks or fumbling what you’re holding if you need to check the time. However, which wrist you choose really comes down to personal preference, and there is no right or wrong. With more and more jobs being at a computer, choosing your non-mouse hand can be a good idea to prevent wear and tapping on the desk (no-one wants to be the noisy guy in an open plan office!).
Picking The Right Watch For The Right Occasion
Selecting the right style of watch for the right occasion can be tricky. However, there are a few basic rules you can follow. If you’re wearing a suit, it’s best to opt for a slimline dress watch that will sit smoothly under your sleeve — no-one should be wearing a G-Shock on their wedding day. If you’re super keen on adding a bit more personality to your look, you can, in some cases, wear an aviation or motorsport watch. On the flip side, casual outfits are perfect for wearing your sports, field, or diving watch. These tend to be a larger profile, with more casual details such as canvas or silicone straps. While not every man has an extensive collection, a dress watch and a more relaxed style such as a field or dive watch should be in every guy’s wardrobe to cover you for most occasions.
Wearing a Watch with a Dress Shirt
Whether you’re at a job interview, out to dinner, or even getting married, you want to make sure your accessories are just as on point as your dress shirt and suit. As such, there are a few things to consider when wearing a watch with a dress shirt. Firstly, you should select a slim profile dress watch that won’t bulk out your sleeve or get caught. You also want to make sure the strap fits correctly around your wrist, so it’s not sliding up or down. When it comes to your sleeve length when your arms are straight, you should only see 20% of your watch – if not, head to a tailor to get the sleeves adjusted. Finally, your watch should always sit on the inside of your sleeve, not the outside.
Wearing a Watch with a Short Sleeve Shirt?
The perfect time for wearing a watch with a bit more personality is when you’ve got short sleeves on. Whether you’re wearing a t-shirt, button-up, or even a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves nonchalantly rolled, it’s ideal for showing off your timepiece. Opt for a field, aviation, sport, driving, or diving watch for the ultimate in style-savvy vibes. However, similar to wearing a watch with long sleeves, you still want to ensure the band fits well.
How to Care For a Watch
- Cleaning Your Watch: Regularly and proactively cleaning your watch is one of the best moves you can make. Doing so reduces the build-up of daily dirt and grime that can turn it into a bigger task down the track. Simply take a soft cloth and clean the band and case once a week. Then, every couple of months (assuming your watch is water-resistant), use some warm soapy water to help loosen any set-in dirt.
- Getting Your Watch Serviced: No matter what kind of watch you have, it’s good to get it served every few years. A professional will check everything is in working order and replace worn or faulty parts. Mechanical watches should get checked every two to three years, as they have more moving parts, while quartz watches need services every three to four years.
- Keeping Away from Magnets: The timekeeping mechanisms of watches are carefully calibrated. However, they can be negatively impacted by magnets, which can interrupt the accuracy of your watch. As such, it’s best to avoid having your watch near magnets.
- Water Resistance Matters: Most watches these days have some level of water resistance, which means they won’t be damaged by rain or water splashes. However, over time, the waterproof measures’ effectiveness can wear off, especially in vintage watches. As such, it’s ideal to know how waterproof your watch is so you can avoid situations where it might get damaged. You should also be aware of how water affects other parts of your watch, such as the band. For example, water can weaken a leather band but won’t affect silicone.
- Your Watch’s Crystal: It may seem obvious but do your best to avoid hitting the crystal of your watch against anything. While it’s relatively durable, you want to prevent scratches, chips, and cracks.
- Saving the Watch Box: The best way to store your watch when it’s not on your wrist is to keep it in the box it came in. Watch boxes are designed to keep the face up and protect it, so the dial doesn’t risk getting scratched. If you’ve accumulated a watch collection, it can be worth investing in a watch display box. This keeps many timepieces stored safely and correctly while still showing off your incredible collection.
- Limiting Sun Exposure: The sun can be very damaging to pretty much everything, including your watch. Extreme heat can shorten your battery life, and the UV rays can fade the color on your watching, including on the band. Consequently, it’s ideal to keep your watch away from the sun as much as is practical.
- Staying Away from Chemicals: While it may seem obvious to avoid getting corrosive chemicals on your watch, even mild cleaning products can cause damage. If you’re in for a day of deep cleaning, it’s best to take your watch off before you commence. Cologne or fragrance can also have a damaging effect, especially on leather bands, thanks to the combination of alcohols and chemicals. As such, if you’re wearing cologne, spray it on a few minutes before you put your watch on to let it dry completely.
- Trust the Professionals: Even if you’re the most avid DIY-guy, it’s best to leave any opening or tinkering of your watch to the professionals. Watchmakers are experts in this area and work in clean environments that minimize exposure to dust and dirt that can clock the mechanisms and stop your watch from working as it should.
- Understand How your Watch Works: It may seem “unmanly” to read your watch manual, but it’s the best way to understand how your watch works. There will be tips and tricks on how to care for and clean your watch, as well as specific instructions for different models and designs. Understanding your watch’s inner workings will also help you better identify when things might be going wrong or it requires a service.
What are the top 10 watch brands?
The top 10 luxury watch brands are: Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Chopard, IWC Schaffhausen and Vacheron Constantin.
What is the cheapest luxury watch brand?
One of the most affordable luxury watch brands is Tag Heuer. While the watches have evolved over the decades, they still possess a persisting sports-like look. With a range of chronographs and memorable timepieces available, this brand boasts a technological appeal and premium functionality.
What are good watch brands?
There are many good watch brands. Some of the most affordable brands are Victorinox, Alpina, Seiko, Stuhrling, Casio, Tissot, Triwa, Citizen, Timex, and Mondaine.
Are luxury watches a good investment?
Luxury watches are a good investment for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they can increase in value over time, especially on limited runs and rare models. Collectors can be willing to pay a lot for well-looked after vintage watches. Secondly, luxury watches can have enormous sentimental value, especially if they become family heirlooms. If you have the cash to splash and are looking for a way to treat yourself that can pay off in the future, then a luxury watch is a good idea. Plus, in the meantime, you'll be looking and feeling stylish whenever you check the time.
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