Some folks thought the top luxury watch brands might go out of style with the onslaught of technology. Those folks thought wrong. If anything, the historical watch brands are killing it these days, okay, maybe not financially, but at least in terms of the quality and advancements their now pushing out. In fact, it could even be argued that the omnipresence of screens and smartphones only enhanced our appreciation for classic horology and its signifying allure. Accordingly, the best luxury watch brands say far more about the person wearing them than any tech ever could. Every timepiece is thereby a representation of taste, personality, sportiness, class and sophistication, sometimes all at once. Scope our list of the 32 Top Luxury Watch Brands and get in on the timeless art of telling time.
A. Lange & Söhne
Here to kick off our list of the best watch brands is, well…one of the best watch brands. A. Lange & Söhne has been cleaning the clocks on the competition since the mid-1800s. As such, their stellar timepieces remain the quintessence of technical achievement. Barring a few limited edition pieces, each A. Lange & Söhne watch runs on large mechanical movement that’s developed and assembled in-house. The cases are frequently made of platinum or varying shades of gold while the faces retain a highly Teutonic aesthetic. Meanwhile, entries like the Lange 1 redefine the chronograph to absolutely brilliant effect. In the world of watchmaking, the Swiss might take the lion’s share of credit, but A. Lange & Söhne stands tall as a pillar of German craft and engineering with a price tag to show for it.
Arnold & Son
The “Arnold” in Arnold & Son is John Arnold, a legendary British watchmaker who’s credited with releasing the first official ‘chronometer’ (aka a timepiece of exceptional accuracy). The brand itself has exchanged owners a few times since John’s day, however a remarkable standard of innovation and precision remains. Many of their releases include complicated features like double escapement and double tourbillon, which when paired with immaculate designs result in some of the best luxury watches you can own. Check out the TB88 to have your mind blown at first sight.
Precious few names are more synonymous with luxury watchmaking than Audemars Piguet. The Swiss manufacturer has origins going all the way back to the 1700s and has time and again created the stuff of horology legend. Among their achievements is the world first jumping second hand, the thinnest watch and the skeleton watch. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks Watch is a must-have among those who can afford one.
Baume et Mercier
Not every top luxury watch has to cost as much as a small house. Consider Baume et Mercier. Backed by almost 200 years of expertise and a healthy amount of (male and female) celebrity endorsement, their watches combine the best of sport and style and traditionally sell for between $2000 and $5000. That makes them far more affordable than some high-end alternatives while visually no less stunning. For those seeking a prime and elegant mid-range luxury watch, look no further.
Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross launched in 1992 and have been slaying it every since. One reason for their ongoing success is that they’ve mastered niche markets like the diver’s watch. In essence, Bell & Ross makes profoundly resilient timepieces that normally target a specific demographic or profession. That said, they can still be worn and appreciated by anyone of good taste.
Founded in 1775, Breguet is one of the world’s oldest living luxury watch brands. Among their slew of trailblazing technological achievements was the invention of tourbillon and production of the first wrist watch. Now owned by Swatch Group, Breguet continues to exude distinction and brilliance by way of their coin-edge cases, architectural dials and unmistakable blue hands.
Breitling made a name for itself by crafting aviation and diver’s watches of exceptional quality. Each timepiece is made by way of the finest Swiss craftsmanship and features either a calibre B01 or calibre B04 movement. Other common features include a highly readable face and strictly mechanical winding mechanism. The 2009 Breitling Chronomat was their first watch to be created entirely in-house and it remains a mid-range masterpiece to this day. The brand was recently acquired by CVC Capital Partners for a whopping $870 million, so it’s safe to say they’ve been doing something right.
Bremont is a relative newcomer that’s perfected the art of aviation horology among other things. Accordingly, the brand boasts a strong following among military types. In fact, many of Bremont’s special edition releases are available exclusively to those who served on the same aircraft or warship that the watch is commemorating.
Known for their prestigious jewellery and watches alike, Cartier and royalty practically go hand in hand. That’s both a reference to the distinguished designs and also the fact that they are quite literally a common favourite among kings, queens, princes and princesses. In fact, the brand was once dubbed “the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers” by the King Edward VII of England himself. This isn’t just one of the best luxury watch brands–this is luxury, period.
As official partner of both the Cannes Film Festival and Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, it’s safe to say Swiss watchmaker Chopard covers a lot of distinguished ground. Some of their watches and jewels represent the top shelf of glitz and glamour while others pair refinement and functionality with superb precision. Adding some ethical awareness to their legendary success is a commitment to using sustainable gold when possible.
Also known as Montres Corum Sàrl, luxury watch brand Corum has absolutely conquered the art of bold design and trusty mechanics. Their Admiral’s Cup and Bubble watch series along with other limited edition timepieces are basically what the competition aspires to. Most of Corum’s prices are in the mid range, but every now and then they’ll release a timepiece for top dollar collectors only. They’re currently owned by a Chinese company, but the watches themselves remain striking examples of the best in fearless Swiss engineering.
In relatively short time, remarkable watch brand Frederique Constant has jumped to the head of the luxury pack. That meteoric success comes by way of manageable prices, painstaking attention to detail, undeniable appeal and tireless innovation. Among the brand’s many accomplishments is the production of their own award-winning Heart Beat movement and silicon escapement wheel. To keep those creative juices flowing, the Frederique Constant has recently forayed into luxury smartwatch territory. Like everything else they do, the results are nothing short of brilliant.
With about 80 patents and over 200 years of business under its belt, luxury watchmaker Girard Perregaux remains a titan and pioneer before which others kneel in respect. The brand’s history is littered with so many achievements that it practically reads like the history of Swiss watchmaking itself. Naturally, their products are top of the line and frequently used as benchmarks of superior craft and design. Young, ambitious companies could definitely learn a thing or two from this old school giant.
Hailing from a prestigious watchmaking town of the same name, German luxury brand Glashütte Original effectively combines timeless technique with cutting edge innovation. The company stakes a claim on up to 10 proprietary movements, and inside each watch is a calibre that takes up to 300 hours to produce.
Top luxury watch brand Hublot has come such a great distance in so little time you’d be forgiven in assuming they’ve been around for centuries. Following the release of their Big Bang Red Gold watch and subsequent ubiquity among world-class athletes, Hublot has risen in the ranks to become the ultimate men’s horology brand. Accordingly, their award-winning collections are symphonies of resilience, masculinity and prestige.
Time is fluid and no brand captures the essence of time better than HYT. The self-proclaimed “Hydro Mechanical Horologists” have crafted an indisputably innovative aesthetic by using a luminous fluid perimeter on the watch face to mark the passage of time. While so many Swiss luxury watch brands go to great lengths to pay tribute to the past, HYT has its sights set firmly on the road ahead.
Founded in 1868 by an American watchmaker in Switzerland, IWC (aka International Watch Company) has yielded a strong following and heaps of acclaim over the years. To this day they operate under the motto of “good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen” and remain the only major Swiss factory in eastern Switzerland, which lends them an extra tier of distinction. Quality and technical prowess are IWC mainstays and their titanium dive watches and pilot’s watches are the stuff of legend. This is the epitome of classic horology.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is almost like the MIT of watchmaking given how many movement innovations have come out of their labs. Since their beginnings in 1833, the Vallee de Joux-based luxury watch brand has produced no less than a thousand movements. Among them are the world’s smallest calibre and the world’s flattest movement. Their Reverso Tourbillo–which touts an iconic flip-over rectangle case–consistently retains its status as a pure statement of elegance and power.
Maurice Lacroix landed in 1975 but reached the luxury watch stratosphere in the 90s. That’s when they released the “Les Mécaniques” line, which now goes by the “Masterpiece Collection”. That palpable leverage would eventually allow them to develop their own manufacturing unit. It’s that sense of balance between traditional Swiss craftsmanship and prime in-house manufacturing that maintains the brand’s unmistakable appeal. Some of their limited edition units are highly sought after by the industry’s foremost collectors.
Sure, you might picture the world’s fanciest writing utensils when you hear the name Montblanc, but the luxury brand is no slouch in the horology department. Furthermore, they turned heads in 2015 when the introduced the e-strap, i.e. a mini electronic display that links to the wristband of your otherwise traditional timepiece. When it comes to their actual watches, just look for the white snowflake and you’ll find yourself in good hands.
You might know Omega watches from the James Bond films, or maybe the Olympics, or maybe because your scuba diving friend won’t shut up about them. Whatever the source, you most definitely know this brand. Such prominence didn’t come by chance. The luxury watchmaker produces beautiful and durable stunners that simply emanate with the three ps: precision, power and passion. Omega has sporty luxury down to an absolute science.
Headquarted in Florence, Panerai pairs refined Italian taste with prime Swiss manufacturing and then throws in some truly intelligent features. Their diver’s watches come equipped with “Radiomir”, which glows underwater or in the dark to allow for maximum legibility. Currently owned by Richemont, Panerai continues to represent the apex of mid to high range horology. Driving home themes of sleek and sporty luxury is an ongoing partnership with Ferrari.
Patek Philippe & Co.
Say the words “best watch brand” to three people and at least one of them will reflexively issue the response: “Patek Philippe”. That’s because this brand is at the tippy top of luxury watchmaking and with good reason. These guys are absolute geniuses. At this very moment, there’s a team of competing brands trying to reverse engineer Patek Philippe’s complicated mechanics (good luck). Those mechanics are almost two centuries in the making and backed by the utmost level of sophistication, expertise, opulence and innovation. Naturally, many of their watches fetch the prettiest of pennies. This is as timeless as time can get.
There’s only one reason you know how to pronounce the word “Piaget” and that’s because of the renowned Swiss luxury watch brand. Founded in 1874, Piaget started as a manufacturer of movements and then began releasing its own lines in the 1900s. Of course their background in manufacturing gave them a solid leg up and they’ve maintained that lead ever since. Both watches and jewellery from the brand frequently feature ultra-thin designs and go for supremely high prices.
It takes some serious chops to enter the game in 1999 and dominate, yet that’s exactly what luxury watch brand Richard Mille did. Of course, one look at those stunning and unconventional designs and you’ll know why. Famous models include the Tourbillon RM 008, which hosts so many advanced features that enthusiasts are still wrapping their head around it. This is esteemed craftsmanship at its boldest.
Roger Dubuis was a genius watchmaker who found his hook in 1995 by combining avant-garde design with complex Swiss mechanics. And as they like to say: the world of Haute Horlogerie was never quite the same. Signature collections like Hommage don’t just bridge the past and future, they shatter the present in the process.
Rolex is essentially the luxury watch brand, so much so that for a long time you might have thought it was the only luxury watch brand. It could be argued that Rolex keeps luxury watches in style through the power of name recognition alone. Furthermore, between the slew of knock-offs and legion of casual references, Rolex practically transcends its status as a brand to somehow signify all luxury watches everywhere for those who know nothing about horology. The fact that they make exceptional timepieces practically feels like an afterthought. That said, Rolex makes exceptional timepieces!
The TAG in TAG Heuer stands for “Techniques d’Avant Garde”, which might be more applicable to when the Swiss brand first started in 1860. Nowadays, TAG Heuer watches aren’t so much avant-garde as much as they are dependably innovative. Ultimately, TAG Heuer excels at crafting approachable, functional, wildly popular luxury watches that you fall in love with and basically never take off your wrist. Their perennial association with sporting events has only expanded their desirability as opposed to diminishing it. This is a brand that basically everyone agrees on, and without a doubt one of the best watchmakers on the planet.
For those who can’t yet afford a Rolex, consider a mid-range offering from their subsidiary brand Tudor. And while these watches might spare you some cash, they definitely don’t short you on elegant aesthetics or intelligent designs. Furthermore, that lack of stuffy expectation gives the brand a little more room to breath. Accordingly, they cover a ton of ground and have a timepiece for virtually any style or occasion.
An initial specialisation in marine chronometers has given luxury watch brand Ulysse Nardin a backbone upon which to build its legacy of top-shelf performance. In the 1800s they were supplying watches to over fifty navies around the globe and now they’re doing the same for wealthy collectors and tastemakers alike. Ulysse Nardin’s mechanics are beyond reproach, which in part explains the heaping amount of awards and patents in their possession. Meanwhile, a nautical theme persists to brilliant effect. Scope the new Marine Tourbillon to get a taste of their high standards, or something like the Jade “Lionfish” for some outside-the-box aesthetics.
Founded in 1755, Swiss luxury watch brand Vacheron Constantin is a true OG that somehow hasn’t lost one iota of brilliance after all this time. In the years where they weren’t setting or raising the bar, they were duly sustaining it. Their timepieces have graced the wrists of everyone from Napoleon to Harry Truman. Now owned by the Richemont group, Vacheron Constantin continues to soar past the competition on an annual basis. Their 2012 Métiers d’Art ‘Les Univers Infinis’ collection and its interlocking shapes was a pure stroke of design genius. However that just an appetiser. In 2015 (the brand’s 260th anniversary), Vacheron Constantin released the Reference 57260, a 57-complication watch that took eight years and three watchmakers to create. Dubbed the world’s most complicated mechanical watch, Reference 57260 sold for somewhere between 8 million and 20 million dollars–it doesn’t get much more luxurious than that.
Swiss watchmaker Zenith was founded in 1865, but it was one hundred years later that they really took off. That was when they released “El Primero”, an automatic chronograph of remarkable precision that some still point to as a gold standard. Now owned by LVMH, Zenith still manufacturers its movements in-house, and updates their groundbreaking El Primero chronograph when necessary.
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