The 10 Most Famous Watches of All Time
Superior craftsmanship, engineering innovation, and historical significance are the usual markers of a true luxury watch.
9th August 2023
Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, and Breitling are some of the most renowned watches in history. With a range of aesthetic styles, each of these fine calibres was designed to last for generations, each a piece of history at its owner’s wrist.
Your answer to the question "are Rolex watches a good investment?” might be answered by the brand's impressive triple-feature appearance on this list. One of the company’s most iconic timepieces is of course the 1953 Submariner.
Revolutionary in its robust, waterproof materials, the Submariner marked the first diver’s wristwatch achieving depths of 330 feet below sea level as early as the mid-century.
Now Rolex’s Submariner reaches 1,000 feet underwater, with a rotatable bezel and luminescent face, it has been the trusted companion for water sports professionals for decades. Rolex’s reputation far exceeds the niche athletic circles that first appreciated it, setting the ultimate standard for the luxury watch business as a whole.
Another remarkable feat from Rolex lies in its Daytona Cosmograph. The watch is characterised by refined chronometric precision and uncompromising durability.
This edition is practically an obsession of Rolex with constant design developments being introduced year after year with the purpose of further enhancing the classic timepiece. In 2023, the 4132 was launched to momentous acclaim, boasting minimalist architecture. Appearing more spacious, the latest model of the Daytona promises a power reserve of 3 consecutive days for prolonged and precise timekeeping.
The manufacturing excellence the brand is known for is on full display with Rolex’s Daytona, guaranteeing enduring favouritism amongst enthusiast circles for many decades to come.
We couldn’t pay true memorial to the world’s most famous luxury watches without mentioning Rolex’s 1945 output, the Datejust. As with the Daytona, the Datejust continues to surprise us with constant evolutions in its construction whilst still maintaining its classical appearance.
Here, Rolex accomplished the first ever self-winding waterproof chronometer timepiece featuring a display date window.
Having embodied such a prestigious role within the luxury watch industry, buyers may encounter the issue of how to tell if a Rolex is real. Find out more about the best Rolex watches.
Naturally, Rolex does not have a monopoly on important horological innovation, but Omega isn’t far behind!
Omega’s Speedmaster first launched in an era where mechanical watches were deemed much less prestigious. But the Speedmaster transformed this conception with its broad qualities as a reliable, durable, and stylish all-purpose sports watch.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Omega brand, including which Omega James Bond famously wears, then venture over to our investigation into the story behind Omega.
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet’s masterpiece, the Royal Oak, is the final product of 860 hours of labour-intensive construction. Its meticulous design boasts of an octagonal bezel, and iconic ‘Tapisserie’ dial that sets it apart from the majority of luxury watch manufacturing.
The Royal Oak Complication has just three watches like it ever released into the market, this exclusive combination of quality and scarcity means it fetches an impressive resale price.
Patek Philippe’s Calatrava
Another influential timekeeper is the 184-year-old Swiss watchmaker company, Patek Philippe. Why is Patek Philippe so expensive? Well, calibres like their Calatrava watch are some of the most recognisable pieces in the industry. Its fine, circular architecture symbolises the sleek style associated with Patek Philippe’s excellence.
Patek Philippe’s Nautilus
Developing upon its reputable circular finish, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus watch adorns a rounded octagonal shape for its bezel. Since 1976, the Nautilus has championed professional sports, with its revolutionary porthole configuration and horizontal dial streamlining timekeeping. Decades later, the Nautilus is enjoyed by athletes and amateurs alike. The expansive collection it birthed compromises calibres made for men and women, in steel, rose gold, white gold, and even a combination of luxury materials available.
The Art Deco finery, sleek lines, and diamond-set case mark the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso as a once-in-a-generation beauty. The brand combines innovative horology with luxury jewellery making to craft something truly unique.
With more than 50 calibres inspired by the original 1930s Reverso, this collection has proven to be an inspiring canvas for invention. Some newer editions have been coated in intricate enamel, engravings, and gemstones. Its timeless story continues to be told, but for further insights into Jaeger-LeCoultre, check out our buying guide.
Affiliated with the British Royal family, Cartier is esteemed for its tasteful minimalism and precise movements. Founded in 1904 by Louis Cartier, the original Santos design was intended to meet the needs of famed aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont. It became the first contemporary wristwatch, embodying simplicity, practicality, and innovation.
Guided by a drive for progress, Cartier masters both visual appeal and engineering breakthroughs. The brand’s aristocratic associations certainly don't hinder their market success, Princess Diana’s gold Cartier Tank being the most striking example.
Perhaps an underrated choice amongst the titanic watch brands we’ve already explored, the Breitling Navitimer predates the Rolex Daytona and the Omega Speedmaster.
The Navitimer paved the way for its branch of technology, pioneering the pilot’s watch. In 1954, the Navitimer became the official timepiece for The AOPA (the largest international association of pilots). It has a lot of competition these days, but this one-of-a-kind model remains a classic of luxury watch engineering.
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At Panache, our team of professionals has years of expertise in the care, assessment, and purchasing of pre-loved quality watches.
Timepieces from each of the brands we have discussed in this article regularly pass through our doors. We guarantee a safe, secure, and simple transaction for each of our clients ready to exchange their watch for a generous, competitive price. So contact us today for a free, no-obligation evaluation.
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