Audemars Piguet produces some of the finest, most highly coveted watches the world has to offer. The brand belongs to a group known as the "Big Three" of Swiss watchmaking, which also includes Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Established in 1875, the company remains in family hands to this day and is one of the last Swiss watch manufacturers still owned by its founding family. AP (as its fans call it) produces all sorts of timepieces, from simple two-hand watches to models with intricate complications like a perpetual calendar or minute repeater.
The brand's most famous model, the Royal Oak, has legendary watch designer Gérald Genta to thank for its iconic looks. Its arrival in 1972 turned the world of luxury watches on its head, as AP listed this distinct stainless steel piece for as much as a gold watch. This model established the luxury sports watch genre, which today includes the Patek Philippe Nautilus.
Other top Audemars Piguet watches include the Royal Oak Offshore and the Royal Oak Concept. The Offshore debuted in 1998 and is a larger, more masculine version of the classic Royal Oak. On the other hand, AP uses the Concept series to experiment with new materials and technology. One recent result of these experiments is the Royal Oak Concept "Black Panther" from 2021. The manufacturer developed this timepiece in collaboration with Marvel Studios.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Hublot has been making waves with its extraordinary designs, unusual material combinations, and high-end craftsmanship since its founding in 1980. Company founder Carlo Crocco set the tone with his very first collection, which included the world's first gold watch on a rubber strap. This timepiece also introduced the brand's unique and now-iconic bezel with prominent screws. Crocco based the watch on a ship's porthole. In fact, the company's name, "Hublot," is French for "porthole."
The fusion of seemingly incongruous materials continues to define the modern collection. For example, Hublot is the only company to produce so-called Magic Gold, a yellow gold and ceramic alloy. Some watches also feature carbon, sapphire, titanium, textile, or even a kind of concrete.
But their variety of materials isn't the only unusual thing about Hublot: The company also forges its own path in terms of design. The Hublot Big Bang, which lives up to its name by featuring case diameters of up to 45 mm, quickly conquered many a watch lover's heart the world over. The Classic Fusion is rather sleek by Hublot standards, while the MP collection could have come from a sci-fi film. The Spirit of Big Bang stands out from the pack with its tonneau-shaped case. Hublot augmented its catalog in 2022 with a line of square watches the manufacturer has appropriately named the Square Bang.
A look inside these timepieces is proof positive that Hublot has mastered the art of watchmaking. Here you'll find, among other things, in-house movements with bi-axial tourbillons and calibers with up to nine barrels promising over two weeks of power reserve. Watches with chronograph, GMT, and perpetual calendar functions are also part of Hublot's portfolio.
The storied Swiss luxury watch manufacturer International Watch Company, better known as IWC, is one of the titans of the industry. Based in the town of Schaffhausen, this company enjoys widespread fame thanks to their pilot's watches, which they've been producing since the mid-1930s. Every model has cult status: from the 1936 Spezialuhr für Flieger (special watch for pilots) and the legendary IWC Mark 11 to modern collections such as the Spitfire and Top Gun.
However, their dress watch collections, such as the Portugieser, Portofino, and Da Vinci, are classics in their own right and delight watch fans the world over. The same is true of the Ingenieur and Aquatimer collections. Each timepiece only adds to IWC's fantastic reputation.
Every IWC collection is a masterful blend of tradition and modernity; for example, the Ingenieur features cases made of ceramic, bronze, or titanium, and the Aquatimer has an intriguing internal-external bezel system. What's more, precise movements are a given with IWC watches. While most timepieces use an in-house caliber, IWC also offers watches with refined versions of ETA or Sellita base movements.
The luxury watch manufacturer Richard Mille has been a constant source of innovation in the watch industry since its foundation in 2001. This Swiss company has made it their mission to bring haute horlogerie into the 21st century. Part of that means using state-of-the-art materials from the racing and aerospace industries.
Richard Mille is also blazing trails when it comes to movement technology. For example, they utilize unusual materials like grade 5 titanium, graphene, aluminum-lithium alloys, and carbon. Richard Mille's master watchmakers develop a new movement for every model, beginning with the base plate and finishing with a new type of shock protection. All the while, they remain focused on functionality. Searching for unnecessary frills on a Richard Mille movement will be in vain.
The very first model, the RM 001 Tourbillon, set the bar very high. This two-hand watch with a separate power reserve and torque indicator is extraordinarily shock-resistant for a tourbillon watch. What's more, its barrel-shaped case and heavily skeletonized dial look very futuristic and have set the standard for the designs we see today.
As of 2021, Richard Mille maintains relationships with the Ferrari and McLaren Formula 1 racing teams. For example, Mick Schumacher (Ferrari) wears an RM 003, while McLaren's Lando Norris sports an RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph. Elsewhere in the sports world, tennis legend Rafael Nadal has made headlines by wearing his Richard Mille watches during matches. Whether it's the extreme conditions on the F1 race track or the force of Nadal's backhand, timepieces from Richard Mille are more than up to the task.
Patek Philippe is one of the few remaining independent Genevan luxury watch manufacturers. They are still family-owned, which contributes to their good reputation — and not just among experts. Patek Philippe builds nearly every component for their watches themselves. A Patek Philippe is the crowning piece of any watch collection. What's more, their high esteem and lasting value make these timepieces fantastic investments.
The manufacture pursues a primarily traditional design style and emphasizes its position as a family business. In terms of materials, Patek is known to turn to precious metals such as gold or platinum. Stainless steel editions do exist, but they are much less abundant than in other manufacturers' catalogs.
The Calatrava and Nautilus are Patek Philippe's most recognized models. The former has been in production since 1932 and embodies simple elegance, while the Nautilus debuted in the late 1970s and boasts a sporty design accredited to none other than Gérald Genta. For many watch enthusiasts, the Nautilus is synonymous with the watch giant as a whole.
Patek Philippe flexes their watchmaking muscles in the Complications and Grand Complications collections. Here you'll find watches with tourbillons, minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, and world time functions.
A “fashion watch” is a watch that’s branded with the name of a company that doesn’t specialize in watches. Usually, this means the name of a fashion house.
I’ve also seen the term “undie watch.” This refers to the trend for a part of the boxer shorts to stick out above the pants. That’s the part that usually has the name of the company on it.
The negative sentiment is, to a certain point, understandable. I mean, it isn’t flattering to have a watch with the same brand as someone’s underwear. Therefore, many people are negatively set towards seeing brand names like Calvin Klein, Armani, or Boss on the dial of a watch.
With over 140 years of history, Seiko is among Japan's most storied watch manufacturers. The company is based out of Tokyo and has a reputation for producing high-quality timepieces at attractive prices. What's more, Seiko is constantly introducing innovations to the industry, including the first quartz wristwatch, the highly-efficient Magic Lever winding mechanism, and the hybrid Kinetic and Spring Drive movements, which combine the best of quartz and automatic calibers.
Seiko's catalog is vast and has something for every taste and budget. For example, the Seiko 5 and 5 Sports are popular entry-level watches that offer quality finishing and reliable automatic in-house movements for shockingly low prices. The Prospex collection also enjoys a large fan base, especially its diving watches.
The Presage collection contains Seiko's dress watches. Each comes with a mechanical in-house caliber, and the designs cover the full spectrum from sporty to classic. For something particularly modern, Seiko offers the Premier collection. These timepieces are available with automatic, quartz, solar-powered, and Kinetic movements. Fans of high-tech watches should take a closer look at the Astron collection. Named after the world's first quartz wristwatch, Seiko outfits these timepieces with high-precision solar-powered calibers connected to the GPS network.
Seiko demonstrates their full watchmaking prowess with their two private brands: Grand Seiko and Credor. The watches from these brands boast the best technology the company has to offer. Other defining features include sophisticated complications, precious metals like gold and platinum, and flawless finishing.
The history of Omega goes back to the 19th century. In 1848, Louis Brandt began manufacturing pocket watches in the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. He made arrangements with local suppliers, which allowed him to sell his products to a wider market, including Italy, England, and Scandinavia. Later, Brandt's sons moved the company to its current location in Biel. Although the name Omega has been in use since 1894, it was first officially registered in 1903 when the third generation took over.
The name is meant to express the quality of their watches. Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and is often used as a metaphor for perfection.
In 1930, Omega and their competitor, Tissot, made a joint decision to serve separate markets. Omega was to focus on the luxury watch sector and Tissot on the middle class. When the quartz crisis put the Swiss watch industry in a difficult position, the two brands came together in 1983 under the newly formed Swatch Group. Omega remains part of the group to this day.
Many consider Rolex to be the epitome of luxury watches, and not without reason. Rolex's models are iconic in the watch industry, often serving as the blueprint for entire watch categories. Take for example the Rolex Submariner; although it was by no means the first of its kind, this model is deemed the quintessential diving watch. The GMT-Master was just as influential, radicalizing GMT watches with its two-tone 24-hour ring.
Prestige, excellent quality, and timeless designs are all synonymous with Rolex, and demand for timepieces produced by the Swiss giant has been reaching new heights as a result. However, high demand coupled with limited availability leads to one thing: ever-increasing prices. This means that Rolex watches are very likely to appreciate and can, therefore, make for profitable investments.
Over the last two years, virtually every model in the current catalog has increased in value. Top performers include watches from the Daytona, Submariner, and GMT-Master II collections, which have more than doubled in value in some cases. But they're by no means an exception: even exotic models like the Milgauss, Sky-Dweller, and Air-King have appreciated by 50–80% lately. Vintage watches sing the same tune; they, too, are valuable collector's items and make for worthwhile investments with eye-watering returns.
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Wristwatches from Tudor are highly coveted among watch enthusiasts. This is true of both their current and vintage models. Since its foundation, Tudor's primary focus has been on high-quality craftsmanship and the use of precise movements. They stepped out of sister company Rolex's shadow long ago and are creating luxury watches at a level on par with the world's most famous watch manufacturers. Their most popular collections include the Black Bay, Pelagos, North Flag and Heritage Chrono Blue.
The highlight of Tudor's current catalog is the Black Bay collection, which the manufacturer regularly releases new models for. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is 2 mm smaller than the standard Black Bay, making it a fantastic option for smaller wrists. Like most Tudor timepieces, this 39-mm diving watch features a chronometer-certified in-house caliber. In 2020 and 2021, Tudor launched several new versions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, including the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue with a blue dial, Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 with a silver case, and other editions in gold or bronze.
The Heritage Chrono series contains a selection of distinctive men's chronographs. The very first model won the "Petite Aiguille" ("little hand") prize at the 2017 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève. This column-wheel chronograph uses an in-house caliber that Tudor developed in collaboration with Breitling, and boasts a 70-hour power reserve. The manufacturer also treated the Black Bay Chrono to a few new models in 2021. Now you can find timepieces with panda or reverse panda dials. Furthermore, these latest editions are 1 mm flatter than their predecessors.
When considering Tudor, it's also worth looking at their collectible neo-vintage models like the Submariner Snowflake. This timepiece has ridden the wave of success created by various Rolex Submariner watches, and prices for well-maintained examples have increased significantly in recent years.
The best way to describe Breitling watches is rock solid, functional, and unmistakable. This renowned Swiss manufacturer is especially famous for its pilot's watches. The company has enjoyed an exceptional reputation in this sector for decades. Its catalog includes the legendary Navitimer, as well as high-tech instruments with quartz movements and special functions. Many Breitling timepieces are designed to meet the demands of modern aviation. You can use them to analyze flight data and send distress signals in case of an emergency.
However, Breitling is no one-trick pony. They also have a reputation for producing excellent diving watches. The Superocean and Avenger collections appeal to fans looking for more technical timepieces, while those who appreciate retro designs will find themselves drawn to the vintage-inspired models in the Superocean Heritage series.
Introduced in early 2018, the Navitimer 8 also features design elements taken from historical Breitling watches. No matter your taste, Breitling truly has something for everyone. Furthermore, most timepieces use mechanical calibers, all of which have come with certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) since 1999.
Breitling was hard at work in 2019 and 2020, releasing a slate of new models, as well as the brand-new Premier collection. Some of the most interesting additions to existing collections include the Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition and the Superocean Heritage 57. Both timepieces pay tribute to major milestones Breitling reached back in the 1950s. The Aviator 8 Mosquito chronograph with the in-house B01 movement and the Top Time Limited Edition with a so-called "Zorro dial" are among the other exciting releases from recent years.
Oris occupies a special position among Swiss watch manufacturers. Its location in the German-speaking part of Switzerland sets it apart from the majority of other Swiss manufacturers, who tend to be based in the French-speaking part of the country. Oris is also one of the few manufacturers that is completely privately owned and has not become part of a large corporation. For decades the company has exclusively produced mechanical watches, and in 2014 it resumed the development and production of its own in-house calibers. Oris watches are admired for their simple, functional design, along with their elegance and attractive value for money.
This clear sense of structure is reflected in their product line, which consists of four collections: Diving, Aviation, Motorsport, and Culture. Watches like the ProDiver Pointer Moon and the Aquis Depth Gauge are popular among both professional and amateur divers. The same can be said for pilot's watches like the Big Crown ProPilot and the watches in the Motorsport collection. All of these timepieces offer well thought-out functions for their respective purposes. The classic-looking watches in the Culture collection are also a successful mixture of tradition and innovation.