Many watch brands exist around the globe. There are many. It’s only getting more with every passing week, month, and year. You’ll still notice that the top watchmakers, the grand maisons, are well settled once in a while.
Although it’s impossible for anyone to keep up with every watchmaker’s release, these are the names that every collector should know. They also include the models that are worth investing in.
A.Lange & Sohne
Although they were founded in 1845, the current youngwatch2.com legacy of A. Lange & Sohne are responsible for bringing Saxon watches back to the world. They are also a highly sought-after name in watch collecting and produce a small number of beautiful timepieces.
The Lange 1 is their signature model, but they also offer a variety of other models (such as Grand Lange 1), and a number of more unusual options like the modern Zeitwork or the stunning Lumen watches with glow-in-the dark sapphire dials. A. Lange & Sohne watches are considered to be the best in German watchmaking. They also have high-end prices.
The Royal Oak tells you everything you need to know about Audemars Pigot. It was the first luxury watch. A big chunk of steel, it cost more than most gold pieces back in the 1970s. It was bold, but it worked extremely well. It worked almost too well, in fact. The modern AP is almost entirely devoted to it. The brand’s latest Code 11.59 pieces, which was the brand’s first major follow up to the Royal Oak has failed. This is not because it isn’t a cool watch but because it isn’t the Royal Oak or its more extreme sibling, the Royal Oak Offshore.
Audemars Piguet produces more classic pieces, such as the Millenary or Jules Audamars collections. But talk to collectors and you will always have one watch on your lips.
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms is the watch that has had the most impact on diving watches than the Rolex Submariner. It was created for the French Navy and is one of the most iconic diving watches. We love its curved bezel, distinctive militaristic look, and it’s the best.
Blancpain recently resorted to digging through their archives in search of Fifty Fathoms inspiration. They brought back some of the more bizarre and eccentric versions from the past. The Villeret collection, on the other side, is purely traditional with lots of ornate embellishment. Blancpain is able to combine two types of watches, and it does so very well.
Breitling Navitimer was the first smartwatch. At least, it was for pilots during the golden age aviation. Breitling’s Navitimer was a landmark model because of its usefulness and style. Breitling has changed and is still changing, but there are a variety of pieces that include reissues, Norton motorbike tie-ins, and the Emergency II (a transponder wristwatch designed for use in an emergency situation, Tom Hanks or Castaway).
The Navitimer should always be my main focus, but the Premier is a great addition to their collection. It will be interesting to see where Breitling ends up in the future, but only time will tell.
Abraham Louis Breguet, one of the most well-known names in watchmaking is the man who built the first wristwatch and first tourbillon. He also helped to create a number of horological innovations that were used to make watches for Marie Antoinette.
But that was in the late 1800s. The modern Breguet, which disappeared during the quartz crisis in 1970s and was resurrected in 1999, is quite a different entity. It retains its classicism, however, and watches made in Vallee de Joux include the elegant, simple Classique, the military-inspired Type XX, and the nautical, titanium-clad Marine. These watches are not for the casual wearer, and they show it.
Since Nick and Giles English crashed their vintage plane into a French field, Bremont has been at the forefront of British watchmaking around the globe. This should be enough to give you an idea of the essence of Bremont. The MB1, their first watch, was a large pilot’s watch that paid homage Martin Baker ejector seat ejector seats. You can still only buy the red-barrelled version if your have actually used one.
Their contemporary models retain the brand’s rugged, masculine look. The brand’s TripTick cases capture their tagline perfectly: “tested beyond endurance”. They are now less expensive than they used to be, which makes them ideal for pre-owned buyers. However, they will stand the test of the time.
Although they started their lives as jewellers, Cartier is today a watchmaker and home to La Panthere. The Santos is the first pilot’s watch, which was a timepiece that has undergone a major overhaul in the last year.
Ape’s personal favorite, the Tank, was also built in 1917 and features a rectangular silhouette that is a nod to its military name. The Ballon Bleu, with its beautiful recessed crowns and tactile cases, is a delicate option. Or the masculine Drive de Cartier which draws its inspirations from classic motoring. Cartier’s Parisian elegance can be capped by their sapphire cabochon.
Hublot watches are big, bold, and unashamedly extravagant. You either love them or hate them. They are very impressive watches. This is mostly due to their size, but the materials and horology behind the watches are just as important. It takes some hubris to pull these off.
Hublot has enjoyed some amazing collaborations over the years, such as their faceted, artistic pieces with Richard Orlinski, and their ongoing partnership to Ferrari. Hublot is one of few watchmakers that actually makes car-inspired watches, including the LaFerrari and the Classic Fusion Ferrari GT. Do not let their love of ridiculous names (Big Bang and King Gold) deter you from investing. Do not let their penchant for ridiculous names (Big Bang, King Gold, etc.) deter you from investing.
Although the International Watch Company (featured photo, top) may not be the most inspiring name, the Swiss-German horologist does not need one. Their aviation history speaks for themselves. Their Mark XI is a coveted timepiece for military-leaning collectors, and they were among the first watchmakers to define the functional, tool aesthetic that a modern pilot’s watch should have.
Since then, they’ve grown with the classic Portugieser, Portofino and Ingenieur, as well as the automotive-inspired Aquatimer. Despite all this, the Big Pilot – which has a pleasingly chunky crown – and Spitfire Chronograph – the modern equivalent to the Mark XI — show that aviation is still the core of IWC.
Jaeger LeCoultre, one of the founding members of the Vallee de Joux is closely associated with the Reverso, an art deco icon. This reversible watch was designed for polo players who insisted on wearing their watches on the field. The Reverso is still a popular piece, with many “tribute” releases every year.
There are two options for you if you don’t like rectangular watches, and a lot of collectors aren’t. The Master Collection is timeless, or the Rendez-Vous. The Hybris Mechanica is a collection that includes the exceptional Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel. It’s the highest end of haute horology watches.
Montblanc was a latecomer to watchmaking, but they have done it right. Instead of outsourcing their horology to a third party, they bought a factory that was already built – Minerva, one the most renowned chronograph manufacturers in history. It has resulted in a series of exquisitely-priced, classical timepieces that sometimes fly under the radar.
The Summit Smartwatch may seem a little pricey, but Montblanc pieces such as the 1858 Geosphere, which is one of the most affordable ways to spend less than PS5,000, show just how versatile Montblanc is. You can match your watch with some clever leatherwork. You can also use the pen. Montblanc also makes a variety of other items, such as pens.
While there are many brands that draw inspiration from the Bauhaus school, few have combined it with high-quality watchmaking as well as Nomos Glashutte. The simple typographic designs that Nomos Glashutte created in Berlin are a clear indication of their “less is more” philosophy. Meanwhile, their Neomatik movements are manufactured in the same horological havens as A. Lange & Sohne.
There are a couple of pieces that venture a little more outside of the strict tenets of Bauhaus, such as the Autobahn with its graphically-embellished dial, but for the most part the teachings of the Dessau School are alive and well at Nomos. These pieces are also extremely affordable for their quality, which is great news for first-time buyers.
Omega wants to be considered a contender for the Rolex crown. They’re certainly not far behind. They are the flagship brand of Swatch Group, and with good reason. The Seamaster 300m Professional is known for being the Bond Watch and (you might have heard once or twice), they were the first to put the Speedmaster on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist.
Omega’s Co-Axial is also a great movement. It was created by George Daniels, a British watchmaker. The Co-Axial uses a silicon balance spring. They recently beat Rolex’s record breaking dive to the Mariana Trench bottom in depth and time as part of the Five Depths Challenge.
Patek is the only watchmaker that makes collectors weep like Rolex. The watchmaker was founded in 1839. Their modern collection includes a range of exquisite dress watches, high complications, and a 1970s steel Nautilus. There is a long waiting list that is just as long as one for a Daytona.
This list won’t get any shorter. They are one of the last independent manufacturers around and have full control over their production. They don’t plan to increase Nautilus numbers anytime soon. Patek Philippes are sought-after for more than their obvious quality.
Parmigiani is one of the most prestigious watchmakers in Switzerland, and also one of the few independent. It was established in 1996 in Fleurier, the watchmaking haven. Michel Parmigiani, the man behind the brand, is a respected clock and watch restorer. His classical background shines through in his meticulous use of the golden ratio in designing watches.
However, the watchmaker has a modern side, especially in their amazing collaboration timepieces with Bugatti. A Parmigiani is the only watch that can match a Chiron. A few of their unusual dials and occasional Grecian-inspired bezels make this a watchmaker that is far more robust than their age.
You already know who Rolex is if you are reading this article . The undisputed champion in watchmaking is Rolex, with upwards of 800,00 watches being produced each year. The Day Date is a classic, but it’s still easy to find. Some, such as the Daytona Cosmograph, or any of their steel sports watches in steel, will make you wait like a child for Christmas unless your search goes to the preowned market.
Rolex’s lack of experimentation is the only downside to their work. They rarely release anything entirely new, but that’s not a problem given their reliability, cutting edge materials, and general horological confidence. There’s also the Paul Newman Association, which keeps vintage collectors happy.
Seiko is Japanese watchmaking . The quartz movement’s creator, Seiko, was founded in 1881. They have always produced great watches at a fraction of the cost of Swiss brands. The Presage and Prospex pieces are at the bottom. Grand Seiko is essentially Japan’s Rolex, and it’s a collector’s favorite.
Credor is the last of the Japanese artisans in small mountain workshops. Although prices vary between sub-brands, a few hundred to several hundred thousand will be the same, you’ll still get value for your money at each level.
Seiko is particularly proud of their Spring Drive movement. This hybrid movement was originally only available to Grand Seiko, but it’s now being used in other collections. Seiko is a watchmaker that’s unique. They have teamed up with Square Enix, Bape and Anime.
TAG Heuer, the creators of the first racing watch, is closely connected to motorsports. The legendary Carrera, with its distinctive tachymeter and the Monaco that Steve McQueen made famous in Le Mans, is just a few of the many examples. These are core elements of TAG Heuer, but the most significant recent developments in TAG Heuer’s smartwatches are perhaps the best. Connected Modular is a revolutionary concept in wearables. The digital module can be replaced with a mechanical one to give you both a smartwatch as well as a serious, mechanical timepiece. It’s not a smart idea, but smartwatches should be considered a reality.
Tudor is not Rolex’s little brother. This would be a terrible insult. While there is some truth to it, Rolex is the more accessible and younger brand. Tudor however is their own beast. Except for a few Glamour models, the emphasis is almost exclusively on rugged pieces designed for polar explorers, such as the Black Bay and the North Flag. Tudor is an expert in this area, having travelled to the Arctic in 1952 with the British North Greenland Expedition. The Rolex is a great choice for those who want to build on their heritage.
Vacheron, the oldest watchmaker of the old school has been in business since 1755. Vacheron relies on their archive a lot, especially in the reissue Historiques items. There are also the sporty-elegant Overseas, and the easily accessible Fifty-Six. These pieces are not historically accurate.
Vacheron’s entire collection is full of the traditional complications that you would expect from a high-end watchmaker. There are plenty of perpetual calendars and tourbillons under their Maltese cross. Vacheron also offers museum-quality, original pieces under the “Les Collectionneurs” name. Just don’t expect a deal.
Since the beginning of time, Zenith has been closely linked to El Primero’s chronograph. It is one of the most respected movements ever made, and it has been found in many watches, but not all of them bear the Zenith star. The modern brand is attempting to invent what a watch movement should be. It has its iconic sports chronographs, as well as the vintage Type-20 pilots pieces, but it isn’t stopping there. The Defy Inventor is their first innovation. It features a unique balance that vibrates at a high frequency and a single-piece oscillator. It’s currently only available in the Defy models, but if it takes off, it could be the next great contribution to watchmaking.
This Tonneau Watch is Our Favorite Timepiece
If you see a barrel-shaped sports watch (or tonneau-shaped if you insist), you can be sure that it is expensive. This is the norm in the world. Richard Mille-style horologists use the format to push the boundaries and sometimes even taste.
This is a common use case for occasional watches. You can put a tourbillon in a timepiece and it will skyrocket in price. You can make a tourbillon from some space-age material NASA would love and you will have a watch that is most at home in the lyrics rap of an overcompensating rapper.
You can strip all that off and you’ll find a cool, under-utilised watch design – one that doesn’t have to be expensive, according to revived heritage watchmaker Paul Dupuis.
Although Paul Dupuis is not in the same history as Abraham-Louis Breguet’s, he was making his first movements in 1920. 001, was born.
001 is on point. The DMS
It is remarkable that this watch continues to use off-kilter materials and uses custom-forged Damascus Steel. It is made by folding the metal many times and when it’s milled it creates an organic, flowing grain that has been used for centuries. Although it isn’t cutting-edge, it’s still very cool. It also has a 100m water resistance, which makes it suitable for daily wear.
Instead of skeletonization, this dial focuses on legibility. It uses bold Arabic numerals that are highlighted in white against a semi-transparent black dial. This dial is much more legible than openworking, and it’s far less extravagant than openworking. The Richard Mille-esque, striped date border is straight from Richard Mille’s playbook. As a final touch, the hands are covered in Super-Luminova to show low-light time-telling.
The watch’s core is powered by a Swiss ETA 2824 movement. This means solid accuracy and a long-lasting 40-hour battery. This particular model has been customized with a branded rotating rotor visible through the sapphire caseback, and a layer of carbon fiber for shock protection and stabilisation.
001 is available in three distinct versions: plain silver Damascus steel, rose gold PVD and gunmetal black for that whole sporty, carbon fibre vibe without the weightlessness. The DMS
The price doesn’t have to be the only factor in your decision. There is an affordable PS999 available in every colour. 001 is a Swiss watch, even if it’s designed and hand-assembled here in the UK – it’s pretty incredible value.
While high-end tonneau sports watches are still a great option for haute horology, they do have their place. However, Paul Dupuis is an affordable alternative.