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The 26 Best Luxury Watch Brands You Should Know

Best Luxury Watch Brands 0 Hero

Finding a great high-end watch is not like hunting for a pair of running shoes or a new button-up shirt for work. These timepieces often sport price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars, and at least won’t cost you less than $1,500. So then how does one shop for a heritage-worthy timepiece?

One of the best ways to search for a new watch (or anything, really) is first to find a brand you have an affinity for or interest in – and then either go search through offerings by the brand. But, of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are lots of excellent luxury watch brands out there. In fact, there are so many that it can be difficult to actually get a handle on who offers what. That is why we decided to take the time to pull together a list of the best luxury watch brands out there. Take a scroll through and see for yourself.

What Is a Luxury Watch?

In an industry where timepieces frequently exceed the thousand-dollar mark, it might be hard to tell which brands are considered “luxury” while the others are simply just “expensive.” Luxury watchmakers are at the highest end of the watchmaking world, typically from the likes of Switzerland, and on occasion, Japan or Germany. For one, these watchmakers must use in-house mechanical movements to power their timepieces and showcase an emphasis on precision and innovation. These brands will also utilize premium materials for their cases, such as stainless steel, titanium, and even gold or platinum. And let’s not leave out pricing; luxury watches will typically start in the $2,000 range and go as high as half a million.

Why Buy Luxury Watches?

When it comes to adorning your wrist with an attractive timepiece, it may seem silly to many of us how one would spend more than a couple thousand dollars (let alone a couple hundred). However, if you’ve ever seen one of these mechanical masterpieces close up, it’s clear to see why they’re so coveted. Most of these luxury watchmakers dedicate months, if not years, to perfecting their craft, fitting tiny precise movements into the backs of these watches. Oh yeah, and then comes the dial, case, bezel, strap, and anything else that goes into those elements (materials, hands, indices, fonts, etc.). And to have all of those aspects working together to create a thing of beauty is really a sight to behold.

That said, you should only be pulling the trigger on high-end horology if you can absolutely afford it.

What Is the Holy Trinity of Watches?

When discovering luxury watchmaking, you may come across discussion of the “Holy Trinity,” or the Big Three. This refers to three brands: Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin. It’s a term that’s been used in prevalence since the ’70s when AP was really starting to rise in reputation. These three outfits specialize in using precious metals and high complications – a reason why the likes of Rolex, known for sports timepieces, aren’t considered to be a member of the bunch – and at stratospheric prices.

A. Lange & Sohne

A Lange Sohne Triple Split
Photo: A. Lange & Sohne Triple Split
Why it made the cut
  • The godfather of modern German watchmaking, A. Lange & Sohne has a 173-year history and makes some of the finest movements in the world.

Like most companies you’ll find on this list, A. Lange & Sohne is very old. However, the German watchmaker is one of the oldest, having been around since 1845, and is largely responsible for the German watch industry taking off at that time, especially in the city of Glashütte. Shifting from pocket watches to wristwatches during World War I, the company began specializing in pilot’s watches during the Second World War. Today, Lange produces arguably the finest movements in the world, with their range of sports and dress watches – especially the famed Triple Split – that’s remained their calling card.

Year Founded: 1845
Location: Glashutte, Germany
Style: Luxury, Sport, Dress
Popular Models: 1851, Lange 1, Triple Split
Price Range: $25,000 to $250,000+
Hero Watch: Triple Split

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
Photo: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
why it made the cut
  • AP’s Royal Oak is enough to make it on any list, since the octagonal timepiece helped popularize the integrated sports watch and is still one of the most coveted in the world.

Audemars Piguet has been making top-tier mechanical watches since 1875. The founders, Edward Auguste Piguet and Jules Louis Audemars, were experts in their respective fields of watchmaking (blank movements and final regulation, respectively) and would go on to set a precedent of perfection and fine craftsmanship. If you’re unfamiliar with the Swiss watchmaker, just know that their Royal Oak timepiece is among the most coveted on the planet with its timeless design language, octagonal bezel, and alluring array of iterations.

Year Founded: 1875
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Sport
Popular Models: Royal Oak, Royal Oak Offshore, Code 11.59
Price Range: $34,000 to $200,000+
Hero Watch: Royal Oak Minute Repeater Supersonnerie

Baume & Mercier

Baume Mercier Riviera
Photo: Baume & Mercier Riviera
why it made the cut
  • Around since 1830, B&M is a heritage brand that continued its prominence being the first competition for the Royal Oak in the ’70s.

Want to talk about old? Baume & Mercier was founded nearly a full 30 years before the American Civil War. What’s more, the Swiss luxury watchmaker was expanding into international business as early as the 1920s. Following the release of AP’s Royal Oak in 1972, B&M debuted its Riviera to follow suit with a competing steel sports watch with an octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet. Known mainly as the maker of one of the most valued Royal Oak alternatives, Baume & Mercier offers a lot of their timepieces at affordable prices, with some quartz options even available.

Year Founded: 1830
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Luxury, Sport, Dress
Popular Models: Riviera, Clifton, Hampton
Price Range: $1,500 to $28,000
Hero Watch: Riviera Automatic

Bell & Ross

Bell Ross BR 03
Photo: Bell & Ross BR 03
why it made the cut
  • Bell & Ross is one of the newer luxury brands, making the list for its distinct and already-iconic design ethos.

Compared to others on this list, Bell & Ross is practically an infant. Founded in 1992, the company first re-released old Sinn watch models with different branding up until 2002 when they began producing their own timepieces in Switzerland (although they’re still based out of Paris, France). The design language settled in with the BR-01 in 2005, featuring the square-cased, circular-dial watches that the brand is famous for, drawing inspiration from aviation equipment, such as cockpit instruments. Although the company is rather young, they’ve made a name for themselves in the watch world for their minimalist aesthetics, unique color schemes, and assertive design ethos.

Year Founded: 1992
Location: Paris, France
Style: Aviation, Sport, Chronograph
Popular Models: BR 03, BR X5, BR 05
Price Range: $2,000 to $34,000
Hero Watch: BR 03


Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
Photo: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
why it made the cut
  • Around since 1735, Blancpain is the oldest watchmaker in the world, continuing to raise the bar with its legendary Fifty Fathoms Diver.

As the oldest watchmaker in the world, founded in 1735, Blancpain has reason to brag. Not only has the Swiss brand continued to raise the bar on its styles and movements, but it’s done so without losing its identity in the process. It’s impossible to talk about Blancpain without discussing the brand’s Fifty Fathoms Diver. During the increase in popularity of recreational diving around the mid-20th century, the brand’s legendary dive watch debuted in 1953, drawing up the blueprint for all divers to follow, including ones today. Blancpain is also known for its aviation-inspired Air Command line.

Year Founded: 1735
Location: Paudex/Le Brassus, Switzerland
Style: Diver, Chronograph
Popular Models: Fifty Fathoms, Air Command
Price Range: $4,500 to $124,000+
Hero Watch: Fifty Fathoms Automatique


Breitling Navitimer
Photo: Breitling Navitimer
why it made the cut
  • Specializing in aviation instruments, Breitling is a favorite among astonauts and pilots alike, while its divers have boasted some 3,000m underwater.

Like that of many Swiss luxury brands, Breitling’s history began in the 19th century. But you look at its range of stylish tool watches and there’s no denying that it’s very much a product of this era as well. Making one of the most recognizable pilot’s watches ever, the Navitimer, which debuted in 1952, Breitling has continued to be among the brands synonymous with aviation instruments. The Navitimer is iconic for its place in history, popularizing the circular slide rule bezel and 24-hour dial worn by NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter, however, the company’s impressive dive watches, like the Avenger and Superocean, make a statement in their own right, achieving depths of 2,000 to 3,000 meters.

Year Founded: 1884
Location: Grenchen, Switzerland
Style: Pilot, Dive, Chronograph
Popular Models: Navitimer, Top Time, Superocean, Avenger
Price Range: $3,500 to $26,000
Hero Watch: Navitimer


Bulgari Octo Finissimo
Photo: Bulgari Octo Finissimo
why it made the cut
  • Among the few fashion houses with reputable watches, Bulgari didn’t start making them until 1980 and has already broken a handful of records with its Octo Finissimo.

Despite having a history dating back to 1884, Bulgari didn’t enter the watch game until nearly a century later. Operating mainly as a luxury jewelry brand up until 1980, the Rome-based fashion house has nevertheless made a name for itself in the horological community with its meticulous in-house movements, made at its production facility in Switzerland, and an Italian eye for design. Specializing in titanium cases, the brand’s legendary Octo Finissimo line has produced nearly ten world records, including that of the thinnest watch. If those pieces are too garish for you (and expensive), check out Bulgari’s eponymous Aluminum line of everyday watches.

Year Founded: 1884
Location: Rome, Italy
Style: Dress, Everyday, Sport
Popular Models: Octo Finissimo, Aluminum
Price Range: $4,500 to $26,000
Hero Watch: Octo Finissimo


Cartier Tank Louis Cartier
Photo: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier
why it made the cut
  • Cartier was one of the first wristwatch makers and has held onto its heritage models like the iconic Tank dress watch.

Another luxury brand that specializes in many things besides just watches, Cartier is different than Bulgari in that they’ve actually made timepieces since the late 19th century. Known as one of the first brands to offer wristwatches in an era of pocket watches, the Parisian outfit has maintained its vintage aesthetic all these years, especially when looking at its models like the Tank and Santos dress watches, which are known for their cream dials, Roman numerals, and diminutive rectangular case sizes.

Year Founded: 1847
Location: Paris, France
Style: Dress, Sport, Vintage-Style
Popular Models: Tank, Santos
Price Range: $3,000 to $10,000
Hero Watch: Tank Louis Cartier


Girard Perregaux Laureato
Photo: Girard Perregaux Laureato
why it made the cut
  • Blending old school with the new rather well, Girard-Perregaux has been around since 1791 and gets by on its Vintage 1945 and Laureato models.

It used to be that Swiss watchmakers were all broken up by their specialty. One group in one valley would produce a specific part of a timepiece, while the next would specialize in another. One of the first to deviate from that production technique? Girard-Perregaux. Founded in 1791, the company produced everything in-house. From its Art Deco-inspired Vintage 1945 to the Royal Oak-impersonating Laureato (debuting just three years after AP’s similarly-octagonal sports watch), the Swiss brand has always blended old school with the new rather well.

Year Founded: 1791
Location: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Chronograph, Dress
Popular Models: Laureato, Vintage 1945
Price Range: $15,000 to $100,000
Hero Watch: Laureato

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko 44GS SLGH013
Photo: Grand Seiko 44GS SLGH013
why it made the cut
  • An offshoot of Seiko, GS has some of the finest movements in the industry, but its dial creations will keep you coming back for more.

In 1960, Seiko sought to not only make an upper-echelon of watches within its own brand but also set a new standard of watchmaking across the industry. The result was its Grand Seiko label, whose dedication to style and precision has continued today. Known for its beautiful dial designs, which use innovative techniques and texturing to evoke Japanese history, culture, and nature, Grand Seiko still manages to level up its own standards with each new release. However, with its in-house movements such as the famed Caliber 9S, its desire to perfect what’s inside the timepiece is perhaps what’s most commendable.

Year Founded: 1960
Location: Iwate, Japan
Style: Dress, Sport
Popular Models: 44GS, 9S
Price Range: $5,500 to $80,000
Hero Watch: 44GS SLGH013


Hublot Big Bang Original Steel Ceramic
Photo: Hublot Big Bang Original Steel Ceramic
why it made the cut
  • Hublot makes some outlandish sports watches with braggadocio designs, always decidedly modern in aesthetic.

Another relative newcomer in the world of luxury watches, Hublot was founded in 1980 in Switzerland. With so many watchmakers looking to the past to blend with present-day, the Swiss brand has no past to begin with, forcing them to push the envelope with decidedly modern aesthetics, materials, and overall design. The brand is known for producing big, braggadocios timepieces with complicated and (very) expensive movements often displayed through a clear dial. While they produce a number of great watches and have had some significant innovations over the years, they’re best known for their Big Bang and Classic Fusion.

Year Founded: 1980
Location: Nyon, Switzerland
Style: Sport
Popular Models: Big Bang, Classic Fusion
Price Range: $6,500 to $500,000+
Hero Watch: Big Bang Original Steel Ceramic

IWC Schaffhausen

IWC Big Pilots Watch Perpetual
Photo: IWC Big Pilots Watch Perpetual
why it made the cut
  • IWC has established a cult following for its craftsmanship, versatile range, and willingness to innovate.

Located in Switzerland, and founded by an American. That is how the International Watch Company got its name. Before founding what would become one of the most well-respected watchmakers on the market, Florentine Ariosto Jones had worked as the director of a Boston-based watch company. Jones understood that there was a market for Swiss watches in the U.S. Given that the company has been around since 1868, we’d have to say he was right. Be it the haute horology found in the Portugieser range or the statement-bearing wearability of the Big Pilot’s Watch, IWC has attained a cult following for its craftsmanship, versatility, and willingness to innovate.

Year Founded: 1868
Location: Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Pilot, Dress
Popular Models: Big Pilot’s Watch, Portugieser, Portofino
Price Range: $9,000 to $33,000
Hero Watch: Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar


Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Tribute
Photo: Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Tribute
why it made the cut
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre is known, if nothing else, for its reversible Art Deco-inspired Reverso dress watch.

This Swiss luxury watchmaker is responsible for a whole lot more than just making great watches. Since its founding in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has produced more than 1,000 different movements, many of which are among the most inventive in the industry, such as the bi-level Duoplan and the world’s smallest Caliber 101, but also some grand complications such as minute repeaters and perpetual calendars. The company’s most iconic watch, the Reverso, debuted in 1931 and is still around today. What makes it so unique is its ability to literally display the time on both sides, with a reversible case amidst the Art Deco-inspired aesthetic.

Year Founded: 1833
Location: Vaud, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Sport
Popular Models: Reverso, Master Grande Tradition
Price Range: $7,000 to $60,000
Hero Watch: Reverso Tribute


Longines HydroConquest GMT
Photo: Longines HydroConquest GMT
why it made the cut
  • Longines’ prowess as a prolific pilot watch brand earns it a spot on this list, while its HydroConquest is one of the most popular divers in the game.

Founded in 1832 and located in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, Longines has long led the watch world in producing top-quality mechanical timepieces. In 1908, it debuted the first-ever watch with more than one time zone and has since become one of the progenitors of the pilot and GMT watch category. With a firm hold on its aviation history – even its logo is of a winged hourglass – Longines continues to level up its travel options but also focuses on its other flagship, the HydroConquest, which has been one of the most popular divers since it debuted in 2007. Even better, despite its luxury prowess, the Swiss brand occasionally offers its watches for under $1,000.

Year Founded: 1832
Location: Saint-Imie, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Pilot, Dive
Popular Models: HydroConquest, Spirit
Price Range: $900 to $5,000
Hero Watch: HydroConquest GMT

Nomos Glashutte

Nomos Glashutte Orion
Photo: Nomos Glashutte Orion
why it made the cut
  • Known for its cleanly-designed faces and unique color choices, Nomos makes its own in-house movements for its indelible timepieces.

Most new luxury watch brands founded in the latter half of the 20th century have leaned more towards the hefty and bulky look (see Hublot and Bell & Ross). Nomos is an exception. Favoring minimalistic aesthetics and simplicity, the industry darling has set itself apart by producing interesting, attractive dials with top-notch movements and sophisticated designs. Founded in 1990, Nomos is a German brand that launched the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, embracing the Bauhaus theory that function should weigh heavier than form. On the lower end of the luxury spectrum, Nomors still makes its own in-house movements and consistently produces award-winning dials, such as that on the Ahoi or the Orion pictured above.

Year Founded: 1990
Location: Glashutte, Germany
Style: Dress, Minimalist
Popular Models: Ahoi, Orion, Club
Price Range: $2,000 to $4,300
Hero Watch: Orion


Omega Speedmaster 57
Photo: Omega Speedmaster 57
why it made the cut
  • Legendary for its popularity among pop culture figures, Omega still has a super versatile range and even donned the wrists of the first astronauts on the Moon.

Good Guys wear Omega. Or at least it feels like that. Bond has worn them since 1995, as has the British Royal Flying core, J.F.K, and the first astronauts to go to the Moon. The iconic luxury watch brand has been around now since 1848, when it began as a pocket watch assembly firm called La Generale Watch Co. By 1894, the company began manufacturing its own timepieces, called Omega watches, using interchangeable component parts. Omega eventually became its own brand by 1903 and the rest is history. Today, without a doubt, the company is best known for its Speedmaster (the one that accompanied Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong) and Seamaster timepieces, though they have a vast collection that includes chronograph and GMT watch models.

Year Founded: 1848
Location: Biel/Bienne, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Dive, Chronograph, GMT
Popular Models: Seamaster, Speedmaster
Price Range: $4,000 to $100,0300
Hero Watch: Speedmaster ’57


Oris ProPilot X
Photo: Oris ProPilot X
why it made the cut
  • Oris specializes in straightforward dress watches with defined aesthetics, but its Big Crown pilot watches made them legendary during WWII.

Oris may not be as well known as its Swiss peers from the early 1900s, but they’ve consistently produced capable and attractive mechanical watches for well over 100 years now. Launched by two friends in 1904 and named after a nearby brook, Oris didn’t begin making wristwatches until a couple of decades later, eventually specializing in their Big Crown watches that were popular among World War II pilots for their ability to be adjusted on the fly (pardon the pun). Favoring minimalism and sporty aesthetics, the luxury watch brand produces everything from pilot watches like the ProPilot X and divers like the Aquis.

Year Founded: 1904
Location: Hölstein, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Pilot, Dive
Popular Models: ProPilot X, Aquis, Big Crown
Price Range: $2,000 to $8,000
Hero Watch: ProPilot X


Panerai Submersible
Photo: Panerai Submersible
why it made the cut
  • One of the few Italian luxury brands, Panerai didn’t make watches until WWII when asked by the Royal Navy to help the troops.

There aren’t a whole lot of Italian luxury watch brands out there, and there are even fewer who’ve been around since the mid-1800s like Panerai has. However, much of its early history was spent making rifle scopes and diving gauges. The brand found its own during World War II when asked by the Italian Royal Navy to begin producing dive watches (with the help of Rolex SA) for Nazi-allied Italian troops. Today, some of the brand’s most sought-after models are its Submersible diving watches which feature large cases and big protective latches over the crown.

Year Founded: 1860
Location: Florence, Italy
Style: Dive, Dress, Sport
Popular Models: Submersible, Radiomir
Price Range: $6,000 to $166,000+
Hero Watch: Submersible

Patek Philippe

Patek Calatrava
Photo: Patek Philippe Calatrava
why it made the cut
  • One of the Holy Trinity members, Patek Philippe pioneered keyless winding watches and has made some of the most prestigious pieces in history.

When someone says ‘luxury watch’, it’s brands like Patek Philippe that come to mind. Founded in 1851 in Switzerland and one of the three Holy Trinity brands, the company pioneered the keyless winding mechanism, and went on to produce watches for some of the world’s wealthiest and most prestigious – think American bankers, European royalty, famous musicians, and Hollywood actors. Their most recognizable timepieces are their Calatrava and Nautilus but are also known for their Grand Complications collection, featuring perpetual calendars, moonphases, and the like.

Year Founded: 1851
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Dive
Popular Models: Calatrava, Nautilus, Grand Complications
Price Range: $21,000 to $500,000
Hero Watch: Calatrava


Piaget Polo Date watch
Photo: Piaget Polo Date watch
why it made the cut
  • Known for its ultra-thin movements, Piaget makes very garish watches, but still has its Polo line to hang its hat on.

Initially, when Piaget was founded in 1874, it was intended to be a manufacturer of watch parts for other companies. But as more luxury watch brands began bringing all of the production in-house, Piaget followed suit. After doing so, they ended up making waves in the watch world by producing ultra-thin movements like their Altiplano. While many of the brand’s pieces are rather garish, experimental, and, ahem, impractical, their Polo line remains their go-to for those who want the brand’s high-end expertise on their wrists.

Year Founded: 1874
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Dive, Dress, Luxury
Popular Models: Polo, Altiplano
Price Range: $5,000 to $80,000
Hero Watch: Polo Date Watch


Ressence Type 3 EE
Photo: Ressence Type 3 EE
why it made the cut
  • Unorthodox domed dials have given Ressence a spot in the “best luxury” category despite only launching in 2010.

Without a doubt, Ressence is among the most innovative luxury watch brands out there. Founded in 2010, the Belgian maker has eschewed convention with its stunning and unique dial design. Rather than just using a movement that drives functions on an otherwise static dial, watches by Ressence drive the entire face to move on the same plane, while smaller subdials rotate twofold. The firm’s assertive design language spreads across its entire range, allowing them to play within those confines. Take your pick of its impressive lineup, including the Type 1, Type 3, Type 5, or Type 8.

Year Founded: 2010
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Style: Dress, Dive
Popular Models: Type 1, Type 3, Type 5, Type 8
Price Range: $19,000 to $43,000
Hero Watch: Type 3


Rolex Submariner
Photo: Rolex Submariner
why it made the cut
  • For some, Rolex is synonymous with luxury watchmaking, and with its blend of accessibility and style, it’s no wonder why.

It isn’t likely that founders Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis knew that over a century after starting their watch company it’d be the most prolific luxury watch brand in the world. During their 100-plus-year-long run, Rolex was the first to make a waterproof watch, the first to feature an automatic date window, and the first to make a GMT watch. From the Submariner to the Cosmograph Daytona, Rolex rarely does anything loud or outlandish but has become the paradigm of Swiss craftsmanship for striking a balance between luxury and accessibility.

Year Founded: 1905
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Dive, Chronograph
Popular Models: Submariner, Sky-Dweller, Daytona
Price Range: $6,000 to $70,000
Hero Watch: Submariner

Tag Heuer

TAG Heuer Carrera
Photo: TAG Heuer Carrera
why it made the cut
  • Focused on racing-inspired timepieces, TAG Heuer’s place in the auto world is second to none.

Founded in 1860, this Swiss watchmaker has a long history of developing timepieces for flight and automobiles. They were the first to develop the ‘Time of Trip’ function and were used by Luftwaffe pilots. TAG Heuer (originally just Heuer) is still well respected in the racing community, with its high-profile Porsche collaborations and appearances in auto-themed movies (see Le Mans). The brand makes some of the most evocative racing chronographs of all time, such as the Carrera and Formula 1 models. Lately, it has ventured out into the smartwatch market with its connected modular model.

Year Founded: 1860
Location: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Style: Racing-Inspired, Chronograph
Popular Models: Carrera, Formula 1
Price Range: $3,000 to $24,000
Hero Watch: Carrera Chronograph


Tudor Black Bay 54
Photo: Tudor Black Bay 54
why it made the cut
  • An offshoot of Rolex, Tudor specializes in incredible vintage-style divers like the Black Bay and Pelagos.

In the world of luxury watch brands, Tudor is maybe something like a teenager. A subsidiary of Rolex, the Tudor line of watches was rolled out in 1954 as a lower-end adventure range and has since become a household name in the space. Their first watch was a diver, and now over 60 years later, they’re still best known for producing attractive and capable dive watches like their Black Bay and Pelagos models with recent offerings focusing on vintage styling.

Year Founded: 1954
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Dive, Chronograph
Popular Models: Black Bay, Pelagos
Price Range: $3,000 to $6,000
Hero Watch: Black Bay 54

Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Patrimony retrograde day date
Photo: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony retrograde day date
why it made the cut
  • Popular among high society, VC watches specialize in intricate complications built into their luxurious pieces.

You can tell a lot about a luxury watch brand by who wore their timepieces. In the case of Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin, they can count royalty, popes, conquerers, and American presidents among their customers. That alone should tell you a bit about the pedigree of this heritage brand and one of the Big Three. Based in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin is home to some of the most unique complications around, with its Patrimony series leading the way. The watchmaker also has perhaps the highest average price per watch of any mainstream luxury brand.

Year Founded: 1755
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Style: Dress, Sport, Luxury
Popular Models: Patrimony, Overseas
Price Range: $12,000 to $100,000+
Hero Watch: Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date


Zenith Defy 21 Skeleton
Photo: Zenith Defy 21 Skeleton
why it made the cut
  • The first brand to have manufacture watches, Zenith is now most notable for its precision and futuristic-looking skeleton watches.

Started in 1865, Zenith claims that they’re the first brand to use the concept of ‘Manufacture’ (producing and assembling watches under one roof). Since then the brand has consistently produced fantastic timepieces with striking dials and astoundingly consistent movements. Throughout the 1950s and into the ’60s, the Swiss watchmaker won 230 awards for its iconic Caliber 135 movement during the annual competitions held by Observatories of Neuchâtel which celebrated accuracy during a time when the exactitude of a second was determined merely by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (prior to 1967). Today, Zenith is largely known for its fertile Defy series and array of futuristic-looking skeleton watches.

Year Founded: 1865
Location: Le Locle, Switzerland
Style: Sport, Chronograph, Skeleton, Pilot
Popular Models: Defy, Pilot Big Date,
Price Range: $12,000 to $134,000
Hero Watch: Defy 21 Skeleton

The Best Boutique Micro Watch Brands You Should Know

Best Watch Microbrands 0 Hero

If you want to explore some fine timepieces from lesser-known brands, check out our guide to the best boutique watch brands you should know.