In the great words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” And in this day and age, life moves faster than ever before. As a result, keeping track of the time is essential to keep up with the changes in our fast-paced world. So why not do it with one of the world’s best luxury watches on your wrist?
While we can simply check our phones to see the time, nothing quite compares to the elegance of a beautifully crafted timepiece. Ask any watch aficionado, and they will tell you that a luxury watch is not simply a timepiece. It’s a status symbol, an investment, a treasured possession and maybe even a family heirloom.
A luxury watch is a timeless and enduring symbol of class and good taste, and a testament to centuries-old traditions and engineering techniques. In fact, some of the best men’s watches are considered by many to be works of fine art. But how to choose the best luxury watch for you? How to decide between a traditional and refined timepiece and something more cutting-edge and avant-garde? That’s where we come in, dear reader.
The following list was developed based on detailed research into which luxury brands enjoy a long-standing reputation for developing the absolute highest quality timepieces. Exquisite craftsmanship, incomparable aesthetic sensibility and a passion for pushing boundaries have distinguished these brands as the absolute best luxury watchmakers today.
If there’s one watch brand out there that everybody knows, it’s Rolex. The very name has become a byword for luxury and exclusivity. Wearing a Rolex is more than just wearing a watch. It’s a statement of power and prestige. From its classic collection to its dive and yacht-master watches, Rolex applies its decades of horological experience and technical know-how to the question of creating quality timepieces that owners can carry with them all their lives—and pass on to their children.
Rolex watches have been worn to some of the most remote places on earth; into wild and challenging terrains, down into the depths of the ocean, and up onto lofty mountain peaks. If you needed proof that a Rolex isn’t just a fashion accessory, then this is it.
The company was the first to patent a waterproof watch: the famous Oyster model. They also brought the first self-winding watch to the market in 1945. A Rolex is also one of the favoured timepieces of the world’s most famous spy, James Bond—further evidence of Rolex’s commitment to all things daring and intrepid.
The brand prides itself on its dedication to quality, on continuously improving its offerings, and on delivering enduring excellence to its loyal customers. In a world of mass-market consumerism and disposable fashion, this is a brand whose designs are guaranteed to last a lifetime. In fact, Rolex watches can actually appreciate in value over time. Globally recognised and highly coveted, Rolex’s status as one of the best luxury watch brands in the world sees few competitors.
Switzerland has become synonymous with luxury watches and one of the top Swiss watch brands of all time is Patek Philippe. The last family-owned independent watch manufacturer left in Geneva, the company was founded in 1839, and has remained in the hands of the Stern family since then. This continuity of ownership has allowed it to maintain its unique identity and the brand takes its creative freedom seriously.
Indeed, it’s Patek Philippe’s unparalleled approach to design that has allowed the brand to achieve status as one of the best watch companies in the world. Unanimously declared by experts to be responsible for some of the finest timepieces in existence, Patek Philippe watches are created on the basis of decades of knowledge and horological understanding. What makes a Patek Philippe watch so special is the fact that each detail has been finished by hand by a dedicated master craftsman.
But while the brand is proud of its heritage, the company is also innovative and future-facing, combining skills acquired over its 177 years in existence with high-tech equipment and machinery. The company also collaborates with artisan craftsmen to develop unique one-of-a-kind models that go on to become some of the most coveted timepieces on the market.
Indeed, another reason for the brand’s appeal is the fact that less than 1 million Patek Philippe watches have been created since 1839. That’s very few, and this scarcity makes them highly sought-after. On a constant quest for perfection, the very name Patek Philippe has become a guarantee of reliability and star quality.
Audemars Piguet is one of the most famous high-end watch companies in the world. Created in the Vallée de Joux of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, AP watches now travel the world on the wrists of the rich and famous, including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, and LeBron James.
What secured AP a seat at the table among the most successful global watch brands was its Royal Oak model. Introduced in 1972, the Royal Oak was the first stainless steel sports watch to be marketed as a luxury timepiece, combining style and durability for the first time ever.
The first customer to buy a Royal Oak was the Shah of Iran. The timepiece has since gone on to become the brand’s flagship model—highly prized and worn by men and women alike.
While not as much of a household name as Rolex, perhaps, Audemars Piguet offers something else to would-be wearers: a sense of exclusivity that can only come with being slightly under the radar. Effortlessly stylish, an AP watch is a demonstration of true creativity and artistry. While many wristwatch brands boast about their level of precision or incredible durability, AP pays just as much attention to impeccable finishes, intricate motifs, and eye-catching engravings.
Its independent spirit makes Audemars Piguet a seductive alternative to more well-known brands and the company’s collection of luxury watches feel inventive, innovative, and thoroughly modern. If you want a luxury watch that distinguishes you as an Haute Horlogerie connoisseur, then an AP watch is for you.
A.Lange & Söhne
The first German luxury watch brand on our list, at A. Lange and Söhne, excellence and perfection is a priority at every stage of the process. The company prides itself on the dedication of all its workers and their commitment to consistently delivering the best.
At the heart of A. Lange and Söhne is a unique history. Founded in 1845, the company was expropriated after the Second World War. It wasn’t until after the reunification of Germany in 1990 that it would return. It was Walter Lange, great-grandson of original founder Ferdinand A. Lange, who opened the doors to business again—launching the company back on its path to watch-making success.
With an intuitive understanding of aesthetics and an unwavering commitment to precision, A. Lange & Söhne’s designs stand out from the crowd of luxury watches with their distinct appearance that is very different to that of the Swiss watch brands.
Take the Lange 1, for example, first released just after the rebirth of the company. The company’s signature model, it is remarkable for its unusual and visually appealing asymmetric dial. Watchmakers at the company spend three years at watchmaking school before they start work. They are behind the peerless quality of A. Lange & Söhne timepieces, which can last a lifetime and be passed down through generations.
The brand’s watches have become the favoured timepieces of both celebrities and royalty, from Brad Pitt to Alexander II of Russia. One of the company’s many claims to fame is the fact it was the first watch-making business to create a wristwatch with a three-disc jumping numerals mechanism. In short, A. Lange & Söhne is all the evidence the world needs that not all the best luxury timepieces are Swiss.
Omega has been delivering exceptional luxury watches to horophiles for more than 170 years. Omega watches have traveled to the North Pole, been launched into space, and descended into the depths of the ocean in submarines. As a consequence, Omega has gained a reputation as one of the successful wristwatch brands in the world.
Founded in 1848 in a small Swiss village under the name Louis Brandt & Fil, the company launched its first series-produced caliber—the ‘Labrador’—in 1885. In 1892 they introduced the world to a minute-repeating watch—the first of its kind. In 1894, they produced the Omega caliber, whose success prompted a change of name to the Omega Watch Company.
Since then, the pace of success has hardly slowed for Omega. Indeed, Omega watches have broken several precision records. At the 1931 Geneva observatory trials—nicknamed the Olympics of watchmaking—Omega came first place in all six categories.
Meanwhile, the Omega Speedmaster Professional was the first watch to be worn on the moon—on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin. To this day, most American astronauts will only wear an Omega Speedmaster. It’s certainly an illustrious history.
Need more persuasion as to the enduring appeal of an Omega watch? They’ve been worn by the likes of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley, and American president, John F. Kennedy. Not to mention the greatest (fictional) spy of all time, 007 James Bond.
For incredible performance and timeless design, an Omega watch has you covered. With name recognition in spades and a supreme standard of quality, your search for a luxury timepiece could easily end here. In short, it’s no coincidence that the Omega is Greek for greatness and perfection.
When shopping for a luxury watch, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details: the mechanics and the complex internal workings. But at the end of the day, you also need to ask: does it look good? Does it complement your personal style? An IWC Schaffhausen watch is that rare thing: a luxury accessory that marries flawless functionality with exceptional design.
IWC was founded in 1868 by a Bostonian: Florentine Ariosto Jones. The company created a name for itself by bringing together innovative new American production techniques with the traditional skills of master Swiss watchmakers. The result? World-class watches that stand out both aesthetically and in terms of reliability.
While the majority of Swiss watch manufacturers are located in the west of the country, IWC Schaffhausen is located in the east, where it makes use of the Rhine river for hydropower.
Indeed, for eco-conscious consumers, a major advantage to an IWC Schaffhausen watch is the company’s commitment to sustainability. They were the first Swiss luxury watchmaker to produce a sustainability report to Global Reporting Initiative Standards, setting out their sustainability targets. Taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to deliver the highest level of precision, and combining this peerless engineering with the efforts of progressive designers, IWC Schaffhausen brings the best in global watch-making to your wrist.
There are 6 IWC watch families: Pilot’s Watches, Portugieser, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Da Vinci and Portofino. This range includes everyday watches, sports watches, and watches that can only be described as minor works of art—sure to be a conversation starter. An IWC watch is that dream combination of sophistication and durability. Effortless elegance alongside peerless quality and precision make an IWC watch one of the best on the market.
Many luxury watches tend towards the bulkier end of the spectrum. For many people, they want something more low-key, understated, and less obtrusive on the wrist. Piaget took up the challenge. Indeed, Piaget is most famous for being a pioneer in ultra-thin watch calibers. This is the company behind both the world’s thinnest manual wind watch and the world’s thinnest automatic watch. Today, Piaget is known for its slim and pared-back designs—the last word in horological elegance.
Piaget makes jewellery as well as watches and this might explain the brand’s innate grasp of aesthetics. In fact, it’s this embrace of powerful and unique design that makes a Piaget watch so special. Demonstrating an exquisite marriage of style and function, Piaget pays just as much attention to the visual appeal as the inner mechanics of its watches. A Piaget watch may be less well-known than a Rolex but it’s no less iconic.
But that’s not all. Piaget is also celebrated for its incredible attention to detail and precision engineering—all required to deliver flawless micro-mechanics on this scale. A Piaget watch demonstrates that a watch is far more than just a timekeeping device: it’s a display of human ingenuity.
With a rich 140-year-long history, Piaget showcases feats of pure artistry, elevating the brand to the ranks of the top 10 luxury watch brands in the world. Whether you’re looking for something for special occasions or something you can wear every day, then Piaget has a watch for you.