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12 Swiss Luxury Watch Brands You Should Know
Luxury watches join the ranks of cars, stays at glitzy hotels and designer jewelry and shoes as the top indicators of wealth. In a world where more and more people are becoming dependent on their phones, it might be pointless for the uninitiated to get themselves an expensive watch when all it takes is one look at a phone to know the time. But watches, luxury timepieces for that matter, are prized more than just for their time-telling capabilities. It can be contended that they are pieces of art for the effort and meticulousness put in the design that can last a lifetime. More than chocolates and banks, Switzerland is known for this respect; its culture of watchmaking is revered all over for its capability to fuse form with function, although the process is more complicated than that statement alone.
Stay with us to read more about the top luxury watch brands if you need help deciding which to purchase, or even if you’re simply curious about what makes them special. Here are 14 of our top and favorite luxury brands:
Founded in 1851, Patek Philippe is a Swiss brand that is known for its sophisticated mechanisms incorporated with traditional styling. It has entered international consciousness further for being the choice of watch by many monarchs, England’s Queen Victoria, Denmark’s Christian IX and Princess Louise, Egypt’s Sultan Hussein Kamel and Italy’s Victor Emmanuel III among them. The most complicated watches are said to have the DNA of a Patek Philippe; the best from their collection take months to two years to finish, with no shortcuts.
Audemars Piguet is not the oldest watch manufacturer in any way, especially not when it has grown to achieve the status it has now alongside other brands that also has roots in Vallée de Joux, known for its long history in horology. But what it is Switzerland’s sole family-owned firm since its inception, even when the others have eventually become part of other larger companies. The Swiss brand only produces 36,000 watches each year, with its most notable model probably being the Royal Oak. Revered watchmaker Gérald Genta designed the timepiece for the company in 1972, which went on to become the first luxury sports watch made in steel.
Even if you’re not among the crowd that proudly calls themselves watch connoisseurs, you would have probably heard of a Rolex; it is that prestigious. The brand was founded in England as Wilsdorf and Davis in 1905, making it relatively younger than most luxury watches, but eventually became Rolex and joined the community of horologists in Switzerland. The company that still keeps their watches handcrafted is consistently included among lists of the most powerful global brands.
Among its fellow luxury Swiss watch brands, Jaeger-LeCoultre stands out for its many achievements in the field of horology. It is responsible for creating almost a thousand movements since its founding in 1833, but perhaps the most famous is the smallest watch caliber it released. Its most iconic watch is the Reverso, unmistakable with its rectangle case and still a symbol of power and status wielded by the most influential of people.
Operating under the motto “Probus Scafusia”, which when translated to English means good, solid craftsmanship from “Schaffhausen”, IWC continues to prioritize quality and innovation in its timepieces. Founded in 1868, IWC or International Watch Company distances itself from other luxury companies by remaining in Eastern part of Switzerland. It is best known for its watches made for pilots and divers.
If you consistently absorb pop culture, you must have heard of Omega. Its Seamaster alone has been featured in the James Bond movies since the 90s. Even more impressive is the Omega’s designation as the chosen watch brand for the NASA, accompanying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their landing on the moon. The brand is also multi-awarded for its precision and innovation.
Next on the list is Vacheron Constantin, one of the oldest manufacturer of luxury watches. Tracing back to its history, independent watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron founded Vacheron Constantin in 1755 in Geneva, Switzerland. Said to have worn its watches are notable historical figures in the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, Harry Truman, and Pope Pius IX. With its enduring tradition of fine craftsmanship and excellence passed on from generation to generation, it is not surprising that even at present, people look for the Swiss and Hallmark of Geneva trademarks when investing in a timepiece.
If aviators and divers have a brand of choice, it definitely has to be Breitling. This Swiss luxury brand has long been known for manufacturing aviation and divers watches since it was founded in 1884. Breitling has made a name for itself by producing durable, versatile, and innovative watches throughout the years. Notably, it was recently sold to CVC Capital Partners with the worth of a mind-blowing $870 million.
Swiss luxury watchmaker Georges Favre-Jacot founded Zenith in 1865. Growth of the brand was quite monotonous for a couple of hundred years, not until it made a noise in the watch-making industry when it released “El Primero” said to be the first and most precise automatic chronograph in the 20th century. Zenith watches have adorned the wrists of proclaimed icons such as Australian skydiver Felix Baumgartner and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Up to this day, Zenith continues to upgrade the features of its traditional El Primero to cater to the chronometer needs of the modern gentlemen.
To add to a long list of luxury watches that hail from Switzerland is Oris. Founded in 1904 by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian, Oris boasts complicated mechanics combined with functional design. It is mostly famous for Red Rotor, a trademarked symbol of Oris for its highly mechanical advantage over its counterparts. Oris watches are expertly crafted to be worn by people in the world aviation, diving, and motorsports. This luxury brand is also noteworthy for being one of the first employers to champion gender equality by providing equal opportunities to both of its men and women skilled watchmakers.
Ever since its creation in 1846 in Le Locle, Switzerland, Ulysse Nardin has never stopped pursuing a constant innovation of mechanical timepieces. Its distinct design, uniquely coloured leather straps, and precise time telling capability makes Ulysse Nardin an internationally renowned watchmaker. Its innovation even takes the brand a notch higher than the rest by using modern materials like Silicium. More than quality timepieces, the forever inventive manufacturer also specializes in producing writing instruments and accessories.
Blancpain knows that exclusivity sets the brand higher than the rest – the company only makes 30 watches per day by a single watchmaker. Being the oldest still-active watchmaking brand in the world, you can be sure that Blancpain knows all there is to know about watchmaking. In fact, the company is famous for making the most complicated timepiece ever, the Blancpain 1735, that boasts minute repetition, split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar, moon phases, and tourbillon. In a continued quest for excellence, Blancpain never sails away from its timeless, accurate, and precise traditional watchmaking methods. Nevertheless, each Blancpain watch is of highest quality that speaks of elegance and sophistication.
Simply more than just a timepiece, a luxury watch can function as a statement piece and a show of wealth. No wonder every fine aristocrat would spend however much to own a designer watch that perfectly merges reliable craftsmanship and elegance. Sure, these top luxury watch brands may cost you thousands or even millions of dollars. But fret not as these brands are worthy of your attention and money as they will surely survive a lifetime.