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Top 5 Luxury Watch Brands & Why They Are The Best

Top 5 Luxury Watch Brands & Why They Are The Best

best luxury watches

When it comes to timepieces, there are 5 brands that are like the precious gemstones of luxury watches. They possess the cardinal qualities that you look for in a luxury watch company – amazing history, complicated (or at the very least extremely reliable) movements, style, prestige and resale value. In choosing our top 5 luxury watch brands, we took all of these factors into consideration, while emphasizing desirability among modern men and women, which is why some other incredible maisons will not be included…

An example would be Vacheron Constantin. Typically, VC would easily be in any true watch connoisseurs’ top list. They are part of the Holy Trinity of Watches and they hold value pretty damn well. However, they simply do not have the same desirability among modern buyers as the top 5 brands on our list. Part of this really comes down to the top luxury watch brands being absolute marketing masters and their ability to adapt to the times without sacrificing preservation.

So, with that understanding, if you are a luxury watch nerd, we are sure you can guess most of the top 5 luxury watch brands we are about to discuss.


Below we have our top 5 luxury watch brands. We are going to tell you a little bit about each company, why they are among the top 5 luxury watch brands, and what their most coveted collections and models are.


best luxury watch brands

It would be hard to argue against the statement that Patek Philippe is the best luxury watch brand of them all. Founded in 1839 in Geneva, Switzerland, Patek Philippe (along with Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin) has earned its place as the top member of the Big Three (Holy Trinity of Watches) thanks to generations of impeccable watchmaking, incredible inventions, and consistently flawless designs.

“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

The above slogan for Patek Philippe couldn’t be more true. Every Patek Philippe watch is an heirloom. Not only are PP’s timepieces built to perfection, but they carry a prestige like no other. They combine tradition with inventiveness, quality with unwavering value, and complicated movements with perfect decoration. This is why Patek Philippe carries the most respected name in the industry. Moreover, they have maintained these qualities for more than a century and a half!

Some of the most notable inventions and patents by Patek Philippe:
  • First Swiss wristwatch in 1868.
  • Patented a perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches in 1889.
  • Patented the double chronograph in 1902.
  • First lady’s wristwatch with complication in 1916.
  • First split-second chronograph wristwatch in 1923.
  • Creation of the first perpetual calendar wristwatch in 1925.
  • Invented the most complicated mechanical watch in the world (Henry Graves Supercomplication with 24 complications, which held this record until 1989 when they broke the record themselves) in 1933.
  • Patented the Gyromax balance in 1949.
  • Creation of a Tourbillon movement that still has the world record for timekeeping precision in 1962.
  • The most complicated mechanical watch in the world part 2 (Calibre 89 with 33 complications, which held the record until 2015) in 1989.
  • Launched an annual calendar movement with the world’s first silicon based escapement wheel in 2005.
  • Introduced the Pulsomax, Oscillomax, and GyromaxSi in 2006, 2008, and 2011, respectively.
  • Created the Grandmaster Chime ref 5175, which is one of the world’s most complicated wristwatches with 20 complications in 2014.

As you can see, Patek Philippe has never ceased to innovate. Not only did they keep up with the times, they set the highest standard. If it wasn’t for Patek Philippe, who knows where watchmaking would be today. In the course of their 182 years existence (as of 2021), Patek Philippe has invented more than 20 basic calibre and received more than 100 patents.

Patek Philippe’s Most Popular Collections & Models

Right now, Patek Phillipe has 9 collections: Grand Complications, Complications, Calatrava, Gondolo, Golden Ellipse, Nautilus, Aquanaut, Twenty-4, and Pocket Watches.

Patek Philippe has been producing watches since 1868, but it wasn’t until 1976 that they made their first sports watch. That sports watch being the Nautilus. Nowadays, the Nautilus is easily Patek’s most popular model and arguably the most desirable luxury sports watch in the world.

Out of all the various Nautilus references, the steel Nautilus 5711 is the most sought after. This is the watch you see featured above.

Then, you have the Aquanaut, which is their newest sports watch (which came out in 1997). As for dress watches, any watch from the Grand Complication or Complication collections will earn you the highest esteem. Some holy grails being the. Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, Ref. 5970P, Sky Moon Celestial, Ref. 6102P, and the Grandmaster Chime, Ref. 6300A.

Overall, if you own any watch from Patek Philippe, you will be part of a very special club.

Shop Patek Philippe


top luxury watches

The Audemars Piguet story starts way back in 1873 in Le Brassus, Switzerland, when a tech student by the name of Jules Louis Audemars reconnected with an old childhood friend and economy student named Edward Auguste Piguet. The two friends and avid watch aficionados had been working for other watch companies at the time, creating complex movements. After two years, and what we imagine were lots of grandeur conversations about the industry, they decided to combine their skills to open a watch factory. It was simply an experiment of their passion. However, this experiment, obviously, turned into one of the greatest watch companies the world has ever known – Audemars Piguet.

Interestingly, both the second and third generation of company leaders were Audemars and Piguet’s sons, and then grandsons. However, the fourth-generation, who are still key people in the company, are from the Audemars family. The company is still privately owned!

Like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet is part of the Big Three of Luxury Watches. From their very humble beginning, Audemars Piguet has strived to create fine, mechanical timepieces with great craftsmanship and perfect finishing.

“To Break the Rules, You Must First Master Them”.

The AP slogan is a perfect representation of the companies rich history. For nearly 150 years, Audemars Piguet has been innovating and perfecting the art of watchmaking.

Some of the most notable inventions and patents by Audemars Pigeut:
  • World’s first minute repeating movement in 1892.
  • Manufactured a Grand Complication with 7 complications in 1899.
  • World’s first jumping hour wristwatch in 1921.
  • First skeleton watch in 1934.
  • Made the world’s thinnest watch (1.64mm thick movement) in 1946.
  • First ever luxury sports wristwatch in 1972 (the Royal Oak!)
  • Creation of an ultra-thin automatic Tourbillon wristwatch (5.3mm thick including the case) in 1986.
  • World’s first Grande Complication wristwatch in 1995.
  • First watch with a carbon case and movement in 2007.
  • The world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar in 2019.

While Audemars Piguet has consistently been making exquisite watches with advanced materials and an emphasis on complications and thin movements for a very long time, they really forever sealed their place in watchmaking history in the 1970s with the introduction of the world’s first stainless steel sports watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The Royal Oak Offshore is among the most coveted timepiece in the game.

Audemars Piguet’s Most Popular Collections and Models

The two most popular collections are the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore collection. Any model from these collections are collectible and will be admired across the globe.

Among these collections, the most popular model of them all is the stainless steel Royal Oak blue dial and the steel Royal Oak Chronograph blue dial.

If you were to buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Royal Oak Offshore, you can sleep peacefully knowing you made one of the best luxury watch purchases possible and you can walk around proudly knowing that you have on one of the finest and most sought after wristwatches that exists.

Shop Audemars Piguet


best luxury watches

Not only is Rolex far and away the most well known watch brand, it is among the most celebrated companies there is. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, Rolex is the biggest-ever powerhouse watch brand.

Through incredible achievements, huge media recognition, and unwavering consistency in producing beautiful, utilitarian luxury watches, Rolex has rightfully earned its place among the top luxury watches and the brand stands above and beyond the rest in terms of value and recognition.

“A Crown for Every Achievement”.

Rolex’s coronet crown is as famous as the name itself. Everybody knows Rolex, everyone wants a Rolex, and with reasonable savings, everyone can attain a Rolex (unlike many other luxury watch brands that are priced out of reach for most people)…

Although that’s not to say Rolex is cheap. Rolex’s entry price is around $5,000, but Patek and AP is around $20,000.

Most Notable Inventions and Patents by Rolex:
  • First wristwatch to earn a chronometer certification in 1910.
  • First waterproof wristwatch in 1926.
  • Introduced the first date complication that would change exactly at midnight (the Datejust) in 1931.
  • Released the first wristwatch that was waterproof to 330 feet in 1953.
  • First wristwatch with an automatically change day and date on the dial (the Day-Date) in 1956.

Rolex has always been known for making watches with purpose. They are not about grand complications, Rolex is about functionality for specific target groups. So, every Rolex collection has meaning and a rich history. That’s what makes Rolex’s collections even more appealing and special.

Note: While some Rolex watches have a few complications that are quite impressive, they are more known for durability, precision and accuracy. It is a luxury tool watch brand through and through.

Furthermore, some of Rolex’s greatest achievements go beyond watchmaking and into the realm of watch ”doing”, such as Rolex watches being the first watch for very deep-sea dives, expeditions to Mount Everest, swimming across the English Channel, and so on. These huge moments in history were shared with Rolex, which is a huge reason why Rolex is so famous.

Rolex’s Most Popular Collections & Models:

Pretty much every Rolex collection is popular. Everyone has different tastes and all of Rolex’s collections get love.

Daytona – Racing Watch
Submariner – Diving Watch
Sea-Dweller – DeepSea Diving Watch
Yacht-Master – Sailing Watch
GMT-Master – Traveler’s Watch
Sky-Dweller – Traveler’s Watch

Then you have their ultra-famous dress watches, the Datejust and Day-Date.

Among all of these watches, the most collectible are the steel Daytona and the GMT-Master Pepsi. That said, every collections contains references that are so highly collectible they are almost impossible to buy new at retail.

With Rolex, you simply can’t go wrong. Rolex is as good as gold.

Shop Rolex


what are the best swiss watches

When it comest to watches, Cartier definitely doesn’t stand out in terms of impressive mechanical movements. They didn’t even start making their own movements until 2002, with the induction of their then-new CEO Fornas.

So, why does Cartier make this list? Well, being that Cartier is the most influential jewelry company in the world, when they stepped into the watch game in the early 1900s, they were able to change the way people look at watches in a way that no other company could…

Let us explain…

The first watch Cartier ever made was the Cartier Santos, which is still one of the most popular watches around. It was a wristwatch, at a time when pocket watches dominated the industry. While there were wristwatches before Cartier, they were seen as feminine (no man would dare wear a wristwatch – funny how things change).

Cartier didn’t care about how people perceived wristwatches because he (Louis Cartier) was making a watch for a famous pilot named Alberto Santos Dumont who needed a timing instrument strapped to his wrist, as split second decisions were critical, and thus a pocket watch was far from useful.

The watch, which would later be named the Santo, was the first men’s wristwatch.

Alberto Santos Dumont got a lot of publicity for breaking records as a daring pilot during this time, all the while he was wearing his Cartier Santos wristwatch. Needless to say, this garnered a lot of attention and it quickly changed the way people viewed wristwatches. Men all over the world wanted a wristwatch, and so, Cartier put it into production in 1907 (3 years after its initial creation).

From then on, pocket watches were a thing of the past…

Who knows, without Cartier, we may still be in a world dominated by pocket watches. To us, this, plus the fact that Cartier has a few watches that are among the most collectible timepieces in the luxury watch industry, year after year, earns them a spot on the Top 5 Luxury Watches.

Cartier’s Most Popular Collections and Watches

Cartier watches are extremely popular among men and women alike.

For women, the most popular collections are the Cartier Tank, Ballon Bleu, Santos, and Roadster (although any Cartier watch is beloved for most).

For men, it’s all about the Cartier Santos, but the Tank, Roadster, Calibre de Cartier, and Rotonde de Cartier, and Ballon Bleu also get love.

In any case, the Santos is the most classic and sought after of all Cartier watches for men, whereas the Tank is the most desirable for most women. Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong. These are two incredible values and they won’t cost an arm or a leg, unless you get a diamond skeleton version like the one you see above.

Shop Cartier


what are the best watches

Richard Mille is the youngest brand on this list, by about a minimum of 100 years! However, in just a short period of time, approximately two decades, Richard Mille has managed to flip the watch industry on its head.

So, no they don’t have the deep, rich history like the other brands, but what they do have makes them very, very special, and that is modern, almost-futuristic game-changing innovations and prestige that makes billionaires and multi-millionaire all over the world pull out their black cards.

First, Richard Mille is one of the most expensive brands of watches. Probably the most expensive on average. If you want to know why that is, you can read our “Why is Richard Mille So Expensive?” article.

What makes Richard Mille unique is the way the brand has managed to capture the attention of the most influential people in the world and their use of avant-garde materials.

A Richard Mille watch will be made of materials that you only find in aerospace or very high tech industries. Their watches, while big and bold, are super lightweight and extremely durable. On top of that, the movements are out of this world. The best part is, you can witness the movement and stunning finishing every day, as they’ve built their brand around transparency, or in other words, skeleton dials.

What’s more, most of their watches are produced in super low numbers, so any particular model will be pretty rare. They’ve played the supply vs demand game very well.

All in all, Richard Mille is easily the coolest and baddest watch brand on the block. They easily earn their place on this list in our opinion. When people talk about high-end luxury watches these days, Richard Mille is one of the first to come out of their mouth.

Shop The Top Luxury Watch Brands at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton


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