Generally speaking, when buying a watch, people make a decision based on the name of the brand, the colour and the material it is made of. Or they just opt for their favourite piece once again. Few asks themselves the most important question of all: what universe and realm do you adhere to, when acquiring this particular wristwatch?
Once upon a time, the elders were buried with their precious accessories. It could happen nowadays as well, with a Reverso, a Breitling or a Patek Philippe.
It’s very easy to know and truly comprehend a brand, no matter how famous it gets to be, because it will always follow its roots: a Chanel watch will honor the Cambon Street’s unwritten rules and atmosphere, while Hermès will always be a reflection of future times.
However, watchmakers have a more or less influence upon the market: for example, why go for a IWC and not a Patek Philippe? Hublot, instead of a Tag Heuer? Hang on, we’ll explain more.
A universe divided by brands
The luxury watch-experts can be categorised in two big groups:
- the traditional wizards, known for their expertise and history in excellence (Rolls Royce, par example). Remember that very fine watchmaking is based on a philosophy of time, rather than being an exact chronograph passionate.
- the sports-related brands (Ferrari, perhaps). These items are far more precise and sharper when it comes to telling you what time is it. Often enough they are made of carbon or ceramic, a very practical preference.
It is crucial to have this distinction in mind, when buying a watch. The first model is more reckless, and the second type is a bit less adventurous, so to speak. In view of all this, we can proceed to the following classifications:
- Patek Philippe: “Create your own tradition” (Fondez votre propre tradition) means everything. With most watches exceeding €100 000, this brand is here by excellence and exception.
- Piaget, one of the oldest maisons specialised in ultra-thin and gem-combining design creations.
- Jaeger Le-Coultre mixes tradition and inheritance with spectacular innovations: “You deserve a real watch.” (Vous méritez une vraie montre).
- Roger Dubuis blends extravagance, elegance and mechanical excellence in one single item, being the only brand with a 100% Hallmark of Geneva signature.
- Vacheron Constantin: noteworthy craftsmanship and a great specialist in complexity.
- Breguet, an expert when it comes to developing a tourbillon (a type of mechanical clock or watch escapement).
- Chopard, with his “Classic Racing” collection.
- Tag Heuer, that will appeal mostly to sports car enthusiasts.
- Hublot – or better said, brand sport at the highest level (take for example its King Usain Bolt – a limited edition).
- IWC & Breitling are building up their own path in the aviation world.
- Ulysse Nardin swims into the marine universe (admiral watches for yacht holders).
- Rolex, an authentic “record-amateur” with records set by those exploring the extreme. The Deepsea Challenger accompanies – let’s say – James Cameron at the deepest point of the abyss. In the same time, the brand remains close to tennis, golf, sailing and Formula 1.
In the end, the choice is yours. You know what universe is closer to your heart. Or what circumstances you find yourself into more often. A sports watch is more suitable for a golf player, for instance. Take your time, and think about it.
Types of watches
Once you’ve set your mind upon a certain brand, you have to pay attention to the features they offer. Their ace up the sleeve. Their x-factor. Some might have great skills as chronographs – watches that count time by 1/100th of a second (at least), others can be very powerful and resistant (Rolex diving watches).
Traditional brands tend to have a portfolio filled with several models that can easily confuse the uninitiated.
This shelf is brimming with devices made to show the exact time and date. That’s it. Plain and simple. Of course, you can find drops of elegance in their design, but simplicity is the master. No one will be surprised to learn that a Hermès admirer will like also these alternatives:
Other prototype can be, perhaps, a Boucheron or a Longines:
The sophisticated watches
There are accessories that aren’t very focused on showing you what time is it. These are obsessed with a complex manufacture and audacious design. Buyers fascinated by unusual things, always trying to escape the standards, are the main target here. Sometimes, they won’t just acquire a collection or a limited series, but order a customised set that fits their specific needs. A personalised watch. Even if the owner of a made-to-measure Vacheron Constantin by Vladimir has to wait 4 years for its creation, it will worth it.
The most sophisticated aspects are related to:
- Ways of displaying the power reserve (before having to wind the watch), at the top right:
- Perpetual calendar: no error will occur in showing the day of the month (30 or 31), not even during leap years;
- Bouncing hour: the minute indicator is in a separate location, as you can see below:
- Fly-back chronograph: you can stop time to measure a specific period. When you release the second handle, it will automatically catch the seconds it spent frozen;
- Minutes-on-repeat: if you set your watch for 8:19, you can hear 8 strokes for every hour, 1 hit for 15 minutes, 4 delicate notes for the last 4 remaining ones. But this can only happen if you pay over €70 000;
- The watches can show you the moon phases, tides, sunrise or sunset moments:
The tourbillon models
Now, these are the chosen ones, very different from their compeers.
The tourbillon is like a cage that shelters the watch from the gravity effects. Developed by Breguet in the late 17th century, this new watch-regulator tries to show the most accurate time. The details of the mechanism can be observed mostly in the clock’s façade.
This aforementioned method is one of the most complex in the watchmaking process. The minimum entry price to enjoy such a jewellery is €30 000. Vacheron Constantin is worth around €150 000, a leather strap Jaeger Le-Coultre is €700 000, but for a diamond-version, please double the price.
The so-called “skeletons”
Fashionable since 2012, these wristwatches make everything in their best to highlight the mechanism they posses. Refinement and savoir fare are the main foundation for such designs, and you can make yourself noticed by wearing a sample of Vacheron Constantin Tourbillon Skeleton for €200 000:
Or how about an ultra-thin version of the Piaget Altiplano Skeleton by Piaget?
Rather feminine, they are more concerned about aesthetics and gems, leaving aside – just for a tiny bit – the mechanisms behind the watches. This is the land of jewellery houses such as Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels, and the galaxy of traditional designers. The models they come up with are simply breathtaking. See for yourself:
The iconic time pieces
It would be quite difficult to point out only a brand or a type of watch. In this section, everything is about you, and what your heart desires. Is that particular watch a perfect reflection of your image? Well, there you have it. You’ve found it: the it’s so you watch. Unequivocally.
But in case you haven’t decided yet, here are some ideal options for you: