If you are compellingly seeking your first luxury watch or already own one, chances are you know exactly why you desire one or wear one. Yet, the rest of you, perhaps in discovery mode, may be wondering: What on earth is the hype for these expensive watch brands all about!
As an aftermath of holistic research and analysis, we have come up with a list of the top 20 high end luxury watch brands of 2021. Some of these popular watch brands are amongst the best brands in the world.
Before moving on to the actual list, let’s demystify, to newbie aspirants, the attributes that make these brands luxurious. Given below is the low-down (though the ‘high’ sounds more apt) of why people seek to purchase expensive luxury watch brands in the first place.
Listed below are the factors influencing luxury watch enthusiasts, enticing them to make the purchase. These points also serve as inherent characteristics of high end watches.
- Luxury watches have breathtaking craftsmanship, snazzy aesthetics, and precise manufacturing, making them wearable works of art. They are also symbols of wealth and power.
- They can be a good investment (depending on the model). Most luxury watches have great resale value and value retainment. They can also be passed on in inheritance, especially if well taken care of.
- Prestige and magnificence merged with reliability, make them lavish yet robust timepieces to possess. The purpose of fashion with function are served together to last you a lifetime. Also, people appreciate watch making and are collectors.
- A well-chosen timepiece gets you noticed in your groups, and in society. Whilst, you align yourself as the cultured and fashion-conscious person that you strive to be. Basically, your watch makes a statement about who you are. Simply put – We all love to show off!
- They are expensive, but somehow the expense is justified. People are attracted by the perceived value. The price of the watch is driven beyond its manufacturing, R&D, material, and marketing cost aspects by its ‘perceived value’ (driven by brand, history, and uniqueness). In fact, most watches priced over $1000 are priced high due to perceived value rather than material quality.
Now that we’ve demystified the attributes of luxury watch brands, let’s talk about the top 20 according to us.
The list doesn’t give heavier weightage to brands that often come up with watch models adorned with a gazillion diamonds. The diamonds alone don’t make the cut! Remember, material cost alone doesn’t constitute luxury. ‘Perceived value’ is a greater contributor.
So get ready to drain out your bank accounts! Luxury watch brands may be hefty on your pocket, but the results below are free to view.
Here’s the final list of the 20 best luxury watch brands in 2021, that you should know:
20 Best Luxury Watch Brands 2021
1. Audemars Piguet
It was founded in 1875, and even today, it’s owned by its original founding families. Audemars Piguet is a creation of Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. It’s a member of the prestigious “holy trinity” in watchmaking (top three watch brands in watch making history). Audemars Piguet is one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world, and has survived for more than 140 years. It’s known for having created the first ever steel luxury sports watch through its AP Royal Oak series.
2. Patek Philippe
Founded in 1851, the classy Pratek Philippe watches are known for their complicated mechanics and traditional styling. This prestigious and innovative brand has had a history of being adorned by royal families. It’s known for having invented the first wristwatch. Today, like in the past, it is still strong amongst the most sought-after luxury watch brands In the world. Patek Philippe is a member of the prestigious “holy trinity” in watchmaking. Many luxury watch buyers consider it as the cream of the crop watch brand.
Established in 1735 (initially christened with a different brand name), until 1932 Blancpain was under the Blancpain family’s ownership. When the final daughter in the family declined interest in the business, the Swatch Group took over. Blancpain has a broad range of watches. Their range includes both minimalistic designs and elaborately styled timepieces. Other attributes of their watches include intricate stitching of the band, elegant watch faces, and top notch internal mechanics. As a result, Blancpain watches contain the most complicated watch movements. It’s also a pioneer in creating diving watches.
4. Vacheron Constantin
Founded in 1755 (in Geneva, Switzerland) by Jean-Marc Vacheron, Vacheron Constantin is one of the oldest manufacturers of luxury watches. What sets these watches apart from others is precision in detailing and traditional shapes and styling. Historical figures like Napoleon Bonaparte, Harry S Truman, and Pope Pius IX have all worn the brilliant, rich in quality, Vacheron Constantin timepieces. Vacheron Constantin is another “Holy Trinity” watch brand. The brand has created some of the most amazingly unique and creative horological masterpieces.
Founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard (a swiss watchmaker), this brand is known both for their unique timepieces as also their jewellery. It began by creating ladies watches in 1860. In 2013 they promoted their watches as having ethically sustainable gold. The brand is known for its sophisticated watch models. Each watch is created imbibing a classic look, state-of-the-art technological influence, great detailing, and best in class craftsmanship. Today, it’s not uncommon to spot Chopard’s glamorous watches and jewelry on red carpet events. In fact, the Cannes Film Festival is an official Chopard partner.
Founded by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London in 1905, Rolex is the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world. It has a 100% brand recognition. Rolex is internationally recognized as a status symbol. The brand has produced enough firsts to take the watch industry by storm early on. Just to name one of its many revolutionary innovations, the brand created the first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, in 1926. Rolex is easily the largest high end watch brand in the world. It has been consistently featured on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful global brands. Given it’s universal appeal, an unimaginable 2,000 Rolex watches are produced daily. Each iconic timepiece for women and men is hand made. Furthermore, it has a higher average resale value than any other luxury watch brand. Rolex symbolizes success, luxury, and a lavish lifestyle.
7. IWC Schaffhausen
Founded in 1868, by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones, IWC stands for International Watch Company. The brand stands for style, elegance, and luxury. Today, the company popularly stands out for its superior dive and pilot watches. It’s a sought after luxury brand for seekers of sporty and classy Swiss watches. Their watches feature high-quality bands, distinct faces, classic shapes, and precision engineering. IWC watches imbibe superior standards, while at the same time the company responds to the environmental challenges of today. It also supports landmark projects around the world.
Founded in 1980 by Carlo Crocco and acquired by LVMH in 2008, Hublot (French for “porthole”) is one of the most prestigious luxury watch brands. This brand was the first to pair a natural rubber strap with a luxury watch. This relatively young luxury watch brand is no less impressive than its age old counterparts. In 2010, it was appointed as the official watchmaker of Formula 1. What makes it stand out from competitors is its elegant style and expert use of premium materials. Hublot watches come in both simplistic and robust variants.
9. A. Lange & Söhne
Founded in 1845 in Germany, by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, this brand is synonymous with iconic styling and superior quality. A. Lange & Sohne makes highly complicated timepieces. Their watches have mechanical movements instead of quartz. The cases of the watches are crafted in different tones of gold (yellow, rose, white, and platinum). Historically, for the first hundred years after establishment, the brand was known for pocket watches. Then came a 45 year hiatus after world war II. Finally, upon becoming reestablished in 1990, it became known for high quality mechanical timepieces.
10. Ulysse Nardin
This Swiss watch manufacturer has been in continuous production since inception in 1846. They haven’t moved their location of headquarters since 1865. In producing their wristwatches, writing instruments, and accessories, they use visually distinctive materials. For instance, they utilize quirky colored leathers for many of their products. The brand is known for their marine chronometers. Models like the Maxi Marine Chronometer and their Marine Chronograph, have helped the brand corner a segment in timekeeping where they truly shine more than others.
11. Jaeger - LeCoultre
Orchestrated in 1833, this luxury Swiss watch brand is known for its classic timepieces. JLC is one of the top most prestigious watch brands in the world, thus making this list. Primarily because they produce their movements and many of their components in-house. This is something very few watchmakers do in-house. Infact, the brand is famous for having created the world’s smallest watch caliber. It’s timepieces have faces with unique and complicated detailing. Since 1833, it continues to focus on innovation and unique clarity.
Conceived and established in 1860 in Florence Italy, Panerai is one of the few non-swiss companies on this list. Currently, Panerai’s headquarters are located in Milan Italy. The Italian brand is famed for its bold styles, and simplistic and sporty design elements. It’s style is well suited for many occasions. From 2005-2010 the brand got into partnership with the sportiest car maker of our times – Ferrari. They launched a series of watches with this strategic partnership.
Founded in 1884, Breitling watches are inspired by aviation. Many models have features used by fighter pilots. In fact, Breitling watches have appeared in the James Bond movie “Thunderball”. Made with excellent durability and precision, the brand also designed watches specifically constructed for divers. After the success of its aviation and diving watches, this Swiss watchmaker took its craftsmanship to design luxurious timepieces. Each watch is produced with versatility in mind. The wearer can wear it no matter what the occasion. Features common in Breitling’s offerings include easy-to-read faces and mechanical winding.
14. Tag Heuer
Established in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, TAG Heuer is an abbreviation for ‘Techniques d’Avant Garde’, and Heuer is the founder’s last name. Like many other high end watchmakers on this list, TAG Heuer was established in Switzerland. Although a watch manufacturer, it also produces mobile phones, eyewear, and accessories. It’s superior craftsmanship has technological appeal and premium functionality. Tag Heuer has the distinction of being the first in space: In 1962, John Glenn wore a Heuer stopwatch on the Mercury-Atlas 6 flight.
15. Glashütte Original
This one on our list is proof that Germany also knows how to craft a luxury wristwatch with impeccable precision. It was in 1845, that Ferdinand Adolph Lange began this watch company in the German silver mining town of Glashütte. Today, Glashütte Original is famous for blending traditional techniques with cutting-edge innovation. Their timepieces are classic and stunning. German engineering is famous for mechanical engineering. The brand, offers simplistic yet sleek timepieces. They spend a minimum of 300 hours to produce the interior mechanics for every timeless timepiece.
Founded by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds Switzerland in 1848, Omega is the 2nd most recognized Swiss watch brand in the world. In 1969, Omega became the first watch on the moon, when American astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore the Omega Speedmaster on the historic mission. Prior to that, British and American Armies in 1917 and 1918, respectively, chose Omega as their official timepiece for military use. Due to its elegant style and durable engineering, many James Bond movies featured Omega Seamaster watches through the years.
Founded in 1847, by Louis-François Cartier in Paris France, Cartier is hands down one of the most iconic watch and jewellery brands in the world. The brand offers watches in a distinguished and classic variety. Cartier is immensely popular in the mainstream press, and for years among celebrities and royals. The watches are featured with high-end materials and roman numerals. In fact, its distinguished design became admired by King Edward VII of England as “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers.” A legend was born, when in 2017, Founder Louis-François Cartier’s grandson, Louis Cartier, invented the famous ” Tank Watch” (modelled on a military tank).
18. Piaget SA
Georges Edouard Piaget founded the Piaget brand in 1874, in La Côte-aux-Fées, Switzerland. Their watches are known for their delicately enameled pieces and thinner watch styles. In 2014, they introduced to the world, the “Altiplano 900P” watch – thinnest hand wound mechanical watch in the world. They use unimaginably unique materials. Precious stones like lapis-lazuli, turquoise, and onyx and tiger’s eye are used.
In 2002 in Britain, the Bremont Watch Company was founded, by brothers Nick and Giles English. It became another impeccable luxury watch brand that was inspired by Aviation. Since then, they’ve expanded their brand and production across the world. Their brand is famous for the aircraft themed and mechanically focused models. Classic curves and proportionate faces make these opulent watches’ true representations of the British company’s image and branding.
Founded in 1955, this Swiss watch company makes high-quality and high-price watches. Corum (also known as Montres Corum Sàrl), can boast of many of their models being stunning limited edition styles. They’re known to boldly take manufacturing to the next level. Each striking timepiece is a striking display of luxury made from fine metals, soft leather, and a pleasant overdose of creativity. Simply put, they’re unafraid to design outside the box.