There's much to be said about a classic luxury wristwatch. The incredible amount of craftsmanship and history behind each piece alone makes it a good investment. Take Jaeger-Lecoultre's Reverso Tribute Duoface as an example. Today it is seen as one of the world's most iconic dress watches as well as a status-symbol but it was actually originally a sports watch - popular with polo players who needed something that could withstand an aggressive polo match with balls and mallets flying about. After Buzz Aldrin wore an Omega Speedmaster Professional on the first ever trip to the moon, the Omega Speedmaster 'Moonwatch' Professional timepiece has been witness to every one of NASA's piloted missions since 1965.
History aside, a high-quality watch not only makes a statement about who we are or how we choose to carry ourselves, but also lasts several lifetimes when looked after properly. In fact, watches show signs of use and life as they are passed down from generation to generation, which makes for quite a nice personal legacy and sentimental value.
Looking to start investing in your own collection? We've picked out some of the most legendary pieces from the world's most renowned luxury watchmakers.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is a piece of history. Iconically worn by Buzz Aldrin during the first lunar mission, the watch has since been a part of every piloted NASA mission since March 1965. The device is protected by a hesalite crystal, and includes a small seconds sub-dial, a 30-minute recorder and a 12-hour recorder. The famous Omega 1861 Caliber movement is enclosed in a 42mm stainless steel case with a matching wristband, giving the watch its classic look.
Instantly recognisable as Patek Philippe’s signature craftsmanship, the Calatrava offers one of the most simplistic and elegant designs for a round wristwatch. The white lacquered dial is detailed with a perimeter of crisp roman numerals. Patek’s Calatrava uses a mechanical manually wound caliber 215 PS movement, and features a clear sapphire-crystal case back through which the mechanisms within can be observed.
Since being designed in the early 1930s to endure the stresses of polo matches played by British Army officers in India, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso watch remains one of the most versatile chronographs to date. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s current Reverso is so extensive that it is nearly impossible not to find one you like. The Tribute Duoface features two watch faces, one light, with silver, grained, appliqued hour-markers, and the other one dark, with slate, Clous de Paris guilloché appliqued hour-markers, that read for two different time-zones—perfect for the modern globetrotter. Every part of the Reverso Tribute Duoface was designed with even the most minute details in mind; the leather bracelet is even crafted by Casa Fagliano, as they have been since 1892, from the same leather used for polo boots.
Famously worn by Jay-Z, Conor McGregor, and Roger Federer, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is both one of the most complicated and expensive Rolexes ever made by the company. Each Sky-Dweller contains calibre 9001, a self-winding mechanical movement developed and manufactured exclusively by Rolex (and protected by seven separate patents). In 2005, Rolex created and patented its own exclusive 18 carat pink gold alloy cast, Everose gold, which is the material that is used on the pink gold variation of the Sky-Dweller, and the rhodium dial features a smaller 24-hour disc, which displays a secondary time zone—perfect for wearers who are frequently travelling. It is quite difficult to dress down the Sky-Dweller, making it not as versatile as other watch options. The fact still remains, however, that each Sky-Dweller is a piece of wearable art.
As the flagship watch of A Lange & Söhne, the Lange 1 maintains a timeless piece that combines the heritage of the company with a classic, streamlined look that will never grow old. The face is instantly-recognisable from across the room thanks to its oversized date display. In 2015, A Lange & Söhne decided to reinvent the Lange 1 for the first time in over 25 years, resulting in a case that is cosmetically identical to its predecessor, but with an entirely different internal movement. In the new model, the outsized date jumps immediately to the next date at midnight, instead of the gradual crawl that the older model provided. The seconds hand on the newer Lange 1 also stops exactly at 60 seconds when the watch has run out of power, allowing for more accurate resetting when the watch is wound up again.
In 1993, Audemars Piguet unveiled the Royal Oak Offshore—one of the first iconic luxury sport watches. Designed with activity in mind, the watch delivers a clean-cut, masculine look with hard edges and a robust case. This model of the selfwinding chronograph is outfitted with a clean ceramic bezel, screw-locked crown, as well as pushpieces for a more monochromatic look. The case is made from titanium, and features glareproofed sapphire crystal. “Méga Taousserue” patterning gives the watchface added dimension. The calibre 3126/3840 manufacture movement is at the heart of the self winding watch, and the device has a water resistance rating that allows you submerge it up to 100 meters deep.
This variation of Breguet’s “Grande Complication” wristwatch comes in 18 carat rose gold, and features two, independent, rotating tourbillions affixed by a bridge to a center place. The internal components of this 676-component piece can be observed through the transparent sapphire caseback, and they are truly eye-catching. The case is 44mm in diameter, 17.05mm thick, and includes signature Breguet-invented double tourbillions, hands, as well as a balance-spring. The result is a device with spectacular aesthetic proportions, and an overall polished look.
The Cartier Tank watch was one of the first wristwatches ever designed with the primary objective of being stylish. The watch originally debuted in 1917, with its shape supposedly inspired by the geometry of the military tanks used by English troops in World War One. The Anglaise rendition was released in 2012, and contains a mechanical movement with automatic winding housed in a sapphire crystal and steel case enclosure. It also features a silvered dial, blued steel sword-shaped hands, and a steel bracelet to match the case. The watch is water-resistant up to 30 meters deep.
With a simple, elegant, and balanced circular design, every piece in Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony collection is nothing short of stylistic purity. The balance and proportions of Patrimony chronographs were inspired by design of watches produced by the company in the 1950s, and the 18K 5N pink gold case and wristband on this edition of the Patrimony small model pair very nicely with the device’s slightly downsized 36mm form-factor. It is water resistant up to 30 meters deep, given that the crown has been securely attached to the case, and the 2450 Q6 caliber movement can be observed through the transparent sapphire-caseback.