High-end watches are appreciated and worn by the elite of the watch collecting society. Often spotted on the wrists of politicians, royalty, famous actors, showbiz icons, and high-ranking public officials, many luxury brands were founded in Switzerland.
The cradle of high-end Swiss watchmaking is the captivatingly Joux Valley, to which the Swiss Jura Mountains become a breath-taking backdrop and inspiration for many a beautiful timepiece. There are, however, non-Swiss brands like A. Lange & Sohne, Bell & Ross, and Grand Seiko, who produce luxury wristwatches to an exceptionally high standard.
The best brands for watches that double-up as a quality dress watch, a work watch, and an everyday watch, don’t always require a long list of features to tick all the right boxes. Read on to discover our list of luxury watch brands currently making the best watches, and see why these brands are amongst the best, most highly acclaimed in the world. We’ll cover luxury watch brands old and new, including brands that were founded hundreds of years ago, to those brands that aren’t considered all that old at all.
View The Best Watchmakers Below
Rolex Submariner Automatic
The Submariner is probably the most recognized and best diver’s watch ever to have been made. The famous luxury watch brand founded in 1920, combines a solid case shape with a legible dial to enhance the diving experience for professionals partaking in deep-sea exploration. 18k yellow gold and stainless steel are frequently used in the brands Oyster case construction.
This is along with screw-down crowns integrated with the Triplock triple waterproofness system, 300-meter water-resistant capabilities, and unidirectional rotating bezels. A highly legible Chromalight display, which illuminates the dial in blue, ensures that the hours, minutes and remaining dive time can be read effortlessly.
+ Developed their own Chromalight technology
+ Manufacture gold
+ One of the best brands for creating diver’s watches
+ All watches are handmade
+ Developed the first waterproof mechanical watch
Why We Liked It – Rolex use the most expensive stainless steel to create their robust wristwatches. 904L steel is anti-corrosive, making it the best for saltwater divers.
2. Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Automatic
The Patek Philippe luxury watch brand is one of the best premium choices for a high-end watch. The Aquanaut collection is characterized by 18k gold octogen-shaped cases with softly rounded edges. The tropical strap of an Aquanaut watch is highly resistant to saltwater, UV radiation and wear and tear, making this luxury watch brand a trusted and reliable company to invest in if you’re in search of a watch to wear under the water, on top of the waves or dry land.
Timepieces like this include a dual time zone in a small counter at six o’clock, along with an embossed dial and luminous coated hands powered by the in-house developed Caliber 324 S C FUS.
+ Over 1000 employees involved to make one Patek Philippe watch
+ Hand-polished Aquanaut cases and bracelets
+ Movements made independently
+ Patek Philippe watches increase in value with age
+ Each new model takes up to 5 years to make
Why We Liked It – There are around 50-60 steps required to make the perfect Patek Philippe dial. The manufacturer’s dedication to meticulous craftsmanship reflects the price tag of each watch made by the popular company from Switzerland.
3. Tag Heuer
Tag Heuer Aquaracer
Luxury watch brands like TAG Heuer are the best for getting your money’s worth out of a wristwatch. The watch company boasts a heritage inextricably linked to the racing car industry, hence the launch of their Formula 1 collection, yet watches like this Aquaracer are perfectly equipped for underwater exploration.
Developed with a quartz movement and dressed in vibrant colors like this blue dial with a matching blue aluminum bezel, these TAG Heuer watches deliver on precision, legibility, and comfort. 300-meter water-resistant capability is incorporated into these rugged steel cases, combined with luminous markings on the hands and indexes, and an anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass.
+ Official Timekeeper for three Olympic games
+ Robust sports watches with bold case widths
+ Patented Chronograph watches with a retrograde display
+ Perfected the stopwatch for over 136 years
+ Specially engraved Aquaracer watch case backs
Why We Liked It – Luxury watch brands like TAG Heuer have created watches used for space travel, automobile racing, and diving.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
The popular Seamaster watch collection is huge and offers quality mechanical timepieces equipped with various water-resistant capabilities, including the brand’s Planet Ocean models – a series of watches ready to face depths down to 600 meters underwater. The manufacturer created the Co-Axial escapement, which powers this 43.5mm luxury wristwatch.
It’s adorned with a stealthy black dial, luminous hands, chunky hour markers, and a unidirectional rotating bezel. Planet Ocean watches also feature helium escape valves for compression diving and an anti-glare sapphire crystal glass lens for reading the time at a glance.
+Quality timepieces that feature patented extendable foldover clasps
+ 600-meter water-resistant technology
+ One of the best brands for creating diver’s tools
+ Co-Axial chronometer-certified movements
+ Omega create mechanical movements resistant to magnetic forces of up to 15,000 Gauss
Why We Liked It – Based on their popular models for the British Navy, this luxury Swiss company match unfathomable water resistance with the best accuracy.
5. Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic
Despite having made some of the most complicated wristwatches of all time, Vacheron is one of those luxury Swiss brands that create extremely well-built long-lasting everyday companions. The spirit of travel inspires the Overseas watch collection.
The anti-reflective and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass back grant a sneak peek at the highly intricate and beautifully orchestrated mechanical movement. Luxury brands like Vacheron also equip their timepieces with a date display and discreet minute track around the periphery of the dial.
+ Overseas watches make suitable pre-owned investments
+ Transparent case backs developed from sapphire crystal
+ Produce some of the most complicated watches in the world
+ Overseas watches convey the spirit of travel
+ Perfect daily companions
Why We Liked It – Vacheron Constantin has a long tradition of beautiful design and is the oldest of watch brands still in continuous production in Switzerland.
Cartier Santos Automatic
Santos de Cartier watches have interchangeable bracelets and leather bands that can transform a different look on your wrist, depending on the occasion. Brands like Cartier, who were founded in 1847, have created a long list of iconic wristwatches, each one portraying a different style and embodying a classic and unique look when worn.
Louis Cartier made a watch for a famous Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos Dumont, in 1904. Its stainless steel case shaped into a square with softly rounded corners and seamless horns with decorative screws created an almost industrial-inspired look.
+ Developers of the “QuickSwitch” interchangeability system
+ Seven-sided crowns set with a faceted synthetic spinel
+ Creator of the famous Tank watch
+ Best watches manufactured from a list of premium materials like titanium and gold
+ Rich watchmaking history, spanning over 100 years
Why We Liked It – Louis Cartier first popularized the wristwatch for men at a time when pocket watches were the norm. Since then, Cartier’s classic look has gone from strength-to-strength.
7. Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Automatic
If you like your bold, nautical-inspired wristwatches, the Royal Oak watch by Audemars Piguet will impress with its broad case designed like a porthole and “Grande Tapisserie” patterned dial. The manufacturer, founded in 1875, equips these wristwatches with an automatic self-winding movement that has been independently developed.
Impressive power reserves, water-resistant capability, and rugged stainless steel bracelets define this collection of iconic wristwatches. Glare proof crystal is sealed to the front and the back of the watch, exposing the performance of the movement. This is through an exhibition glass back. There are elegantly sweeping hands on the front of the dial.
+ Creators of the first stainless steel sports watch
+ The first Royal Oak prototype made from white gold
+ The Royal Oak is one of the most coveted wristwatch designs
+ The Royal Oak watch was designed in one day
+ Watches intended to be worn comfortably and practically
Why We Liked It – This prestigious Swiss brand created the first perpetual calendar in 1957, demonstrating their staggering expertise in fine Haute Horlogerie.
8. Jaeger LeCoultre
Jaeger Lecoultre Reverso Classic
The Reverso line by Jager LeCoultre comprises a total of 20 variations. Its design was like no other when it launched in 1931. The swiveling watch design not only looked stunning but offered the wearer the option of recreating a different look on the wrist without having to own two watches.
It was developed as a request by Polo players who needed the best watch that could turn in to protect its face whilst partaking in the sport. This stylish JLC watch features a solid steel case back, and blued steel hands on a silver dial. This is completed on a classic black leather strap.
+ The Grande Complication à Triptyque had three dials
+ Creates around 60,000 watches a year
+ All movements made in house
+ Great flexibility in design and experimentation
+ Some Reversos feature a two-faced design
Why We Liked It – Jaeger LeCoultre watches are powered by no-nonsense movements and combine style with functionality in perfect measure.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatic
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms timepiece combines impressive water resistance with a rugged titanium case design. The automatic movement at the watch’s heart provides a smooth and accurate performance behind a sapphire crystal back.
A blue dial and matching blue ceramic bezel enables elapsed time to be monitored while luminous materials on the hands and the indexes of the dial are perfect for referencing the time in dark conditions.
+ In-house developed movements
+ Marine-inspired design from the 1950s
+ Blancpain made the collection for underwater scientists
+ Creators of the first modern diver’s watch for men
+ Patented a lockable bezel for checking the elapsed time
Why We Liked It – Blancpain created this diving legend, instilling it with their time-honored manufacturing methods and cutting edge technology.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
The Heritage Black Bay watch is created by one of the world’s most prestigious and successful watchmakers. The models combine cutting edge water-resistant technology with a precise movement developed in-house.
Founded by the company owner of Rolex, Tudor watches have adopted various features from their sibling brand. Yet, they still manage to create a distinct look thanks to collections like the Black Bay with its snowflake hands and chunky diver-friendly indexes around the hour track.
+ Diver’s’s watches of exceptional quality
+ Designated to professional divers and the military
+ Creators of watches for the Marine Nationale
+ Released their first chronograph in 1970
+ Tudor watches are available all over the world
Why We Liked It – The first diver’s watch by Tudor was released in 1954. This was the Oyster Prince Submariner, which was imbued with the quintessential characteristics of a Rolex Submariner model.
Watchmakers Buyer’s Guide
This company’s solid case constructions are crafted from high-tech materials and are subject to stringent testing before they’re ready to serve the wrist. The brand creates its gold in-house, as well as calibers and innovative materials. Their exquisite diamonds are hand-set by expert craftsmen and chosen for their value.
As one of the most famous and widely recognized watch brands of all time, brands like this have reached milestones like Rolex’s original Oyster watch, founded in 1926. It was the first waterproof watch, thanks to a middle case that had been crafted from corrosion-resistant Oystersteel. The perpetual rotor is a concept that has gone on to shape several models after that.
About Patek Philippe
This watchmaker has created some of the most expensive models in the entire world. Their watches often sell for more than their original retail price on the preowned market, especially those from the likes of the Nautilus watch collection. Hand-applied decoration, intricate in-house manufactured hand-assembled watch movements, and a heritage that dates back to 1839 are all factors that heighten the desirability of a Patek Philippe watch.
The company created the Aquanaut watch collection, based and inspired on the Nautilus. It features a rounded octagon case shape, making it a unique-looking timepiece for gaining attention on the wrist. The Nautilus also features the same profile, with sides that curve outwards. The steel sports watch is now available in various dial finishes and materials.
About TAG Heuer
With inextricable links is to the motorsport industry, TAG Heuer is a widely popular manufacturer. Having been founded in 1860, the brand went on to patent several innovations, including their oscillating pinion wheel and their dashboard chronographs, inspired by racing car aesthetics.
In the 1930s, they began creating timepieces for pilots. Iconic models like the Carrera demonstrated ground-breaking horological expertise. In the 1980s, TAG Heuer celebrated their relationship with the automobile industry once again, becoming Official timekeeper for Formula 1, designating a watch collection that took on the same name. Aside from creating their very own movements, TAG launched the Aquaracer and continue to grow within the Swiss watch industry today.
Omega’s Seamaster watch collection is almost as instantly recognizable as a Rolex Submariner, and it’s valued for all the same reasons. The Seamaster is home to many sub-categories, including the Diver 300M. The Seamaster was initially a celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary and is sported on the wrist of every James Bond film installment.
As one of the most robust and oldest diver’s watches on the market, the Seamaster can be found in various bezel colors and dial finishes. Some of the models provide impressive water-resistant technology, like the Ultra Deep Professional, which belongs in the British Museum of London, equipped with 15,000-meter water resistance.
About Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin is the oldest Swiss watchmaker still in operation. Founded in 1755, the company are famous for their highly complicated watches. Complications like perpetual calendars, moon phases, chronographs, and jumping hours are part of their elaborate designs, not to mention their tourbillons for improving precision timekeeping.
Their ethos is: “Do better if possible, and that is always possible.” Their watches sell on for less than their retail price, making them incredibly good investments to pick up on the pre-owned market.
The jeweler of Kings and the King of jewelers, Cartier, is a prestigious brand well-loved for its luxurious models that are perfect for wearing to formal occasions and black tie events. Cartier developed the iconic Tank watch, which gained an almost cult-like status, as well as other models.
These include the bubble-shaped Ballon Bleu watch (with a cabochon sapphire-adorned crown), the Santos De Cartier watch (with a softly rounded case shape, and traditional Roman numerals), the sporty Drive De Cartier watch and the classic-looking Cle De Cartier, based on the perfect circle.
About Audemars Piguet
To this day, Audemars Piguet uses traditional and artisanal methods of watch manufacture to create iconic timepieces, like the Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Offshore. Some of their models are the most coveted in the entire world and can go on to sell for more than their original retail price in the pre-owned market.
Due to the watchmaking brand manufacturing only a limited number of their most popular models, certain Audemars Piguet watches are highly anticipated. This can often result in retailers increasing their RRP price to match the high demand for the brand’s dedicated watch collectors.
About Jaeger LeCoultre
Jaeger LeCoultre was founded nearly two centuries ago and has now developed over 1000 in-house calibers. Extravagant and lavish watches are the brand’s specialty, creating models like the double-sided Reverso – a two-in-one design, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1991.
The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Grand Complication Triptyque was the world’s first watch that featured three dials, all powered by one single movement. The Reverso watch was again celebrated in 2001 on its 80th anniversary with the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin inspired by the original 1930s models.
Every individual component used in the manufacture of a Blancpain watch is designed, hand-assembled and finished in Switzerland. The company is as serious about the meticulous craftsmanship of their timepieces as they are their employees. If you’re a classic watch collector with a taste for timeless designs, Blancpain watches are worth the investment.
The Fifty Fathoms launched in 1953 – a modern dive watch for the French Navy that later became available to the public. Since then, the brand’s’ watches have met similar success. Some of Blancpain’s complications include full calendars, ultra-thin models, tourbillons, moon phases, and split-second chronographs.
The founder of Rolex established Tudor. However, they have indeed acquired their own unique style and have a following of their very own. Tudor watches are an ideal choice if you’re looking to start your own watch collection. The Tudor Submariner was created for the U.S Navy during the 1960s.
In 2012, Tudor created the Black Bay model with indistinguishable snowflake hands and a crown that forgoes the crown protector. These bold, attention-demanding divers watches have become an iconic look ever since, and are equipped with high-quality materials to ensure seamless accuracy and enhanced legibility.
Did you know
Some of the oldest watchmakers in history originate from the watchmaking capital of the world – Switzerland. Blancpain was founded in 1735, followed by Vacheron Constantin in 1755 with a unique silver pocket watch inscribed with the initials of its founder, Jean-Marc Vacheron.
With so many watchmakers to choose from, narrowing it down to the top 10 best watch developers in the entire history of Haute Horlogerie is quite a task. When searching for luxury watches by brand, choose the luxury watch brands that have been around the longest.
The best watches brands are making right now balance quality, performance, style, and functionality. While Rolex is one of those brands of watches that symbolize the pinnacle in luxury watchmaking (with all-round expertise in materials, movements, and design) – Patek Philippe, on the other hand, is a watch company that has developed some of the most expensive luxury watches in the world.
TAG Heuer is a Swiss watch brand that will undoubtedly provide you with value for your money, having produced movements and patented some technological achievements like their oscillating pinion. Omega is a luxury watch brand that patented their own Co-Axial chronometer-certified movement.
If it’s refinement you’re looking for though, Jaeger LeCoultre is a luxury watch brand that has created collection after collection of classic elegant dress watches. In addition, luxury watch brands like Audemars Piguet and Tudor can be praised for their success in creating ground-breaking revolutionary diver’s watches.