Top 10 Luxury Watch Brands

The art of watchmaking is one that dates back centuries, a tangible representation of mankind’s persistent fascination with time. Horologists of the past were praised for their skill and ingenuity. They were awarded at world fairs and exhibitions for their endless innovations. Several pioneers of watchmaking also founded some of the most famous luxury watch brands. Many of which you might recognize. These watch brands are known for manufacturing timepieces of superior quality, featuring several impressive complications to aid with any task.

If you’re in the market for a new high-end watch, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the many options. Each watch brand is known for something different. Whether you prefer Vacheron Constantin or TAG Heuer – find the best watch for your taste and budget without the headache. We’ve compiled a list of the top luxury watch brands in the world. Read more to discover their unique histories and learn about their contributions to the science of timekeeping.

Patek Philippe

Rose gold Patek Philippe with black dial and black leather strap.

Patek Philippe was founded in 1851 as a partnership between two watchmakers, Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe. Philippe was known for inventing a keyless winding mechanism, an early prototype of what we recognize as a winding stem. Patek Philippe has crafted timepieces of the highest quality, blending traditional style with sophisticated gears and gadgetry. One example of the brand’s commitment to quality craftsmanship is the Sky Moon Tourbillon, which features several watch complications. These include a perpetual calendar, retrograde chart, sky chart, moon phases, and an enchanting night sky on the case back.

Such elaborately detailed designs have come to define Patek Philippe, elevating the brand to icon status. Patek Phillipe watches are known to turn record profits at auction houses. In fact, the brand’s Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 model is the most expensive watch ever sold at auction – a record $31.19 million. Patek Philippe is considered the finest watch brand in the world, and with their history, it’s easy to see why.

Audemars Piguet

Stainless steel Audemars Piguet with black textured dial on mans wrist.

Lifelong friends Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet got their start in 1875, originally creating precise watch movements for upscale brands like Tiffany & Co. Before long, the duo began designing their own complete timepieces for sale. Considered a champion of the industry, Audemars Piguet designed the world’s first minute repeater wristwatch in 1882. They also produced the first steel luxury sports watch, known as the Royal Oak.

These are just two examples of how the brand has revolutionized watchmaking, but their list of accolades goes on and on. Today, the Royal Oak is still considered one of Audemars Piguet’s most notable watch models, setting the standard for luxury sports watches. Prior to the Royal Oaks’ unveiling in 1972, sports watches were less than luxurious, designed strictly with utility in mind. And would you believe, this iconic watch model was designed in just 24 hours by watch stylist Gérald Genta. Audemars Piguet is so legendary, Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari still use their movements in many of their watch models today.

Vacheron Constantin

Two yellow gold Vacheron Constantin watches with white dials and leather straps laying flat on a table.

Vacheron Constantin is one of the oldest Swiss luxury watch brands in the world, remaining in continuous operation since its founding in 1755. It’s not just their expansive history that sets them apart from other Swiss watchmakers. Their timepieces are known for being remarkably elaborate, featuring details like engraving, enameling, guilloche, and gem-setting. A Vacheron Constantin watch is truly a work of art, both inside and out. They’ve contributed immensely to the advancement of horological science, achieving many firsts over the centuries.

Vacheron Constantin set a record in 2015, creating the most complicated mechanical watch in the world. The Reference 57260 boasts an impressive 57 complications. Their record of designing timepieces with breathtaking beauty and exceptional accuracy falls perfectly in line with their motto – “Do better if possible and that is always possible.” Famous Vacheron Constantin wearers have included Harry S. Truman, Napoleon Bonaparte, and King Farouk of Egypt, to name a few.

Rolex

Yellow gold Rolex Day-Date with white Roman numeral dial and Jubilee bracelet.

Rolex is arguably the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world and is certainly the most coveted. Founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf, it didn’t take long for Rolex to become one of the most revered watch manufacturers. Their long list of innovations includes the first waterproof wristwatch (Rolex Oyster), the first watch with an automatically changing date (Rolex Datejust), and the first with and automatically changing day and date (Rolex Day-Date). These exceptional timepieces are the epitome of quality watchmaking, carefully crafted using superior methods and materials.

Rolex watches are as stylish as they are useful, the ideal marriage of form and function for watch enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Made to withstand the perils of deep-sea diving, mountain climbing, and even arctic exploration, a Rolex watch is as much a tool as it is an accessory. In fact, the first wristwatch to ever reach the peak of Mount Everest was an early prototype of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer. With such a longstanding legacy, it’s now wonder Rolex has had its fair share of famous fans including Dwight Eisenhower, James Cameron, Eric Clapton, and many more.

Omega

Originally founded in 1848 as the La Generate Watch Co., OMEGA trails closely behind Rolex as one of the most highly recognized Swiss watch brands in history. OMEGA watches are highly regarded as some of the most precise and efficient in the industry. They’ve played a significant role in history, and in cinema.

OMEGA was named the official watch of Britain’s Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and the United States Army in 1918. In 1932, they became the official timekeepers of the Olympic games, a partnership that remains to this day. OMEGA even had its watches flight qualified for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, and in 1969, OMEGA made history by becoming the first watch to ever be worn on the moon.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore his OMEGA Speedmaster as he explored the moon’s surface, a fact which would help elevate the brand to a whole new level of success and prestige. In addition to the long list of achievements, OMEGA is probably best known for adorning the wrist of everyone’s favorite secret agent, James Bond. 

Cartier

Yellow gold Cartier with white Roman numeral dial and brown leather strap.

In 1904, Louis Cartier created his first wristwatch, the Cartier Santos. Inspired by his friend, Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, Cartier designed what would later be recognized as the first pilot’s watch. This was truly cutting-edge, as pilots were previously relying on pocket watches which were cumbersome and dangerous to fidget with while manning an aircraft. This was just an early taste of Cartier’s extraordinary watchmaking history. Other noteworthy achievements include the Cartier Tank and the Ballon Bleu de Cartier. Both of which were best-sellers for the illustrious jeweler and watchmaker.

In fact, the Ballon Bleu was the first watch model to include movements designed by Cartier. Prior to this, Cartier purchased its movements from the best of the best – Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Rolex, among others. While many luxury watch brands may stand out on the wrist, a Cartier watch looks a bit more refined. Most of their watch models feature roman numeral hour makers, giving them an esteemed look that also acknowledges the brand’s Parisian roots. A quick look at a Cartier watch and it’s easy to see why the brand has such celebrity appeal. Not only are they splendid and elegant, but they’re also a hallmark of Cartier’s grand cultural legacy.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Yellow gold Jaeger-LeCoultre with white dial and black leather strap.

Established in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre, a self-taught watchmaker and inventor, Jaeger-LeCoultre is an acclaimed Swiss watch manufacturer. The brand is one of the single greatest contributors to the advancement of watch technology.

They’ve produced more than 1,000 calibers and hold over 400 patents for hundreds of various inventions. One such invention is the Calibre 101, the world’s smallest watch movement, developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1925.

Prior to his invention, women’s watches were too small to function precisely. The Calibre 101 led to the design of the first luxury watch for women that was stylish and reliable, the Duoplan.

Their expertise is so highly regarded, they’ve even supplied movements to watchmakers like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Jaeger-LeCoultre has long dedicated themselves to the art of watchmaking, a fact which is evident from their highly sophisticated, elegant timepieces.

IWC Schaffhausen

Stainless steel IWC with a black dial, silver markers, and brown leather strap.

The International Watch Company was founded by an American watchmaker, Florentine Ariosto Jones, in 1868. Jones brought his skills and expertise to Switzerland – the horology capital of the world – and established his headquarters in Schaffhausen. IWC is best known for their dive and pilot watches, precisely engineered in accordance with the highest industry standards. In 1936, as the field of aviation was rapidly expanding, IWC Schaffhausen released their first pilot’s watch, and early mockup of the famed Big Pilot’s watch.

The brand was even commissioned by the British Royal Air Force to develop a service watch for its pilots, the IWC Mark 11. IWC has a unique system of record keeping that they established in 1885. They keep a meticulous catalog of every watch they’ve ever made dating all the way back to 1868. As if that weren’t impressive enough – IWC Schaffhausen has recently dedicated itself to increasing their production standards as a means of addressing growing environmental concerns.

TAG Heuer

Titanium TAG Heuer Formula 1 with a black dial and bezel.

Originally established as Heuer Watchmaking Inc. in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, TAG Heuer has made a name for itself as an innovator in sports timing, specifically in race car driving. In 1916, the watchmaker launched the Mikrograph, a mechanical stopwatch that could measure 1/100th of a second. It was the first of its kind and transformed the business of sports timekeeping. Today, the brand is still heavily associated with the auto racing industry.

Besides its long list of partnerships with racing organizations, some of TAG Heuer’s most well-known watch models are named after famous racing events like the Formula One, Carrera, and Monaco collections. Actor Steve McQueen famously wore a blue TAG Heuer Monaco in the 1971 film Le Mans, cementing the watch’s iconic status. Besides manufacturing wristwatches, TAG Heuer also produces timepieces that can be mounted to the dashboards of automobiles, boats, and aircraft.

Panerai

Stainless steel Panerai Luminor with a black rubber strap.

Panerai is the only watch brand on this list that is based out of Italy rather than Switzerland. Giovanni Panerai founded his company in Florence, Italy in 1860. Shortly after his founding, Panerai began supplying the Royal Italian Navy with watches and other precision dive instruments. The watchmaker had patented a luminous powder called radiomir which could be used to illuminate a watch dial. They paired this radiomir paint with large, Arabic numerals to ensure ideal visibility underwater.

This simple, yet bold design has become a signature style for Panerai. Besides being known for their ultra-sophisticated dive watches, Panerai has made a name for itself as a luxury watchmaker. In the past two decades, the brand has released reimagined versions of famous models like the Luminor and the Mare Nostrom. In 2001, Panerai re-opened its original boutique located in Florence’s historic Piazza San Giovanni. The brand has exclusive, special edition models that are only available for sale at this flagship location, a definite stop for watch enthusiasts traveling to Florence.

Luxury Watches in San Diego

Wondering where you can find fine watches in San Diego? Stop wasting time on the web and come to Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers instead! We offer an extraordinary selection of new and pre-owned luxury watches, from these renowned watch brands, and more. A finely crafted timepiece is well worth the price, a treasure to cherish for a lifetime and then some. What’re you waiting for? Visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers today, and discover the luxury watch that’s been calling your name!

What’s the Difference Between Quartz & Mechanical Movements?

The watch movement or the caliber is a mechanism that makes every watch tick. It is an engine that powers a watch and all of its functions. The mechanism moves the hands and powers any additional features such as annual calendars, chronographs or dual time zone displays. Powering all the timekeeping tasks, the movement is the most important component in any watch. There are many different movements that power a watch, but they all fall into two categories: mechanical and quartz movements.

How Can You Tell Which Movement is Which?

A simple way to tell a mechanical movement from a quartz movement is the way the second hand moves. The second hand on a quartz watch moves in ticks, while with mechanical movements, the hand moves smoothly.

Quartz movements are extremely accurate and need little regular maintenance apart from replacing batteries. While some lower-end quartz watches may run for decades without maintenance, a fine Swiss quartz watch should be serviced every 7 to 10 years. The batteries should be changed every 2 years to prevent damage.

Quartz watches tend to cost less as they have fewer moving parts and are cheaper to manufacture. Watch aficionados aren’t as attracted to them as they lack the craftsmanship and fine engineering of their mechanical counterparts. However, when made by high-end Swiss watch manufacturers, quartz movements are a perfectly acceptable solution.

Mechanical movements are preferred by many watch enthusiasts because they incorporate a high level of craftsmanship and quality. They are skillfully made by watchmakers and contain several tiny compartments that work together to power the mechanism. Mechanical movements use energy from a wound spring. This spring stores the energy and uses it to power a series of springs and gears. While the design of mechanical watches has remained unchanged for centuries, the latest technology allows for more precise engineering and finer details.

The most popular mechanical watches are those that contain perpetual-wind movements. They’re more popular because as long as you wear them regularly, you don’t have to wind them every day to make sure they are accurate. Perpetual-wind watches gather energy through the motions of your wrist. A metal weight spins with each move of your wrist, harnessing that energy to continually wind the mainspring. A special mechanism prevents it from over winding, keeping optimum tension for impeccable timekeeping performance.

Men's Rolex Explorer II in stainless steel with a white dial.
Men's Patek Phillipe in stainless steel with a white dial and a grey leather strap.
Men's Panerai Luminor in stainless steel with a black dial and brown leather strap.

Pros & Cons

Quartz watches are extremely accurate, but what also makes them popular among buyers is their low price and durability. These watches can also be equipped with additional technological features such as GPS tracking or illumination. They are also slightly more accurate than mechanical watches, which may be accurate to within a few seconds a day.

On the other hand, mechanical watches boast a much more impressive mechanism that watch-lovers love to observe. Many mechanical watches will have a clear crystal window on the back of the case to allow the owner to see the mechanism at work. Mechanical watches can last for generations as they have a significantly longer life span than their quartz counterparts have, and thus can become cherished family heirlooms.

Mechanical watches require regular maintenance and need to be cleaned by a professional every 3 to 5 years to avoid excessive wear on the parts of the movement. However, this investment will ensure that your mechanical watch lasts for many more years to come.

Watch Servicing

In conclusion, if you are looking for a cheap, accurate watch with little to no need for maintenance, you should go with quartz watches. But if you want an impressive mechanism that represents a form of art, and you are looking for a watch that will last you a lifetime, a perpetual-wind mechanical watch is an unrivaled choice.

If you own a mechanical watch, make sure to have it serviced every 3 to 5 years so that it continues to perform as well as the day it was acquired. If you need your watch professionally cleaned or serviced, call us at 619-299-1500 to find out what our in-house watch department can do for you. Our watchmaker is certified and was Rolex factory trained.

A complete watch service at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers consists of disassembling the watch movement, cleaning out old lubricant, re-lubricating all friction points, re-assembling the movement, and adjusting the timing to factory specifications. Included is a one-year warranty on timekeeping and a 90-day warranty on parts.

The exterior of the watch is then fully refinished; removing all scratches and restoring the factory finish to the case and bracelet, making your watch look new again. You’ll be surprised at what a difference that makes!

History of the Omega Speedmaster

Anyone interested in history, space flight, or watch making will want to hear the story of the Omega Speedmaster. A little-known specialty watch in the 1950’s rose to fame as the watch of the astronauts. The Speedmaster sparked a top-secret development program with NASA. It is a symbol of the space race era that has endured and remains in use today. The watch has outlasted even the iconic Apollo rockets and space shuttles. This is a brief history of how it all began.

The Moon Watch

During the space program in the 1960’s, NASA sought a chronograph watch that could withstand space flight. It would have to be very accurate even when exposed to different extreme environments that don’t exist on Earth’s surface. NASA didn’t have its own development program for watches so it turned to the commercial sector to find a suitable piece.

The Omega Speedmaster seemed destined for fame. The first Speedmaster went into space on the arm of astronaut Wally Schirra in 1962. It was his personal model, and he wore it without any endorsement from NASA, as it was still several years before NASA had its own spaceflight certified watch. Between 1963 and 1964, NASA wanted to certify a watch for the Apollo missions and was open to many options. NASA directly reached out to several watch manufacturers to submit chronograph watches candidates for testing. Rolex, Hamilton, Lngines-Wittenauer and Omega submitted multiple models.

NASA Tests Omega, Rolex, & Hamilton Watches

Between October 1964 and March 1965 NASA subjected the candidate watches to these incredible tests:

  • High Temperature: 48 hours at 160°F followed by 30 minutes at 200°F
  • Low Temperature: 4 hours at 0°F
  • Temperature-Pressure: 15 cycles of heating to 160°F for 45 minutes, followed by cooling to 0°F for 45 minutes at 10-6 atmosphere
  • Relative Humidity: 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68°F and 160°F in a relative humidity of at least 95%
  • Oxygen Atmosphere: 48 hours in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 0.35 atmosphere
  • Shock: Six shocks of 40 G, each 11 milliseconds in duration, in six different directions.
  • Acceleration: From 1 G to 7.25 G within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis
  • Decompression: 90 minutes in a vacuum of 10-6 atmosphere at a temperature of 160°F and 30 minutes at 200°F
  • High Pressure: 1.6 atmosphere for a minimum period of one hour
  • Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes of vibration varying from 5 to 2000 Hz
  • Acoustic Noise: 130 DB over a frequency range of 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes

Omega Speedmaster's Moon Landing

In the end, only one watch passed the tests: Omega Speedmaster. With that, the Speedmaster became NASA’s official watch for space exploration. Each astronaut was equipped with one from that point on. Now here’s a curious piece of history: the Omega company in Switzerland was unaware that their watch had been selected! This was because NASA procured the watches from the Omega USA subsidiary, which did not inform Omega headquarters of the project.

Omega headquarters only found out by seeing a news photograph of the Speedmaster on the arm of astronaut Ed White, during America’s first space walk in June 1965 – almost a year after testing had begun! It was four years later that the Speedmaster cemented its fame. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin both wore an Omega Speedmaster as they walked on the moon. This was an unprecedented achievement for an off-the-shelf watch that had not at all been designed with space flight in mind. It remains part of the official gear issues to Nasa astronauts to this day, making it one of the longest continuous-use equipment items in the space program.

1967 Omega Speedmaster in stainless steel with a green Nato strap on museum display.

The Alaska Project

A few years after adopting the Speedmaster for space missions, NASA and Omega partnered to jointly develop a new version of the Speedmaster, designed from the ground up for space exploration. The project was undertaken in strict secrecy and code named The Alaska Project. The goal of the project was to make the perfect “space watch,” one resistant to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. Function dictated every design decision, leading to first-time innovations in watch making, as well as interesting aesthetic results. The Alaska Project Speedmaster result looked very different from the original. It was distinguished by the oversized, red, anodized, aluminum casing (removable).

The low thermal conductivity of aluminum protexted the watch against extreme temperature fluctuations, high and low, whilethe red color protected against some wavelengths of solar radiation. The watch case itself was made from titanium – a first-time innovation in watch making. The dial color was changed from black to white, because the white golod reflected the maximum amount of solar radiation awar from the watch. Omega produced five Alaska Project prototypes by 1969, but by that time, priorities were changing in the space program. NASA decided the original Speedmaster was fulfilling its role as mission watch sufficiently well, so no Alaska Project Speedmasters were ever ordered into production.

Omega Speedmaster's Unique History

No other watch on Earth has such a unique history, nor had any watch endured such rigorous, independent testing of quality as the Speedmaster. The irony of the Omega Speedmaster is the original, Earth-designed Speedmaster was adapted for the most important space exploration missions in history, and it still NASA’s official space flight watch, while the space-designed Speedmaster never left the ground.

Collector’s today can find many versions of the Omega Speedmaster, from modern models to the vintage “pre-moon” version of the 1950’s-1960’s, including a limited collector’s edition of the Alaska Project. Visit us today if you’re in search of an out-of-this-world luxury watch!

What Affects the Resale Value of Your Watch?

Watch Box of Luxury Watches

Highly collectible and stylish, mechanical watches are fine pieces of engineering, often made in small or limited editions. And buying one can be a good investment. Keep in mind, though, that the price of pre-owned watches fluctuates with fashion, trends, and market demand. If you’re interested in how to sell pre-owned watches, you should know that the resell price is almost always lower than the current retail price for a new watch.

Brand & Model

The finest luxury watches hold greater value than watches from non-luxury brands. The pre-owned watch market is dominated by Rolex and other fine brands such as Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Panerai. It’s the prestige as well as the high level of quality and workmanship that add value to a high-end timepiece.

Certain models are in more demand than others, regardless of the original retail price. And it’s sometimes the case that the more complications a pre-owned watch has, the better. A complication is any function that a watch has in addition to telling the time, such as date, moon phase, or 2nd time zone.

Age and materials used affect the price, as well. It doesn’t necessarily hold that the older your watch, the higher the value. Regular maintenance of any watch will help to preserve resale value as much as possible.

High-quality materials can add significantly to the value of a watch. Most fine Swiss and German watches are made of stainless steel, gold, platinum, titanium, or a combination of those metals.

Box & Papers

A high-end watch bought new always comes with a box and papers that confirm its authenticity. Anyone who collects watches should not throw the original packaging away because buyers appreciate having the original box and papers, although plenty of pre-owned watches are purchased without them.

If a watch is a true antique (over 100 years old), then the original papers and box in good condition could add significantly more value to the watch. In modern watches, the added value is much less but still there.

Serial Number

These numbers are one of the first things that an expert looks at when determining the price. Every timepiece has a unique serial number and it can reveal the age of the timepiece. There is also a reference or model number which applies to all watches of that specific model, while the serial number is exclusive to your watch only.

If you have the accompanying documentation of your watch, finding the numbers will be easy. If, however, you no longer have it, a professional can look for the serial number on the watch. Serial numbers can often be found on the side of the watch case underneath where the bracelet/strap attaches.

Condition

Not every watch is worn daily, and some owners are more careful than others. Nevertheless, a watch that is worn will get some tiny and maybe even a few deep scratches over time. The condition and working order of a watch can be a factor in resale value for the end user. Every buyer would like a luxurious timepiece that looks and works as new.

However, it is not necessary to restore a pre-owned watch in order to sell it to Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers. In fact, you may not recoup the money that you paid for the service, so it’s best to just sell your watch as-is. Our expert watchmaker will restore the watch before we offer it to a new owner. However, if you are not quite ready to sell, and want to restore your watch to its original condition, it’s imperative to take it to a professional watchmaker. This ensures that any worn parts will be replaced with genuine parts appropriate for the brand.

Beware that polishing a watch in the wrong way can devalue it. Only let a professional restoration and repair service restore the original factory finish on your watch. Otherwise, your watch might return from a restoration with a worse finish than when it started.

Service

A regular service and proper maintenance record is important proof that you have taken good care of your timepiece. This particularly matters if you’re looking to sell an older watch. If you’ve had it serviced by a trusted watchmaker every 3-5 years and have proper documentation to back this up, you may get a higher price.

Market Value

There is always a market for those who want to sell and buy pre-owned watches. There are collectors who just love the nostalgia of a vintage watch and its history, and collectible watches are highly appreciated among them. Therefore, if you’re selling a watch that is a rare or limited edition, you can expect to get a much higher price. However, the top brands will always be valued even if not particularly rare. Pre-owned watches from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Omega are consistently popular and have remained desirable for years.

Safety and Security

You may have had the notion to try and sell your watch on your own. There are some serious issues to consider before embarking on that journey. Trying to sell in an online marketplace leaves you competing with thousands of other sellers and paying sales fees out of your profit. But selling locally is fraught with danger.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of criminals out there today, just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting citizen who has an item of value for sale. There are horror stories of people responding to “for sale” ads turning out to be less than honest. A seller can face fake cashier’s checks, counterfeit money, and in worst case scenarios, actual robbery. Even meeting someone in a bank is no guarantee of your safety after you leave the bank. The only truly safe way to sell your valuable watch is to bring it to a reputable jewelry and watch store and let them sell it for you.

If you’re considering selling your pre-owned watch, bring it to one of our jewelry and watch buying locations, including our flagship buying office on San Diego Avenue. At Leo Hamel Jewelry & Gold Buyers, we’ve been buying and selling pre-owned watches for over 44 years and are able to offer you top dollar for your treasured timepiece. Our Swiss factory trained watchmaker and polite and experienced buying experts have the skills and knowledge to accurately price your watch. You can even trade in your watch for a new purchase.

We know that selling your valuables can be an emotional experience and we ensure that all our buying offices are safe, secure, and private. Find your nearest Leo Hamel Jewelry & Gold Buyers and visit us today! No appointment is necessary.

Watches with Historic Ties

The vintage look is having a moment in the watch world. Many luxury watch brands boast models that were inspired by retro and vintage styles. If you’d like to spruce up your watch collection, there are plenty of models to choose from.

Here are some outstanding examples of retro style timepieces, some of which may still be located. These watches come from powerhouse watch designers like Omega, Patek Philippe, Breitling, and Longines. But there are many more that are readily available from new brands and from pre-owned brands.

Omega Globemaster

The Omega Globemaster is the world’s first Master Chronometer which was certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. The watch set new standards of watchmaking, while boasting the design inspired by the past. Well known for beautiful “Pie Pan” dials, Omega embellishes their watch with this famous dial that echoes the 1952 Constellation.

The fluted bezel of the Globemaster is like the bezel of the Constellation model from 1968. The 39mm case with a brushed finish is available in stainless steel, two-town steel and gold combination, yellow gold, and in Sedna gold, an alloy that Omega introduced in 2013.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524

This impressive timepiece stands out among the traditional watches of the world’s possibly most conservative watch brand. Few Patek Philippe aficionados expected the unconventional 42mm-wide model. Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 takes on various design characteristics of pilot watches of the past 100 years, traced back to the 1920s and 1930s.

Rather than being based on any specific pilot watch, the aesthetic is vintage-inspired and adjusted to the brand’s unique style. The design of the hands, dial and numerals have the look of the pilot watches of the early 20th century. The navy-blue dial is inspired by the body paint of the U.S. fighter aircraft. The brown leather strap with the contrast topstitching evokes the leather belts worn by pilots in the 1930s.

Oris Divers 65

With several subtle modifications, the Oris Divers 65 pays homage to the brand’s timepiece released in 1965. Half a century later, Oris gives it a makeover, achieving a classic and attractive design. While the Oris Divers 65 has a larger 40-mm case made of stainless steel, the case is only 12.8mm thick. Though the narrow PVD bezel makes it appear larger than it is, the slim profile of the case contributes to the overall simple design.

The case back is engraved with the same Oris emblem found on the 1965 watch. On the other hand, the Oris Divers 65 has a unidirectional bezel. This is safer for diving than the bidirectional rotating bezel of the 1965 model. The dial of the Oris Divers 65 is what makes this timepiece unique and funky without looking overly designed. Oris made some visible changes like moving the date window from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock on the dial. They also put it on a black wheel instead of the original white.

Today’s dive watches have varying degrees of water-resistance from none to 30 meters, to 300 meters or more. With a water resistance of 100 meters, the Oris Divers 65 honors the heritage of its predecessor.

Breitling Transocean Chronograph 1915

To celebrate a hundred years from creating the first independent chronograph push piece, Breitling introduced the Transocean Chronograph 1915 in a limited edition of 1,915 pieces. In the early 20th century, chronographs were monopushers, meaning that the controls for starting, stopping, and returning the timer to zero were all placed in the crown. Then the timepiece with a major design innovation was created. The separate pusher placed on the side of the case at 2 o’clock would soon become standard.

Though Transocean waters are usually automatic, the Transocean Chronograph 1915 has a hand-wound movement which runs 33 jewels and has a 70-hour power reserve. The vintage-inspired dial, numerals, and the hands give the watch an antique and refined look. There’s also an engraving “100e anniversaire 1915-2015” displayed on the back of a 43mm stainless steel case.

Longines Pulsometer Chronograph

The brand found its inspiration in the 1920s Longines watch used by medical personnel to calculate a patient’s heart rate. The Longines Pulsometer Chronograph 2015 is indeed an incredible vintage revival. It is a functional tool that is smart and simple, with retro elements like the Breguet-style hour and minute hands.

The eye-catching white dial is surrounded by a red pulsometer scale, the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock markers have been removed and the sapphire crystal has the anti-reflective coating, so the watch is legible and easy to use. The self-winding movement is contained in a 40mm steel case with a column-wheel monopusher chronograph mechanism and holds a 54-hour power reserve.

Grand Seiko Historical Collection 62GS

Released in 1960, the Grand Seiko has become an iconic watch known for its accuracy and precision. All the timepieces of the Seiko Historical Collection honor the heritage of this Japanese brand. To mark the 55th anniversary of Grand Seiko, the brand introduced a series inspired by the very first Grand Seiko watch with automatic movement.

There are eight models in the collection, and all are limited editions. Four are faithful remakes, while the other four are modern reinterpretations featuring the Grand Seiko’s most advanced movements. The traditional-looking models look like the original but are a bit larger in size. They are available in stainless steel, white gold, and rose gold.

The 62GS released in 1967 had the crown positioned at 4 o’clock, emphasizing the fact that hand winding was no longer required. Though not all models of the Grand Seiko collection for 2015 have the off-centered crown, they do share some design elements with the original 62GS.

Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers is the largest full-service jewelry and watch store in San Diego. Visit our deluxe showroom on San Diego Avenue and browse through the always-changing selection of luxury pre-owned watches, as well as new watches from Hamilton and Tissot.

Whether you’re looking for a new watch or a pre-owned watch in mint condition, our helpful and knowledgeable staff will help you find your ideal match. And our guarantee and warranty keeps you covered. If there’s a particular pre-owned timepiece you admire and we don’t have it on hand, we’ll do our best to find it for you from our global network! With Leo Hamel’s, time is on your side!

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