As we continue to move up the pricing ladder, we’re now hitting upper-tier sections of the watchmaking world and expect to pay more than $1,000 to have a quality piece on your wrist.
The factory standards just went up exponentially, fit and finish are close to perfection, and now there’s an even stronger aura of sophistication and elegance involved.
Even bystanders would be familiar with these brands as they symbolize luxury and upper-class riches, with a lifestyle of rich and famous that would make any person green with envy.
If you can afford any of the watches we recommend, you’re in a great spot in life. Kudos to you.
There are many brands to choose from but Gracious Watch carefully selected certain brands based on prestige, market offerings, resonance, and quality. One will definitely make you wonder and be opinionated about. That’s what we always aim for at Gracious Watch so if you have a comment, feel free to leave us a note and we’d love to chat. On with the show!
Omega is a great luxury brand that is another pillar of The Swatch Group foundation.
An integral part of TSG, Omega has great brand cache, capturing the hearts of many watch enthusiasts everywhere. Being worn by dignitaries and famous spies, Omega has been adorned by heavyweights such as former President John F. Kennedy, Prince William, and James Bond.
Meanwhile, Omega has been at the forefront of watchmaking technology, introducing a mass-produced version of the coaxial escapement, creating a watch movement that reduces friction between components and with little lubrication, providing users with longer service intervals and consistency over time.
This was a tough choice, but we had to pick the Speedmaster for this one. I mean, it was the watch that went to the Moon! There are various models to choose from but the original Speedmaster that’s available in the modern market today is the Speedmaster 42mm 322.214.171.124.01.006 with the 1863 Calibre movement.
A legend on its own, the Speedmaster is a must-have for any watch aficionado. There are various vintage pieces available but those cost an arm and a leg, that comes with the complexity of maintaining a vintage piece. Just get the 42mm. Featuring a manual-wind chronograph with a 48-hour power reserve, it’s more than enough to satisfy your needs around the world and beyond.
This one is a no-brainer. Rolex is the luxury watch brand that everyone and your dog will recognize. World-renowned as the Swiss watchmaker that everyone looks to beat, Rolex continues to elevate the bar to greater lengths and set a high standard of what traits quality watches should possess.
Rolex also has a great history as being utilized as a tool, which is what wristwatches were before the advent of the smartphone. Wristwatches needed to be dependable and durable pieces so extensive stress testing went into Rolex watches to perform the way they do today.
Nowadays Rolex watches are mere status symbols, but the quality and expectations are still higher than ever so you’ll get nothing but the best from them.
With many iconic pieces from Rolex, the crew at Gracious Watch had issues on which one to pick. Eventually, we landed on the Rolex Explorer. Created after a historic climb to Mt. Everest, the Rolex Explorer became known as the watch for adventurous people with a sense of curiosity and a desire to be better than status quo. The Explorer has survived extensive stress testing and fought through prolonged exposure to the cold, harsh winds, and constant shock of climbing up the tallest mountain above sea level in the world. If it can survive what mother nature has to offer, it’s more than suitable for your daily life.
Dubbed the ‘International Watch Company’, IWC is a haute Horlogerie brand that rubs elbows with the elite brands of the watchmaking industry.
With such emphasis on traditionalism and heritage, IWC is hard at work keeping their prestige intact, being known as one of the world’s fine watchmakers.
It is part of the Richemont conglomerate, which has luxury heavyweights in their portfolio. It’s basically a whos-who of fine watches:
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Baume & Mercier
- Officine Panerai
- Roger Dubuis
- Vacheron Constantin
Our pick for IWC would be the Portuguese. The quintessential example of fine watchmaking, the Portuguese is one of the classiest IWC watches available today.
At 40mm, the self-winding chronograph has a muted silhouette, with a white dial, a steel case, and contrasting blue hands. With contrasting markers to offset the balance of a reserved style, the two sub-dials are blend in to keep the refinement at a high. It’s a great classic design that is recognizable throughout horology and we absolutely adore it.
Rivalled by a handful of upper-tier watchmakers, Audemars Piguet remains an independent watchmaker that can only be attained by certain people. With a steep price tag and instant exclusivity, AP watches are known to be creators of very complicated movements in wristwatch market and are known to provide excellent pieces to whoever can afford them.
With a desire to be different, the company created one of their hallmark pieces and with an iconic octagonal bezel in their lineup, the Royal Oak became their halo watch, instantly identifiable as an Audemars Piguet.
Built with an homage to nautical diving, the Royal Oak was concocted in the 1970’s to deter the emerging Japanese market creating the ‘quartz crisis.’ With an octagonal case with six exposed screws, the Royal Oak created controversy and heated discussions over their selection of an all-steel case construction when the luxury segment was focused on gold and platinum.
The differentiation worked as not only it created buzz for the company, but the strength gave the Royal Oak the water resistance of 50m depth. Named after British warships, the Royal Oak was determined to go head-on and defeat adversity along the way. With that legendary status accompanying the watch, it cemented itself as one of the great watchmaking firms in the world.
As you move up the scale in luxury watch markets, more complicated movements appear and a testament to human ingenuity. There have been a few manufacturers willing to push the boundaries of extensive research and development are required to successfully achieve a dependable product with the strictest quality held intact. Few watchmaking firms also focus on traditional, very complex movements like the tourbillon.
In fact, Patek Philippe holds the status as creating the most complicated pocket watch as the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 has “33 complications, using a total of 1728 parts. It was released in 1989 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the company. The complications include the date of Easter, sidereal time, and a 2800-star celestial chart”. 33 features is a lot to put in a pocket watch and to make sure that all of them work in unison was impressive.
One great watch complication we took an eye on is Sky Moon Tourbillon 6002G. Featuring 13 complications and two dials, enclosed in an engraved and elegant steel case, it has a tourbillon movement, which is a complicated movement on its own compared to automatic movements with just a flywheel. We personally love the tourbillon movement which is the entire movement within a rotating cage, sort of like a gyroscope.
The movement is an engineering marvel and deserves the praise it gets as it’s very complex and hard to manufacture on a large scale, the complications are just icing on the cake, which include:
- Minute repeater with two cathedral gongs and a tourbillon
- Standard time and a perpetual calendar with a date and a moon phase display on the front
- Astronomical functions in the back dial with the northern sky, sidereal time, and the angular progression and phases of the moon displayed
If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.