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The Best Watch Brands From Around The World
— Updated on 5 July 2023

The Best Watch Brands From Around The World

— Updated on 5 July 2023
Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon

What are the best watch brands in the world? It’s a great question, but a very difficult one to answer, as we’re about to explain. There are thousands of different watch brands in existence, many of which are fantastic at what they do. But no one brand is perfect in every aspect that you might want from a watch.

Take, for example, Patek Philippe. It is a brand that should definitely be considered one of the best watch brands in the world, with a rich history, superb quality and one that typically holds its value very well. But what if you don’t have $40,000 to spend on the entry-level Patek Philippe watch? They certainly aren’t the best brand if you’ve got a modest budget.

Then consider a brand like Seiko. Sure, they don’t have the same level of handmade craftsmanship or traditional Swiss watchmaking history, but they do make a bulletproof mechanical watch for only a few hundred dollars. Depending on your budget, Seiko is definitely one of the best watch brands out there.

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What if we take money off the table and you’re only looking for a watch that uses materials that have been sourced ethically? In that case, Chopard is one of the best watch brands in the world when it comes to using traceable gemstones and precious metals. Maybe the only thing you want in a watch is perfect accuracy. Citizen produces a collection of quartz watches that are yet to be beaten when it comes to keeping near-perfect time. 

Rather than meaninglessly comparing different watch brands against arbitrary criteria that define “best”, we’ll be doing something better. This is a list of some of the more well-known watch manufacturers (as well as a couple that you might not have come across), which highlights what each watch brand excels at.

So no matter what you’re looking for in a watch, we’ll tell you who does it best and why. Be it iconic design, a history of important watchmaking innovations or authentic ties to the world’s armed forces, there’s a brand and a watch for you. Let’s get into it – alphabetically listed, of course.

Table of contents

A. Lange & Söhne – Best for: German Fine Watchmaking

A. Lange & Söhne is a watchmaker with a history that dates all the way back to 1845. Unfortunately, after the end of WWII, the watch brand was nationalised by the Soviet Union until it was relaunched in 1990. Today, it is coveted by collectors as one of the best luxury watch brands in the world, with signature parts of the movement hand-engraved and almost all of their watches produced in precious metals. With famous collections such as the Lange 1, Zeitwerk, 1815, and Odysseus, the entry point to the brand is the Saxonia collection (left), which begins at $30,900.

Best Watch Brands

A more complicated and expensive alternative – which remains extremely true to what A. Lange & Söhne is known for – the Zeitwerk Date (right) offers a digital time display in a mechanical watch and costs around $140,000. If you’re looking for a watch that completely embodies the most traditional elements of watchmaking, which to some eyes may look overly conservative, then A. Lange & Söhne could be for you.

Audemars Piguet – Best for: Iconic Design

There are only a few watch luxury watch brands that can claim to have an icon in their collection, yet none celebrate their icon quite like Audemars Piguet celebrates their Royal Oak. Founded by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, the Swiss watch brand has a history that dates back to 1875. First imagined by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was one of the first luxury sports watches ever produced in steel, cementing Audemars Piguet as a true luxury watch brand. The immediately recognisable octagonal bezel with 8 exposed screws has inspired countless spinoffs from other watch brands looking to capitalise on the strength of the Audemars Piguet design. The unisex entry point for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 37mm in steel (left) is CHF21,500, offering a very well-made automatic movement and with a blue Grande Tapisserie dial.

Audemars Piguet

A more contemporary imagining of the original 1972 DNA is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT (right), which is much larger and sporty in a 44mm titanium case. Arriving on a rubber strap, the watch boasts a tourbillon movement and is able to track a second timezone, setting you back CHF175,000. Audemars Piguet, and specifically their Royal Oak, is for someone who wants a watch that equally offers an iconic look and expert craftsmanship.

Bell & Ross – Best for: Square Watches

In the grand scheme of things, Bell & Ross is a very young watch company. Founded in 1992, the watch brand has quickly made a name for itself by creating technical pilot watches that look like they’ve been literally ripped out of a control panel. The square cases feature a quartet of exposed screws at each corner, framing the circular dial within. The entry-level into Bell & Ross is the BR 03-92 Black Steel (left), which boasts a 42mm square case, automatic movement and costs $4,600. 

Bell & Ross

If you’re keen to see what Bell & Ross can do when they really flex their muscles, the BR-X1 Skeleton Tourbillon Sapphire (right) is a strong example, with a fully transparent sapphire crystal case, it’ll set you back $650,000. If you’re looking for a watch that isn’t constrained by its own history, and is willing to use different shapes from most luxury watch brands, Bell & Ross is worthy of consideration. 

Blancpain – Best for: Dive Watch History

As everyone who owns a Rolex Submariner will tell you, the Submariner is basically the blueprint for most modern dive watches today. But what the Rolex fans won’t tell you is that the Submariner was likely inspired by the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, released the same year as the Submariner in 1953. Blancpain is an extremely accomplished luxury watch brand, founded nearly three hundred years ago in 1735, and as a very fine traditional Swiss watch brand, remains one of the best. The entry point to the watch brand is probably the Blancpain Villeret Ultraplate Ref. 6651, which is a 40mm steel dress watch that will set you back $13,600. 


More emblematic of what Blancpain is remembered for today, however, is the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique Ref. 5015, which on a steel bracelet with a black dial costs $23,800. If you’re a fan of dive watches, or the history of Swiss watchmaking, Blancpain is one of the watch brands that need to be on your radar. 

Breguet – Best for: Complicated Watchmaking History

Abraham-Louis Breguet is without a doubt one of the most important names in the history of watchmaking. He established his eponymous manufacturer in 1775, which was based in the heart of Paris near Cathédrale Notre-Dame. During his lifetime, Breguet invented the first automatic-winding mechanism, the tourbillon and even the first-ever wristwatch in 1810, when pocket watches were incredibly popular. Today if you’re looking to get into Breguet, the perfect starting point would be the Breguet Classique Ref. 5930. It’s a classic-looking yellow-gold wristwatch with a hand-engraved dial that measures a modest 35.5mm and has an RRP of $24,400. 


If you’re after something more true to the complicated watchmaking the brand is known for, the Breguet Tourbillon Extra-Plat Ref. 5377 is a very fine watch. The 41mm rose gold case is wafer-thin at just 7mm, contains a tourbillon visible through the dial, and costs $217,800. Breguet is thought of as the Grandfather of Modern Watchmaking, so if you’re a true traditionalist, Breguet is for you. 

Breitling – Best for: Pilot’s Chronographs

Breitling is a brand whose history centres around aviation, with many technical innovations developed over the decades specifically for pilots. The manufacturer was founded by Léon Breitling in 1884, however, it wasn’t till the beginning of the 1940s that Breitling began to be praised for their pilots’ chronographs. Both the Navitimer and Chronomat collections are a critical part of this history in the air, and remain popular collections today. The entry point to owning a Breitling from the Navitimer collection is Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41, which will set you back $6,290. 


For something a little more traditionally Breitling, the Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 is an attractive red-gold wristwatch that gets all the details right and costs $26,000. Whether you’re a pilot or simply love flying, Breitling is one of the luxury watch brands that has dominated the skies for generations. 

Bremont – Best for: Military Watches

Bremont is another relatively young watch company, established in 2002 and has its base in Henley-on-Thames, England. Last year was an important one for the brand, opening a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility which is likely to become a hub for British watchmaking in the coming years. While they have close links with the worlds of motorsports and aviation, the real point of difference that Bremont has is their close ties to various armed forces of the world, for who they produce customised watches. An attractive entry point into the world of Bremont is the AIRCO Mach 1 Black, which features Bremont’s technical 40mm three-piece “Trip-Tick” case, an automatic movement and costs $5,000. 


To add something to the collection that is a real classic from the brand, the Bremont MBII-BK Jet is built to withstand an ejection from a fighter jet and will set you back $6,800. While the Bremont military watches are only available to those who actually serve, it’s a very cool link that should offer confidence in owning a Bremont about its reliability and durability. 

Bulgari – Best for: Contemporary Design

If you keep half an eye on the watch industry, you’ll know that there are a lot of luxury watch brands that sell steel sports watches on bracelets. Despite the untold millions of dollars poured into their design, they all seem to end up looking rather similar, apart from the Bulgari Octo Finissimo. Designed by the Italian national Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, it’s one of the most refreshingly modern designs in the watch industry right now. The contrast of the endless edges and hard angles against the remarkable lightweight titanium the watch was first produced in is a study in lightweight luxury. The entry point into this now quintessential Bulgari collection is the Octo Finissimo in steel which costs $19,100.


For something a little more complex, but equally impressive both in terms of its design and technical sophistication, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar that was released earlier this year is $88,500. So if really great design is something you’re passionate about, Bulgari is a luxury watch brand that needs to be on your radar. 

Bulova – Best for: Funky Heritage Reissues

For much of the 20th century, Bulova was one of the titans of the American watchmaking industry. Founded in 1875 by Joseph Bulova, the brand was born in a single storefront in New York and went on to create some of the wildest and most creative timepieces of the era. As a result of this very extensive design archive, Bulova has recently been dipping its toe in the past, releasing a number of cool heritage reissues. A good entry into the American brand is the Bulova ​​96B251 Special Edition Lunar Pilot Chronograph Watch, which famously went into space in 1971 and costs $999. 


Another option, if you’re a child of the 70s or have a penchant for nostalgia, is the Bulova Computron, which offers the time in LEDs and costs US$395 (~AUD$540). Fun and affordable, Bulova has carved out a strong niche for itself. 

Cartier – Best for: Watch Design Breadth

Cartier was born in 1845 when Louis-François Cartier opened a jewellery workshop in the heart of Paris. The brand quickly became the favourite jeweller of several royal families around Europe, producing incredible pieces of wearable art. Driven by the phrase, “never copy, always create” the maison would make the first men’s wristwatch for the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. The iconic rectangular Cartier Tank is a must-have in any collection, and paved the way for many other shaped watch designs including the Asymétrique, Cloche, Crash and many more. The freshly updated Cartier Tank Must is an excellent entry point into the luxury watch brand, powered by a solar quartz movement and costs $4,250. 


An equally balanced design that showcases Cartier’s effortless creativity is the Tank Asymétrique in rose gold, with a mechanical movement and sunburst dial that costs $41,600. If you’re an aesthete who cares about the history of thoughtful design, Cartier is a no-brainer to have on your wrist. 

Casio – Best for: Digital Watches

In the aftermath of World War II, a Japanese watchmaker named Casio was founded. While they made a range of different products over the decades including calculators and other electronics, Casio hit the watch market with the G-Shock in 1983 and its impact continues to be immense. On its 35th birthday in 2017, more than 100 million G-Shock units had been sold throughout the world, making it one of the most popular timepieces ever. The classic modern Casio G-Shock is the GWB5600BC-1B, which is basically bulletproof in its construction, has more functions than I have space to list and only costs $429. 


If you’re looking for something a little more out there, the Casio G-Shock GMWB5000RD-4D is made entirely of deep burgundy-coloured steel and costs $1,199. If you need a watch that can survive pretty much anything and has more functions than you’re ever likely to use, you need a Casio G-Shock. 

Chopard – Best for: Ethically Sourced Materials

Founded in 1860, Chopard has a long history as a watchmaker and jeweller. Unlike almost all large luxury watch brands today, Chopard remains privately owned by the Scheufele family, which allows it much more flexibility to pursue the areas that matter most to the family. One of the areas that the family is particularly passionate about is the sourcing of ethically mined stones and precious metals for their watches and jewellery. One strong entry point into the brand is the Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Automatic, which employs a number of Mille Miglia car race motifs and costs $8,460.


A more contemporary expression of where Chopard is at today is the Alpine Eagle, which is the brand’s expression of a steel sports watch and has an RRP of $18,200. If knowing your luxury watches have been produced using only the best ethically sourced materials, Chopard should be front of mind.

Citizen – Best for: Accurate Watches

Citizen is a very well-known watch brand globally, that predominantly makes affordable quartz watches. Last year the watch brand took an important step in its mechanical watchmaking department with the launch of the Citizen Caliber 0200, however, its progress with quartz technology is its most significant achievement. After teasing the watch world with the release of a prototype pocket watch in 2018, Citizen launched the Caliber 0100 Eco-Drive in 2019 to praise from around the world. Why would the release of a $10,000 quartz watch be celebrated so much? Because it was accurate to ±1 second per year. You read that right, 1 second, every 365 days, making it the most accurate production watch ever created. A good entry point to the brand could be the Citizen Super Titanium Armor collection, which starts at around $750 for a bulletproof wristwatch. 


If you’re looking for the very best that the brand can offer, the Citizen Caliber 0100 Eco-Drive in white gold will set you back approximately $22,800 and is limited to just 100 pieces. So if you only think cheap and cheerful when you see the Citizen name on a watch dial, think again, because they really know what they’re doing. 

F. P. Journe – Best for: Modern Independent Watchmaking

The lore surrounding François-Paul Journe has only grown over the decades, just like the prices of the watches that have left his workshop. As a young man, Journe was fascinated by the work of Breguet and George Daniels, which led him to begin his own watch company in 1999. In the two-and-a-bit decades since we saw the first wristwatch with the name Journe on the dial, he has built an impressive workshop with the capacity to create the remarkably complicated timepieces he is so well known for, including the Classique, Linesport and Limited Series collections. An excellent introduction to the world of F. P. Journe watches is the Élégante, the price of which begins at CHF 10,600 (~AUD$15,700).


If you’re looking to see what the workshop can really produce, however, the F.P. Journe Automatique Limited Edition is an excellent option that costs CHF56,000 (~AUD$83,200). It is worth noting that thanks to the incredible demand for Journe’s watches, it can be quite difficult to find his watches without joining a waiting list. As one of the world’s finest living watchmakers, however, the wait is sure to be worth it. 

Grand Seiko – Best for: Fine Japanese Watchmaking Value

For those unfamiliar with luxury watch brands, the relationship between Seiko and Grand Seiko can be a little confusing. Grand Seiko was established in 1960 as the arm of the business responsible for producing the finest watches possible, specifically to compete with the watchmakers of Europe. To this day, Grand Seiko is responsible for some of the best watches made in Japan, and when you compare prices to their competitors, also offers some of the best value in the game. A strong entry point to the world of Grand Seiko, you could look at the SBGP009 which features the brand’s famous 9F quartz movement and costs $3,895.

Grand Seiko

If you’re looking for a classic piece from the Japanese watchmaker, the Grand Seiko SBGA211 is as good as they come, nicknamed the Snowflake for its artfully crafted dial. It features Grand Seiko’s proprietary Spring Drive movement and costs $8,950. If what you want in a watch is something robustly made, with an elegant design and represents great all-around value, then Grand Seiko needs to be on your list. 

Greubel Forsey – Best for: Independent Complicated Watchmaking

Founded by two friends, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, in 2004, Greubel Forsey has made a serious impact on the watch industry in the short time they have been around. In its pursuit of the best possible timekeeping, the brand is famous for its unusual and very complicated watches such as its Quadruple Tourbillon. A true manufacturer of luxury watches. Unlike many luxury watch brands, Greubel Forsey is also known for the traditional watchmaking methods they use, which resulted in the Hand Made 1. It took more than 6000 hours to produce the 95% hand-made components. Greubel Forsey only makes around 100 watches per year, so any entry point to the brand will be a very rare piece. The Greubel Forsey Balancier S is a sporty place to start, featuring a rather unique movement and a comfortable rubber strap, which will set you back CHF195,000 (~AUD$290,000). 

Greubel Forsey

Something that is a little more typical of what Greubel Forsey is capable of is the Quadruple Tourbillon GMT, which has two completely independent dials and a three-dimensional globe to show the time anywhere in the world. This level of complication isn’t cheap, costing CHF760,000 (~AUD$1,128,000). Greubel Forsey is an elite watchmaker, no matter how you look at them. 

H.Moser & Cie – Best for: Coloured Dials

Moser watches have a history that dates all the way back to their founding in St. Petersburg in 1828. But while they have a laundry list of achievements in the world of watchmaking, their main point of difference is the incredible colours on their dials. Across the H.Moser & Cie Streamliner, Endeavour, Pioneer and Heritage collections, there are some of the richest and most vibrantly coloured dials you’re ever likely to see. And if you hate colourful dials, they’ve got you covered with the Ventura Vantablack, which has a dial made from the darkest substance known to man. A perfect place to start is the H.Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds, featuring an enchanting blue lagoon fumé dial, costing you $23,800. 

H.Moser & Cie

For a more complicated piece that doesn’t lose its stunning dial, the Endeavour Tourbillon in red gold with an Ox’s Eye stone dial is a sensational option, setting you back CHF69,000 (~AUD$103,000). It’s unlikely that H.Moser & Cie will be your first watch, but if you’re looking for a dial literally unlike any other, it’s a watchmaker you need to know about. 

Habring² – Best for: Affordable Independent Watchmaking

If knowing who made the watch on your wrist matters to you, Habring² should be on your radar. In the world of independent watchmakers, affordable is a very relative term, likely starting at four or five figures. But when you consider that Habring² is able to charge similar amounts for the 200 watches they make per year as brands that make literally thousands of times more, the value proposition is impressive. Since 2004, the Austrian husband and wife duo have built an impressive legion of followers, thanks to their transparent manufacturing and quality timepieces. The entry into Habring² is the Felix which is elegant and features a movement developed and manufactured completely in-house, all for $7,680. 


If you want to see what the brand can do when they really flex their technical muscles, the Habring² Perpetual Doppel, which is an in-house perpetual calendar for just $35,000. If celebrating small-industry artistry matters to you, make sure you check out Habring². 

Hamilton – Best for: Affordable Vintage Reissues

While Switzerland and Japan are well known for their watchmaking expertise, America also has a rich tradition of manufacturing quality timepieces. Hamilton is one such brand, being established in 1892 in Pennsylvania. Their American factories closed in the late ‘60s, before being re-established in Switzerland, giving the brand a deep archive of watches to draw from in their current series of attractive and affordable vintage reissues. A great everyday option from Hamilton is the Khaki Field Mechanical on a steel bracelet, which will set you back $769. 


If you’re looking for something a little fancier, the Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph is a real looker, costing $2,740. Hamilton is a strong choice if you’re looking for a brand with a great history, and can still make quality watches without breaking the bank. 

Hermès – Best for: Up And Coming Luxury Watch Brand

The watchmaking department of Hermès has been very busy over the last few years. Just as Bulgari broke the mould nearly a decade ago by seriously developing its watchmaking arm, Hermès is also becoming a luxury watch brand powerhouse. It began with the Slim d’Hermès back in 2016, a thoroughly designed dress watch that even had its own unique font, continued with the uniquely shaped Galop d’Hermes in 2019 and culminated with the sporty new Hermès H08 collection showcasing their immense versatility. If you were keen on adding an Hermès H08 to your collection, the cushion-cased titanium timepiece will set you back $8,730. 


Perhaps you’d rather have something that shows off everything that Hermès can do? In that case, look at the double-moonphase Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune, which features a 43mm gold case, stone dial and costs CHF26,000 (~AUD$38,500). They’ve certainly got some momentum, so keep an eye on Hermès to keep doing good work. 

Hublot – Best for: Material Innovation

Hublot is another one of the relatively young luxury watch brands, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. From the very first timepiece the luxury watch brand launched back in 1980 (which was the first-ever gold timepiece on a rubber strap), Hublot has been playing with materials. In the decades since, Hublot has relentlessly pushed what materials could be used in watchmaking, making several proprietary innovations such as Magic Gold (a blend of gold and ceramic). A strong entry into the Hublot brand is the Classic Fusion Titanium Blue 42mm, which has the classic Hublot rubber strap and costs $10,200. 


To see Hublot at its most creative and innovative, the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire has a case made entirely out of a single block of orange-tinted sapphire crystal, contains a tourbillon movement and will set you back $235,000. When materials matter, Hublot should be front of mind. 

Kurono Tokyo – Best for: Up & Coming Independent Watchmaking

Hajime Asaoka is a self-taught watchmaker who was making some of the finest independently made watches in Japan, before he realised a problem – his watches were too expensive. To fix the issue, he launched a second brand called Kurono Tokyo in 2019, selling limited edition watches that cost around the four-figure mark. Since then, he has released five watches, all of which sold out almost immediately and have earned Kurono Tokyo the reputation as one of the hottest up-and-coming luxury watch brands in the world. A good entry point into Kurono Tokyo watches is the Toki, which features an attractive copper-tone dial and costs JPY189,900 (~AUD$2,350).

Kurono Tokyo

If you’re looking for something a little more extravagant, the Kurono Tokyo Chronograph 2 features a modest 38mm case, and a balanced black dial that will set you back JPY189,900 (~AUD$5,170). As pretty much every Kurono Tokyo release sells out immediately, you’d best keep a close eye on their site if you want to get one on your wrist. 

MB&F – Best for: Creative Independent Watchmaking

Maximilian Büsser is the brains behind MB&F (which stands for Maximilian Büsser and Friends), starting the brand as a creative outlet. His favourite quote is, “the creative adult is the child who survived,” and that philosophy is more than apparent in his weird and wonderful collections of Horological Machines, Legacy Machines and Performance Art. While you’ll have to spend some time familiarising yourself with how to even tell the time on MB&F watches, they are refreshingly different from any other watch you’re likely to have ever seen. Unlike most luxury watch brands, MB&F offers no simple “starting point”, however, the MB&F LM101 tells the time in a relatively straightforward way, despite the massive balance wheel at the centre of the dial. It costs CHF64,000 (~AUD$95,000). 


If you want something completely avant-garde, the MB&F HM9 Sapphire Version features a sapphire crystal case with a red-gold frame and will set you back CHF420,000 (~AUD$623,000). For the true connoisseur, who already has every watch they’ve ever desired. 

IWC Schaffhausen – Best for: Pilot Watches

Despite being based on the Swiss-German border, IWC Schaffhausen was actually founded by an American all the way back in 1868. The brand built a strong reputation as a manufacturer of pocket watches, before IWC Schaffhausen began producing watches for both Allied and Axis powers during WWII. It is this legacy of making purpose-built tool watches for pilots that keep them as the brand to own if you’re a pilot. A strong place to start is the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, with a modest 36mm steel case and costing $6,800 on a leather strap. 

IWC Schaffhausen

If bigger is better in your eyes, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 was released in 2021 as a more wearable version of an iconic design. On a steel bracelet, it’ll set you back $14,000. From the oversized Big Pilot to the balanced symmetry of the Mark XVIII, the simple legibility of IWC Schaffhausen pilot’s watches make them attractive to folks to spend as much time in business class as they do in the cockpit. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre – Best for: High-End Movements

Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most storied watchmakers in history, with almost unparalleled technical know-how that has earned them the reputation as, “the watchmaker’s watchmaker”. Founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has made more than 1200 different watch movements, producing movements for many of the biggest watchmakers in the world. The best entry point to Jaeger-LeCoultre is the Reverso Classic, which is not only an iconic art deco design, but also features a reversible case that is unique to the brand. The Reverso Classic costs $8,650. 


If you want a watch that is equally classic, but flexes a little more in the complications department, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar in pink gold is a stunner, setting you back $56,000. If you love the technical side of watchmaking, Jaeger-LeCoultre will have you drooling in no time. 

Laurent Ferrier – Best for: Independent Watch Design

If you’re in the market for an independently made watch, much of what you’ll come across will be an acquired taste. The off-centre dials of F. P. Journe won’t be to everyone’s liking, just as MB&F might be a little too creative, but it’s hard to argue that Laurent Ferrier designs don’t have an almost universal appeal to them. Blending the decades of watchmaking experience he has (37 years of which he spent with Patek Philippe) with a refined aesthetic classicism, Laurent Ferrier watches are an undeniable expression of good taste. A strong starting point with Laurent Ferrier is the new Classic Origin Opaline, cased in 40.5mm of grade 5 titanium and costing CHF 28,500 (~AUD$42,000). 

Laurent Ferrier

Alternatively, an equally elegant but significantly more technically impressive is the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece, the first chiming piece from the brand which has an RRP of CHF290,000 (~AUD$428,000). If you’re a fan of the classics, you’ll be a fan of Laurent Ferrier. 

Longines – Best for: Great Value Swiss Watchmaking

Longines was founded in what would become the heart of Swiss watchmaking, all the way back in 1832. Today, they represent arguably the best value in big-box watchmaking out of Switzerland, with attainably priced timepieces that are also very well made. With popular watches from Longines coming from the HydroConquest, Heritage and Master Collections, there is something for everyone without needing a house deposit to get one on your wrist. For a watch that you could wear every day, no matter if you wear a suit or shorts, the Longines Master Collection 40mm is a timeless piece that costs $3,150. 


If you’re after something more sporty in a cutting-edge material, the Longines HydroConquest in black ceramic is a murdered-out flex that will set you back $6,000. A watch from Longines should be on your radar if you’re looking for more quality at a reasonable price point. 

NOMOS – Best for: Affordable Vertically Integrated Manufacturing

Despite only being established in 1990, NOMOS has already made a name for itself as one of the most affordable vertically integrated German watchmakers. It is unlike most luxury watch brands in that way, which typically rely on outside suppliers. Since 2005, NOMOS has only used its own in-house movements, which has expanded from more simple hand-wound calibres to more complex offerings. NOMOS designs are heavily influenced by the German school of design known as Bauhaus, which prioritises minimalist and geometric shapes. A good place to start with NOMOS is the Tangente collection, which begins at $2,610 for a cleanly designed piece in steel.


The Lambda collection from NOMOS is the most exclusive from the brand, featuring a 39mm rose gold case with blued steel hands for $22,640. If you’re a fan of the German Bauhaus movement, NOMOS is one to check out. 

OMEGA – Best for: Movements At Industrial Scale

OMEGA is another Swiss watchmaking giant, founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt. Its watches are famous around the world for their reliability and accuracy, even chosen by NASA in the 1960s as the watches that would be worn by its astronauts. In its current collection, OMEGA uses what is called a co-axial movement for its mechanical watches, a calibre that is famed for being accurate, shock resistant and able to go many years without needing a service. A perfect entry point into OMEGA watches today is the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m collection, which features the co-axial movement, and on a stainless steel bracelet will cost $8,750.


If you’re after something that is classic OMEGA, you can’t look past the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, which is the same model that NASA used and costs $11,075. If you just want one watch that will last a lifetime without needing regular maintenance, you could do much worse than an OMEGA. 

Patek Philippe – Best for: Watchmaking Tradition

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you’re looking for affordability, Patek Philippe isn’t where you should start. On the other hand, if you’re looking for incredible history, sophisticated technical know-how and want a watch that will hold its value, then Patek Philippe is a perfect choice. Out of the fifteen most expensive watches ever sold, nine of them are Patek Philippe, demonstrating their incredible enduring value since its founding in 1839. To enter the world of Patek Philippe, the Calatrava collection is where you should be looking. The reference 6119R which was launched in 2021 features a stunning 39mm rose gold case and costs $43,500.

Patek Philippe

After you get your Calatrava, you’ll want to upgrade eventually and Patek Philippe is almost unparalleled when it comes to the best in complicated watchmaking. The reference 5172G chronograph is coveted by collectors everywhere, featuring a 41mm white gold case and costing $113,700. When money is no object, Patek Philippe is one of the few luxury watch brands that you can truly collect for a lifetime. 

Piaget – Best for: Thin Timepieces

If you only have one watch, you don’t want to be strapping a hulking hockey puck of metal to your wrist each morning. Piaget, more than any other watchmaker over the centuries, has pursued the challenges of making watches as thin as possible. Founded in 1874 by Georges Piaget, and it was in 1957 that Piaget released its Caliber 9P which was only 2mm thick. It was a remarkable technical achievement to have an entirely mechanical watch keep time with such a slim movement, which they carry on today. If you’re looking for your first Piaget watch, the Polo S Self-Winding is a strong start, with a 42mm steel case, a movement that is just 4mm thick and costs $17,400. 


To really get into what Piaget is all about, you’ll have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch is only 2mm thick including the case, weighs just 22 grams and costs $615,000. When it comes to making the thinnest mechanical watches, Piaget doesn’t have much competition.

Rado – Best for: Affordable Ceramic Watches

Ceramic is a material that has long attracted watchmakers. Its resistance to scratches and its lightness is impressive, especially when compared to traditional watchmaking materials such as gold or steel. But ceramic is also quite challenging to work with and prone to shattering under pressure, which can make it quite expensive. Rado has done more to popularize and democratise the material at an affordable price than almost any other luxury watch brands, with watches from all of their collections featuring ceramic cases. A Rado True Automatic is a decent place to start with the brand, featuring a 40mm black ceramic case and bracelet and costs $2,575. 


If you’re looking for something with more wrist presence and a sporty edge, the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic should be on your list, with an RRP of $6,075. When sleek, space-age materials get your heart racing, Rado needs to be front of mind. 

Richard Mille – Best for: High-End Independent Watchmaking

As the saying goes, having a Richard Mille on your wrist is like wearing your membership badge to the billionaires club. Richard Mille watches are technical, incredibly comfortable to wear and also very expensive. The watch company has had a seismic impact on the watch industry since it was founded just two decades ago in 2001, seen on the wrists of every superstar from Rafael Nadal to Jay-Z. Richard Mille occupies such a unique position in the market as one of the best luxury watch brands, meaning there isn’t really an “entry-level” piece. In saying that, if a crazy complication excites you, then the RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT is a proper flex, just like the price of US$215,000 (~AUD$293,000). 

Richard Mille

Alternatively, if unusual materials are to your taste, the Richard Mille RM 17-01 Tourbillon Carbon TPT is worth considering, with an RRP of US$493,000 (~AUD$671,000). Richard Mille is truly in its own league when it comes to being seen on celebrity wrists, so keep them in mind for when you make your first billion, and only the best luxury watch brands will do.

Rolex – Best for: Hype & Scale

In 2020, Rolex was estimated to account for nearly 25% of the entire Swiss watchmaking industry. Rolex is one of the most well-recognised luxury watch brands on the planet, and when you talk to your mates about watches it might be the only brand they have heard of. While a lot of marketing dollars get spent to keep things this way, anyone who has ever owned a Rolex will have to admit that they produce fantastic luxury watches. Especially considering that Rolex is believed to make around a million watches per year, the quality control is second to none, with most people who own a Rolex never having a single problem with it. A good entry into the world of Rolex is the Oyster Perpetual collection, which in a 41mm stainless steel case will set you back $8,600 for the reference 124300. 


Arguably the most iconic Rolex design is the DateJust, which traces its roots back to 1945 and remains relatively unchanged in terms of design today. For the 2021 model in steel and yellow gold with a fluted motif on the dial, the reference 126233 costs $16,900. Rolex is one of the few luxury watch brands that you can wear every day without worrying about, all while signifying to the world that you’ve made it. 

Seiko – Best for: Affordable Watches At Industrial Scale

Seiko watches are well known around the world for being both affordable and pretty reliable in any circumstance you might throw at them. It was founded in 1881 when founder Kintaro Hattori was just 21 years old, and has since grown into a business that makes several million timepieces per year. In the context of just how many Seiko watches are made every year, it is rare to hear of issues with them, especially considering a mechanical Seiko can be bought for just a few hundred dollars. A great place to start with the Japanese brand is the Seiko 5 Sports collection, with a watch such as the SRPD51K offering 100m of water resistance, day and date display and an automatic movement, all for $499. 


If you want something with a bit more heft and even more packed into it, the SPB187J is a good-looking dive watch that will set you back $1895. If you want excellent bang for buck, don’t sleep on Seiko. 

Sinn Spezialuhren – Best for: German Technical Watches

Founded in 1961 in Frankfurt, Sinn specialise in making technical watches for professional pilots and divers. The unwillingness to compromise on quality by Sinn has seen them grow a strong fanbase, with clean, legible designs that can be worn every day. As an example of the technical lengths Sinn goes to, several of their dive watches are made using corrosion-resistant submarine steel, while their Pilot Chronograph EZM 10 TESTAF can function anywhere between -45 degrees and +80 degrees Celsius. The Sinn U1 B is a great watch to see what the brand is capable of, with a case and bracelet made from regimented submarine steel and costing $3,630. 

Sinn Spezialuhren

Perhaps you’d prefer a rock-solid chronograph? In that case, check out the Sinn 358 Sa Pilot B E, which with the combination of steel bracelet and blue dial, is very attractive for $5,310. If you need a watch that can survive anything that your arm can, make sure to look into Sinn. 

TAG Heuer – Best for: Motorsports Tradition

The TAG Heuer link to motorsports dates back more than a hundred years, when in 1910 the brand filed a patent for its first dashboard chronograph. In the decades since, TAG Heuer has offered timing services to countless motorsports events and has been a favourite of race car drivers for their reliability and ease of use. A TAG Heuer was even on the wrist of Steve McQueen for the filming of Le Mans in the early ‘70s. Today TAG Heuer remains steadfast in its support of the motorsports world, announcing a partnership with Porsche in 2020 and sponsoring the Red Bull Racing F1 team. A sensible place to start with TAG Heuer is the Formula 1 collection, which on a steel bracelet begins at $2,150. 

TAG Heuer

If you want the watch that Steve McQueen had on his wrist during Le Mans, you need to check out the Monaco collection, which is available on a steel bracelet for the first time in a decade, and will set you back $10,250. If you’re a fan of good watches and going fast, you need a TAG Heuer on your wrist. 

Tissot – Best for: Affordable Swiss Watchmaking

If you’re looking for the comforting seal of Swiss watchmaking approval without needing to take out a loan, Tissot has you covered. The brand has an impressive history that dates back to 1853, creating the first pocket watch that could track multiple time zones as well as the first touch-sensitive watch in the 1999 T-Touch collection. Today, Tissot represents impressive value with collections such as the Gentleman, Seastar and the most recently released PRX range. If you’re looking for your first Tissot watch, the Everytime in medium size is a classic-looking piece that will only set you back $425. 


Perhaps you’re looking for a little more bling? In that case, the Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicum features a solid 18k gold bezel, a long-lasting automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve and costs $2,425. If having a Swiss watch brand on your wrist is what you’re chasing, without sacrificing bang for buck, Tissot should be top of your list. 

Tudor – Best for: Everyday Watches

There are dozens of watch brands that produce excellent everyday timepieces, but Tudor might be the best of the bunch. The brand was registered in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, as a more affordable alternative to his more expensive brand. For decades, many Tudor watches were actually made in the same factory as Rolex, ensuring they were incredibly well made for their price. Today, Tudor is still one of the best-made luxury watch brands in the world, with a range of collections that are universally admired. As your first Tudor timepiece, the Black Bay 36 is unimpeachable as an everyday option, with a steel bracelet, 150m of water resistance and costs $4,150. 


If you’re looking for something a little bigger and a little sportier, the titanium Tudor Pelagos 39 is the way to go, with a 39mm case size, 200m of water resistance and an RRP of $6,010.  As far as no-fuss, reliable and well-designed watches go, Tudor is up there with the very best. 

Vacheron Constantin – Best for: Complicated Watchmaking

In 2015 Vacheron Constantin shocked the watch world when they announced that they had produced the world’s most complicated watch ever, boasting 57 different complications. As a luxury watch brand with centuries of watchmaking experience, first established in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is known for its immaculate movement finishing and expertise in complicated watchmaking. The brand is founded on principles of the most

If you’re after something more sporty in a cutting-edge material, the Longines HydroConquest in black ceramic is a murdered-out flex that will set you back $6,000. A watch from Longines should be on your radar if you’re looking for more quality at a reasonable price point. 

traditional watchmaking methods, which can be seen across all of the Vacheron Constantin collections today and solidifies it as one of the best luxury watch brands out there. As an entry point into the world of Vacheron Constantin, the Fiftysix Self-Winding is an excellent watch, featuring a 40mm steel case and costing $18,100. 

Vacheron Constantin

To get a real taste of what the brand is capable of, however, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton in pink gold will knock your socks off. With a 41.5mm case diameter, solid gold bracelet and one of the most visually impressive dials on the market, it will set you back $201,000. If complication is king in your eyes, then Vacheron Constantin has to be a part of your collection.

Zenith – Best for: Mechanical Chronographs

The Zenith watch brand was founded in 1865 by 22-year-old Georges Favre-Jacot, who had a strong aesthetic sense that came through in his designs. But it was in 1969 that Zenith stamped its authority on the Swiss watch industry when it launched one of the first-ever automatic chronograph movements in the El Primero. This movement was not only one of the first of its kind, but was so good that Rolex signed a decade-long contract with Zenith to use the calibre in their Daytona model. To this day Zenith chronographs are regarded as some of the best in the world. A strong starting point, if you’re looking to add a Zenith to your collection, is the Chronomaster Original 38mm chronograph, complete with the famed calibre inside and costing $12,900. 


If you’re looking for a more contemporary reimagining of the tricolour chronograph, the Zenith Chronomaster Sport on steel bracelet is $15,800. If you love chronographs, you need a Zenith on rotation.

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Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au