46 Best Watch Brands in 2021: Rolex, Seiko, Cartier, and More

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Unless you’re talking about Michael Jordan, Ken Jennings, or grandma’s cooking, the title “best” can be pretty subjective. That’s no less true when it comes to the best watch brands, which span a mind-boggling range of styles, price points and features, from the simple utilitarian charm of the Casio G-Shock to the unapologetic outrageousness of a seven-figure Richard Mille. To make sense of it all, we’ve assembled some of the key players in the GQ watch universe, broken down into eight distinct categories, each of which is at the very top of their particular game—whether that’s making limited-edition tourbillons or the quartz beater you wear to the beach. Fortunately, unlike the NBA or Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions, the world of watches has room for more than one GOAT.

Want to brush up on your terminology and find your next dream timepiece? Don’t miss GQ’s ultimate guide to watches for men.

The Best Affordable Watch Brands

Based on what’s in your Instagram feed it can be easy to focus on the kind of top-shelf grails flexed by guys who sit courtside at Lakers games and have their own tequila brands but don’t despair if your budget has fewer zeroes in it. In fact, there’s never been more selection or better value in the entry-level, with dozens of long-established brands and startups working hard to earn a place on your wrist. Whether it’s your first watch or your fourteenth, these brands offer Patron quality at Pepe Lopez prices.


Your dad probably had a Timex (and his dad, too) but the brand has come a long way since the days of “It Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking.” Now, with inspiration from their extensive archives and creative input from the likes of Todd Snyder and Nigel Cabourn, Timex’s lineup has never been more stylish and diverse. And just as back in the day, they’re still built like tanks.

Timex Expedition Scout 36mm watch $45 $37 Amazon Buy Now Timex Easy Reader watch $47 $34 Amazon Buy Now


Swiss-made quality at reasonable prices is the name of the game at Tissot, which has been making old-school mechanical watches in Le Locle, Switzerland since 1853. Whatever your style, you’re likely to find something you want in their extensive catalog spanning pocket watches, pro-quality dive watches and classic ‘60s chronographs.


Swatch changed the game in the early 1980s by proving that Switzerland could make inexpensive quartz (i.e. battery-powered) watches as well as high-end mechanical ones. Forty years later they’re still at the top of their game, producing multiple collections every year in their signature colorful-quirky style.

Swatch 1907 Bau watch $80 Amazon Buy Now Swatch Big Bold Chrono BIOCERAMIC watch $165 Amazon Buy Now


Aspiring multi-hyphenates take note: this Japanese brand’s offering spans hundreds of G-Shock models and solar-powered analog wristwatches (plus a bunch of very nice digital pianos), all of which are executed with the same combination of leading-edge technology and high attention to detail.


In the Venn diagram of affordability, dependability, and stylishness, Seiko’s sports watches are dead center.

Seiko SZSB018 watch $500 $400 Amazon Buy Now Seiko 5 SRPD73 watch $300 $296 Amazon Buy Now


In the same vein as Uniqlo and their famously excellent selvedge denim, this under-the-radar Japanese watchmaker specializes in good-looking mechanical wristwatches at budget-friendly prices.

Orient Sun and Moon Version 3 watch $273 Amazon Buy Now Orient Sports Diver’s watch $222 Amazon Buy Now

The Best Big-Time Watch Brands

Whether by merit of their craftsmanship, their history or their astronomical prices, some brands command more respect (and hype) than others. This is the A-list of the watch world.

Richard Mille

Built like Formula 1 cars out of carbon nanotubes, titanium cables and other such space-age materials, this Swiss brand brought haute horology into the 21st century. Yes, you read the price correctly.

Richard Mille RM 60-01 Automatic Winding Flyback Chronograph Les Voiles de Saint Barth watch $210,000 Richard Mille Buy Now Richard Mille RM 029 Automatic Winding Le Mans Classic watch $176,000 Richard Mille Buy Now


If a Richard Mille is a mansion in Calabasas with its own go-kart track, a Cartier is a gilded age estate in Newport. Many of this French jeweler’s models haven’t changed much since the 1920s, and that’s exactly why people like them. Money talks, they say, and wealth whispers.

Cartier Pasha watch $7,050 Mr Porter Buy Now Cartier Tank Louis Cartier watch $10,700 Mr Porter Buy Now

Audemars Piguet

With years-long waiting lists, exorbitant grey market prices and more flexing than Muscle Beach on a summer Saturday, this brand’s watches—particularly the Royal Oak—are in a class of their own. Beneath the hype, however, are some of the refined movements created by the most skilled watchmakers in the business.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding watch $30,200 Audemars Piguet Buy Now Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver watch $25,400 Audemars Piguet Buy Now


With the kind of broad, universal goodwill usually reserved for Patagonia fleeces and Dwayne Johnson movies, Rolex has comfortably held its place atop the pyramid of watch brands for decades. Its movements and finishing are top-notch, of course, but (much like The Rock) at this point they don’t require any introduction.


More than half a century after Neil Armstrong made what might be the biggest watch flex in history, Omega’s Speedmaster is still the brand’s most-wanted creation. Tough, refined and technically-advanced mechanical sports watches are what this brand does best, and there are many to choose from—with or without ties to Apollo 11.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph watch $6,300 Omega Buy Now Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m watch $4,600 Mr. Porter Buy Now


Hublot was the first brand to put a solid gold watch on a rubber strap, which in 1980 was as revelatory and transgressive as wearing sneakers with a suit. Forty years later the brand is still experimenting with materials, recently figuring out how to carve an entire watch case out of a single block of lab-grown sapphire.

Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium watch $7,300 Hublot Buy Now Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire watch $422,000 Hublot Buy Now


Gerald Genta’s designs for Patek and AP are now some of the most sought in the world, but they only represent a fraction of the legendary designer’s output. Among his other hits is the “BVLGARI BVLGARI” watch he designed for this Italian jeweller in 1975. Bulgari continues to tweak the details of this iconic piece (inspired by an antique Roman coin) most recently re-imagining it with a black and white aluminum case.

Patek Philippe

As their famous tagline says, you never actually own a Patek Philippe, you just take care of it for the next generation. And if your grandkids want to flip your cloisonné enamel World Time to pay for college someday, they probably could.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watch, $53,820 Patek Philippe Aquanaut watch, $69,190

The Best Insider Watch Brands

Watch nerds, like music nerds, enjoy nothing more than geeking out over the stuff no one else has heard of. These are the watchmakers that get them fired up.

Rexhep Rexhepi

You can think of Rexhep Rexhepi as the Zion Williamson of Swiss watchmaking: incredible talent, comparisons to some of the biggest names in the game and an extremely promising future. Unfortunately for you, that means the watches he makes are harder to get than good seats at the playoffs.

Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain watch Rexhep Rexhepi Buy Now Rexhep Rexhepi AK-03 watch Rexhep Rexhepi Buy Now


The watch fam loves this Italian micro-brand for its dive watches inspired by classics from the 1950s with clean, ultra-minimalist dials. Functionally, they’re as far from an Apple Watch as it gets, but Steve Jobs would still approve.


“Grand feu” enameling (the process of fusing powdered glass to metal) is one of those antique crafts practiced by only a handful of the world’s top watchmaking craftsmen. That makes this Scottish brand, whose limited-edition watches feature expertly enameled dials in a rainbow of hues, an outlier in the best kind of way.

anOrdain Model 1 watch $1,650 anOrdain Buy Now anOrdain Model 2 Brown Fumé watch $2,240 anOrdain Buy Now

Laurent Ferrier

Laurent Ferrier is a third-generation watchmaker who spent 30 years in the workshop of Patek Philippe before launching his namesake brand. With old-school craftsmanship and understated contemporary looks, his watches are proof that it pays to study the classics before you create your masterpiece.

Laurent Ferrier Square Automatic watch $48,000 Mr Porter Buy Now Laurent Ferrier Traveller Automatic watch $73,000 Mr Porter Buy Now


Watches had been more or less the same for a century or more until this brand came along. By using a series of rotating discs, Ressence’s watches tell time in an entirely new way—without hands or a traditional winding crown. And they look as unconventional as they are.

Ressence Type 1 Slim watch $22,470 Mr Porter Buy Now Ressence Type 3X Limited-Edition watch $43,500 Mr Porter Buy Now

Phillippe Dufour

At a certain point at the very highest levels of watchmaking, the line between time-telling accessory and kinetic sculpture becomes blurry. The watches made by Philippe Dufour—considered one of the greatest watchmakers of modern times—are very much on the art side of that line.

The Best American-made Watch Brands

It’s been a long time since the biggest names in American watchmaking were American-owned (much less American-made). In recent years, however, a handful of brands are moving production back onshore and providing a bunch of ways to show your patriotism without bumper stickers or t-shirts with eagles on them. While most “made in America” watch brands still rely on Swiss and Asian manufacturers for key components, the ones below are committed to doing as much in-house as possible.


Oscar Waldan learned the watch industry from the inside, working with the top names in Switzerland before establishing his own brand in the 1970s. Now run by his son, Waldan’s newest models combine midcentury styling and Swiss finishing with American-made quartz movements.

Waldan Heritag Professional watch $299 Waldan Buy Now Waldan Heritage Sporline watch $299 Waldan Buy Now


The Detroit renaissance has been a long time coming and this brand has been leading the charge since 2011. A decade later, they continue to prove that the Motor City can make watches with just as much style and swagger as they did Mustangs and GTOs.

Shinola Sea Creatures watch $450 Shinola Buy Now Shinola Runwell Station Agent watch $1,450 Shinola Buy Now

Haven Watch Co.

Founded by a horology-loving English teacher in Indiana, this brand began as an experiment to see if it was possible to design and assemble watches by hand in the Midwest. It is, and they’re beauties.

Haven Watch Co. Chilton watch $1,799 Haven Watch Co. Buy Now Haven Watch Co. Chillllton watch $1,899 Haven Watch Co. Buy Now


You know that saying, “Do one thing and do it well”? Cameron Weiss does for sure, and you can see the proof in every watch that comes out of his California workshop, each of which takes 35 hours to assemble by hand.

Weiss Titanium American Issue Field Watch $2,800 Weiss Buy Now Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch $1,450 Weiss Buy Now

The Best Dress Watch Brands

Even if you don’t wear a suit to the office, adding a classic dress watch – that is, one with an unfussy dial, a leather strap and maybe some gold – to your workday fit helps make weekdays feel a little more special.

Vacheron Constantin

Almost 250 years of continuous operation, exceptional movement finishing (the hand-polishing and decoration painstakingly applied to each component) and a fair bit of scarcity are the foundation of this top-shelf brand. Their watches aren’t too bad-looking either.

Vacheron Constantin Fifty-Six Complete Calendar watch $40,500 Mr Porter Buy Now Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Hand-Wound watch $20,100 Mr Porter Buy Now


Watchmakers, like high school seniors, love superlatives. Piaget earned its reputation as the maker of the world’s thinnest mechanical watch movements in the 1950s and has been upping the ante ever since. At just 2mm thin (only a smidge thicker than a penny) their latest Altiplano is a mind-bending feat of watchmaking, albeit one you’d not want to wear to the gym. For that, look to the Piaget Polo, a criminally underrated steel sports watch from the ’70s.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic watch $40,000 Mr Porter Buy Now Piaget Polo Chronograph watch $15,600 Mr Porter Buy Now


It’s been a minute since a descendent of Abraham Louis Breguet was in charge at this historic watchmaker, but holding up the legacy of the founder is still priority number one. Look here for exceptionally well-crafted, insanely complex watches featuring Breguet’s namesake hands (aka the ones with a little circle near the tip).

Breguet 2011 Classique watch $11,650 Mr Porter Buy Now Breguet 2006 Marine Automatic Chronograph watch $18,800 Mr Porter Buy Now


Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most famous creation, the Reverso, was designed for polo players in the 1930s. It was also the watch Don Draper bought when he got his name on the door at Sterling Cooper. Wherever you’re wearing yours, say it zhey-ZHER leh-KOOLT or risk being mocked by ad execs and horse people alike.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Medium Thin watch $6,000 Mr Porter Buy Now Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Automatic Moon Phase watch $10,300 Mr Porter Buy Now

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko makes some of the most accurate mechanical watches on the planet (particularly those featuring their revered Spring Drive movement) and their attention to finishing is equally precise.

Grand Seiko SBGA211 watch $5,399 Amazon Buy Now Grand Seiko SBGW264 watch $24,000 Grand Seiko Buy Now

A Lange & Söhne

Germany’s answer to Patek Philippe produces about a tenth as many watches per year and assembles each one twice to ensure absolute perfection. This has earned them a loyal following of hardcore watch collectors who dig their asymmetrical dials and quirky oversized “digital” dates.

A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus watch $43,500 A Lange & Söhne Buy Now A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 watch $39,900 A Lange & Söhne Buy Now

The Best Pilot Watch Brands

You don’t need to be wearing a shearling jacket and a jumpsuit to rock a classic aviator’s watch (and indeed, you might get some sideways looks at the grocery store if you did). All that’s required to appreciate these flyboy-approved brands is a love of classic tool watches.


IWC redesigned their Big Pilot watch this year, but to see it next to the ones they made for British pilots in the 1940s, you might not be able to tell which is which. Everything else about this watch—and every other watch made by IWC—is an exercise in top-down luxury, from the sand-colored ceramic case on the Mojave Desert edition to the tide indicator on the Portugieser Yacht Club.

IWC Pilot’s Automatic Chronograph watch $7,200 Mr Porter Buy Now IWC Portugieser Yacht Club “Moon and Tide” watch $33,100 Mr Porter Buy Now


After decades of catering to guys who wear epaulets and aviator shades to work, Breitling now has a lot to offer those on the other side of the cockpit door, too, including recent collabs with Kelly Slater’s Outerknown and modern reproductions of vintage dive watches from the ’60s.

Breitling Chronomat B01 Bentley Edition Automatic Chronograph watch $8,100 Mr Porter Buy Now Breitling Premier Automatic watch $4,250 Mr Porter Buy Now

Bell & Ross

Like Supreme’s box logo tee and the piano key necktie, the brilliance of some ideas lies in their relative simplicity. That’s definitely true of Bell & Ross, who pioneered the square pilot’s watch in the early ’90s and have been riffing on that signature aesthetic ever since.

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Matte watch $3,900 Mr Porter Buy Now Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Radar Ceramic watch $4,300 Mr Porter Buy Now


Zenith rocked the watch world in 1969 when it dropped the original El Primero, one of the world’s first automatic chronographs. That accomplishment may not sound as impressive these days, but their signature chronograph looks just as fresh as it did back then and its legendary movement has only gotten better.

Zenith El Primero Automatic watch $7,700 Mr Porter Buy Now Zenith Defy Classic Automatic watch $7,700 Mr Porter Buy Now

The Best Dive Watch Brands

Tough, stylish and highly versatile, a good dive watch is like a vintage Land Rover Defender. And unlike that beloved British off-roader, a classic diver from any of the brands below is going to run for decades without breaking down.

Ulysse Nardin

This Swiss heavyweight earned its reputation by making some of the world’s most accurate marine chronometers which, in the days before GPS, were as essential to maritime navigation as charts and lighthouses. That expertise is evident in their lineup of refined sports watches, which are as nautical as Breton stripes (and much easier to wear with a suit).

Ulysse Nardin Diver Automatic watch $6,500 Mr Porter Buy Now Ulysse Nardin Blast Automatic Tourbillon Skeleton watch $59,100 Mr Porter Buy Now


Panerai’s first watches were created for the Italian navy, with dials that glowed bright green thanks to Radiomir, their patented luminous paint. Radiomir turned out to be radiocative, but Panerai’s original design details and bulked-out proportions are as good as they ever were.

Panerai Luminor California 8 Day watch $8,100 Mr Porter Buy Now Panerai Luminor Marina Sole Blu Automaticwatch $24,300 Mr Porter Buy Now


The watch world’s equivalent of the Beatles vs Rolling Stones debate (or Xbox vs Playstation, if you’re under 40) involves Blancpain, Rolex and the invention of the diver’s watch. While the Rolex Submariner may be more well known these days, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms (created for French navy divers and featuring the first uni-directional rotating bezel) actually came out a year earlier, making it the official OG. As with the Beatles and the Stones, however, it really just comes down to what you like, and there’s a lot to like here.

Blancpain 2009 Fifty Fathoms Automatic watch $11,850 Mr Porter Buy Now Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback watch $17,200 Blancpain Buy Now


Along with a red beanie and a pipe, Jacques Cousteau’s Doxa diver’s watch was an essential element of his now-iconic uniform. You can skip the pipe (and maybe the hat, too), but Doxa’s watches still look just as good as they did onboard the Calypso.

Doxa Sub 200 Sharkhunter watch $990 Doxa Buy Now Doxa Sub 200 C-Graph Divinstar watch $2,750 Doxa Buy Now


Aside from a set of flippers and a vehicle with sand on the seats, nothing says “I live for the beach,” quite like one of Zodiac’s colourful vintage-inspired divers.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf SS Automatic watch $1,395 Amazon Buy Now Zodiac ZO9201 Heritage Mechanical watch $1,295 Amazon Buy Now

The Best “First Real Watch” Brands

Any watch that tells time is a “real watch,” but some brands pack a little more gravitas than others. If you’re ready to graduate into the world of grown-up timepieces, here are a few good places to start.


When you’re spending thousands of dollars on a watch, the idea of “good value” becomes more than a little subjective. That said, Longines offers everything that a top-tier Swiss watchmaker should (heritage, high-quality Swiss movements, unique design) at a (relatively) attainable price point. If you want something with vintage looks and modern reliability, look no further.

Baume & Mercier

Like a lot of high-end Swiss brands, Baume et Mercier has been in the watchmaking game for nearly 200 years. Unlike most other brands with that much heritage, their prices remain relatively accessible.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Automatic watch $1,950 Mr Porter Buy Now Baume & Mercier Riviera Automatic watch $2,600 Mr Porter Buy Now


Much like In ’N Out Burger, Hamilton is widely respected for its commitment to serving up the classics at reasonable prices. If you’re looking to get into your first mechanical watch, chances are you’ll find something you love in their collection of rugged midcentury-inspired designs.

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechancial watch $375 Amazon Buy Now Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Auto Chrono watch $1,842 Amazon Buy Now

TAG Heuer

You don’t have to know what a chicane is or be conversational in the Prost-Senna rivalry to appreciate TAG Heuer, but it helps. Since the 1960s this brand has been trackside at every major motorsports event on the planet, and most of their watches celebrate that legacy in one way or another. For those who prefer their races to involve banana peels and Koopa Troopa, they also just launched a series of collabs with Nintendo.

TAG Heuer Carrera watch $5,750 Mr Porter Buy Now TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch $1,800 Mr Porter Buy Now


Like many younger siblings, Tudor has spent more than its share of time living in the shadow of its older, more established sibling, Rolex. In recent years, however, this brand has truly come into its own with a robust line of chronographs and dive watches to rival the best in the world. It’s not Rolex, but in some ways (including the price) that’s a good thing.

Tudor Black Bay Chrono watch $5,225 Tudor Buy Now Tudor Black Bay Ceramic watch $4,725 Tudor Buy Now


One of the coolest things about getting into watches is the sheer number of small brands out there quietly putting their own spin on movements, dials and cases. Enicar, which was founded in Switzerland in 1914, is a perfect example of one of these, and a prime contender for your first mechanical watch.

Universal Genève

Back in the 1960s, this Swiss brand made some of the best movements in the game. After gathering dust for a couple of decades, they’ve quietly relaunched with a new collection that calls back to that golden era in looks and performance. If you’re looking for something with rock-solid provenance that no one else in the room is going to have, this is it.

Everything You Need to Know to Shop the Best Watch Brands and Luxury Timepiece Makers

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Like so many other things, the niche world of timepieces and watch brands can often seem like a daunting one to enter. The tricky vocabulary, the annual collector scramble for new models, the encyclopedia of complications—where to start? The easiest point of entry is to get familiar with the best watch brands. Yes, there are those household names that often make parents’ bedside tables and song lyrics, but are they worth it? (Short answer: oftentimes, yes.)

But, there’s more to consider: Is there a new brand worth looking at when going for a purchase? And what if you’re just starting your watch collection? Or adding one for not too much money? Which brands will most likely accrue value over the years? E.t.c, e.t.c. There is information on all of these questions—answered in very broad strokes—below; see and shop our extensive list of the best brands to know.

Up there in the most well-known of watch brands, Rolex watches are continually and constantly a hot commodity. Their value holds—and most often increases—years after purchase. This is true of almost all styles.

Rolex Datejust 36 watch $7,050 ROLEX Shop Now Rolex Explorer watch $10,800 ROLEX Shop Now

Largely thought of as the premier sports watchmaker—driving, soccer, diving, etc. They also make clean and slimmer options for those who want something more demure.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer professional 300 stainless steel bracelet watch $2,800 SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Shop Now Tag Heuer Carrera watch $2,300 TAG HEUER Shop Now

Similar to their jewelry, Cartier’s cult classics have been a celebrity and watch-buyer favorite for decades. Watch models get an update every few years to keep them cutting edge.

Cartier Tank Must watch $3,308 CARTIER Shop Now Cartier Panthère de Cartier 22mm small 18-karat pink gold diamond watch $25,700 NET-A-PORTER Shop Now

This Japanese watchmaker is a bit of a sleeper brand. The watches have a lot to pay attention to, however: good looks, stellar craftsmanship, and not too spendy.

Grand Seiko Heritage SBGX263 watch $2,200 WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND Shop Now Grand Seiko Heritage SBGX261 watch $2,200 WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND Shop Now

The French luxury brand has a way with watches as well. The models are an extension of what they do so well: refined and timeless.

Hermès Timepieces Nantucket 17-mm 18-karat rose gold mother-of-pearl watch $10,275 NET-A-PORTER Shop Now Hermès Cape Cod 29mm stainless-steel and leather-strap watch $3,125 SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Shop Now

Classic and sporty options from the official timekeeper of the Olympics, the partner of most every recent James Bond, and what’s on the wrist of Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman.

Omega 38mm Seamaster Aqua Terra 150-meter Co‑Axial Master Chronometer watch, with Small Seconds subdial $6,300 OMEGA Shop Now Omega De Ville Trésor Master Co-Axial Chronometer 40mm watch $13,800 OMEGA Shop Now

Clean and crisp in design, the Nomos Glashütte watch brand offers designs that are quiet and won’t compete with an outfit.

Nomos Glashütte Ludwig Neomatik 39 limited edition automatic 38.5mm steel and leather watch, ref. no. 250 $3,700 MR PORTER Shop Now Nomos Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik 42 date black watch $4,060 NOMOS Shop Now

There’s plenty of history in the almost two hundred years of watchmaking from Longines. The brand has equally petite and chunky styles to offer.

Longines Dolcevita 28.2mm ladies watch $1,600 WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND Shop Now Longines Elegant 25mm ladies watch $3,875 WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND Shop Now

Watches as jewelry is how many people style their Van Cleef & Arpels pieces. The storied jewelry recently leaned into this philosophy with a watch pendant as an extension of their quintessential Alhambra line.

Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra secret pendant watch $19,200 VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Shop Now Van Cleef & Arpels white gold Cadenas watch $14,000 1ST DIBS Shop Now

Swiss watchmaking without the sticker shock of a lot of the other brands on this list. This is a great entry price point into the watch market without sacrificing craftsmanship.

A real balance of flashy and functional, Audemars Piguet has everything from a classic watch to all-gemset and full of sparkle.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak frosted gold quartz watch $43,400 AUDEMARS PIGUET Shop Now Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 watch $30,200 AUDEMARS PIGUET Shop Now

Piaget—oftentimes the holder of the prize for the thinnest watch (a mechanical feat)—was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy and still holds true for a watch that is demure with a twinkle of glamour.

A hefty price tag, but for good reason. Patek Philippe is often thought of as the gold standard in watchmaking. The pieces retain value so well the company’s marketing campaign insinuated that owning one of their watches was merely looking after it until you pass it down to the next generation.

Patek 5711/1A Nautilus watch $34,890 PATEK PHILIPPE Shop Now Patek 5738P Golden Ellipse watch $55,830 PATEK PHILIPPE Shop Now

The Detroit-based brand that’s also known for its bicycles and leather goods started with watches. Proudly partnering Swiss-made movements with American craftsmanship, Shinola has as many rugged options as they do ladylike.

Shinola the 34mm Birdy watch $525 SHINOLA Shop Now Shinola the Sea Creatures 40mm watch $450 SHINOLA Shop Now

Though they are best known for their sporty-luxe ceramic J12 model, Chanel’s watches have plenty more to offer—like their more restrained Boyfriend watch—and pieces with more classical watchmaking skills like hand-painted dials and chronographs.

WatchBox Just Bought a Majority Stake in Independent Swiss Watchmaker De Bethune

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WatchBox, the pre-owned watch e-tailer co-founded in 2017 by Danny Govberg, Justin Reis and Tay Liam Wee, has acquired a majority stake in high-end Geneva-based independent watchmaker De Bethune. The brand will continue to be led by COO and master watchmaker Denis Flageollet, who founded the brand in 2002, and CEO Pierre Jacques.

“The investment will provide capital to allow De Bethune to continue investing in research and development, production, watchmaking talent, global marketing and more,” says Patrik Hoffmann, executive vice-president for WatchBox Switzerland. “It will allow Denis Flageollet and his team to further drive the development of the brand and the creation of extraordinary timepieces.” De Bethune is known for its contemporary interpretations of high watchmaking, made in very limited editions. It has created 29 in-house calibers since it began, and produces about 200 watches a year, with an average price of $100,000 to $120,000. Production is set to increase with this new investment, but, according to WatchBox, will grow organically in a limited way.

“WatchBox has been a trusted partner of ours and a dynamic supporter of De Bethune for years,” Denis Flageollet and Pierre Jacques said in a joint statement. “We have long admired their desire and commitment to educate the global watch community on the art of watchmaking.”

WatchBox has a worldwide network of trading offices and stores in Philadelphia, Neuchatel in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai in a joint venture with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. It is a major player in the pre-owned watch market, which consultant McKinsey & Co. says is worth $18 billion today and will be worth up to $32 billion by 2025. Not surprisingly, many Swiss brands have recently made moves to control sales of their pre-owned watches (including MB&F, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet, to name a few).

“WatchBox has been investing in independent brands in various ways since the company was founded,” says Hoffmann. “One way is by investing in the product of independent brands. In the case of De Bethune, this cooperation led to the interest of both parties in having WatchBox invest directly into the brand. In the past, WatchBox has demonstrated support for the independent watchmaking segment primarily through inventory ownership. By purchasing inventory (rather than just offering consignment services), it brings liquidity to the global pre-owned market, and supports the underlying value of the product,” he says. “We will continue to buy, sell, and trade pre-owned timepieces from De Bethune, as we do with around 50 brands in the pre-owned market.”

WatchBox has no immediate plans to acquire other brands, but as a champion of independent brands, Hoffmann says it “will continue to develop alliances with various independent watch brands on different levels.”