10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Whether it’s your first investment, or you’ve just started a new cabinet, these are the iconic timepieces fit for any collector

Time waits for no man. An iconic timepiece, however, can stop a gentleman right in his tracks. Whether it’s the craftsmanship on show, the tradition it represents or the technology behind it, a classic watch tells more than time – it tells the world who you are.

Whether you’re about to invest in your first serious timepiece or looking to add to an already impressive collection, the right luxury timepiece acts as a milestone in life: a marker of time well spent.

Russell Sheldrake, GJ’s resident watch editor, has collated the must-have pieces, to do your memories justice, and that every discerning collector should consider for their winder.

Rolex Submariner

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
An undeniable classic that will stay looking fantastic for yours to come

Arguably the most celebrated of all diving watches, the Rolex Submariner has an incredible story behind it and is perhaps the most recognisable luxury watch, for its exceptional aesthetic and build quality. Famous wearers include Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Sir Roger Moore and Johnny Depp.

Why should you get it?

Every serious watch collection needs to have at least one Rolex in it, and you can’t go wrong with one of their most legendary models, featuring materials you’ll generally only find in aeronautics and the highest of high-end engineering.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
The dive watch with the stand out bezel

Born in 1953 the Fifty Fathoms was made to withstand depths few people, let alone watches, had been to at the time. These features helped this Swiss timepiece to very quickly become a favourite of the diving community. It’s design has hardly changed in the last 65 years, proof of its quality and timeless appeal.

Why should you get it?

With a strong military history there is very little that would phase it. If you’re heading for rough terrain then you’ll want this timepiece on your wrist.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

£10620

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Breguet Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5367

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
A tourbillon from the grandfather of modern watch making

The tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, the Grand Maison still make some of the finest examples today and this new thin or “extra-plat” version is an instant classic with the design tailored around showing off the tourbillon cage. If you only have one tourbillon in your collection, make it a Breguet.

Why should you get it?

Classical dress watches have been around since the conception of pocket-sized time tellers, but this Breguet timepiece is a rare example of one that ticks the boxes of being understated yet incredibly well designed.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Breguet Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5367

£110600

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
To take you to the moon and back

When Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon’s surface back in 1969, it was this stainless steel chronograph that was strapped to the outside of their space suits. Robust enough to stand the test of space travel and a design that is still considered a classic to this day.  

Why should you get it?

There are few examples of watch designs that have stayed so true to their original form for over 40 years. Despite being able to make it to the moon and back this watch is still an extremely affordable model for such an incredible example of watchmaking.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

£4160

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Breitling Navitimer 1 B01

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
The choice of pilots around the globe

Pilots have had their impact on style, perhaps unlike any other division of the armed services, be it the bomber jacket, shearling pea coat, or their precision aviation watches. On the latter the Breitling Navitimer 1 B01 would be our first pick for your collection. With distinct styling and ratcheted rotating bezel, it’s helped make the Swiss brand one of the most respected and sought after in the world.

Why should you get it?

Any collector worth their salt will have a Breitling in their winder but you can’t just have any Breitling. If you’ve only got room for one, make sure you include the Navitimer 1 in your rotation. Representing the best the brand does: from aviation time-keeping to stunning design.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Breitling Navitimer 1 B01

£6460

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Patek Philippe Nautilus

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
An industry saving timepiece

When the quartz crisis hit the watch industry in the early 1970s, it was this uniquely designed sports watch from Patek Philippe that helped the market rebound. While it was celebrated at the time for its beauty, today it remains a stalwart of the most discerning collectors’ portfolio.

Why should you get it?

Patek Philippe excel in making those timepieces that will surely be handed down the generations. A reminder of your good taste, and appreciation of quality for your children, and their children after.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Patek Philippe Nautilus

£23620

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
Ready for the polo pitch and diner table

A reference point for all rectangular watches, the Reverso’s most famous feature is its reversible case, an invention that’s been unique to the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand since 1931. Originally designed to withstand polo matches that British Army officers were playing in India now their art deco design has been adopted by high society as their go-to dress watch.

Why should you get it?

Its minimalist, geometric shapes make the Reverso one of the best examples of modern Swiss watchmaking, while the reversible case feature has turned heads for eight decades, and that is unlikely to ever change.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

£8850

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Tudor Black Bay

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
It will go anywhere and come back looking just as good

With 60 years of Tudor diving history behind it this tough model has very quickly become a modern-day classic, with a rugged, go-anywhere look that they have made all their own. Incorporating an in-house movement the latest iterations of the Black Bay have been a game-changer in the industry for producing high quality timepieces for under £3,000.

Why should you get it?

While a Tudor might not carry the weight (or price) of a Rolex, their sister company, that should not put you off from picking up a snowflaked hand watch. The build quality is outstanding, with a utilitarian design we thoroughly approve of.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
A design that will never go out of style and watchmaking that will never stop ticking

The oldest continually running watch brand in the world (founded in 1755), Vacheron Constantin know a thing or two about putting together a quality timepiece. Their tourbillon cage made to resemble their Maltese Cross insignia is an extraordinary addition and all done to their incredibly high standards.

Why should you get it?

While this tourbillon might not be a grand complication it’s beauty is in its simplicity, which helps draw the eye to the part piece of art, part mechanical genius of the tourbillon at six o’clock. 

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon

£147200

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Panerai Luminor Logo

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
Sporting elegance at its finest

Created for the elite underwater commandos of the Italian Navy, the Panerai Luminor isn’t short on history. While there are plenty of Luminor iterations out there we are big fans of this model with the addition of the logo at the bottom of the dial.

Why should you get it?

Considered an icon of luxury sports watchmaking, the Panerai Luminor stands out for its unique case design, with their distinctive crown lock and squared case shape. If these features appeal be sure your take a look at this standout model.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Panerai Luminor Logo

£4000

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Where to keep your watches

10 classic watches you should have in your collection
Keep your watches ticking and on display for everyone to see at the same time

Once you’ve started building your collection you’ll need somewhere to house your fine Swiss watches. When you have timepieces of this calibre a sock draw will just never do.

It’s high time you invest in a watch winder. But not just any old one will do for your cherished investments, opt for a high quality, expertly made example, like this Watch Tower from British bespoke furniture makers, Linley.

Crafted in Macassar ebony with an intricate marquetry inlay on top this is a stunning way to house your growing collection.

It has eight winders and room for more watches in the compartment above, so plenty of room as you bid, buy and invest.

10 classic watches you should have in your collection

Linley Watch Tower

£19500

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Get an in-depth look at the new Tudor Black Bay GMT…

Further Reading