There are some watches that are just plain cooler than others. Whether they have been worn by style icons, cemented on the silver screen or simply gifted with a stunning design, these watches stand out, and for good reason. Many of the following pieces have come to define their respective brands, becoming instantly recognisable and signifying good taste and an appreciation for the finer things in life for those who wear them. Here are the most iconic watches of all time:
Of all Rolex’s iconic watches, the Daytona is arguably the prestigious brand’s finest. Inspired by the famous American race of the same name, the Daytona was launched in 1963 and, with its stylish yet functional design became a worldwide sensation, being mimicked countless times in the process.
It was adopted by screen icon Paul Newman, who apparently wore one every day from 1972 up until his death in 2008. The above watch boasts a ‘Paul Newman’ dial, which can, among other things, be differentiated by the Art Deco-style number font and squared-end hash marks in the sub-dials.
Another watch made famous worldwide by a movie star, the Tag Heuer Monaco was worn by Steve McQueen in the seminal film ‘Le Mans’. Technically, the watch he wore was a Heuer Monaco as TAG only acquired the firm in 1985, but it’s almost identical in design today. It’s innovative square case and bold sporty looks were quite the revelation when it was introduced back in 1969.
Omega’s Seamaster was first introduced in 1948, making it one of the early dive watches before the big surge in popularity during the mid-’50s. It is generally only rivalled by the Rolex Submariner, although Omega’s long-time association with the James Bond franchise has ensured it’s beaten its nemesis in the marketing stakes, at least. He may not be real, but he’s up there with the world’s most famous men nevertheless.
One of the more iconic dress watches of all time, the Cartier Tank is more than worthy of being on this list. The original design was inspired by the Renault Tanks during WW1, which Louis Cartier himself spotted on the Western Front and, in 1917, the first model was created. Countless references have since surfaced but the ‘Louis Cartier’ (pictured), with its 18k gold case and brown alligator strap, is a stunning combination.
The Speedmaster Professional is of course famous for being the first watch on the moon, when it landed on the wrist on Buzz Aldrin back in 1969. It will forever be tied to this mammoth achievement, but its classic design and perfect proportions have ensured that time has served it well and now, it’s a favourite among collectors and casual watch fans alike.
The King once wore an Omega during his stint in the army. Featuring a Cal. 504 manual winding chronometer movement and presented in a pink gold-capped stainless steel case, the watch was as bombastic as the singer himself.
A stainless steel casebook and decagonal crown is typical of this iconic watch, and the gold hour indices with luminous inserts ensured that Elvis maintained his flashy persona even when he was confined to army fatigues.
Legend has it that Omega developed the PloProf with COMEX and Jacques Cousteau – in order to compete with the Rolex Sea-Dweller. And, one of the main PloProf proponents was famed Italian industrialist and playboy Gianni Agnelli.
Known for wearing his wristwatches on the outside of his shirt sleeve – allegedly to save time – Agnelli prized his Ploprof, a watch that took 4 years to test and bring to the market, and remains an icon to this day.
Rolex themselves call King one of the greatest ‘heroes’ in their history. As with Churchill, the famous civil rights campaigner wore a Rolex Datejust, but King’s yellow gold model was worn with a Jubilee bracelet – one of three bracelets offered by the company (along with the Oyster and the President) and a supple five-piece link bracelet with an elegant concealed clasp.