A luxury watch is built to last a lifetime — and beyond. Many of our most prized heirlooms take the form of these timeless timepieces, and they can create bonds between family as they are passed down through the generations.
But not all watches will still look the part after two or three generations of daily use. So, if you’re planning to start a tradition of your own, here are a few things to bear in mind to ensure the watch your descendants strap on is still in top condition.
A timeless design will nearly always be understated in its style, and this style will have hardly — if at all — changed since it first hit the market. It should also be versatile, and slip under the cuff of any style of outfit.
And, while there are many shining examples of timeless watches available to buy new, it also pays to take a look at vintage models being sold at auctions. Not only will these timepieces come with stories of their own, but the fact they’ve lived long enough to be auctioned off is a testament to their timelessness.
But, if you want to forge your own story — and not strap on someone else’s, here are the best watches available now to start a tradition of your own.
The Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse is a shining example of a classic
This classic watch was first brought to life by fabled watch designer Gerald Genta — more of his creations can be found further down this list — and its shape was based on the ‘Golden Ratio’, a magic mathematical formula commonly found in nature and frequently followed in design.
This formula, then, might go someway to explaining why everyone fell in love with this watch when it was first released in 1968 — and we still love it today.
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
The Rolex Datejust is an icon of the watch world
Possibly one of the most recognisable watches on the face of the Earth, the Rolex Datejust has been a favourite of the aspirational gent for decades. Its fluted bezel, cyclops over the date window and crown logo make this an icon of the watch world — and a safe bet with which to start your classic collection.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a geometric marvel
Another piece of Gerald Genta’s design, the Royal Oak took the watchmaking icon just one day to design — and is still selling strong today. This octagonal design helped bring Audemars Piguet through the quartz crisis and is still one of the brand’s most popular offerings — with new variations released fairly regularly and never straying too far from Genta’s original design.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is mechanically unique
Originally designed for officers in the British army who were posted in India in 1930s, this iconic watch was first developed so the servicemen didn’t have to remove their watches before a game of polo.
Instead, they could flip the case to protect the dial from the rough, rigorous sport — and so a practical cause brought about one of the watch world’s most singular designs. We credit the art deco style with the ongoing popularity of this timepiece — and would fully recommend it to a collector.
The Breguet Classique 5157 is effortlessly elegant
The founder of Breguet, Abraham-Louis Breguet, is often cited as being the grandfather of modern watchmaking. With countless patents to his name and a peerless eye for design, his pioneering ideologies and concepts can be seen embodied in this Classique model.
The skill level alone it takes to create this dial through hand guilloche takes years to reach. And you can see why — the effect it creates is breathtaking.
Breguet Classique 5157
Now check out these understated watches that make a statement…